Sharing books in the ELC

Over last semester we have been focusing on writing fictional narratives. Using the First Steps Gradual Release of Responsibility, over time the children have become familiar with and analyzed a wide range of narrative fictions. They have co-authored fictional narratives and with guidance, have written their own narratives.

We have spent much time discussing where writers get their ideas and we have started a class “writers’ notebook” where we keep good writing ideas.

We are working on an ongoing process of writing. By now, the children have all published several books, both fiction and non- fiction.

The children chose some of their published books to share with the children in the ELC. It was a wet, soggy day but the children were excited and enthusiastic and not at all put off by the rain!

At our reflection meeting, children from ELC and KC said they enjoyed the exchange and asked if we could do something else together. At our class meeting, we shall discuss possible next steps.

Olivia’s Story

The children love to take turns at reading stories to the rest of the class. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of audience and to practice skills such as pause, voice pace and inflection. Recently, Olivia read a book that she had particularly enjoyed. We videoed the story session and showed the video to the children. I was keen to try out a new reflection tool that I had learned from Mr Geddes which involved speeding up a video clip. I tested this new technique on the clip of Olivia’s story time The children loved the speeded-up version and asked for both videos to be posted on the blog.

Literature as a way of understanding

Stories can be a powerful way of helping children to understand the world around them. I asked our librarian, Mrs Kar, if she could recommend some picture books that I could use to help the children explore the concept of learning journeys. She found several books, and I chose “Clem Always Could” by Sarah Watt.

The story is about a boy called Clem who thinks he could always do the things he can do now. When, one day, he has to learn something new, he is worried about what will happen. I read the book several times, so the children were familiar with the story and had time to think about it. Then we talked about the story and thought about the big idea that the author wanted to communicate.

I asked the children to think about a time in their own lives when they had to learn something new, and to show their thoughts on paper. Recently we have been talking about the techniques that illustrators use to help their readers get a clear picture. I reminded the children of some of these techniques and the children got to work. Once the illustrations were finished, we photographed them and put them in a VoiceThread. Over the next week, the children will add voice comments to their photographs. The children have made several VoiceThreads before and are beginning to understand how VoiceThread can be used as a tool for sharing and collaborating with a wider audience.

It would be wonderful if others could add their comments to the photographs, particularly family members or friends who might remember the events described in the illustrations. It is the possibilities for involving others through voice comments that makes VoiceThread such a powerful tool.

Author for October: Joy Cowley

Our Author for October is Joy Cowley. Cowley writes fun books with repetitive texts and clear illustrations, which make them ideal for early readers. Over the years she has be given several honours and awards for her stories.

The children have been reading about Mrs Wishy Washy, Meanies, Hungry Giants, Hairy Bears and Jigarees. Through these books, the children are developing their reading readiness skills and are building their bank of sight words.

The children would love to share some of the their favourite Joy Cowley books with you. We shall be posting story time video clips throughout the month of October so that you can join in our author study where ever you are.

Meanwhile, here is a story read by Joy Cowley herself!

You can find more stories by Joy Cowley on YouTube.

Hunting for Japanese Writing around YIS

The children have been comparing different writing systems in Japanese and English. We have been talking about the difference between alphabets like the English (Roman) alphabet, katakana and hiragana, and symbol/concept based writing systems such as kanji.

We went on a hunt around YIS to search for Japanese writing. The children discovered many different kinds of alphabets, symbols and pictures. We took photographs. Over the next week we will be discussing the photographs and the children will record their comments on the VoiceThread below. Please feel free to add your own comments to the VoiceThread. Your children can teach you how to do this.

You can help your children to make connections to their Mother Tongue or other languages by discussing writing systems used in your family.

Author Study

Over the next couple of weeks we shall be looking at books written by Nick Sharratt.

Picture 3

Nick Sharratt is a British author. He has co-written books for older children and has written many books for younger children. Many of his books have a repetitive, predictable text making them ideal for beginning readers. His books often have ridiculous rhymes or patterns which younger children love, and which engage even the most reluctant readers! He has won several author and book awards.

Click here to visit Nick Sharratt’s web-site.

KC Spelling Inquiry

KC children have been experimenting with rhyme. This morning, they noticed the words my and by in our daily message. They came up with a list of words that rhyme with my and by.

When we looked carefully at the words on the list, the children discovered there were many ways to represent the “y” sound. They sorted and grouped the words according to the spelling.


They noticed that +y was the most common, followed by +ie. Other less common ways of representing the same sound included:

Being able to hear rhymes in words, and being able to understand some of the ways letters are combined to represent these sounds form an important part of reading and spelling.

Perhaps you can think of some more words? We could add them to our list and analyze the spelling patterns.

KC writing monsters!

As the children work on updating their portfolios, they have been reflecting on how they have changed over the three months they have been in Kindergarten.  The children looked at photographs that recorded them writing with a variety of materials and for a variety of purposes and audiences.

KC writing monsters on PhotoPeach

The children have been keeping weekly journals, in which they record the important events of their week, using words and pictures. The journals provide a record of how the children’s writing has developed. All of the children commented on how much they had learned about writing.

“We’re writing monsters!” commented Carl with a wide grin. This is a KC insiders’ joke, begun unwittingly by Jenny’s father last year, when Jenny’s older sister was in KC. Angela had come to school one day and had shared at a morning meeting that her father has said she was a reading monster. The children liked this, and we all began to use the word monster to describe anyone who was good at something. This insiders’ joke has been passed down to the current KC students.