Improving your child’s oral reading skills

In this article, we share some simple strategies designed to improve your child’s oral reading skills.

First, ask your child to read a few pages silently before reading them aloud to you. This will both:

  • allow him/her to become more familiar with the text;
  • help reduce performance anxiety.

At the end of each passage, it’s a good idea to have your child ask YOU questions  about the story, rather than the other way around. This will ensure that he/she is reading for meaning, not just decoding words.

Tip: Make sure you throw in a few incorrect answers. Your child will love correcting you and it’s also a great way to keep him/her on the ball.

When reading, if your child gets a word wrong but is close with his/her guess, don’t interrupt. For example, “Jack and Jill went up the mountain” is fine, as the meaning of the passage isn’t altered.

If your child doesn’t know a word, don’t get him/her to ‘sound it out’. This won’t be helpful long term as there are too many inconsistencies in phonics. Instead, put your finger over the word and read around it. Ask your child to tell you what word would best fit in the space. This encourages the use of contextual cues (analysing the meaning of the passage).

It is also a great idea to read along with your child. That is, you read out aloud, leading the way with fluency, tone etc. You will find that your child will read with you about half a second behind. This gives him/her a very good, practical model. You should aim to do this for about 10 minutes at a time. After some practice reading together, ask your child to reread the passage to you alone. The focus here is on fluent reading.

Remember: Kids respond very positively when they see themselves improving over a fairly short time frame. When you notice effort and improvement, offer a suitable (small) reward, e.g. a sticker.


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Edworks Myth Busting – Spelling

Education harbours its fair share of myths. These are passed on from one generation of teachers to the next unquestioned.Edworks is here to bust a few myths you may well have heard!

Myth # 2:  Spelling lists = spelling success

In many classrooms across the globe, spelling lists are considered an effective means of teaching children how to spell. Yet in reality, while they can expand a child’s spelling vocabulary, they don’t offer a sound approach that can be applied in everyday writing.
If your child has been taught an ineffective spelling technique (e.g. ‘sounding out’ words), learning how to spell 10, 20 or even 100 words, will not make them a ‘good speller’. A good speller spells well not only in lists, but also in stories, essays, letters etc.

The ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ method is a much more effective approach and should be encouraged both in the classroom and at home. Another technique is to write down three variations of a word, (e.g. eyte, eight, aight) and ask your child to identify the one that looks right. These methods recognise the fact that spelling is not an aural skill, but a visual skill.

Remember: When correcting your child’s spelling, be positive! Acknowledge the letters they get right, not the ones they get wrong.

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Developing your child’s listening skills

An often overlooked aspect of school success is effective listening skills. Often children can hear what is said, but don’t listen to what is said. As a consequence, much of what occurs in the class passes them by.

The game of ‘Simon Says’ is a terrific way to help your child improve his/her listening skills. It provides an endless opportunity for fun, while at the same time, it can be made more and more challenging.

“Simon Says: if Monday comes after Tuesday, clap three times. 
Simon Says: if the second tallest person in your house is not female, stand up. 
Simon Says: if two times six is more than ten plus one, touch your nose … If you are smarter than your teacher, put up four fingers.”

Once children are caught out a few times, they quickly learn to focus their attention upon the details.

Of course, reading stories can also provide opportunities for listening skills to be refined. Rather than having your child read along with you, have him/her listen to you read and encourage the asking of questions. It’s a bit of a twist to the usual situation where you are in control, and children tend to enjoy this.

Additionally, by not always giving the right answer, children have to not only focus on the passage, but on your response, and be able to justify why you were wrong and they were right. They tend to enjoy this too!

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The Shop Stuck in Space by Edward Lay

Adam was casually walking around his street one day when suddenly, he noticed a new shop. On entering the store, he noticed they sold pencils, rubbers, torches, mp3 players … they basically sold everything! Adam decided to buy a poster featuring his favourite sport, which was soccer. Then he looked around to see if there was anything else he needed.

He was sure he could feel the ground rumbling beneath his feet. “Whoa, an earthquake!” he gasped, almost tumbling over with the force. Everyone ran from the store except for the store owner, who was frantically collecting the money from the cash register. Adam was torn between trying to drag the owner outside or just trying to escape himself. But it was too late.

Looking out the door, Adam could see that the shop had already risen metres off the ground and was heading upwards rapidly. The sky looked like it was falling because the shop was ascending with such velocity. Adam had to close the door to stop himself falling out. He turned around to see the shop owner frozen with fright.

They both were brought back to reality at the moment when the shop stopped hurtling through the air. Adam looked out the window.

“Wow … we’re in space!” screamed Adam, astounded at the view.

The shopkeeper began to place the money back in the cash register. “We’re going to die!” he stammered in horror, shivering at the thought.

Adam began to feel sorry for the man and asked his name.

“My name is Lachlan”, replied the terrified shopkeeper.

“I’m Adam.”

“What are we going to do?” Lachlan pleaded, tears dripping from his eyes.

“We’re going to try to find a way to get back to Earth” replied Adam in an attempt to calm Lachlan.

For many hours the two sat down and thought of what to do. Seconds later, the light finally went out and Adam looked out the window and saw a giant rock floating in the near distance. It was a meteor and it gave Adam an idea.

“What if we could use the meteor to get home?” suggested Adam.

“What, like ‘ride’ the meteor to Earth?” joked Lachlan.

“No … we could use it to push us back to Earth”, Adam replied. “If only we had something to bring the meteor toward us.”

They both thought for a while, then Adam had a brainwave. It was a long shot and Adam had no idea if it would work, but they were running low on air.

“Do you sell vacuum cleaners?”

“Yes, but why?” Lachlan asked, bemused.

“Perhaps we could stick the vacuum hose through the wall and duct tape the hole so we don’t lose anymore air”, explained Adam.

“Then try to suck the meteor towards us”, continued Lachlan.

“Yeah, and hopefully the meteor will bring us back down to Earth’, concluded Adam, very pleased with his plan.

They began to gather the necessary items. Adam got the vacuum cleaner and Lachlan found some duct tape. Now they only needed to make a hole in the wall. Taking the hammer, Lachlan was ready to smash a hole in the window.

“On the count of ‘3’, you put the hose in the hole … 3, 2, 1″ shouted Lachlan.

“Smash!” went the window and Adam quickly put the hose through the hole and sealed the gaps with duct tape. He felt a sigh of relief as the air stopped rushing out of the gaps.

“OK … are you ready?” asked Adam.

Lachlan nodded, then Adam turned on the vacuum. He slowly set it to maximum, glad that it was the new turbo Galaxy 3000 model with extra sucking power. The meteor began to move closer to them. Adam wiped the sweat from his brow, knowing that they were going to be fine. But as the meteor met the house they hoped no windows would break. The meteor and the house began to move towards Earth and plummet in the direction of home.

As the house fell rapidly through the stratosphere, everything in it began to rise to the ceiling. The two occupants had to grab onto things that were fixed to the wall in order to hang on.

Once they were in Earth’s atmosphere, the house suddenly plunged into the ocean. Water was rapidly leaking in through all the cracks, so they opened the door and swam out of the house.

They noticed a beach close to where they landed, and swam toward it.

Life returned to normal and Adam never forgot his strange adventure.


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The Park in Winter by Joanna Steedman

“Camilla, don’t run too fast in the park”, says Mum to me, but I don’t take any notice! I run as fast as I can. When I get to the park, all of these amazing thoughts come to mind. Look at all the crunchy leaves, they look like corn flakes and the park smells of roses. I can hear all the amazing Indian Minors chirping. It feels like there’s no one else on earth. I feel free and wild!

So, I jump on a swing and go as far as I can go, then I jump and in mid-air, I feel an adrenalin rush. As I land I feel as though I can do anything, so I climb a tree. When I reach the top, I feel scared but I know I can do it. So I jump out of the tree and I land without a worry. I sprint around the park until I can’t go any further, then I walk fast. Home in time for dinner!

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Haunted House for Sale! by Lucy Poole

Are you a witch? Are you looking for more room to cook little kids? Well, if you are, this is the PERFECT house for you!

This house has everything you need plus more. It has sixteen bedrooms so all your witch friendalings can sleep over. Every bedroom comes with an ensuite and pet ghost to snuggle up to at night. This haunted house is fit for a witch!

All the rooms are haunted and scary with plenty of space for toad-racing. It even has its own personal toad course with built-in lanes. Ninety nine percent of all witches want their house more frightening, so we made this house based on all that data.

Why not catch the child that was knick-knocking on your door 200 years ago in your black mouldy kitchen? Or challenge Hermione to a broomstick race around your house on your personal broomstick track?

This haunted house also has a built-in slime pool and a room for all your disguises.

So all those witches around the world come down to Double Witchfriendaling Street, Abracadabra, Australia, and check out this fantastic, mouldy house!

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IMX Las Vegas by Tim Mason

Recently I returned from a magic convention, in Las Vegas, which lasted for a week and was designed to help me improve in my skill, technique and presentation.

One of my favourite moments was when I went up on stage with Jeff McBride (a very famous magician). He came out into the audience with a bucket and a wand and got me to tap on the bucket which made a ringing noise. We did this together all the way up to the stage. He then got me to face the audience and smile … as I was doing that he pretended to walk off stage (the audience were laughing loudly and I had no idea why). We both had a great time up on the stage and I will remember it forever.

Another one of my highlights was competing in the International Youth Magic Championships. I was third to perform on stage.

I got really excited and nervous before I went on stage. Anyway my performance went really well I was soooooooooo pleased. After my performance, when I was in the green room eating pizza, mum ran in and gave me a great big loving hug and said the act was an “11 out of 10.” I was really happy with that!!!!

The next day we went to the closing stage gala where they were going to announce the winner … and guess what … I WON!!!!.  Well I technically came second but there was no first place awarded so I won but I came second (confused yet?).

Unfortunately there was one lowlight … imagine being out on the Las Vegas strip on a 40 degree Celsius day, walking out in the sun for 3 hours with no protection!!! I wasn’t feeling so crash hot as you probably already guessed, I felt faint. Luckily just before I passed out the air conditioned hotel shuttle bus came. “Yesssss” I thought to myself as we got on a quickly as we could. I was feeling a bit better with the air conditioning blasting in my face, but instead of fainting I vomited. At least I felt better after I had vomited but still not a nice fun moment.

IMX Vegas was amazing and magical. Spending time with Mum was even better and I can’t believe how many great people and magicians I met.

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The New Adventures of Super Frog by Mason

Little Frog had an invite for a birthday party by the pond. The time was 12:00 and it was today! He had to get ready. He got changed and his Mum took him to the pond. When he got there, he saw his friends and said “Hi’. He looked over and right there was a table. When they got called to eat, they all ate the food on the table. There were chips, pizza, sausages, drinks and bread.

After that they went for a swim in the pond. On the way to the pond his friend said he ate a lot. Little Frog was in the pond but he started to drown. He cried “Help, I’m sinking”. He knew that he had eaten too much but nobody was around!

Super Frog heard the yell so he flew to help. Super Frog saw Little Frog and pulled him out and Little Frog was saved! Little Frog said “Thank you Super Frog”.


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Leafy Stick Insects by Lucy Vogel

What you need before you buy your insects is to make sure you have a mesh cage that they can breathe out of (they prefer vertical mesh). You will also need a sprayer, vases or tall cups to hold the leaves and a wattle tree, eucalyptus tree or rose bush near your house to feed them.

  1. How to look after you Leafy Stick Insect

    You need to spray the leaves two or three times a day with water to keep them moist. Change the leaves in the cups once a week.

  2. What they eat

    Leafy Stick Insects decide what they are going to eat after they leave the ant nest. They find the nearest rose bush or wattle or eucalyptus tree to live in and eat from. Once they have chosen a type of tree to live in, they won’t eat anything else. If you feed them wattle or rose they will turn green, but if you feed them eucalyptus, they will turn brown.

  3. Hatching

    When the mother lays the eggs, she flicks the egg somewhere near an ants’ nest. An ant finds the egg and takes it back to the nest. Then the ant eats the little round knob at the end. In two years, the egg will hatch and leave the nest.

  4. Lifespan

    Leafy stick insects take two years to hatch because once the ant eats the knob, the egg starts to weaken and the insect is able to break through.

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The Danger of the Asparagus Monkey Tribe by Cooper

The Tree Rat Tribe sprung their way deep into the forest. As they got into the forest it started to rain ponderously. So they started to build a hut for them to sleep in over the night.

They heard a noise, it sounded like a screaming monkey. Then one of the members shouted out, “The Asparagus Monkeys are coming. Arrrrr!!”

Everyone got their weapons and hid immediately in the bush and waited. A dead silence … and the only thing you could hear were the monkeys screaming as they came towards us.

“The ireful monkeys are here,” whispered Pudgy. “On my count of 3 we attack. 1, 2, 3 … Attack!!” yelled Pudgy.

Everyone threw their spears and launched their arrows. The monkey had sticks of fire so the lit lots of the rats on fire. They all ran to the pond, but most of them didn’t make it. Many of the Tree Rat Tribe died. The ones that lived ran to the bush. After an hour of running they finally found another tribe.

That night they got a good night’s sleep and couldn’t wait for the next day. The two monkeys woke up with a yawn and went outside. The sky was as dark as coal, as if there had been a bushfire. The two Asparagus Monkeys wanted to explore the forest.

As they ran into the forest, right there in front of them was the Asparagus Monkey Tribe. They screeched out “THEY’RE HERE!”

Everyone got all their weapons and fired at the tribe, but there were too many of them. So Master Chong called on his radio headset that he needed help desperately. In seconds there were millions of Tree Rats standing over the mountain as they charged down it.

They threw their spears and launched their arrows and in seconds the monkeys were defeated. After a while they had a funeral for the rats that didn’t survive the dreadful war. 10 minutes later they had a party. Then Master Chong announced that “Today is National Tree Rat Day!” Everyone was cheering, waving their flags and were so thrilled!!!!!!!!

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