Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Colin Thompson - An Inspiration..

Here at Muritai School we are in the midst of preparing for our bi-annual school production. This production is based on a book by author and illustrator Colin Thompson called "The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley."
I am fairly familiar with Colin Thompson's work as I have used quite a few of his amazing illustrations in years gone by as a starting point for story writing. Our production theme has provided me with a great opportunity to reacquaint myself with his work. I have been reminded what an inspiration his work can be to children who struggle with reading and writing.

This week in The Learning Den we have had seven of Colin's books on display. I haven't purposely included them in my programme but have left them out as an experiment. The books made their own way in to our sessions almost immediately as the children were instantly drawn to the fantastic cover illustrations on entering the room.
These books have certainly hooked some of the more reluctant book enthusiasts this week and have been a great way of showing the children that finding an author you like is sometimes like discovering gold!

A large proportion of the children that came to the Learning Den this week asked if we could look at a book. I made no demand on them to read to me. Initially we discussed the front cover and then scanned a couple of pages for words that matched the "ar" spelling pattern that we have been concentrating on this week. We linked the book to the author and talked a little about the school production and then I closed the book. All the children asked if we could continue reading the book. At this point I asked if they wanted to read or to be read to and most asked if we could share the reading.
Colin's stories are thought provoking and humorous and suitable for a wide age range (even adults will love them). His books will still engage children who can read very little as they will find the illustrations fascinating. Also, there is a tiny picture of 'Max the dog' to spot within many of the illustrations, a fantastic way to focus those who struggle to concentrate.
If you haven't experienced any of Colin's wonderful work before, check out his website, it's well worth a visit:-

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fantastic free software!

NaturalReader is a professional text to speech program that converts any written text into spoken words. In other words, it allows you to listen to text instead of reading the screen!

It's an easy to use a text-to-speech program. Just one click, and your computer speaks any text aloud in a clear, natural sounding voice. All you do is, press Control F9, and your computer reads any selected text.

Check it out at:- 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Word can spark reluctant writers

Free association writing is one way to spark reluctant students who get bogged down in the process of needing to write exactly what the teacher expects them to write. This trepidation often stops young writers from even starting a piece. One Word is a website that might offer  interesting ways to get kids writing without worrying about their writing being marked or even being read by anyone, if that is their wish. One Word gives you a single word — potato, for example — and provides you with a visual timer to write whatever comes to your mind in 60 seconds.
The use of an unexpected word with no real context, and a blank space with no marking pressure, might lead to some interesting stories, poems and other compositions. The site then gives you the option of submitting your writing to its archives. It also provides a phone number to call and read your writing — One Word collects the audio submissions and creates a podcast of submissions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Letters are Everywhere - The Alphabet in August

Why not have a go at creating your own piece of alphabet artwork?
Cut out some letters from newspapers or magazines and see if you can create something fantastic!