Thursday 20 December 2012

Words from our childhood we remember for life

Songs, poems and rhymes that we learn as children, we remember for life.  All of us and our children can still recall the words of "Twinkle, twinkle little star".  It is once again, a timeless simple song and rhyme that seems magical to all who know it.

Christmas is a magical time for children.  Songs and  stories are so much a part of the Christmas rituals.

One Christmas, the kids were doing their usual concert performance for the enraptured, doting family.  One of our children decided to create his own song as a special treat for us all called "The Christmas Dog Song".

He proceeded to sing to the tune of "Oh, Christmas Tree" or the German song "O Tannenbaum".  His lyrics were simple.  "Oh, Christmas Dog, Oh Christmas Dog, Oh Christmas dog, Oh Christmas dog,  Oh Christmas dog, Oh Christmas dog, Oh Christmas dog, ........and on and on and on!!  We kept clapping to indicate the end of his lovely rendition but he hadn't finished!!  Finally he indictated the end of his performance by bowing and we really cheered then :)

The Christmas Dog song became legendary in our family.  Somehow, we seem to forget to remind our son on Christmas day to give us a reprisal of his loved creation.  But we all remember the words!

So a merry, magical and memorable Christmas to you all and don't forget the Christmas dog song! :)

Thursday 13 December 2012

Wonderful Words for Christmas

The traditional poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" or as it was known "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" is a timeless example of beautiful simple words with rhyme and rhythm that children love to hear recited out aloud.

We are so lucky to have beautiful illustrations and animations to go with this magical poem available at our fingertips.

But take a few moments to enjoy the words for themselves and share this lovely story with your children one night.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore
also attributed to
Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

christmas background with santa claus in a sleigh with reindeer Stock Photo - 11140656

Monday 10 December 2012

My Books Have Been launched into the World!

Wow!  What a wonderful afternoon we had, celebrating the 'birth' of my 5 'babies' Carlos the Caterpillar and Friends.
Carlos may have a few friends but we had a crowd of 120 adults and kids at Kogarah Library to celebrate and launch my book series into the world.....just in time for Christmas too.
It was such a joyful occasion.
The kids especially enjoyed the books, balloons and eating the cute Carlos the Caterpillar cake.

You can buy the books on my website:

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Playing with Words Using Songs

I was at a plant nursery the other day, and spotted these "ants" going up a doorway.

It just reminded me of the song "The Ants go Marching one by one, Hurrah, Hurrah" sung to the tune of "When Johnny came Marching Home again".

That is a great song to start teaching rhyming words and playing with words.  It is also a counting song, up to the number ten.  So it covers literacy and numeracy skills!  Two birds with one stone, as they say.

Learn the song by singing the whole song together and then taking turns to do a verse each.  After that you "speak" the words of each verse to your child.  This shows your child the difference between singing and talking.

If you need the lyrics Google them.  There are YouTube versions online as well.  Once you and your child have learnt your favourite version, then start playing with the words.  Make up silly versions.
Here's mine:
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah,hurrah
The ants go marching one by one,
The last one stopped to twiddle his thumbs
And they all went marching home for pizza and cake!

As I have said, it is very important for young children to know what a word is and how we use words.
Rhythm and songs seem to come naturally to children so using songs to move your child from spoken words to singing words, to knowing what a word is because you have changed it in the song, seems like a natural and good thing to do.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Getting Ready to Read is Fun

Starting big school for 4 and a half to 5 year olds can be quite daunting.  Parents are often anxious about whether their child is 'school ready'.
Personally I think that if your child can sit and be an active listener as well as a talker (they are all pretty good at that) they will start learning straight away.

Talking and listening at home, in the car, at the shops, during play times are all good preparation for the amount of listening and talking that children need to do at school.  Taking turns at talking is really important for your child to be able to do.

So, start playing talking and listening games before they go to school.  Play "I spy with my little eye something beginning with....".  Play with Nursery Rhymes and get them to finish the rhyme for you.  Make up new and silly endings to well known Nursery rhymes or Fairy tales.  Say your names backwards (Benjamin becomes Nimajneb).  Play clapping and skipping games where you say a chant or a story are fun and active too.

All of these games and activities alert children to words.  This will hold them in good stead for the start of literacy learning.

This is just one easy 'tip' for you to do to get your child ready to read.

There are many more 'school ready' helpful tips on the NSW DET website.

Friday 23 November 2012

Launching my books for preschoolers

Hello and welcome to my Blog.  

I am excited about being able to communicate with parents and early educators, all over the world, about the joys of early literacy learning.
I have written 5 children’s picture books for 3-5 year olds specifically to help parents get their children ready to read in a fun, stress free and easy way.

They have been written so that parents can teach their children Phonological Awareness skills before they go on to Phonics.  The great news is that Phonological Awareness is all about having fun with language and sounds and words.  It is not drill and practice learning.  It is about genuine language interaction with young children.

We are having a book launch and I am ‘giving birth’ to my ‘babies’ on December 8th. My website will be live then too.  Check it out at

So come and join Carlos the Caterpillar and friends on a journey of discovery about how words and sounds work in English.

Fiona Murray