The Importance Of Reading Aloud to Children…

Reading aloud to children provides them with access to literature that they can’t yet read themselves.  When I look back at my up bringing it is nice to recall times when my father used to read to me and my 7 siblings.  Dad would use the most fantastic voices to bring out the characters, and his phrasing and fluency was superb!  You may be thinking ‘So what!’ and ‘What has that got to do with helping my child read?’  Read on and you will find out….

Like all things that help us learn, modelling is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal.  When dad used to read aloud he was exposing us to a smorgasbord of vocabulary.  We didn’t realise it at the time, but the words he spoke were sinking into our subconscious minds.  Often he would stop and ask us questions to ensure that we did indeed understand the message the author was conveying.  Other times, dad would just read for pleasure, and our one job was to sit back and listen… much like sitting under a waterfall of words that painted pictures in our minds.

Later on as we began to read for ourselves, we already had an idea of the rhythm, or flow of how words should sound.  We remembered how dad would work out words, the strategies he would use when he might stumble over a passage, the fact he didn’t just read on, he went back and corrected himself.   If he was unsure of a word he would find out what it meant.  All these little things helped me be the reader I am today.  So yes, reading aloud to children is a gift that keeps on giving.

A big part of reading is to understand what the author is communicating, and also being able to make inferences and wonder about other contexts where this information might be applicable.  I don’t believe that we have to deconstruct every book we  read.  Simply reading for pleasure, whether non-fiction or fiction should be the greatest motivating factor.  However, with young readers I believe that is important that they are able to take something away from a text that they have read, and apply the ideas elsewhere.

If you lead a busy life, maybe you are a shift worker and your child is in bed by the time you get home.  Maybe with everything else you have to do in a day, it is hard to make time to read aloud to your child. The good news is, there is always people on the internet who like to share, and today I share something with you.

With Covid-19 upon us, and being separated from my tamariki (children) at school, I wanted to keep connected and share my love of reading with them.  When I was 10 years old a teacher called Mr Peters once read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl to me and my classmates.  And now I read it for you.  It is my gift to all the tamariki out there who want to sit back and let the words that come from reading James and the Giant Peach fall down over them, like it was for me when dad used to read, like sitting under a waterfall of words that painted pictures in my mind.

Simply click on the link below and a PDF will open for you.  To listen and watch the YouTube videos click on the pictures inside the PDF.  I have also added a second link with possible activities for tamariki to undertake if they wish to delve a little deeper into the text.

To purchase your own copy of this wonderful book go to the Roald Dahl website where they have an online store.  Once Covid-19 is over they will be able to provide you with a copy in due course.

James & The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl read to you by Charlotte Hills


Learning Adventures with James & The Giant Peach.


Kia kaha.



Online Learning & Teaching

It’s been a while since I last posted.  So here we are… in the midst of Covid-19 that has sent so many of us around the world to our homes with the possibility that this might go on for longer than originally thought.  As an educator my role has become more important than ever in maintaining the connections with my tamariki (children) and their whanau (family) as we all navigate through this.  As we all know, relationships are the glue that keep society together and offer a sense of normalcy and must be maintained..

As an educator now is the time for me and my colleagues in this field to be flexible and open to learning a bunch of new skills to provide learning opportunities for our tamariki.  We need to provide ways to engage them in learning that will allow our students to connect into something other than thinking about the current situation 24/7.  

Over the past few days I’ve been mulling over what this will mean for my immediate whanau at my school and the wonderful group of educators that are currently designing appropriate learning opportunities that meet the needs of the different levels across the school.   

Learning is not just of an academic nature, it should be holistic where the whole child is developed.  In New Zealand we have nine curriculum areas across the Primary Sector (Mathematics, Writing, Reading, Te Ao Māori (language & Tikanga), Science, Social Studies, The Arts (Drama, Dance, Music & Visual Arts), Technology (includes Digital – Computational Thinking & Designing, Developing Digital Outcomes), Health & Physical Education.

As you can imagine filling a child’s kete (basket) is a process over time, and right now we need to take care of their emotional well-being first.  Learning online is not about putting activity after activity in front of a child to keep them busy.  We must consider the needs and levels of our communities.  Going in light and gentle for those starting this journey is important.  In doing so we will reduce stress levels for all involved in this process.  Learning should be interactive and interesting, not a chore for a family to be burdened with.

As I work through options and approaches I will do my best to share these with you.  If I can be of support to others out there on the same journey, I am here and will help where I can.

So from my bubble to yours, kia kaha (be strong) my friends, draw your loved ones close and keep in your bubble.

Me, Mya & Maddie (Minxy the cat out catching mice!)



Building Agency

Learner agency is only possible if learners have the required capability sets that allow them to take increasing executive agency over their world.

To take agency over their learning world, learners need to be:

1. … competent

2. … able to understand and apply the Learning Process

3. … able to work within a conceptual curriculum


Competencies, Skills & the Learning Process

We cannot give learners agency! Agency is a complex set of capabilities that must be learned over their time in schools and homes. Currently, ‘agency’ is expected in schools rather than being consciously enabled. Learner agency is only possible if learners have the required capability sets that allow them to take increasing executive agency over their world. To take agency over their learning world, learners need to be:

1.   … competent

2.   … able to understand and apply the Learning Process

3.   … able to work within a conceptual curriculum

The roles of teachers and students need to be transformed, enabling students to become learner-educators, and for teachers to become educator-learners. Learning is the key to unlocking our curiosity and our ability to explore our world. The transformation of teachers and students to become learner-educators and educator-learners requires a 2-4 year process of consistent Professional Learning. This involves…

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Treaty of Waitangi Principle

I am constantly being reminded how far I’ve come, yet how little I still know. I found this post to be informative and inspires me to step out of my comfort zone…. Thanks Sonya Van Schaijik for sharing.

Sonya @VanSchaijik

Ko te manu e kai āna i te miro nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai āna i te mātauranga, nona te ao.

The bird that consumes the berry his is the forest. The bird that consumes knowledge his is the world.

An Education Review Office report (2011) stated that ‘many school leaders and teachers found the Treaty of Waitangi principle challenging to implement.

I was a little shocked to uncover my own lack of visible evidence for this practising teacher criteria or PTC 10. This is when practising  teachers work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand. Key indicators are highlighted as:

  • Practise and develop the relevant use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-a-iwi in context.
  • Specifically and effectively address the educational aspirations of ākonga Māori, displaying high expectations for their learning.

Don’t get me wrong. I can get by with many formulaic expressions…

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Students Need 21st Century Teachers!

2016-03-09 11.47.00Raising awareness often means putting yourself out there.  Recently I agreed to be in a video to raise awareness around professional development for teachers because my students have directly benefitted from the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) with MindLab.  

There are some really strong avenues out there to build teacher 21st skills to pass onto our students. There are also many ways a teacher can now receive professional development (PD), but not all are equal.  Not all will provide better outcomes for students (or teachers).  Over the 10 years that I have been teaching I’ve attended loads of courses.  Some good, and some just plain boring. So if the purpose of PD is to make me a better teacher, and therefore make a positive impact on my students, shouldn’t the PD be interesting, interactive and looking to develop my 21st Century skill set?

Click on this link to watch the video (you will need a Facebook account to watch this).


Coding isn’t some niche skill. It really is “the new literacy.”

Key Points:

  • The nature of work has fundamentally changed.  Today, it is no longer humans who do most of the work — it’s machines.
  • Think about it — every day, humans make 3.5 billion Google searches. It’s machines that carry out that work — not humans.
  • But machines are only able to do all this work because humans tell them exactly what to do. And the only way for humans to do this is by writing software.
  • You can’t stop technology. You can only adapt to it.
  • Learn to code. Learn to talk to machines. And flourish.


Retrieved on 28 May 2016 from