Friday, 25 September 2015

Is your child ready for the ‘BIG’ school Maths Curriculum?

Written by Donna Botfield on . Posted in Numeracy, School Readiness
Mathematics includes many skill areas,these are broken into smaller sections by the curriculum. ACARA (the new Australia wide curriculum) divides maths into the following strands:
  • Whole Numbers
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Multiplication and Division
  • Fractions and Decimals
  • Patterns and Algebra
  These strand areas are covered in the Early Stage 1 curriculum—from the time your child enters BIG school. ED Specially 4U is current with the latest curriculum documents and teaching methodology to produce the best results for your child, and to provide opportunities to become familiar with concepts necessary for BIG school.  
The Whole Numbers strand is of course, our dominant focus in the School Readiness age groups.
We introduce this by providing opportunities with hands-on, concrete learning materials to ensure deeper understanding and motivating learning opportunities.   From the moment our students start the ‘Little ED 4 School’ custom designed classes for 2-3 year olds. We  start whole number activities. Including first numeral recognition, rote counting and counting with 1:1 correspondence. As the age of our students increases so too does the difficulty of the learning tasks. Our students progress to recognition of dot and object formation in relation to numerals, sequencing, before and after concepts and beginning addition/subtraction skills; to name a few.   ED Specially 4U has a unique and custom designed numeral flashcard system in which each numeral has been given it’s own colour and this is consistent throughout all of our number resources.   We teach numeral identification in a step by step progression:
Step 1: Flashcards to teach identification of numerals.
This is achieved by matching, selecting and naming principles
Numeral Flashcards 1-20 ED Specially 4U


Numeral Flashcards – download here

Step 2: Play games to consolidate skills and ensure deeper understanding of the numeral concept has been understood.
We use both real objects and educational hands on learning resources to consolidate the skills learnt
Dinosaur Bingo
Dinosaur Bingo – ED Specially 4U

Dinosaur Bingo – Download your copy here

Fish in BowlsFish in bowls 1

Fish Bowls Game – download here

For our large range of hand on maths games view our online shop here

Step 3: Reinforce numerals with singing activities.
Our students love reinforcing numbers with songs.  Our singing resources are motivating and educational  Below we have highlighted some of our favourites, there are many more to choose from:
Five Little Speckled Frogs – ED Specially 4U

Download the 5 Little Speckled Frogs Resource Here

3 Jellyfish
3 Jellyfish Singing Resource – ED Specially 4U

Download the 3 Jelly Fish Resource Here

5 little  ducks 3
5 Little Ducks – ED Specially 4U

Download the 5 Little Ducks Resource Here

10 in the Bed
10 in the Bed singing resource – ED Specially 4U

Download Ten in the Bed Resource Here

6 little ducks
6 Little Ducks Singing Resource – ED Specially 4u
Download the 6 Little Ducks Resource Here
Step 4: Formation of numerals—We teach numeral writing with FUN fine motor activities.
Activities are enhanced by using our numeral writing resources.

Playdough numbersDotted fine motor cards 1-20

Read about our resources and ideas for encouraging number writing here

Step 5: Sequencing numerals
Once your child has learnt to rote count numbers and recognise numerals, it is important to sequence the numerals to match the spoken number.
Sequencing Number 1 Sequencing Number 2
Train Sequencing
Train Sequencing Numeracy Game – ED Specially 4U
Resource available here
Step 6: Relationship between numerals and object groups—counting out groups of objects and matching these to the written numeral
Sequencing Number 3
All of our resources are available for purchase to use in your own preschool/school/homeschool settings or to reinforce the learning in our classes
Please contact us to discuss your individual learning needs or speak with your class teacher about how ED Specially 4U helps your child to achieve this very important WHOLE NUMBER mathematics strand

For the Love of Learning



Phonemic Awareness 1: Rhyme Time

When I speak with parents about our program, I often discuss Phonological Awareness. This is important in our program as it is such an important part of learning to read:
“The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (phonemic awareness)  Lyon, (1995) Toward a definition of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 40, 51-76

This series of  blogs will explain these very important and sometimes not understood early reading skills.

The VERY first skills required to read are actually being developed well before letters are taught. Phonological Awareness is broadly defined as being able to hear the sounds in language including words, parts of words (sounds and syllables). This skill is being learnt from the minute children are learning language and speech, however also requires explicit instruction for understanding.

Phonological Awareness includes:

  1. Rhyme
  2. Hearing syllables – and onset/rime
  3. Working with Phonemes:
    • Isolating
    • Blending
    • Segmenting
    • Manipulating
This series of articles on Phonological Awareness gives some ideas that we implement and that you can try at home to reinforce hearing rhythm and rhyme.


We start instruction by introducing sounds through RHYME. This is such a great starting point as it is very motivating for the students. Rhyme is easily introduced through literature and nursery rhymes. We make sure this literature is throughout our programs. Specifically in ‘Little ED 4 School’ and ‘Learn 4 School’ we focus strongly on nursery rhymes and their rime sounds to start to assist the students to hear those sounds clearly.
We have provided an example of how to use our Nursery Rhyme resources on our blog Teach Rhyme with Nursery Rhymes
  Our nursery rhyme packages are available for purchase:

Humpty Dumpty
Hickory Dickory Dock
Little Miss Muffet
Hey Diddle Diddle
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Incy Wincy Spider
Jack and Jill
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
With instruction and repetition of the nursery rhymes, the rhyme sound should also be taught explicitly for those students who need some assistance with hearing the sound.  One way to teach these sounds is via direct instruction through the use of  the ED Specially 4U Rhyme Flashcard resource

 This resource can be used for direct instruction teaching the rhyme sounds.

Extension Ideas with this resource:

Show and name a sequence of cards in a rhyme sound and include a different rhyme sound – ask the students to work out the rhyme card that does not belong.  For example: wall, call, ball, fall, moon.  This activity can be repeated, changing the position of the word that does not belong,  in the sequence.  


We offer a lot of  hands on learning opportunities to reinforce instruction and concepts of rhyme.  Our Nursery Rhyme Games are:
Nursery Rhyme Match - matching the words to a baseboard (similar to a bingo board) which can be played by one or more players.  This game is great as an instructional tool – with the teacher leading the rhyme activity or as an activity for students to independently work through.
Find The Rhyme - This is a harder activity than the Nursery Rhyme Match, as the player has to match to locate a rhyme sound that matches the picture already supplied
Nursery Rhyme Memory Match - This game is played in the same style as traditional memory match, with the player matching rhyme words that have the same rhyme


Reading is of course, highly important when you are introducing rhyme to students.  There is a wealth of great literature for children of this early learning age, which uses the prose of rhyme.  Books with full rhyming sentences and words are great for developing the sound of rhyme. When you are reading a book with rhyming words, talk to your child about the words that rhyme.  Repeat sentences highlighting the rhymes and reinforce the rhyming sound in the words.  Explain that words sound the same because the ending sound is the same.  Give the rhyme words as your example.
You can assess your child’s understanding of rhyme by pausing where the rhyming word should be read and allowing the student to complete the sentence (rhyme word).  If it does not make sense, that is ok.  The important part of this skill is to hear the word:

Where’s My Teddy?  Jez Alborough

“Eddy’s off to find his teddy.
Eddy’s teddy’s name is ______”
(Freddy is the real word required here – however if your child said sneddy, reddy, beddy  etc.  they would be showing that they understand the rhyming pattern) When your child is learning, it is always easier for them to select a correct answer than say it.  So this activity should not be expected until your child has had a good amount of experience with rhyming sounds.  


Word families are a great way to introduce rhyme. Word families are words that have the same ending sound, by just changing the beginning sound.  For example: cat, hat, mat, sat are all rhyming words. We offer resources and games that assist with the word family rhyming activities.

  CVC Word Family Rhyme Match - Like the nursery rhyme rhyme match, this game is extremely versatile as an instructional tool or as a game

 CVC Word Family Memory Match - played like a traditional memory match game.  This game is appropriate to different learning levels as it comes with pictures and words to add to the complexity of the game for older students  


Preschool finger plays and songs often use rhyme to entertain, thus providing a fantastic teaching opportunity. Songs such as :
5 Cheeky Monkeys
5 Little Ducks
5 Little Speckled Frogs
I’m a Little Teapot

10 Green Bottles
This Old Man


Rhyming stories and poems are fun for little learners.  Make sure that all teaching of this skill includes FUN. We enjoy using real objects to extend learning fun.  One game that we love doing with the students when they have become more experienced with their rhyming sounds is:


Provide a mystery feely bag with several objects which are suitable for rhyming tasks.  The teacher/tutor/parent or the student can take the objects out of the bag one by one.
  • If this game is only played with one player, they can make a guess of a word that rhymes with the object they have taken out of the bag. ie. (dolls house) chair =  …bear/pear/where/hair/stair   etc.  block = sock/lock/frock/dock
  • If there is more than one player, the students can take turns to see who can make a match with the object.  As each player correctly guesses, they can hold onto the object until the end of the game, where the rhymes can be reviewed.  The winner of the game is the student with the most objects


Using a round medium sized ball, pass the ball between your child and yourself (this game can be played with more players including whole class groups – and is actually really effective with larger groups) Start with a CVC word family word such as cat, throw the ball – on each throw of the ball he players have to say a word that rhymes with that word family. The teacher/parent/ or a designated student is responsible for ‘CHANGING” the rhyme.  When they feel it is a good time, or the rhyme sound has been exhausted, or just for fun – the designated person shouts CHANGE and then nominates a new word family rhyme. This game is best played at a fast pace, and gets the students thinking.
Rhyme Time is an enjoyable experience for parents/teachers  and students alike.
Children benefit from the explicit teaching of rhyme sounds.
These can be taught through nursery rhyme, Short Vowel Rhyming words, games and of course books.
For the Love of Learning  




Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Should my Child attend School Readiness Classes?


Should my Child attend School Readiness?

Written by Donna Botfield on . Posted in About Us, Parent Tips, School Readiness
Probably one of my most asked questions before I enrol a new student is ‘Does my child need to attend School Readiness?’ Of course I fully believe that our School Readiness program is an essential start to school, and yes I am biased but let me tell you why.

My child attends preschool/long day care

Whenever I discuss school readiness with parents I make it extremely clear that children should attend preschool and day care before they start school.  In this setting, children learn the very important social and emotional skills that are required for the rest of their lives.  Children learn how to interact with same aged peers.  Preschool/long day care is an essential start to schooling in Australia.  A one hour a week School Readiness Class does not prepare your child socially and emotionally for BIG school; however preschool/long day care settings do not always prepare students for the academic learning required at school.  

What benefits do School Readiness Classes provide?

The reason that I established School Readiness Classes 8 years ago was due to my own children.  As a primary school teacher, I understood that school will provide your children with the structured learning skills, and all of the curriculum that your child will require.  Unfortunately the demands of the curriculum in schools now requires that children go to school ‘ready to learn’.  From the moment your child starts BIG school they will be required to learn many new facts and rules.  For the child who is not adequately prepared, school requires a lot of a young mind.  I tried to not be a ‘teacher mummy’ to my children.  I did recognise that I was able to offer my children a start to school that was not available to a ‘non-teacher mummy’. I am a strong believer in the strength of the teachers and schools in NSW and was confident that my children would learn quickly.  I soon realised that with good preparation, children confidently start school and start learning the day they enter primary school.  

What does the ED Specially 4U School Readiness Program offer:

  • Structured learning in one session per week to prepare children in a gentle and confidence building atmosphere
  • Classes that start from the age of 2 to allow students to be very familiar with a structured learning environment
  • Classes and teachers that follow a structured program in the same way a primary school program is taught
  • An environment where letters, numbers, fine motor/writing skills are developed so that the child can start school confidently knowing these beginning skills
  • Another setting (outside the play environment) in which students recognise the importance of following instructions
  • Confidence to follow instructions of  a teacher
  • Confidence to work within a small group and achieve new skills
  • Confidence to try new skills
  • Confidence to learn
  Another benefit of joining our program is the importance we play on early detection if your child has any learning concerns.  We regularly are able to advise parents that a student may need a speech therapy or occupational therapy assessment if there are any issues that may be preventing their development in these areas.

With honesty I can say that our students and teachers alike, love our programs.  Happy children enjoy the structured learning program and the success they are achieving.  My personal favourite teaching moment is when I first say to one of our students ‘I didn’t know you could read!’  Our students quickly learn the letters and sight words required to sound out simple sentences, and they are thrilled to hear that this skill enables them to read!!
  Please visit our parent testimonial page (found on our website under the ‘about us’ tab) and facebook pages to read how other parents value our program.  Each year I send out a questionnaire in which parents are allowed to comment anonymously.  I relish constructive feedback as I passionately believe in what we do, and I want it to be the very best program I can offer.  I have honestly never received a negative comment in the 8 years we have been offering this program.  In fact, the questionnaires often come back months later when the students have started BIG school, and parents are glowing about the easy adjustment to school their children were able to make following the guidance of our program.

For the Love of Learning


Saturday, 20 June 2015

5 Numeral Writing & Fine Motor activities

Does your child have trouble forming the numerals when they are writing?

Are you concerned that your child does not have the confidence to write numerals?



Our number writing resources can assist your child to develop their number writing skills.

You can download our numeral writing cards or you can order them to be sent to you as a fully laminated and prepared set of cards ready for use the day you receive them.  Our numeral writing cards offer the flexibility of guiding your child/students’ writing by introducing the numerals with most to least assistance.  The bold set of numeral cards introduces the numerals to the child, they can then use these in activities or practice writing directly onto the numeral.  The outlined numeral cards  give assistance to the child.  This resource even  includes numbers to direct the child in the order that the numerals are to be formed.  The dotted numeral cards provide assistance to follow the dots and form the numerals.
Bold Numeral Cards – download here
Outlined Numeral Cards – download here
Dotted Numeral Cards – download here

Activity Suggestions for the Numeral Writing Cards include:


1.  Trace over the cards using whiteboard markers

If you have purchased the completed set of numeral cards they come fully laminated which allows the student to use whiteboard markers to write on the numerals and can be wiped off easily.  This activity can be used time and time again with little assistance from the teacher/parent.  Children love to use whiteboard markers as they gain confidence in their writing.  Knowing they can wipe off their attempt if they are not happy is a great confidence builder  

2.  Tracing numerals using different medium

This activity is such FUN for the learning writer (and even for the more experienced!!)  You can cover the laminated numeral cards in different types of medium. You might like to try:
  • shaving cream/foam
  • sugar
  • milo
  • rice
  • coffee
This is of course not limited to only these ideas – see how creative you can be with it

Coloured shaving foam writing – EDSpecially4U

                                  Rice Fine Motor Writing – ED Specially 4u

Coffee Fine Motor Numeral Writing – ED Specially 4U

3.  Forming Numerals using different medium

A significant activity that our students enjoy while strengthening their finger muscles is to manipulate different medium to form numerals.  We use cold cooked spaghetti, playdough and tongs with pom poms to create the numerals tracing the number cards.  This activity is so fun that the children enjoy completing all 20 numerals. 

Playdough numerals – ED Specially 4U

Playdough numbers with object representation

4.  Numerals as an art activity

To complete this activity it is best to download the numerals on the above links.  You might like to enlarge the numerals.  Don’t laminate the numerals for this activity.  Using paint or glue and other types of medium you can decorate the numerals to assist your child/student to learn their numerals.  When you have finished don’t forget to place the numerals on display in their correct sequence. 


5.  Cutting  Numerals

To allow children to understand the formation of the numerals, cutting around the outside of the numerals is a great way to see the numeral as a shape.  Every opportunity to use scissor skills is a brilliant idea for children’s little fingers.  Scissor skills strengthen the muscles in the hand and assist the child’s writing skills. When you are monitoring your child’s cutting skills make sure that they keep their thumb at the top when they are cutting. Once the numerals have been cut out, you might like to try other activities such as:
  • tracing around the outside of the cut out numeral
  • use the numeral as a template for craft activities
  • Paint over the numeral and remove the numeral from the painted page – leaving the silhouette of the numeral
Enjoy this resource and it’s many uses.  Please post photos and activities you have tried with this resource in the comments.

For the Love of Learning