An Explicit Spelling Instruction Idea for Literacy Intervention

This system draws attention to letters as sounds and shows how letter blends also make sounds. This way, the focus is on blending these sounds to make a word.

First, the teacher writes a word with the spelling sound focus (in this case the focus sound is ‘ck’) on the top line.

Next, the sounds in the word are then velcro attached on the left with added distractor sounds. The student can then make the word using the available sound cards.

After, the student checks each sound and marks it with either a tick or a cross. These markings go directly underneath.

Afterwards, the student is encouraged to look and say the word, cover it by flicking over the white board and writing it with a whiteboard marker.

Finally, the student flicks back over the cover, and marks their work using the ticks and crosses placed under each sound.

This idea can also be adapted to teach high frequency words, however the focus would shift from the letter sound to the letter name. The reason being, that high frequency words are learned by sight. Often these words do not follow the corresponding letter sound relationship.

I feel that the next step would be to incorporate the spelling/high frequency word into a make and break sentence, but I will see how this goes first.


An Interactive Wall

After searching for ideas on how to create interactive Word Walls, I found many great ideas. I like the idea of hanging words that children can reach, collect and take back to their desks.

I also wanted something that the children are also able to create to hopefully ignite some ownership over the display and help motivate its use.

Off to the shops I went and found a set of wooden capital letters for $12 at Kmart. I thought if I fix these to the wall, children can match the lower case to them or even play around with the order of the alphabet if they choose to.

At Bunnings I found the no mess removable tape and hooks to hang the cards and some curtain hooks. I also found an off cut of wallpaper (that looks like a wall) to create my heading. This is the end result. Now just to get the kids to add the words!

Listening to Reading with QR Links

I love children’s literature and as such I have collected a number of children’s books with audio recordings over time. Yet, I have never easily been able to get the kids to access the audio simply. CDs get lost, damaged or a player has to be found, so I wondered how this could be easily overcome for free.

After quite some time, I realised I could save these recordings to the cloud and then somehow produce a link to them.

Then it began, my newly discovered love of QR links!

I produced a QR link to each book and pasted it to the cover. How easy! I am so amazed at the simplicity of this idea. This has much potential! I can now record my own voice and link each to a code to help with making notices, or homework, audible. Links can be made to websites, videos, rhymes, songs, age appropriate information, your own voice…

This is the QR generator I used, which can be read by a QR reader app.

So simple!

Happy linking 🙂

A Colour Inquiry Idea

Mixing primary colours

The children were showing interest in colours so we began an inquiry into colour.

First, We used red, blue and yellow coloured water in clear cups with pipettes as a provocation. Little espresso cups gave us a white backdrop to show new colour creations. The children were very persistent with this activity and as such it was offered a number of times.

Though this play children were experimenting with colour mixtures. Observations, predictions and the testing of children’s theories was happening. Also, colours with physically new properties were created. Children had to learn how to collect the water in the pipette; this experience took some concentration and fine motor skill.

Next, we moved on to creating colour tints. A tint is made by adding white to a colour.


Again, much interest, curiosity, observation, predicting and vocabulary was developing through this experience. What surprised me the most was the detailed and carefully crafted paintings that resulted from children creating their own palette!

After the colour tone experience was offered a few times with varied colours of choice, a colour tone experience began. Colour tones are created from adding a small amount of black to a colour. Some surprising results were uncovered when some very beautiful colours were created and also some beautiful paintings!


A great link to align with the Early Years Learning Framework: “Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigation.”

I believe that the best part about this experience is that through learning about colour children are developing skills which aid their expression. 

Blurred lines: Between Story Table and using a Text as a Provocation

When I first began offering a Play Group program I always wanted to provide a story table. I believed that this was a great way for children to interact with text, sequence events and assist vocabulary development and comprehension. Yet, the more I plan the more I think about how much more potential these experiences could provide. What really is a story table? With so many texts available, every experience has the potential to have relevant texts that relate to that topic. Sure it takes a time to collect relevant texts, but adding texts to any experience can also offer a provocation for play. Just last week I propped the book “Brown Bread and Honey” (Allen, 2001) open to the page where the cooks were walking along with their meals and found the children’s playful creations were vast. I now wonder if the children have referred to the text, provoking dishes to be created, or if they are creating dishes that they know, perhaps both?

Brown Bread and Honey (Allen, 2001) story table
“Brown Bread and Honey” (Allen, 2001) story table using coffee scented play dough

Now that more texts are being offered and associated with many experiences, not only have I noticed the increasing interest in narrative texts, but also a variety of text types and in particular information texts! Information texts that may seem beyond children’s development I am finding can really capture their engagement through discussions relating to the pictures, text and life experiences. The more I make relevant text types available, the more I find interaction occurs. Now I begin to wonder how open the experience on my story table ‘should’ be? The more open it becomes, the more the imaginative prospects become visible. I am astounded by the knowledge children bring with them to the experience, and how they are able to play and manipulate neutral items! The engagement with this experience has been great, with the dispositions of perseverance and creativity a stand out. This fortnight I have decided to continue along these lines with only small changes, adding some materials and pegs, thinking they can design their own character clothing etc. But in reality, I think texts belong alongside every experience.

If anyone has any ideas about what neutral, yet easily accessible, objects I could offer as human figures that encourage imaginative thinking please comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Let's Eat (Zamorna, 2005)
“Let’s Eat” (Zambrano, 2005) with coffee scented Play Dough, material and pegs.

So Much Learning Potential Through Water Play!

Lately, I have been exploring the possibilities with water play and am surprising myself with the vast array of possibilities of where this can potentially go with easily accessible items! Initially I began with exploring how water moves, so the question arose of “How does water pour?” I decided to add some questioning and a word wall to the side of the tub, just to explore whether this was used by other adults in the room. Although I didn’t hear these specifically, I most certainly saw parents engaging with theirs and other children in interesting conversations about water. It is lovely to witness how these experiences enable children to bring with them their own knowledge to share with others. I had seven questions:

What shape is the water’s surface in a full container?

At what angle does the water pour when the container is full/empty?

How fast does the water pour when the container is full/empty?

What is happening in the cup as the water pours?

What does the water sound like?     

What does water look like when it flows into a plastic/metal container?

Does water look different if it flows from a metal or a plastic container into another container?

As this was a popular, I offered it again the next week and found more engagement the next week. I wonder if children have a chance to think about the activity they can then consider how they will play with it next time? Or perhaps they have began to notice water in their surrounds and are having interesting conversations with their parents? Since this observation, I have only made small changes each fortnight and continued to take the time to develop open questioning. However, I always have many ideas, as do my colleges and parents, as to what changes we can make to provoke more play. I am finding that there are many ways to vary the experience and this may even just include adding food colouring to the water. Later on another occasion, interconnecting tubes of varied lengths and funnels inspired much interest!

Tube water play

Since an array of experiences that focus on how water moves have been offered: how water moves through a cup with a hole, or holes, large and small; and, how water moves when stones are added to the container; how water moves through a pipette or turkey baster, etc, etc. This term we will begin to look at surface tension, and yet again there seems to be many experiences to be offered. It is amazing how one or two concepts can be unpacked in so many ways!

Surface tension


Reflections on Play School Perspectives on Playing, Living and Learning

After attending the presentation on Play School Perspectives last Friday, I began to really think about how I could use simple and accessible parts to create learning opportunities. These need not be perfectly looking bought items, rather they could be recyclables, natural collections and resources. Perhaps the plastic lid painting tray with cardboard boxes, cups and card to print shapes with and discover the possibilities of shape prints. Or even the use of seed pods in the kitchen play space can provide new possibilities, where they could represent anything the imagination can propose. How often I have added play food items, which now I wonder could limit imagination. Children are so good bringing what they know and integrating this into their play. Just last week, blank shop tickets became play notes and milk lids became coins! Through using these sorts of items and natural collections, they could potentially become the filling, a drink, a food, a decoration or anything else the player would want them to be, sharing this vocabulary with their peers and developing imaginative capabilities. Without imagination how could we envisage that solution to our problem?

When creating new things, these items do not even need to be symmetrically matched to create interest and inspiration. I wonder if the button eye and the other lid eye would be a way to portray the potential uses for objects? Maybe even when setting up play spaces a little less symmetry would still be inviting and provide provocation. In this sense, I wonder if not reflecting an idealist model in this way could counter that which media so often reinforce?

How these possibilities can begin in a playgroup setting and progress to home and getting out and about in the outdoors is an intriguing thought.

Newspaper Hair
My newspaper hair in response to creating something we could make to wear, using only newspaper, pegs and rubber bands!

Continue reading “Reflections on Play School Perspectives on Playing, Living and Learning”