Home-Learning Activities

Over recent weeks I’ve been sharing links/ideas in a number of different places, to engage kids of assorted ages and abilities, during these surreal times. The links and ideas shared have been chosen because they appeal to my mother/author/educator persona.

These ideas aren’t targeted at any specific age or curriculum area. Nor have I aligned them to Australian Curriculum. (Feel free to share in the comments if you do.) In fact, I was particularly attracted to ideas that engaged kids across a spread of ages and abilities, like… siblings! I personally believe that curriculum is not the sum total of all learning. And at this point in time, if curriculum ramps up stress levels, (for kids, parents and teachers) then it isn’t worth it! Lifelong learning is about real-life learning – and there has never been a better time to put this into practise!

1) Australian birdlife survey: The survey is valuable activity in itself – but you can then take it further by graphing the birds found in your yard. Perhaps even extending your knowledge with a spot of research. Maybe even keep a diary of a bird’s daily activities… Creating a collage (or other art) of a backyard bird. (There is so much more you could do!) http://www.birdsinbackyards.net

2)  Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Prompt Project: There is no right (or wrong) time to start – but when you do, begin at Day One and follow along.

#WaterPoemProject: Introduction
#WaterPoemProject: FAQ
#WaterPoemProject: Day 1, Irene Latham

3)  Keyboarding skills: Keyboarding is the new handwriting. If you’ve got kids doing home-based learning then put keyboarding high on the list of things to do. https://www.typingclub.com (Thanks Rebecca Toltz for the updated program recommendation.)

4)  Stop-Motion movie: I love the wide-openness of the stop-motion movie! If kids are at home, they’d have more time to invest in polishing a task like this. Or producing multiple attempts to refine their skills. The degree of difficulty can vary for siblings across different grades, whilst the theme can suit different class topics, or individual interests. For example, one child could be working on a fairytale stop-motion. Another child could be working on an advertisement for healthy eating… or a type of physical activity… or animating a scene from a book… (If you’re wanting inspiration, feel free to make a stop motion for my picture book, ‘This is the Mud!’🤠 – or a scene from one of my verse novels.🚌)

Some links to develop understanding:
https://www.instructables.com/id/Stop-Motion-Animation-for-Kids/
https://tinkerlab.com/easy-stop-motion-animation-kids
https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/04/make-stop-motion-animation-videos-with-your-kids
https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-A-Stop-Motion-Animation-For-Beginners

Task stages:

a) Design/make a stand for the iPad/phone, so that is does not move for the duration of the shoot. (There are so many different ways this could be done – Lego, blue tack, cardboard box …)

b) Storyboard scenes. (Template: https://www.instructables.com)

c) Shoot the stop-motion – using paper, plasticine, Lego, anything! (Stop motion using bread: https://www.instagram.com)

Don’t forget to add credits for any music/images you use.

5) ‘I Want my Hat Back’ by Jon Klassen, presented as a puppet play is delightful and entertaining, but also wonderfully inspiring for creative play for kids of all ages, giving a glimpse behind the scenes of puppetry. https://www.youtube.com

6) Nat Amoore has a fun book’n’boogie youtube channel, which she’s adding to twice a week. In itself it is a fun way to exercise – and hear a new book recommendation.  https://www.youtube.com

To extend this further for home-learning, have your child/ren:

1) Watch Nat’s video.
2) Groove along.
3) Choose their own book &create a simple boogie how-to.
4) Record it. (Include quick book-look.)
5) Share with friends, so they can learn the dance, too!
6) Tag Nat into the link and she will boogie with you! Twitter/Instagram: @nat_amoore

7) Poetry Competitions/Writing/Illustrating Opportunities:

8) There are numerous poetry/writing prompts, under both the ‘Kids’ Stuff’, and the ‘Whisker of Poetry’ tabs on this (katswhiskers) site. Three specific links are:

Didactic Cinquain Poems
Zentangle Poems
Golden Shovel Poems

There are also teacher notes for my three verse novels (under the ‘Books’ tab) – and a whole HEAP of stuff for Bully on the Bus, including a weekly study guide for Yr 4. Also bus/wolf shape poetry – and three different wolf masks. Click through the dropdown options for a full offering.

9) Georgia Heard’s Heart Maps create an opportunity for kids and adults to express their feelings at this time, whilst also expressing their creativity: https://twitter.com/GeorgiaHeard1

10) Mail a Hug to friends or family members, using your child’s upper body silhouette: https://www.instagram.com

11) For a huge range of curated video resources, to enhance work set by your child’s school – or to further their own interests; https://thekidshouldseethis.com

12) Downloaded your free copy of ‘Coronavirus – A Book for Children’, by the Nosy Crow team – with illustrations by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo): https://nosycrow.com/blog

13) Lego Projects: Lego kits are all well and good – but setting instructions aside and letting kids create their own designs is so valuable. (And that’s not limited to Lego. There are so many great construction resources out there.) This tweet from Rachael Lehr featured a Lego tissue box cover in the background – that completely stole the show! Pretty sure we all need tissue box covers. Perhaps even toilet paper covers?🧻 Mayhaps you’ve got enough Lego lying around to create a toy box!😉

14) Recycled Poetry Wall Plaque: Mother’s Day is fast approaching… and I’m a big believer in meaningful homemade gifts. This recycled poetry plaque is one I’ve done with kids in the classroom, and with adults during workshops. It’s perfect for Mother’s Day – especially when we are all hunkering down at home. But it’s also lots of fun as a ‘just because’ wall plaque.

15) NEW RESOURCES ADDED: I’ve created a ‘Too Many Friends Stuff‘ page in the Kids’ Stuff tab, which includes a video reading from by my book, ‘Too Many Friends’ (with help from some friends) and a poetry activity for kids. Also a resource for a Friend-shaped poem. And an activity for kids to do during these days of isolation…

16) Stay @ Home & Play: A resource for those with very young children, developed by Bundaberg Regional Libraries, in conjunction with the Department of Education.

NOTE: With kids home for extended periods, let go of your expectations for a ‘tidy’ house. Don’t put that pressure on yourself! (Or your kids.) If kids can make a little mess they will likely be more deeply invested in a creative project/investigation; more engaged and productive! And perhaps they will also free you up to invest in YOUR projects. #winWIN! (And right now, who is going to be popping in unexpectedly, to catch you with your lived-in, messy house?🙃 )

That’s all for now – but I will continue to update sporadically.

(Last updated 2 May 2020.)

American School Visits

November passed by in a blur for me, with three weeks in the USofA cram-packed with school visits and catch-ups with friends. I have a ToDo list the size of Mt Everest that I am still chipping away at, but I am determined to post for Poetry Friday – so here I am with pictures! And some words…but there are not enough words to express how wonderful those three weeks were! Continue reading

Gunnedah to Gayndah

This is a quick post to share some pics from my trip to Gunnedah last week, for the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards Presentation Ceremony. I know many of my Poetry Friday friends are keen to see the winning poems – and if you click across to Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Award Winners (my previous post), not only will you see the poems, but you’ll meet the amazing poets, too! For today – pics of Gunnedah! Thank-you to Laura from Writing the World for Kids for hosting our Poetry Friday round-up this week.

I arrived Wednesday evening, to run poetry workshops on Thursday for children from Gunnedah and surrounds. (There are so many sites and towns with delightful names, including the nearby Boggabri.) Thursday afternoon, award winners and the secondary judge (Meredith Costain) arrived – though there were some hiccups with delayed flights, lost luggage and a broken-down bus… But we still managed to squeeze in a whistle-stop tour of Gunnedah, which is a town that has so much to offer tourists! Two lovely lookouts – with amazing vistas. (Pensioners Hill also includes stone carvings which are impressive.) I tried twice for a pic with Dorothea on her horse, opposite the Mackellar Centre but alas, Thursday evening I was too rushed, and Friday morning, the wind was gusting… (I look a fright!) I’ll have to go back again to try a third time for a better pic. (Sentiment runs strong on this!) But you can spot Dorothea on horseback in the collage below. Continue reading

Raising Readers

This week I’m sharing a wonderful new book that all Australian parents and carers need to get their hands on. (Teachers too, because you’ll learn heaps – and also have an excellent resource you can recommend.)

Rather chuffed to be asked to write a segment about verse novels.

Raising Readers‘ is an ambitious project, inspired by the lovely Kristina Schultz, at UQP, and undertaken by award-winning children’s librarian, and queen of kid-literature, Megan Daley, aka Children’s Books Daily. I cannot believe that they’ve pulled it off – not just in compiling the information, but making it so user-friendly and easy to navigate. They amaze me! It looks gorgeous (Jo Hunt has designed my three verse novel covers – and this one is almost as beautiful.😉) and it truly is an interesting and effortless read. You get the sense you’re sitting down for a chat with Megan – without the gourmet food. (And you get to absorb her wisdom at a slightly less frenetic pace than IRL. (Megan is a dynamite and everyone who knows her loves her.))

Megan writes;

“I find being a parent a very hard job at times and every stage of child-rearing seems to be filled with guilt. I do, however, feel confident that I will be able to look back and say, ‘But I read to them and gave them the joy of books’ and know that I did my best.”

‘Raising Reader’s is Megan’s gift to other parents, to help them unlock that magical world of books with their children.

At which point I will insert the Table of Contents, and my job is done. Because how you can read through these topics and not NEED this book!


Such a brilliant resource, as you can see! I was rather chuffed to be asked to write the segment about verse novels. (There’s even a mention of me in the section about author visits.😊)


From the section on Poetry, by Natalie Jane Prior;

Nothing enriches a child’s understanding of how language works more than poetry. Reading it teaches children to think outside the square, to see things from unexpected angles.

I can’t argue with that.

‘Raising Readers’ will be released in Australia in April. As author Rebecca Sparrow says, “This is not a book. It’s a magic key which will unlock a love of stories and reading within your child.”

I recommend it! #thatisall

You’ll find this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Carol’s Corner.

And don’t forget to follow the Progressive Poem, organised by Irene Latham, and kicking off on Matt’s blog on 1st April. (He’s no fool!) Day Two will be right back here again. What fun! Can’t wait to see what Matt throws out for me to play with.

Poetry at Sharjah International Book Fair 2018

I am really struggling with blog posts these days. It feels there are so many things I need to write in other places – most especially in my stories (LOVE), and the submissions to accompany them (Aaargh!) and blog posts just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile …

I do want to share some pics from my second visit to Sharjah – this for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which was even bigger than the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. It was so good to go back again, and, with so many people in attendance, it was amazing to recognise people from my previous visit! It was especially lovely to have children and adults come up, eyes alight and smiles wide and thank me again for my sessions in April. One very busy day saw 50K kids pass through the doors, with a record 2.3million people in attendance over the 10 day event. (Sometimes just getting through the door felt like an achievement.😉)

All my sessions involved poetry – though sometimes it was more about creating than writing. We made jigsaws and tag poems and 3D poetry and poetry wall plaques. I especially loved the school groups that came through in the mornings. These were half-hour sessions, and I was astounded with how much we achieved in such a short space of time! The kids were awesome – so polite, and yet enthusiastic and instantly engaged with their ‘writing’ tasks. We talked and laughed lots – and they often delighted me with their witty way with words. I was also incredibly touched by the feedback from every teacher, who took activities away to use with other groups in their classrooms. And this beautiful comment from one lovely teacher, on finding out I no longer teach, but write fulltime and present at festivals, like SIBF; “It is better, you not working in one school. Now you can share your skills with the world.” 💞

Sharjah was beautiful! The people so wonderfully warm and welcoming. Sharing the adventure with lovely Aussie kidlit creators, Catherine Pelosi, Dee White and Claire Richards made the adventure even more enjoyable. As did the beautiful accommodation. This time I didn’t just see the beach from a passing car – I swam! And it was glorious! (I had planned to write heaps, in gorgeous settings … but talked heaps, instead! Networking … 😉 There truly were lots of discussions about a dreaded synopsis!!) I didn’t get out to the desert this time – or see a single camel… but I did get lovely views over the desert as I was flying out, so it was good to see it in this new perspective.

SIBF18 was another amazing event and adventure, and a delight to be involved! I could be tempted to go back… ☺️

This week I’m in for #PoetryFriday – and you can Live Your Poem and all things poetry at Irene Latham’s blog. Having just had a peep in preparation for linking this post, it would seem as if Irene has been busy in recent weeks, which included the news that her book, ‘Can I Touch Your Hair’, (in partnership with Charles Waters), was announced as a Charolotte Huck Honour Book. How exciting!

Edit: I had meant to include a link to the interview on Sharjah24 News. You can see me in hypo-bunny mode here;

On Silence and Writing

It has been so long since I posted to my blog, that I feel like I need to just jump in and not even try to play catch-ups … so here I am!

Life has been gloriously busy, with Book ‘Week’ visits waaay back in August, and so many other wonderful activities celebrating literature and/or poetry.

And too, there has been writing. So much writing! Much of September has been spent immersed in words – either my historical non-fiction Antarctic verse novel (which just this morning clicked over 20k! 🎉🤩🎊 Sooooo close to finished!) a kids’ poetry collection, and an unexpected rhyming picture book – that grew from one of the poems …

My bog has been neglected, but my writing has not! Here are two little snippets from my verse novel. Firstly, a cherita, a form I have learnt much about from Diane Mayr’s blog. Technically a cherita doesn’t have a title – though I do have one on stand-by, if needed.😉

The door is barred.

Cast one 
look back

our last
sledge
journey

© Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved

And secondly, a list poem.

The Things We Had Forgotten

          Cook Harbour,
          Staten Island
       Isla de los Estados;

	waves washing 
variegated rubble-stones
	
	inexpressible pleasure of
green grass

	peeping out of the stones 
a flower!

	closely arching 
beech bushes

	overpoweringly magnificent
valley of trees

	barberry shrubs dripping
red bell-like flowers

	airborne insects – even
large yellow moths 

	twittering crowds of
small birds …

       Overcome with emotion
        I am scarcely able
            to proceed.

© Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved

Happy Poetry Friday. It’s good to be back! Now to find out who is hosting the round-up – and catch-up on everyone’s news!

Oh! Tabatha is hosting – with an invitation to take part in the ‘Winter’ poetry swap – which is summer for us Aussies. I am so glad I didn’t miss that invitation!

Reasons to Love Adelaide

  • gorgeous old stone buildings earthed in charm and character. Sometimes it was like stepping back in time.
  • the walks – so many lovely walks – through city streets, and around parks and city walking trails
  • bushwalking and koala spotting – in the wild!

    When your friend wants a photo with a koala … and it won’t come down from the tree!

  • autumn leaves – tree bones and lacework in the sky (We don’t have autumn leaves in CQ.)
  • beautiful weather – and heating on cooler days. (Bliss!)
  • metropolitan sights and eats –with country hospitality
  • time with the Adelaide kidlit community – which is every bit as supportive and FUN as I had imagined. So much laughter. LOVED!
  • critique sessions with Katrina Germein and Janeen Brian. (So valuable!)
  • meeting with Little Book Press, who are doing amazing things to promote literacy
  • bookshop visits
  • book club dinner at Glenelg
  • author visits at Victor Harbor (4 days) and Walford Anglican (1 day) – affirming to introduce new activities and have them so enthusiastically received.
  • exploring Victor Harbor – including a visit to the Coorong, where Storm Boy was set and filmed. Super-special, thank-you Sarah!

Nostalgia washing over me, in Storm Boy country – inspiration for the legendary Colin Thiele.

I wrote. Lots! Though nowhere near as much as some preceding May Gibbs Fellows. There’s a Fellows Journal in the Burrow that we all contribute to, and I must confess, the word counts of some Fellows had me a wee-bit intimidated for the first few days. But then I gave myself permission to polish and perfect as I go, as is my process. One day I took 7hours to write 49 words – but that was a particularly challenging poem! (Writing a non-fiction verse novel makes many poems particularly challenging! Which is half the fun. 🙂 )

For the first two weeks I worked on my historical NF verse novel about an early scientific expedition to Antarctica. That story hooked me the moment I heard it (whilst on a ship enroute to the Antarctic Peninsular)  – and the more I write, the more I love it. I added 3,550 words (more in draft stage still – but I only count polished words dropped into my WIP) to bring my word count over 10,000wrds, and am so excited about this manuscript! Having worked more on this since I’ve returned home, it now totals almost 11,000wrds.

Some of the lunchtime poets! Gotta love kids who come back voluntarily for poetry!

The last week of my Fellowship I was focused on picture books – revising and polishing a number of manuscripts, critiquing with two writing buddies, writing submissions, researching publishers open for submissions and getting work out there! This was a more disjointed period – but valuable! (More ideas in the pot of inspiration, too.)

And finally, I worked on a poetry collection for children! Still not complete – but closer!

It was a productive, inspiring and affirming month! I was spoilt beyond belief and am exceedingly grateful to the May Gibbs Trust – and for the care and attention from the May Gibbs care team, who think of absolutely everything and are beautifully generous, each in their different way. I don’t think I have ever felt so nourished within my creative soul. Thank-you.

I love Adelaide!

Could not get enough of those LEAVES!

I posted more pics to Instagram, under #MGCTF – when I remembered the hashtag!

This post is a part of the Poetry Friday link-up around the blogosphere. You’ll find more poetry posts at  Michelle Kogan‘s blog – where you’re sure to get double the creativity with words and art! Thank-you Michelle.

Feasting on Poetry

Oh the things that I have done since cracking open that door of opportunity in my previous post. I hadn’t planned to fall silent – rather, had planned to blog often! But once I started on my May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship, I threw myself unreservedly into the myriad of opportunities … and just lived in the moment! Four whole weeks of writing (poetry!!) bliss! I can’t wait to get my head and blog organised, and share some highlights with you!

I returned Wednesday – and presented an online Poetry Workshop on Thursday, as a part of the Ipswich Poetry Feast, with fifteen schools across Queensland taking part – plus the Brisbane School of Distance Education. I’m hoping there are lots of young poets inspired to put pen to paper after that. There is nothing quite like purpose and opportunity to inspire writing – and this great International Poetry Competition certainly provides that! (More information and entry forms here.)

This week I ‘discovered’ (thank you Libby) this wonderful 7 minute documentary about Dorothea Mackellar, one of Australia’s most esteemed early poets, and author of the stirring poem, My Country.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror  –
The wide brown land for me!

You can (and should!) read the full poem here– which includes the first verse, too. 🙂

And I am sure you will find Libby Hathorn’s documentary fascinating.

Happy PoetryFriday. Enjoy! You’ll find more poetry posts at https://karenedmisten.blogspot.com – including ‘Sustenance’, a beautiful tribute to Karen’s husband – and marriage. Thank-you Karen!

Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival

During April I was involved with the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival – which would have to be up there as one of the biggest children’s festivals on earth. SCRF2018 was a fantastical, fun and sometimes frenzied (in the best possible way) celebration of creativity in all forms, and it was an incredible experience to be involved with! No matter how I explain it, (or how many pics I collage) you won’t be able to imagine the enormity of it, or the complete and utter w-O-w factor … but here are a few pics that might convey something of the festive feeling … or at least, my little poetry-part of it. Continue reading

Brisbane in February

I will be in Brisbane during February – doing the author thing; school and bookshop visits, catching up with writing peeps and publishers, writing … and all sorts of good things!

If you’re a principal/teacher/librarian interested in a school visit, I still have spaces available. More information here; Bookings Open 2018.

I will be conducting a workshop and Q&A session for teachers and teacher-librarians at Riverbend Books on Friday evening, 16th February, with specific activities to engage students across ages and curriculum areas. For more information, phone: 07 3899 8555, or email: info@riverbendbooks.com.au.

If you’re a budding young poet, you can join me for a poetry workshop at Where The Wild Things Are Bookshop on Saturday, 17th February. Make a plane that is powered by words. Use scissors and glue to create poetry, then hunt for treasure in the Avid Reader’s garden. Tickets are $15, which includes your own copy of Too Many Friends, and all workshop materials. For more information, or to make a Booking, click the link; Kids’ Poetry Workshop Event, or phone: (07) 3255 3987.

Looking forward to finding myself in yet another instalment of the Country Girl Meets City adventure series. Mayhaps you’ll join me. 😉

 

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