Monday 30 December 2013

Character bags

These cute character bags were made as as a follow-up activity to a guided reading session. Students in Year 2, drew pictures of the main character and other characters from the book, 'Lazy Duck'. They also included pictures of things the main character liked to do, liked to eat and a quote from the book. They loved their character bags so we laminated the drawings and they were used for retelling the story.

Friday 5 April 2013

Supporting KIds' Writing

I have been busy supporting students in classes over the last couple of weeks. If you live in Australia, you will be aware of the upcoming NAPLAN assessments and part of supporting students in Year 3, 5 and 7 is based around writing persuasive texts.

We have spent many lessons discussing purposes for writing and one resource I've found useful is the CARS Programme By Hawker Brownlow Education. It's strictly a resource for teaching reading comprehension strategies but when it's all said and done, literacy is most effective integrated and in real contexts for real purposes, where possible.

The CARS programme categorises author's purpose in one of the following:
P, to persuade
I, to inform
D, to describe
E, to entertain

So, when thinking of a real context for my Year 7 students, I decided they would write a persuasive letter to the School Librarian, Mrs Robertson. Of course, Mrs Robertson was in on the gig and has promised to read each letter. The letter was to persuade her one way or the other to buy e-readers for the school library.

Putting pen to paper isn't always the natural thing to do, so students were provided with a graphic organiser
to plan their writing. Students came up with a goal for writing, a stance; for or against and three general arguments. Each argument branched off into three examples and the planning included a rebuttal.

The results were exceptional, students had their plan which made the writing flow much easier, referring to their graphic organiser and not having to stop half-way through writing to come up with new ideas. The drafts were published on the computer as Word documents and the students were proud of their efforts and the process was a worthwhile and productive end result.

See link for Reading Comprehension activity that preceded Year 7 Writing.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Crafty Kids

Our dear neighbour gave my daughter a bucketful of shells that she'd collected after a holiday at a popular beachside town in W.A. After sorting the shells into various colours, textures and shapes, she created this beautiful flower design. Just goes to show that kids can have fun outdoors. Thanks Robyn!!

Friday 25 January 2013

School Lunch Boxes

Lunchtimes, recess, snack or crunch and sip times are an important part of a child's day. It's a time to refuel, socialise and have some time-out from the structured timetable. In most classes and schools there is a short amount of time to eat and children are then required to pack away lunch boxes and make the most of playtimes. Here are my top tips for packing lunch boxes:

  • Try not to overwrap. Most containers are airtight and no plastic wrap or snap lock bags are necessary to keep lunches fresh. 
  • Can you littlies open their own packaging, drink bottles and containers? It might be worth having them practise or try this at home. It can be frustrating for small children to have to wait in line for an adult to open their packages.
  • Don't overfill. Your little one can only eat a small amount at a lunch break, most schools require children to eat their sandwich first so it may be worth considering how much your child could eat on top of that.
  • Keep them cold. School bags can sit outside on hot days and there isn't always room to keep lunches indoors so keep lunches cool with small cool bricks or frozen drinks especially when they contain dairy or meat.
  • Label EVERYTHING. Lunch containers can cost a small fortune and it's easy for kids to lose or mix-up containers. Write your child's name on all parts of the containers to avoid a draw full of containers with no lids :) 

Thursday 17 January 2013

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls for Healthy Kids Lunches

How to Make Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

Buy Pandaroo Rice Paper from your local store along with any fillings you like; cooked chicken, seafood, vegetables and a dipping sauce (buy ready made or mix sweet chilli sauce with a little fish sauce).

1.  Peel and cut vegetables for the filling (we have a peeler that peels and then juliennes carrot, zucchini and cucumber on the other side).

2.  Soak one of the rice paper in cold water for around a minute until it softens. Lay it on a clean wet teatowel to keep it moist.

3.  Add any filling of your choice.
4.  Fold in side at ends and roll up in the shape of a spring roll.

Note the paper roll is quite sticky so it may take a few practises at a nice tight roll. These paper rolls don't store well and are best eaten immediately. 

Tuesday 15 January 2013

School Holiday Activities

What do other people do on the school holidays in Perth, W.A? These summer holidays are around six weeks long and the Christmas season sits right in the middle of them so there's plenty of time to enjoy the break of routine from homework, lunches and after-school activities. Summer is here, that's for sure, with most days sitting above 35'C. It makes sense to plan around these hot days with water activities at the beach river, fun parks like great escape and Adventure World. For those conscious of the dollars, entry is considerably discounted at Adventure World after 2pm and there's still plenty of time for rides and slides til 7pm. Vacswim at the local pool or beach is also a nice way to cool off in the October and Christmas holidays and at only $1 per day it's not going to break the bank. We've been growing tomatoes in the yard so there's plenty of bruschetta, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and the sweetness of the fruit can't be compared to the shop-bought ones! We also hit the ice-skating rink last Friday night at Mirrabooka and for $10 per skater for drink, chocolate and skate hire for 2.5 hours, it was well worth it - look out for these scoopon deals, they come up all the time. Here are my top 5 free things to do with kids:

1.  Masterchef cook-off- have you tried Nigella's coffee icecream or recipe for bulk pancake mix to store in your pantry, so much better than the shop-bought ones and her berry sauce is to die for?
2.  Local Library for the latest teen magazines, DVD's and of course books- we've done some amazing activities at Joondalup library over the years; hot chocolate, cookies and story time in PJ's, star-gazing outdoors with super-sized telescopes and digging for fossils
3.  Train trip into the city, see City of Perth website for school holiday specials
4.  Play date at the local park - get a group of friends together for coffee and shared morning tea
5.  Turn on the air-conditioner and watch a family favourite or Video-Ezy on a Tuesday for a $2 movie.  

Nigella Lawson's Pancake Mix
For the dry pancake mix
600g/1lb 5oz plain flour
3 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
40g/2½oz caster sugar
To make the pancakes (amounts per 150g/5¼oz dry mixture)
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
250ml/9fl oz milk
1 tbsp melted butter
For the blueberry syrup
125ml/4½fl oz maple syrup
200g/7oz blueberries

1. For the dry pancake mix, place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Transfer to an airtight container, seal and store until needed.
2. To make the pancakes, add the appropriate quantity of egg, milk and melted butter per 150g/5¼oz of the dry mixture (a filled American cup measure will give you the requisite amount per batch, so you may like to use one and dispense with any weighing). Mix well to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat a flat griddle or non-stick frying pan without adding oil.
4. Spoon drops of 1½-2 tablespoons of the batter onto the hot griddle and when bubbles appear on the surface of the little pancakes, flip them over and cook until golden-brown on both sides. It should take about a minute per side.
5. Meanwhile, for the blueberry syrup, place the maple syrup and blueberries into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the blueberries have broken down slightly.
6. To serve, pour the blueberry syrup into a jug and take to the breakfast table with the pancakes. If you have any of the syrup left over, you will notice that it sets into a kind of glossy jam. This will keep for a few days decanted into a jar and put in the fridge, and is glorious dolloped into yoghurt or spread on bread.

Monday 14 January 2013

Farm Visit with Pre-schoolers

School holidays are the perfect time for connecting and catching up with friends and family. This morning we visited Landsdale Farm, Perth W.A. with my sister, two cousins who are sisters and eight children between the ages of 1 and 16. The summer sun didn't let us down but there are plenty of trees to shade under and we quickly took possesion of a rather lovely table and chairs nestled under a huge tree. We were soon joined by  a scrawny looking chicken who was pecking around hopeful for morning tea scraps. Planter pots filled with herbs were labelled and we picked leaves to smell chocolate mint, oregano and lemon thyme. There were two donkey brothers who free-ranged around the grounds, over-friendly sheep and a blind horse. The territorial turkeys were not the favourite of the day but slightly more hospitable were the goats, one of which looked pregnant but we were informed she didn't lose the 'fluid' after her last pregnancy - one can relate and sympathise!! We shared lunch under the big tree and even the teenagers agreed it wasn't too hard being peeled away from ipods, ipads and I.T!!