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Lego: The benefits.

March 4, 2016

Teaching developmental play in the first year of school is very important. Most Kinder programs are developed around structured play-alot of learning occurs during ‘play’ and in the first year of schooling us teachers always included lego as one of our play activities, so why not start at home?


Lego is a ‘hands on’ activity which means the child is in control of their learning- very often this is when the most valuable learning happens-through discovery. Not only does the child need to use problem solving skills but it increases their spatial awareness. Fine motor skills are developed as they pick up the pieces and manipulate them to learn which ones fit and their communication and oral language skills are required. It’s a great activity to do in a group situation as this also involves rules of play, encouraging sharing and will put their oral language skills to the test. Just find a great storage container for it all-those pieces of lego are easy to lose!!

Dr Seuss’ ABC

March 4, 2016
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A great book for so many reasons!

Rhyme is a fantastic way to build vocabulary as it encourages children to learn word families where words have the same ending but different beginnings. Children also get involved in the story and are able to predict what word is coming up next.

I also love this story because the alphabet is written in large font and the repetition of introducing each letter is catchy and engaging for children.

For older children there’s so many follow up activities you could do with this book afterwards. You could make a bumblebee for the letter b, bake some of Jerry Jordan’s jam, create a word list for one of the letters, a poster with cut out pictures/drawings of things that start with a particular letter…the list goes on!

Carter’s alphabet book.

February 23, 2016

We created this book yesterday (Carter’s 2 years and 3 months old) and already I’ve been surprised at how quickly it’s prompted Carter to ask ‘what does …. start with’ long after we’ve put the book away.

All you’ll need for this one is a scrapbook, some magazines and textas and away you go.

I’ve written an upper and lowercase letter on each page and we have been cutting and pasting pictures that start with that letter on all the pages. I always write the name of the picture underneath it, making specific reference to the initial letter being the same as letter on the page and the sound it makes. E.g: ‘So flowers start with f. F for flowers. ffffff’. It’s really important to not only focus on identifying the letter but also ensuring your child knows what sound it makes-without that knowledge they won’t be able to make the connection when hearing it in words.

At the moment I’m telling Carter what a lot of the pictures start with, but as his knowledge of letter sounds build hopefully he will soon be telling me what the initial sound is. We also find the letter page together, again reinforcing letter identification as part of the activity. This one’s a great one to read together each night as well.

A day with Thomas!

January 18, 2016

Carter has never watched an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, but he has a few of the books and he absolutely loves them! We also love sharing as many experiences as we can as a family-so when we received tickets to ‘a day with Thomas’ on the Ballarine Railway we were all very excited. It’s a great day for families and won’t break the budget, and the opportunities for learning are endless.

On the way to Queenscliff Carter read his Thomas book which was a great prompt to introduce the vocabulary we would use that morning. We talked about who he would see, what we were going to do and what sounds we might hear.

During the visit:

  • You are provided with a show bag and inside was a great activity which gives the kids purpose during their visit. They had to find different board with each of the characters and stamp their sheet when they found it. We pointed to the name on the board and would tell Carter the first letter of the name (e.g: That’s T for Thomas, can you find Thomas on your sheet?) and he would then locate and stamp the character. Lots of activities are included to take home as well (an activity book, a balloon, pencil and even a Thomas tattoo and sticker!)


Finding all the characters and stamping our sheet.

  • The kids get the chance to have two train rides, one on the Steam Train to Lakers Siding (you get to see all the old steam trains here-we heard ‘what is that?’ alot!!!) and one on the open air     Thomas train. Carter was in awe of all the sights and sounds, the tooting train was a winner and generated a lot of discussion! He also loved high fiving Sir Topham Hatt who was great with all the kids.
  • There’s a jumping castle and a maze which the kids love and you can hop on board Henry and blow his whistle.

Post visit:

On the way home we recapped what we had seen and let Carter lead the discussion. We took alot of photos which I will print and stick in a scrapbook and then together we will generate simple sentences to write underneath the photos. This will become our ‘book’ to read together.

Language experiences like these introduce new vocabulary and increase oral language skills. Carter’s been talking about Thomas and all the trains for the past three days since our visit and he’s even put his certificate in his room! We encourage him to use simple sentences to talk about his visit, rather than singular words, and we model these to him.



I see a…

January 14, 2016

Carter received a chalkboard for Christmas, he loves it and so do I! Whilst they can be used for so many things, this post is all about writing sentences.

I am channeling his love for animals (at this age it’s important to choose topics they are interested in and therefore will be easily engaged) and using an old calendar for pictures. Everyday we choose a new picture and we write a sentence about that picture. The sentence starter is the same each day ‘I see a…’

On the first day Carter simply used one word to complete his sentence. Since then I am finding he is using more adjectives and his sentences are becoming longer and more complex.To begin, I say the sentence starter, he then verbalises the rest of the sentence and watches as I write it on the chalkboard. Once it’s written, I read the sentence to him, pointing at the words as I read aloud. After each day we write the sentence on a post it note and stick it on the picture which he then hangs in his room. He loves looking at them and ‘reading’ them.

We all went on safari…

December 7, 2015


What a great pick up from the local library!


So many teaching points with this one…

  1. Rhyme: Kids love rhyme, after a few pages they are able to start predicting the last word, using rhyme and picture cues to assist them.
  2. Counting: Each page has a number on it, so not only can your child identify the number but they can also count the number of animals and relate the number to it.
  3. Identifying animals: Big, colourful pictures in this story allow the children to easily identify the animals, their colours, skin type etc.
  4. African safari: Depending on the age of your child, you could introduce the concept of different countries, cultures and animals found in particular countries. Carter loves the safari bus at Werribee Zoo so he was able to connect the word ‘safari’ to his experience at the zoo and the types of animals he sees there.

It’s always more beneficial to a child’s learning if they can relate the concept to their own personal experiences, it helps them to own the learning and make connections. 

Carter’s Family Book.

November 23, 2015

Introducing reading a text to gather information is an important skill, so to do this, I created a family book for Carter.

Each page had a photo of his family members with their names written underneath.

Not only was it a great way to reinforce his oral language skills by teaching him the names of the people closest to him, but he was also introduced to basic reading concepts.

Turning pages, pictures accompanied by print and reading to inform were all part of the learning process.

He also loved being able to say hello to his family using their names when he saw them! We introduced the book to Carter when he was 10 months old and he enjoyed ‘reading’ it each day.


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Talk the talk!

November 22, 2015
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‘Oral language forms the basis of all literacy learning.’

John Munro said it at a PD I attended and he is spot on. Many parents teach their toddler the alphabet, but before that, children need to be able to use speech appropriately so that they are able to communicate effectively. Oral language skills give children a head start when learning to read a text, write words the list goes on….

Throughout my blog you will find ideas of how you can provide ‘rich learning experiences’ for your child to enhance their oral language skills.


But first….


What are ‘rich learning experiences’?

Children learn through their own discovery process, so go exploring!

  • The Park
  • Zoo
  • Playground
  • Library
  • Local shops
  • Aquarium
  • The farm
    Introduce your child to the world around them. The key is to make the learning explicit.



Prior to visiting:

Introduce the vocabulary you will use on your ‘excursion’.

Depending on the age of your child you could;

  •  use flashcards with the different names of things you will see
  • read stories in line with your theme which will begin to immerse them in the language they will be exposed to .
  • Introduce the most common letter sounds they will hear
  • discuss their predictions, such as what they think they will see, what they would like to foind out etc.


During the visit:

Younger children will be in awe and will experience sensory overload, so it’s important to allow them to explore at their own pace.

Choose a few key words and repeat these, emphasizing the initial sound; e.g fffffff fish. Point to the fish as you continue to say the key word to them. (Using the initial sound will assist your child when they begin reading – teachers encourage children to use the initial sound and picture to help them predict what a word in a text is.)

For older children immersion in and exposure to the sights, sounds and smells will allow them to explore at a deeper level. Questioning your child prompts them to verbalise their thinking and encourages them to ask their own questions. Asking them what they can see, hear and what a creature feels like are good beginning questions, then moving to deeper questions will encourage them to use their communication skills to draw their own conclusions; a valuable part of the learning process.


Post visit:

Using photos you have taken, children can continue learning long after they have left the aquarium.

Photos are a great discussion prompt, helping children remember what they saw, recall names, colours and simple facts.

Laminate the photos and write the names underneath and keep them accessible so your child can refer to them. When they are looking at them, point to the name and repeat the word, emphasizing in particular, the initial sound.

By immersing your child in the language of the world around them you will assist with their oral language development. With sound oral language skills, your child will be on the road to success in their early years of schooling.