Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday 24th October – Norah Colvin with Pamela S. Wight, Michelle Clements James #BookRevie – D. Wallace Peach #Audio Books


This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

The first post is from educator and storyteller Norah Colvin who hosted Pamela S. Wight recently with news of her latest book – Molly Finds Her Purr.  If you have not discovered this delightful children’s book yet.. here is your opportunity.

Pamela Wight discusses her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr

A Purr-fect new picture book by Pamela Wight – readilearn

Today, I am talking with author Pamela Wight about her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr. I previously introduced you to Pamela when her first picture book Birds of Paradise was released in 2017. You can read that interview here.

The importance of being true to yourself and the acknowledgment of the strength of friendship, even when differences exist, are strong themes in Pamela’s books.

Please head over to enjoy the rest of this interview: https://norahcolvin.com/2019/10/18/a-purr-fect-new-picture-book-by-pamela-wight-readilearn/

Connect to Norah via her websites –  www.NorahColvin.com – and: www.readilearn.com.au – twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin

Pamela S. Wight, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Pamela-S.-Wight/e/B00AYXT6R6Goodreads: Pamela on Goodreads Blog:https://roughwighting.net/

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The next post is from Michelle Clement James who has reviewed A Wedding in December by USA Today and Sunday Times Bestselling author Sarah Morgan and with Christmas only two months away, the festive books are hitting the shelves.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan.

Book Blurb

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Head over to find out more about the book and Michelle’s review and get into the festive spirit: https://michelleclementsjames.com/2019/10/17/a-wedding-in-december/

Michelle also offers Copy-editing and proofreading services

For over thirty years I have proofread and edited hundreds of books, newsletters, and other documents for numerous authors and organizations. I have decided to use this wealth of experience to offer copy-editing and proofreading for authors and writers. Copy-editing and proofreading are key components of successful publishing.

Connect to Michelle on her blog: https://michelleclementsjames.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/macjam47 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Macjam47

The final post today is from D.Wallace Peach whose book Sunwielder was released in audio this week. Diana has interviewed the narrator of the book TJ Clark, and for anyone thinking of releasing their books in audio, this will be very useful.

Sunwielder on Audible (see offer below) & on Amazon (global link)

I did it again. I jumped in feet first and then asked questions later. Thank goodness I had an audiobook narrator who held my virtual hand.

Rather than share my newbie inexperience, I thought you might be interested in hearing from a pro.

Meet TJ! His voice brought my book Sunwielder to life, and this week the audiobook went live!

1. Tell us a little about you, your professional background, and why you decided to begin narrating audiobooks.

I’m a trained actor with a BFA in theater from Syracuse University. My family was always big on audiobooks (back when they were “books on tape”) during long road trips. I have a pretty vivid memory of listening to James and the Giant Peach on a trip from Connecticut to South Carolina. Somewhere along that road there is a giant water tower in the shape of a peach and it made the whole thing really magical to me. I realized I wanted to do them myself when I was a teenager and my sister was reading Lamb by Christopher Moore during a cruise vacation. She got seasick and couldn’t keep reading so I picked it up and read aloud to her on the beach while she tried to keep from throwing up. After a while, mom came over and told me I need to keep my voice down. I looked around and a little gathering had amassed. Everyone said “no, no, keep going. This is great!”

Head over to read the rest of this interesting post especially if you are thinking of taking your books to audio and there is also a great new review for the book: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/10/21/interview-with-an-audiobook-narrator-tj-clark/

D. Wallace Peach, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8
Website/Blog: http://www.mythsofthemirror.com – Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068749.D_Wallace_Peach

Please visit Amazon or Diana’s website to view all her books.

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Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to read the posts in full. I am on the high seas on a ferry as you read this and offline for a few days but I will respond to comments on Monday..

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily Tuesday 24th September 2019 – Miriam Hurdle, Norah Colvin and Cynthia Reyes


This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

The first blog today is from Miriam Hurdle and shares the gifts that she gave herself in celebration of a great achievement.

The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday from Linda is “wrap/rap.” I used unwrapped.

I gave two unwrapped gifts to myself when I graduated with the Doctor of Education in year 2000.

The first gift was two season tickets to six operas in 2001. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a radio. I listened to the news, ghost stories and other broadcast on my neighbor’s radio. There was a theme music playing before the news. After thirty seconds, the music faded as a female announcer came in to report the news of the day. That was the beginning of my classical music appreciation and I later identified the theme music for the news broadcast as the Overture of Bizet’s Carmen. I started taking voice lessons at nineteen years old and sang pieces of operatic music.

Image result for bizet's carmen

I hoped to see operas such as Carmen, La Bohème and La Traviata, and learn about less popular ones. Hubby likes mostly country western music, but he would go with me to see the operas. Part of the attraction to me was to dress up and be with other people who had the same interest. At the opera house, people could rent small binoculars at $7 each. We brought two binoculars with greater strength. I not only wanted to see the details of costumes but also the singers’ expressions.

Find out more about the opera that Miriam enjoyed and what the other gift that she gave herself: https://theshowersofblessings.com/2019/09/20/socs-2019-09-20-two-unwrapped-gifts/

Miriam Hurdle, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW
Website and blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com/  Goodreads: Miriam Hurdle

The next post is from educator and storyteller Norah Colvin, and follows on from a series of interviews with a number of us about our school days. Norah has collated the answers to discover common threads and suggestions on how education might be improved. In this post she shares our answers to the question – How can schools be improved?

In the recent School Days series which featured reminiscences of twenty-five authors and bloggers, each was asked for suggestions of improvements that could be made to schools.

In this post, I share those suggestions. If you wish to read more of the authors and bloggers’ works, please click on their names to follow the links. If you would like to read their reminiscences, follow this link.

This post concludes the series for now. I thank you all for joining in the conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. There are still some who would like to share their reminiscences which I will post as they come in on a Sunday evening. For now, I’ll leave you with these wonderful suggestions of how school could be improved. (Note: I have arranged the bloggers in alphabetical order of first name.)

Anne Goodwin, How do you think school could be improved?

  • Reinvest in SureStart (it was a UK New Labour thing for at-risk preschoolers) so that all kids have the skills they need for school.
  • Scrap private schools’ charitable status and put the taxes raised into state education.
  • Abolish all religious schools, and schools established to follow a particular fad.
  • Provide every child with a light breakfast and a three-course vegan lunch (to avoid the expense of catering for different diets) for free. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry, and we desperately need to give the adults of tomorrow the skills to pursue a healthy diet. (So cooking and gardening lessons too.)
  • Halve class sizes, and give teachers more support, including optional counselling / short-term therapy for anyone working with kids.
  • Foreign language and music classes from the early(ish) years and (although I hated it) compulsory exercise through a diversity of sports. (Why should these life-long benefits be restricted to those whose parents can cough up the dosh?)
  • Prevent (religious) parents from withdrawing their children from certain lessons, such as sex and relationships, including same-sex couples.

Idealistic? Too expensive? Not if we care about the future society we build.

Balroop Singh, How do you think schools could be improved?

First, recruitment of qualified teachers who feel inspired to take the responsibility of teaching the next generation is essential. Second, they have to be paid at par with others to attract intellect and talent to this profession. Number of students in a class needs to be reduced and value-based education with flexible curriculum could be helpful for those students who want to pursue higher studies.

Find more opinions on this question from Barbara Vitelli, Carol Taylor, Charli Mills, Chelsea Owens, Christy Birmingham, Darlene Foster, Debby Gies, D.Avery, Geoff Le Pard, Hugh Roberts, Joy Lennick, Jules Paige, Mabel Kwong, Marsha Ingrao, Miriam Hurdle, Pamela Wight, Pauline King, Pete Springer, Ritu Bhathal, Robbie Cheadle, Sherri Matthews, Susan Scott and yours truly: https://norahcolvin.com/2019/09/22/how-schools-could-be-improved/

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

The final post today is from author Cynthia Reyes and is a lovely interview with her daughter and co-author of the Myrtle the Turtle series, Lauren Reyes-Grange.. They are joined by the next generation, a granddaughter who is joining the family very soon. Please head over and enjoy this wonderful family affair.

I’ve been wanting to interview my co-author, Lauren Reyes-Grange.

But how do you do that when she is your daughter, as well as the person who inspired the first Myrtle the Purple Turtle book?

I decided to put on my professional interviewer’s hat — after all, I’d done thousands of interviews in my journalistic work. Here goes:

When did you first realize you loved to tell stories?

LRG: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read stories, write stories or tell stories. I am fairly certain I was born with a wild imagination. Pair that with two parents who were superstar journalists (and naturally fantastic storytellers), and I think I was bound to catch the bug, too.

Blog Photo - Lauren headshot

What was it like growing up in a house of storytellers and writers?

LRG: It was wonderful. I loved hearing stories about my parents’ work, about their day. My parents also encouraged my sister and me to read, be curious, stand up to injustice, and look for the humour in everyday things which I believe makes for great storytelling.

Head over and read the rest of this heartwarming interview between mother and daughter: https://cynthiasreyes.com/2019/09/22/interview-with-lauren-reyes-grange

Cynthia Reyes, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6
Blog: https://cynthiasreyes.com/Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7072186.Cynthia_Reyes

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Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to read the posts in their entirety … thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Reflections on Learning by Norah Colvin


Today is the last in the present series from the archives of Norah Colvin which is actually reflections on learning by her daughter Bec, and written when she was 26 in 2013… so I am sure that her PhD in Environmental Management is being put to good use. Bec shares her early memories of being home schooled until enrolling in school in grade 4.

Reflections on Learning

In a previous post To school or not to school I explored some issues I was grappling with as my daughter reached school age. I stated then that in future posts I would explore the effects of decisions I made upon my children’s (and my) education.

My daughter, Bec, now 25 and working towards a PhD in Environmental Management at UQ, has beaten me to the post by writing the following reflections on her schooling experiences. Who better to explore the effects upon her education than she herself?

Bec’s reflections on learning

When I was a wee girl I felt I had a very prolonged ‘childhood’. Not that I became a (painful) teenager later than others, or even an adult later; but more that the early years went for longer for me than they did for others. While other children I knew were in school, wearing uniforms and filling in worksheets, I was on my way into the Brisbane library with my mother, excited about the new books I would get to read. (I always anticipated the craft activities which were on offer, and specifically recall excellent activities related to owls.)

I also remember that when most other children were in school, I got to play with clay at home, and used the clay to create ‘exhibits’ for a zoo about my favourite animal. It was a great motivation to find out as much as I could about the animal, and I immersed myself in it. I started with rabbits (which I still love though have a real ethical struggle with given they’re such a disastrous environmental pest here in Australia) and then moved onto the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

Another memory, from my very long childhood, was that when most other children were in school, I set up at home ‘The Rainforest Club’, where I made a desk, a rainforest-related library, and a membership program. What was the point of the club? Who knows – but the evidence is still present in a number of Norah’s books which include markings on the inner cover to the effect of ‘This belongs to the library of the Rainforest Club’.

I remember frequent trips to the Sciencentre when it was in its old digs on the other side of the river, and a day starting with picking strawberries at a local farm, then bringing them home to mix into home-made strawberry ice cream. I also remember being very proud of myself when I got to cartwheel in a parade at the ‘Out of the Box’ celebration at Southbank.

Then there was the day when an intimidatingly large cane toad launched toward me when I was sitting at the front of a group of children watching an engaging talk about animals (unlike the bunny rabbit, I am not quite so much torn between heart and mind about this invasive species, although increasingly it seems that the story of the cane toad in Australia reflects the story of post-1788 colonisation in Australia). A less traumatic animal experience was going on the ‘Batty Cruise’ down the Brisbane River as the macro bat colonies were stirring shortly after sunset. It was absolutely incredible – there were thousands of bats flying overhead – and an expert on board had a baby bat AND a baby echidna.

I also know Norah still has the story I wrote which explained all of the mysteries of neuroscience; “How the Brain Works”. Obviously, it’s a little man who lives in my brain, working efficiently with a series of filing cabinets.

What this little man didn’t work out at the time though – and only really worked through the files to figure out years later – was that despite not being at the time in School with a capital S, I was in school during every moment of the day and night during those early years. I LOVED visiting the library and the museum and the Sciencentre. I LOVED reading books, researching about animals, writing stories and experiencing my world.

There’s no evidence in my memories that I was ever actively Being Schooled – I remember playing, spending time with my mother, going on fun day trips, and being creative. All of this, as far as I knew, without a formal lesson plan presented to me in the morning, without worksheets to complete (though I did spend a lot of time writing for fun – can you imagine such a thing?), without testing which would give me a reductive and quantitative measure of my intellect, abilities, and ranking against other children.

I started School with a capital S in grade 4, which was very hard to begin with. The decisions which led to my enrolment in a School are absent from my memories of the time, but I think I remember that I wanted to be with other children. It makes me sad to think back on this, because I worry that as a child knowing nothing but my own life as the basis for all of my understandings about the world, that perhaps I didn’t appreciate Norah enough, and maybe I hurt her feelings when I wanted to be with other children.

When I started School, I have a vivid and poignant memory on the first or second day being given a worksheet with no idea about how to complete it, as it was such a foreign concept. I felt out of my depth and incapable of fitting in, and I was upset. It took a little while to make friends (which resulted in a number of lonely lunch breaks), but once I did I was happy. I enjoyed most of the school work, and as far as I am aware my schooling experience from that point on was no more extraordinary than that of any other child at a state School. I missed being with Norah during the day but I was lucky that she was involved as a parent helper in my class, and then had a teaching position at my School.

So there is no dramatic end to the story – I was home educated and then I went to a School. I find this difficult to explain, but as a child, there is no other life that I knew. So it didn’t feel like my home education years were cut short by going to School, nor did it feel like I was starting School late (though I was aware that I was a bit different in terms of my schooling). Now as an adult and with hindsight, I am very thankful for the gift of home education that Norah gave me. (I am also proud to know that I was a bit different in terms of my schooling.)

I would like to offer some evidence of the impact that being home educated has had on my life, but I am not sure how to do this, after all, I’m the experiment and there’s no control for comparison. I can, however, say that I loved my childhood and I still have a very strong and driving love of learning.

Click on the link to see some photos from Bec’s scrapbook photos.

These early photos portray activities that continue to interest Bec to this day: a love of animals and nature, an enjoyment in cooking and sewing, creative crafts, mathematics and writing.

©Bec and Norah Colvin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

My thanks to Norah for sharing the posts from her archives and I know she would love your feedback.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Berry Delightful by Norah Colvin


This is the third post from the archives of Norah Colvin and this week she shares her childhood memories of mulberries and her flash fiction that week in 2017 in response to the Carrot Ranch Literary CommunityIn 99 words (no more, no less) include music and berries. It can be fantastical, such as the music of berries or a story that unfolds about a concert in a berry patch. Go where the prompt leads.

Berry Delightful by Norah Colvin

mulberries

What is your favourite berry?

Which berries make your taste buds sing?

When I was a child, there was a huge Mulberry tree growing in the backyard of one of our neighbours who was kind enough to allow access to the multitude of children in our family. Each summer the tree would be laden with fruit and we would pull at its branches to gather as much as we could into buckets and bowls. We would go home stained with purple on our bodies and our clothes and, mostly, around our mouths. We couldn’t wait to eat and there were plenty to go around. Mum would bake mulberry pies and fill jars with mulberry jam that was delicious on our buttered bread for breakfast or lunch.

Since then, I have encountered few mulberries trees, only occasionally sourcing their leaves to feed voracious silkworm caterpillars. The berries themselves seem not to be harvested for store sales. However, I was recently reminded of Mum’s mulberry jam when I spotted some on a shelf at the Jamworks gourmet deli. I must admit though, while I resisted the mulberry jam, I couldn’t resist the fig and ginger variety.

gooseberries

The other berry that was most familiar to me as a child, but never since seen, was what we called the gooseberry. There were gooseberry plants growing by our back fence. I remember picking the berries, peeling back the outer leaves and eating the small fruit, which I think had quite a tart flavour. As I recall, Mum would also make jam, but not pies, with these.

strawberry torte

c) Norah Colvin

I recall that, even as a young adult, a serving of strawberries and cream had seemed a very luxurious and decadent dessert. Now strawberries are more affordable and readily available all year round. They are a favourite of my granddaughter. So much so that I need to have at least one punnet in the fridge for her when she visits. A strawberry torte is my family’s pick for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. I wrote about it and included the recipe here

In addition to strawberries, stores now have a variety available all year round; including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries. The berries make a wonderful filling for the other family favourite, pavlova.

pavlova

©Norah Colvin

But do you know what a berry is?

I checked with Wikipedia for the definition of a berry, and found that it is “a fleshy fruit without a stone produced from a single flower containing one ovary”.

Botanically, the following fruits (and vegetables) are berries:

Grapes
Currants
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Eggplants
Bananas
Kiwi fruit
Blueberries
Cranberries
Coffee beans
Pumpkin
Watermelon

and these, commonly called berries, are not:

Strawberries
Raspberries
Mulberry
Blackberry

Do you need to change your answers to my initial questions:

What is your favourite berry?

Which berries make your taste buds sing?

Or are you happy to go with common usage? If I write about mulberries, will I be fulfilling the requirements of Charli’s prompt? Perhaps I should write about picking watermelons instead.

Mulberry picking

Mulberry Stew

Branches hung heavy with berries in reach of even the youngest child. They ate more than they bucketed; but there were plenty, including for birds singing in higher branches. Mum had forbidden them. “Mrs Wilson’s poorly. Don’t disturb her.” But they couldn’t resist. They scampered the instant she called.

“Where have you been?” She eyed the purple stains.

“We …” the youngest began to sing.

“Nowhere,” they shushed with hands concealed.

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing.”

Her lips twitched. “Hand them over.”

Later they pondered together how she knew.

When Dad got home, they’d have to face the music.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

©Norah Colvin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

My thanks to Norah for her berry delicious post and for clarifying the issue of what is or not a berry. It has certainly whet my appetite for a piece of pavlova…

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin


This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

Nor and Bec reading
Children love stories. They love being read stories and beg for them to be read, over and over again.

Equally as much, if not more, they love being told stories, especially stories of their own lives. They beg for them to be told over and over, listening attentively and with wonder as their own stories (her story and his story) are being revealed. They commit these tales to memory so that eventually it is difficult to distinguish the genuine experiential memory from the telling. Even as adults they seem to not tire of hearing tales of the cute things they did when they were little, or of shared experiences.

They also love being told stories of their parents’ lives. These are the stories that help define them and their existence: how they came to be. The stories tell of times gone by, and of how things used to be. They marvel that their parents were once children and try to imagine how that might have been.

My daughter would often ask for stories about herself, her brother, myself or other family members. One day when she was about six, she asked again, ‘Tell me a story about when you were a little girl.’ Before I could respond she jumped in with, ‘What were the dinosaurs like?’ She was teasing, of course, and her comedic timing was perfect. A story was created, one that has been shared many times.

History is a story, though at school I never saw it as such. Had it been a story of lives, as its name implies, I may have been interested. But history at school was a list of wars and dates, and kings and queens to be memorised and regurgitated for a test at the end of the term. There was no story, no human emotion, no semblance to any narrative that may have lured me in.

I hope that today’s students of history are not required to commit sterile lists of facts to memory without the stories that would give them meaning and significance, some human element to help the information stick.

History, as a subject, had always been relegated to high school. It was not a discrete part of the primary school curriculum, though aspects were explored in other subject areas such as ‘Social Studies’ when I was at school, or more recently ‘Studies of Society and Environment’. With the introduction of the new Australian Curriculum,  History is now a stand-alone subject.

As an early childhood teacher I was a bit terrified that young children would be required to memorise lists of seemingly random facts and dates. I’m pleased to say that, for the early years anyway, this is not so. Children in the early years start by exploring their own history and the history of their family, considering similarities and differences between their lives, the lives of their parents, and of their friends.

I applaud this as an excellent starting point. I believe, when working with children, connections must always be made with their lives and what they know. What better starting point than investigating the traditions of their own family and culture.

In Australia, as I am sure it is in many other places, a great diversity of cultures is represented in each classroom. Encouraging children to share similarities and differences of traditions with their classmates helps to develop understanding of each other’s traditions and beliefs, which in turn fosters respect and empathy. For this purpose, I developed some materials to make it easy for children to share their traditions. These are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

 

 

Mem Fox has written a beautiful picture book Whoever you are that I love to share with children when discussing their cultures and traditions. It explains in a simple and beautiful way that although children around the world may live in different houses, wear different clothes, eat different foods, for example ‘inside, their hearts are just like yours.’ Mem Fox explains the story on her website.

I also like to sing I am Freedom’s Child by Bill Martin Jr.; and in Australia we have a great song that tells about our different beginnings, I am, you are, we are Australian by Bruce Woodley.

What got me thinking about history in particular for this post is the flash fiction prompt posted by Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications. Charli’s challenge is to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that considers history, near or far.

This is my contribution

washing 1949

Washing day

Her freckled, calloused hands were red and chaffed as they gripped the wooden stick and stirred Monday’s sheets in the large copper pot heating over burning blocks of wood.

The children played in the dirt nearby, scratching like chickens, hopeful of an interesting find.

The dirt embedded under her torn and splitting fingernails began to ease away in the warm sudsy water as she heaved the sodden sheets and plopped them onto the wooden mangles.

The children fought to turn the handle, smearing dirty handprints on the sheets.

She sighed, and hung them over the line. One chore done.
©Norah Colvin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

My thanks to Norah for reminding us how important it is to pass on this living history from generation to generation. I know she would be delighted to hear your experiences about learning family history and comments. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Understanding family relationships by Norah Colvin


Delighted to welcome educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and some posts from her archives. In her first post from 2015, Norah who is a dedicated participant in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge, was reminded about a family mystery.

Understanding family relationships by Norah Colvin

At the Carrot Ranch this week Charli Mills is talking about cold cases and challenges writers to, In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an old mystery in the current time. Is it a discovery? Is it solved? Does it no longer matter, or does it impact innocent generations in between?

My thoughts immediately turned to a mystery that occurred in my family over one hundred years ago when the two-year old brother of my grandfather disappeared and was never seen again.

http://www.clker.com/clipart-10083.htmlhttp://www.clker.com/clipart-10083.html

Most families do have a skeleton or two in the closet. Not all families like it to be known. Many Australian families who can trace the arrival of ancestors back to before the end of convict transportation in 1868 can find a convict in their ancestry. I have two; one on each side of the family. Generally the reasons for transportation were rather minor so I am not too concerned about sharing that information. In fact, many Australians are delighted to find a convict in the past as it adds a little interest and colour to their family tree.

Children generally love to hear stories of their own lives and families. I have written about that before here. However young children probably have no need for or interest in delving as far back into family history as the three stories I have mentioned above. An interest in ancestors further back than living relatives (grandparents and great-grandparents) usually develops later, if at all.

A great place to start thinking about history in early childhood classrooms is sharing stories about the families of children in the class. Most classes in Australia are comprised of children from variety of backgrounds so sharing those stories helps to develop an appreciation for each other as well as knowledge of the world. I developed a unit called Getting to know you for use in early childhood classroom which aims to develop discussion about family histories.

But children can start learning about family relationships even earlier than that by discussions of who’s who in the family and explanations of the words and relationships; for example father/daughter; brother/sister; aunt/niece; grandmother/granddaughter.

Here is a picture of some pages of a book I made for Bec when she was just a little tot, just to give you the idea.

family book

Photo books of family members are much easier to make these days with digital photos and programs such as PowerPoint, as well as glossy books you can make and order online.

I am very proud of my two grandchildren, as any grandparent would be, and am pleased to say that they have a good understanding of who is in their family and their relationships to each other. It is a frequent topic of discussion. However I was very tickled when my three year old granddaughter proceeded to tell me, with some excitement, that her Daddy and her Aunty Bec were brother and sister in real life; in REAL life, she emphasized.

Regular readers of my blog may be familiar with a character I have been developing in response to Charli’s flash fiction challenges: Marnie. Her story is not real life but, sadly, aspects of it could be, for others. There was a period of about twenty years when, after escaping her dysfunctional family, Marnie was untraceable, living without any connection to her family and past, a mystery. It took authorities five years after both parents had passed to track her down with the ‘news’. This episode takes up there.

Found

The officers looked friendly enough but still she tried to hide the tremble in her soul and tremor in her voice behind the blankness of her stare.

She’d opened the door just a crack, as far as the chain would allow.

“Marnie Dobson?” they asked. She shook her head. She’d not . . . ; not since . . . ; no longer. She shook again.

They asked her to step outside. With no other option she reluctantly unlocked and emerged into the glare of daylight.

“Marnie Dobson,” one said, “We are here to inform you . . .”

©Norah Colvin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

My thanks to Norah for sharing this post and I think the family picture book is an excellent idea.  I have done our family history but perhaps I can do that for the younger generation with the photographs that I have scanned and saved from the 1900s.

If you would like to share some posts from your archives that deserve to be read again and by a different audience, as well as promote your work.. then this is how…

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about family.

  1. Personal memories of childhood or teens that are still fresh in your mind.
  2. Family history, stories of your parents, grandparents and further back if you can.
  3. Fur family past and present.
  4. Favourite recipes.
  5. Memorable holidays.
  6. Places you have lived.
  7. Memorable homes you have lived in.
  8. Grandchildren tales.
  9. Any family related post – education, health, teen years, elderly care, lifestyle.
  10. Please remember that there are some younger readers who visit.

I think you get the idea.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog from the day you started up to December 2018, and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 700 posts from 200 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

Previous participants are more than welcome

Smorgasbord Reblog from Norah Colvin – School Days, Reminiscences of Sally Cronin


Last Sunday I was the guest of educator and storyteller Norah Colvin as part of her new series School Day Reminiscences

Norah asked me about my education and schooling and I had to delve back over 60 years to access those memories… some interesting questions, and I am sure Norah would love to hear from you… here is a snippet and the link to read more…

School Days, Reminiscences of Sally Cronin by Norah Colvin

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Sally Cronin, author, blogger and supreme supporter of authors and bloggers. Sally is a prolific writer on numerous topics on her blog and in her publications. She seems to have an infinite capacity for supporting other writers with guest posts, reviews, blog visits and comments, and shares on social media. I am constantly in awe of her output and the esteem in which she is held and I am very grateful for the support she provides me in the online world.

I am especially pleased with the timing of Sally’s interview as today 17 March is St Patrick’s Day and Sally is Irish! She even has a lovely book of Tales from the Irish Garden, published late last year.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Sally to tell you a little of herself:

I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, South Africa and the USA before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a long and very happy career, I took the step to retrain as a nutritional therapist, a subject that I was very interested in, and to make the time to write my first book. Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another eleven books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

Welcome, Sally.

Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school?

Portsmouth UK (3), Malta, Cape Town South Africa, Preston UK,

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All the schools were government.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

Diplomas in Secretarial Studies and a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I started as a secretary in a dental practice but within a few months started training as a dental nurse which I found more interesting.

What is you earliest memory of school?

Age four arriving at the first class at primary and noticing all the names scratched out on my extremely old desk and my teacher Mrs. Miller.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Head over and read the rest of the interview and contact Norah about participating: https://norahcolvin.com/2019/03/17/school-days-reminiscences-of-sally-cronin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

Smorgasbord Christmas celebrations – The Fourth Day of Christmas with guests Norah Colvin and Amy Reade


So here we are all again and it is now day four of the party and I am delighted to have been joined by two more special guests, Norah Colvin and Amy Reade… more about them and their most favourite Christmas gifts later.

My Christmas Past..

I have been looking back over photographs of Christmas past and I came across a gathering we hosted in Tring in 1984 just before David and I left for Houston for two years. It had all happened very quickly. We had moved into our little house in the April when David moved from Liverpool with his job to a new cable television division that had been set up. Unfortunately we had only been there six months when the powers that be shut down the division and made David redundant. A bit of a shock to say the least. While we were in the process of making plans for the future his previous boss rang and offered David a very different prospect. Two years in Houston, Texas responsible for sales in the United States. It was really a no brainer, there was only two of us, the money was great and all we had to do was sell our house which we did quickly thank goodness.

We were leaving early January and wanted to see as much of the family as possible. Despite heavy snow falls our visitors arrived on the 24th of December. David’s parents came from Ireland, my parents and brother from Portsmouth, David’s uncle from London – with only three bedrooms it meant that David and I camped out on mattresses in the dining room and my brother had the conservatory. Money was a bit tight but David brewed up a keg of beer – twice – because the first one was sampled a couple of weeks before by friends who came over to play darts!!

Nine of us crammed around the dining room table and we had a wonderful day with charades in the afternoon which disintegrated into a hilarious debacle. Everybody stayed on until the 27th and we put all our belongings except for two suitcases of clothes and flew off knowing we would probably not see them again for at least two years.

A great Christmas and when I look at the photos, I realise how easy it is to let those memories fade, when actually being together and the laughter was more important than fancy food and presents.

To get you in the Christmas mood.. and because I know there are many thousands of families who will not be with their father’s, husbands, brothers, sisters and other loved ones who are serving in the military over the holidays… here is White Christmas from the United States Navy Band

Time to meet my first guest who is a fantastic member of our blogging community, Norah Colvin and shares a little bit about herself, and also her very best Christmas gift of all time.

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create. I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning. I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Here is Norah’s  Very Best Christmas Gift

One of my strongest memories is of waking before sunrise one Christmas morning, checking to see if Santa had been, and discovering a book at the end of my bed. While there was not enough light at first to see the illustrations or read the words, I delighted in the smoothness of the cover and the smell of the pages. Slowly, as the sun rose, the title revealed itself: Heidi by Johanna Spyri, and I started to read. I loved that story and read it many times. After more than fifty years I still have the book in my possession, rather tattered and worn, not unlike its owner, but still loved.

I loved that book too and the sequel and I was a bit pushed at first as to what I might give to Norah as a Christmas present… then it came to me..

Peter in the story of Heidi is a goatherd… voila..front row seats at a performance of The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music…

Countries around the world have their own way of celebrating Christmas and for example if you were in Greenland, you would have to buy an imported tree, as trees don’t grow that far north. As an alternative a large piece of driftwood is decorated usually on the 23rd of December. Since the sun does not rise in the winter in Greenland, an illuminated star is put in the window to bring some light to the darkness.

People visit each other for coffee and cakes and a delicacy is ‘Mattak’ which is a strip of whale skin with piece of blubber inside… unfortunately tough to chew so is usually swallowed. B-B-Q caribou or reindeer might also be on the menu.

You might want to use this snippet about the whale skin and blubber to your advantage as a threat to any child at the table declining the Brussel Sprouts! Or for guests who have outstayed their welcome!

There are so many carols that are popular that it tough to narrow it down to twelve but since this is my party….. I get to choose. Kings College, Cambridge is renowned for its choir and here they are with Hark the Herald Angels Sing...

Day four and it is officially 28th December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when prayers are said for the innocent baby boys that Herod allegedly had killed in his efforts to overturn the prophesy passed on by the Magi that the King of the Jews, the baby Jesus would take his throne. There has been much research into this massacre and theologians and historians are fairly sure that it did not take place. It may well be that around that time there could have been an epidemic that took the lives of many infants and someone put two and two together and got five. Anyway perhaps it is a time to remember all young innocents who are taken before their time.

Wikipedia.com

There is much debate about the origins of ‘Four Calling Birds’ but in fact the original was ‘Four Colly Birds‘ and this meant that they were grimy and sooty and actually referred to Blackbirds.. Even more confusing was that they were not really Blackbirds but Thrushes…I suggest that you go directly to the drink section and partake of a very pleasant glass of champagne and forget the four birds of whatever origin all together….

Time for my second guest and delighted to welcome author Amy Reade to the party.  Apart from her own books on her website, Amy features recommended reads from other authors and some delicious recipes.

USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade writes Gothic, traditional, and cozy mysteries. Her books have been compared to those by authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s standalone novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Her Malice series explores a family’s secrets and mysteries set against the breathtaking backdrops of Scotland and Wales. Her newest mystery, The Worst Noel, is the first in her Juniper Junction Holiday cozies. A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling. She loves cooking, reading, and travel.

Here is Amy’s most treasured Christmas gift ever

I wish I could say that my favorite Christmas gift was a sentimental one, one that would prompt sappy tears, but I can’t. My favorite Christmas gift ever was a Barbie Dream House.
Tall, plastic, yellow, filled with stories yet to be imagined, it was a complete surprise. We lived in frigid northern New York in a house with a screened-in front porch. When we finished opening the gifts under the tree, there was one last item—a note addressed to me telling me to look on the porch. Brrr.  There is was, in all its frozen glory.

I think that we might be able to upgrade that first Barbie Dream House for you Amy with this brand new interactive build that certainly beats anything I have ever lived in… enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy Amy Reade’s bookshttp://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2
Connect to Amy via her blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

51dikCmd-RL._UY250_House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

One of the recent reviews for The Worst Noel

Lilly’s Very Bad, No Good, Terrible, “Worst” Day! A very entertaining first-in-the-series penned by Amy M. Reade (Ok, what an apropos name, right?). A clever mystery with wonderful characters and a satisfying conclusion make me a fan and eager to join in as a regular for her Juniper Junction Holiday Mysteries. The mystery gives “karma” a good name…bad character meets bad end, but perp is handed justice, too. Readers are led through a variety of entertaining suspects all with motive, but the final “you’re it” is one that challenged my inner Sherlock. And along with an enjoyable cozy mystery, she provides a engaging look into Lilly’s family dramas, interactions with her BFF, and efforts to have a Black Friday do-over. Amy is not a new author, penning standalone books and the Malice series, so the well-developed characters in a first-in-the-series book are a given. I admire Lilly, the teens are an enjoyable support duo, and she paints with realism her mother’s possible early-onset dementia and ex-husband’s antics. Stories and characters that all made for a great read!

The story has a whopping sixty-two chapters. Whoa! I thought I’d be reading for days. However, I was so pleasantly surprised, and really like the manner in which Amy organized her story. Each chapter is a scene or part of the day easily enjoyed…a real page-turner. In Amy’s story readers are put on the periphery with an enjoyable third-person narrative. However, I prefer a first-person narrative that allows me to feel I’m part of the story with the “I” perspective. She does include intriguing descriptions, engaging banter, and illustrations of tone and personality which kept me totally engaged. I highly recommend this book, and am a big fan!

My two favorite words…No, not “It’s Murder!,” but Recipes Included! Amy Reade has added three delicious easy-to-follow recipes as a bonus. Enjoy what BFF Noley brought for breakfast whose job as a recipe developer for a national cooking magazine has made being her “taste tester” a delicious position: Christmas Jam (Cranberries, and raspberries, and pears…oh, my!), Orange-Kissed Biscuits (Topped with Christmas Jam, of course!), and Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing (A tropical delight!).

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan. The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac. Don’t all rush to the supermarket! In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century. It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite! In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white. They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium. Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot. As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Apart from garnish for your Christmas dinner, you can make this delicious soup for a starter or perhaps with a turkey sandwich on Christmas night… Courtesy of Carol Taylor from the Cook from Scratch series

Carrot Soup Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 2 carrots washed and sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Half onion chopped
  • 1/2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped or grated
  • The zest and juice of half an orange 500ml of fresh vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper to season.
  • Crème fresh and coriander, to garnish. I use Coconut milk and a sprinkle of chilli flakes…but that’s me I love my chilli.

To prepare…

  • Gently cook the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until it has softened but not coloured, add the garlic, ginger and orange zest and cook for a minute or 2.
  • Then add the carrots and pour in the stock.
  • Simmer until the carrots are very tender and using a hand blender blend until smooth.
  • Serve and garnish as above with crème fresh and coriander or coconut milk and some chilli flakes as I do

We all love some sparkling wine at Christmas and New Year and if really pushing the boat out then buying the finest Champagne can not only add some luxury sparkle to your celebrations but also add quite a bit to the housekeeping bill….

Some supermarkets now bottle their own Champagne and the budget stores of Aldi and Lidl have had some really good press in recent years. When we lived in the USA, we enjoyed Korbel California Champagnes and in Spain you could buy the finest Cava Reserva for amazing prices… and it is still our preferred sparkling wine. This is despite their being the highest tax on alcohol in Europe here in Ireland where you will pay 50% more for a bottle.

Prosecco is popular all year around and also tends to be cheaper than champagne, and follow this link if you would like to find out more about the differences between prosecco and champagne

To be honest I am very partial to a drop of alcoholic ginger beer at Christmas and always look for somewhere that is stocking my favourite brand….

Thank you for dropping in to the party and it would be lovely to hear about your most memorable Christmas gift.

Tomorrow we are at the Five Gold Rings stage of the party with guests Debby Gies, Lizzie Chantree and Joy Lennick… I hope to see you there.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – 10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin


 

Today we continue with the series of posts from the archives of educator Norah Colvin.  Norah talks us through making a very special Christmas decoration.

10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin

The end of the school year in Australia is fast approaching; assessment is almost done and reports completed.

After a hectic year, thoughts are turning towards Christmas and the long summer holidays.

However the teaching and learning in the classroom doesn’t stop until the final farewells on the last day of school.

These last few weeks of the school year allow a little more flexibility and time for spontaneous explorations of children’s interests after the curriculum’s imposed learnings have been achieved. Sure, skills still need to be practised and extended but the pressure is not so relentless.

As the thoughts of most children are on Christmas and what they will do during the holidays, why not harness those interests and that excitement to make classroom learning meaningful and fun while developing important social and cultural concepts and understandings as well as practising and extending literacy and numeracy skills.

Over recent years there has been some controversy over whether Christmas should be included in school programs, some arguing that it is not inclusive and excludes those students whose cultural backgrounds neither recognise nor celebrate Christmas.

I have a number of reasons to support my argument that Christmas should be learned about in school, and my reference is to secular rather than religious celebrations which are best left to organisations dedicated to that purpose.

I would like to say that the main reason is that I love Christmas (the excitement, the anticipation, the decorations, the gift-giving, the celebrations with family and friends)!

But that would not be true.

My focus is educational:

  • Cultural respect: Most children in Australian schools celebrate Christmas. Including
  • Christmas in the classroom program acknowledges this and draws upon their interests and prior knowledge.
  • Cultural awareness: Investigation of traditions celebrated by other class members, community groups or countries develops a recognition of other perspectives, including those who do not celebrate Christmas and those who celebrate other traditions such as Hanukkah, Ramadan or Chinese New Year.
  • Cultural understanding: Learning about the traditions of the dominant culture in which one lives makes one more comfortable within that society, more able to converse about important events and holidays, and able to develop shared experiences i.e. helps to develop feelings of being included, rather than excluded by participating in the outward traditions. However, this knowledge does not necessitate participation or belief.
  • Cultural acceptance: Learning to understand that, although not everyone shares the same beliefs or traditions, we all share a common humanity and that there is good in everyone is important for creating a peaceful and nonjudgmental world.
  • Self-awareness: Christmas is a time for reflecting on the year’s achievements and behaviour e.g. whether you have been “naughty or nice” or whether you have worked hard are superficial questions which can lead to deeper introspection. This self-reflection can lead to celebration as well as to the setting of positive goals for improvement.
  • Other-awareness: Recognising one’s own strengths can help to identify, recognise and appreciate the strengths and achievements of others.
  • Emotional intelligence: Children learn to recognise and describe their own emotions, and the emotions of others. They understand that not everyone thinks and feels the same way about similar events and learn to respect the thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Social-awareness: Recognising how others think and feel about certain events can develop feelings of empathy. Children are more likely to find common ground upon which friendships can be built.
  • Being kind to each other: Christmas is all about sharing and giving. In a classroom these can lead to discussions about working cooperatively and collaboratively, getting along with each other, and giving the greatest gift of all: friendship.
  • Enjoyment, recognition and fun! I couldn’t stop at 9, and I think the inclusion of fun in the classroom is one of the most powerful ways to engage and motivate learners!

Decorating the classroom is one way of setting the scene for explorations of Christmas traditions while encouraging the children to work cooperatively, take pride in their shared achievements and talk about how Christmas is celebrated (or not) in their families.

It became a tradition in my year one classroom to make a large 3D Christmas tree to adorn our classroom wall and become the focal point of our learning.

We would sit in front of it to have our discussions and read our stories.

To the display surrounding it, we would add child-made decorations, stories and poems they had written, holiday messages and gifts.

I would photograph each child in front of the tree, holding a sign with the message e.g. “Happy Christmas 2013”. These photographs would then be added to calendars which became a Christmas gift for parents.

The children loved doing the tree, partly because of the inherent excitement at the end of the school year with Christmas holidays imminent. But they also loved doing it because they were working together, making something meaningful to them; and as they worked together and saw the tree take shape, they realised that what can be achieved together is far more (as well as more fun) than they would have achieved on their own.

And while they were busily tracing and cutting, they were talking and sharing ideas and thoughts with each other and with me. We began to learn a lot about each other’s experiences, traditions and feelings.

Having made the tree together, the children had an enormous sense of collective pride in what they had achieved, especially when all those viewing it remarked upon how lovely it looked.

While I include instructions for making the tree here, they are also available from readilearn.

What do you think? Do you think Christmas should be celebrated in schools?

Should learning about Christmas be included in school programs in Australia?

What reasons would you add to my list? What do you disagree with?

©Norah Colvin 2013

My thanks to Norah for sharing this lovely 3D Christmas tree for children to make and I am sure that she would welcome your feedback.

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103738026475794164392

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives. The Accidental Home Schooler by Norah Colvin


The second post in the series by educator Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares a concept that she had to offer an alternative to the government run schooling on offer in her area.

The Accidental Home Schooler by Norah Colvin

In a previous post “To school or not to school” I discussed thoughts I had pondered and issues I had considered when deciding the future education of my daughter.

Although the main focus of that article was whether to school or not, home education was not only not my first choice, but not even a consideration.

The merest hint of an idea of starting my own school had niggled away in the back of my thoughts for a long time. More than ten years before that article was written, I was in college studying the teaching of literacy when the idea popped into conscious thought. In response to an assigned task, which required that I explain how I would implement a literacy program in a school, I surprised my lecturer (and myself) by explaining how I would do so in a school that I established. Although I was never afraid of placing my own spin upon a set task, I never really expected the idea of establishing a school of my own to be anything more than just that.

In the ensuing years prior to the birth of my daughter, my son completed his primary schooling and I taught in a variety of roles, some of which were the most rewarding of my career. During those years I met many other teachers with a similar dream of starting their own school. They were mostly creative and innovative teachers, passionate about their own learning as well as the learning of their students. They inspired their students with an energy that at times seemed infinite. But they felt stymied by the formality and top-down approach of traditional schooling which they, like me, believed to be detrimental to children’s learning and personal growth.

Many of these teachers left the profession, unable to conquer the battle between philosophy and practice waging within. Others continue teaching, constantly trying to balance their beliefs about learning and the needs of their students within the confines of the expected formal and didactic approach to teaching. Others have become burnt out, feeling isolated and unsupported, succumbing to the pressure to conform.

Few teachers take action to make their dream a reality. Whatever one’s beliefs, it takes a great deal of courage to step outside the norm of accepted practices. To establish an alternative school, in addition to this courage, requirements include a bottomless well of financial resources, an infinite ability to persist under the onslaught of unremitting obstacles, and a firm commitment to ideals and philosophies.

When Bec was born the nagging of this idea was so insistent that I was compelled to bring it out from where it was hiding and give it some serious consideration. Without any real understanding of the magnitude of the task ahead, without a well of financial resources, but with a firmly-held belief in what I was undertaking, I set upon the road to turn the dream to reality.

Me with a group of “my” children, including Bec in the middle.

When Bec was about 2, I established a small home-based (but not profitable) business providing educational care for other 2-3 year olds and educational play sessions for parents and children.

For the children in care, I provided a stimulating learning environment with lots of talk, books and hands-on exploratory activities. I provided support as they learned to have a go and developed confidence in their abilities.

In the play sessions I guided parents’ engagement with their children in play, explained how they could develop vocabulary and concepts, and provided suggestions for them to continue at home. Even after 20 years, parents still tell me how valuable those session were to their children’s education.

At the same time I investigated and explored alternatives to traditionally schooling available in my area but was disappointed that none exactly met my criteria. Some were too laissez faire, others followed pedagogical approaches I believed to be unsupportive of children’s learning, and others were based on philosophies I didn’t agree with.

I began constructing a vision of what my ideal school would be. I invited other like-minded teachers to join me and we got to work on building a team, enlisting families, and seeking out a facility.

Composing the vision statement.

Approval by the education department was easily achieved and interest of parents was forthcoming. In the end, the greatest stumbling block and final inhibitor of the project was town planning.

Throughout those establishment years Bec was not enrolled in a school. She was educated at home while we waited for my alternative school to open. We participated in some home schooling group activities, and I continued to conduct home-based educational sessions for Bec and other children. After about 5 years and two aborted starts, the project was terminated and Bec’s home education came to an end. Well, it really didn’t come to an end. She continued to do a lot of learning at home, but as she was enrolled in the local government school, it was her official education provider.

I often wonder what our lives would be like now if my dream of opening an alternative school had been achieved.

It was difficult making the decision to let it go. I was torn between two equally compelling but conflicting pieces of advice which vied for my attention:

I do believe I gave the dream my best shot, but after a long time and many false starts, I decided that perhaps I should listen to the messages. With most families, like ourselves, more interested in an alternative school than in home schooling, it was time to let it go. Other families, like me, were not enamoured with the local offerings, but then, also like me, had to decide the future of their children’s education.

I no longer felt comfortable asking families to stay committed to the goal with no tangible start date in sight, and after a final search for a suitable property hit another dead end, the idea was abandoned. I was not committed to home education as a long-term alternative for Bec’s education, and so finally, in year 4, she started school.

©Norah Colvin

Having been to 8 schools eventually overseas and the UK I do believe that I received a sometimes confusing but certainly enlightening education. Different curriculums, varied history and geography subjects and versions of English Language and Literature.  Because of the age differences – for example schooling in South Africa at the time began at 7 and secondary school at 13, I was always being put in the class that related to my age not my abilities. That required a lot of catch up usually after school in a one to one situation. I made it through in the end but I have a feeling that Norah’s concept would have been very beneficial for the children who participated.  Thanks to Norah for her post.. Sally

Your feedback would be gratefully received.

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103738026475794164392

I am now looking for assorted Festive posts for December, recollections of Christmas past, family, humour, short stories, poems, recipes etc.. Have a delve through your previous December posts and if you are not planning on re-using.. pop them over to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Next week Norah will be showing us how to make a 3D Christmas tree poster..