We are only a quarter into the year but it seems so much longer with so much happening and situations changing constantly. While the situation will be far from business as usual for most of you, I will try to keep this post as close to usual as possible.
Whether children are at home or at school, their learning must continue. readilearn supports you with lessons and activities that focus on progressing children’s learning rather than simply keeping them busy. With resources easily affordable, and many of them free, readilearn is good value for teachers or parents working with children aged 5 – 7. If you feel yours is a special situation which places this low-cost resource out of your reach, please contact us.
April Fools’ Day
Be careful on 1 April as it is April Fools’ Day and tricksters and pranksters are about. Be on the lookout for fake news stories and all sorts of jokers trying to trip you up. Who will you trick?
International Children’s Book Day
Since 1967, on or around 2 April (Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday), The International Board on Books for Young People (iBbY) has celebrated International Children’s Book Day. The purpose of the day is to inspire a love of reading and children’s books. Another perfect day for reading aloud to children. What books will you read? The theme for 2020 is A Hunger for Words — a perfect day for introducing children to new and fun words.
Introducing a new book to children explains the importance of discussion and activating prior knowledge when reading to children.
Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday
Hans Christian Andersen was born on 2 April in 1805. His birthday provides a great opportunity for reading his books. A good place to start is with your own favourites.
Two of my favourites are “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. I like the underlying message of “The Ugly Duckling”, letting children know that we may not all be alike but we all have our own inner beauty that makes us who we are and who we are meant to be. It’s a lovely story for discussing self-esteem. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” reminds us to be careful who we believe and to not just go along with the crowd. Its message is just as important in these times of modern fake news. I especially like that it was children who saw through the trickery and called out the deception.
Disney movies “The Little Mermaid” and “Frozen” are based on stories by Andersen. (“Frozen” is based on “The Snow Queen”.) Their similarities to and differences from the originals can be used to stimulate discussion with children.
The Animal School — a story by George Reavis is another with the theme of diversity, acceptance and inclusion.
Using picture books to teach critical thinking in early years classrooms provides suggestions that may also be suitable when discussing the differences between Andersen’s original stories and Disney’s interpretations.
World Health Day
The World Health Organisation (WHO) was founded on 7 April 1950. The purpose of World Health Day is to draw attention to a current health issue. This year’s theme is to support nurses and midwives. While it is always necessary to support nurses and midwives, I’m sure it was decided prior to the onset of the coronavirus.
The WHO website has the latest and most authoritative information about the pandemic. It is important for us to ensure we get our information from reliable sources. There is no better time to teach children about the need for verifying the accuracy and source of information. There are too many myths and too much incorrect information being shared around the world, especially on social media.
Your children may like to write letters and cards to thank those in the medical profession for all the work they do in supporting our health.
In The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall, the paramedics, doctors and nurses do a much better job of putting Humpty together again than all the king’s horses and all the king’s men did.
Zoo Lovers Day
Zoo Lovers Day is celebrated on 8 April. Although physical visits to the zoo may be prohibited at the moment, many zoos are live streaming so you can visit them at home. There are also many wonderful documentaries available to view online or on television. I highly recommend those by David Attenborough.
Just ten of the many places live streaming animals:
The four days from Friday 10 April to Monday 13 April are Easter holidays for many around the world. Children look forward to receiving Easter eggs or other treats from the Easter Bunny or, sometimes in Australia, the Easter Bilby. I hope he’s not excluded due to social distancing this year.
The Easter holidays often coincide with a two-week term break for schools in Australia. This year, that break has been lengthened due to the coronavirus pandemic.
I won’t list all of readilearn’s Easter-themed lessons and activities here as there are over twenty of them and I wrote about them recently in this post. Some of these activities are free and all can be purchased individually or accessed with a subscription that provides best value at just A$25. While the activities are designed with classroom teachers in mind, they are equally suitable for parents to use at home to support their children’s learning during these extended breaks.
Haiku Poetry Day
Haiku Poetry Day on 17 April is a perfect excuse for reading and writing haiku poems. Why not give it a try?
In Writing Christmas poems Haiku is one of the forms explained. Examples and templates are also available.
World Creativity Day
World Creativity Day on 21 April aims to encourage us all to use our creativity.
This year while the world is challenged by the coronavirus, we see scientists working creatively to find new cures and vaccines. Their creativity depends on optimism that they will find solutions to these and other problems. They must innovate using what is already known to explore new territories. These are the mindsets that we must encourage in all our learners — that we can and will improve our situation using our abilities to learn, think and innovate.
Use this day to encourage children to think about ways in which our world and our lives can be improved and design a tool or system for effecting that improvement. They might, for example, design a way of keeping in touch with their neighbours while in isolation without the use of technology.
World Book Day
UNESCO nominated 23 April as World Book Day to “promote reading, publishing and copyright.” It’s another great opportunity for reading and celebrating children’s literature. We can’t have too many of those.
It’s also a good time to discuss that books, and in fact, all texts, are written by authors and that those books and texts are protected by copyright. Show children the imprint page in books that includes information about the author, publisher, publication date and copyright year.
Make sure you let children know that all intellectual property is covered by copyright; including illustrations, art works, music, poetry, plays and movies.
(Note: In the UK, World Book Day is celebrated on the first Thursday in March.)
ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand)
Each year on 25 April, ANZAC Day, Australians and New Zealanders pay homage to all who served to keep our nations free and at peace. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It is one of the most important holidays in these countries.
Anzac biscuits are a popular treat all year round, or were in my family as I was growing up, but especially around Anzac Day.
During World War I, soldiers were sent packages of food from families and friends back home. Because it could be some time from when the food was baked until it was received, it had to keep for a long time and also be nutritious. Anzac biscuits filled both these requirements.
Biscuits for Anzac Day As a special treat, I share with you my Mum’s Anzac biscuit recipe.
National Superhero Day
The purpose of National Superhero Day on 28 April is to honour all heroes, real and fictional, who serve and protect by fighting evil. We see many real live superheroes in the world around us — firefighters and paramedics, police officers and security guards, doctors, nurses and researchers. Who else can you and your children add to the list? Sometimes, it is the contribution of everyday heroes who come to our aid in time of need that goes unnoticed. It shouldn’t. (Teachers, I hope you didn’t forget to add yourselves to the list! Parents too!)
Here at readilearn, we have resources ready to help you turn all your children into friendship superheroes.
I hope you are able to find lots to celebrate in the month of April and that we (collectively) come out of it better than the way many of us are going in.
Stay safe and well.
These suggestions are now available to download free in a printable format for easy reference: April Days and Events to Celebrate in the Classroom.
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