About Catherine

Catherine Way is mum to two boys living in North Australia. They read lots, run lots, love to learn new things and are good at finding fun and mischief. Catherine blogs about her family adventures and passion for lifelong learning at Indirect Observations.

Book review: Hunwick’s Egg – an Australian Easter story

The following review is by Catherine Way of Indirect Observations. It originally appeared in 2010, and with Easter around the corner I thought many of you might enjoy hearing about this lovely book from another part of the world. – Kara

For this Easter, being Australian, I have chosen to review Hunwick’s Egg by Mem Fox, illustrated by Pamela Lofts.

After a storm, Hunwick the bilby finds a wonderful egg.  When no-one claims the egg, Hunwick decides he will care for it.  He befriends the egg and takes good care of it.  But when the egg doesn’t hatch Hunwick’s friends worry.  But Hunwick is not upset, he knows the secret of the egg.

This charming story of explores the theme of friendship and unconditional love. Hunwick’s relationship with the egg reminds me of my son’s relationship with his teddy.  For my son, his teddy is someone who always loves him, listens to him and keeps him company.  And I think that is why my son loves this story, because the egg provides friendship for Hunwick and Hunwick loves the egg whether it hatches or not.

The story is accompanied by beautiful detailed illustrations of Australian desert plants and animals.

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Literacy games for emerging readers

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Written by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations.

One important skill that emerging readers need to develop is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is sensitivity to the sound structure of language. Children who can detect and manipulate sounds are phonologically aware.

Until your child understands that words are made up of sounds and we can write these sounds down, they cannot access written language. Some children naturally pick up on this understanding, some need it made more explicit.  As my children are not home-schooled, I try hard not to do “school” work at home (apart from homework).  That means we don’t do worksheets, we don’t have a letter of the day, we don’t use flashcards.

Does this mean we don’t do literacy learning at home? Not at all. Incidental learning is happening all the time. I take advantages of many opportunities to reinforce their learning or bring up a relevant concept. With an emerging reader, like my 4 year old, I read books and talk about letters and words. I write things down for him. I help him write letters when he wants to. And we play games. These things all build his phonological awareness.

Literacy games for emerging readers

Here are some activities and games I use at home, that don’t seem like school work, but help children start to notice the sounds in words. I find that many of these games are fun to play in the car.
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Kid-made Christmas cards, 3 ways

Written by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations.

My children have been making handmade cards for birthdays and Christmas ever since my eldest son was 2.  I enjoy having this personal touch for special presents, like those we will give to my son’s teachers, grandparents and other family members.

These three cards are quick and enjoyable to make and use materials you will probably already have at home.   The only special requirement is the blank cards to decorate. You can buy ready-made blank cards or make cards by folding cardstock or paper to the size you require.

I’ve also provided my tips for helping you get the best results without needing to do parts of the card-making for your children.

In my house, we make the card-making a bit of an event by setting a day, playing Christmas carols and all sitting down together to create cards.  It is a firm part of our Christmas tradition.

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What is a cloud?

The following is by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations.
In my part of the world (subtropical Northern Australia) at the moment, the weather is changing from cool, sunny dry season weather to hot, sticky, rainy wet season weather.  We call this time of year the ‘build-up’  The humidity builds up making it hot and sticky.  The build-up will eventually be broken by the arrival of monsoon rains.

The build-up means that clouds have returned to our skies – everything from wispy, barely there, white streaks to tall, dramatic sculptures.  We have also had many foggy mornings – my children tell me  this is ‘the clouds touching the ground.’  We have even had the odd dark, ominous looking cloud that made us talk about the possibility of rain.

It seemed a good time to do some cloud and weather related investigations.  The variable weather of Autumn or Spring in more temperate parts of the world also brings variable weather, making this an excellent time to explore weather with your children.

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The art of travel with young children

The following post is by contributor Catherine Way of Indirect Observations and originally appeared in June of 2010.

The first time I took a big trip with my son, then two years old, I was looking forward to a break from the mundane, a chance to have some time to myself and the opportunity to have a few new adventures.  After all, that is what holidays had been about before I had children.  But that expectation nearly spoiled my holiday.

I found myself upset at my child for just being a child. I worried when he missed naps or didn’t sleep at night.  I worried about disturbing other people on the plane or in the next hotel room when he wouldn’t stop crying.  I worried when he wasn’t enjoying what were doing.  And I got upset that I didn’t have time to sit and read my book or go and see what I wanted to see.

As I got more and more stressed I realised I was ruining my holiday. I was missing my son’s excitement at new experiences and I wasn’t enjoying the time I did get to myself or the new sights and experiences.  Trying to make the holiday fit my expectations was making things harder for me.

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