The idea for Reading On Your Head began with my dissertation project at university.
I grew up in a very deprived area and wanted to do something which would give backto the community and others like it I grew up in. I created a simple multi choice PowerPointquiz where pupils could create their own story by answering multi choice questions.
The project was successful and I wanted to build on it. John (we’ve know each other since we were about 7 and were each other’s best man) came on board as he is a programmer and web developer.
Over several years we took it from a concept to a working website. With support from my school and academy trust we then fleshed out the idea into a working platform. We’ve trialed on several schools within out Trust to help develop the idea and are now at the point where we’re ready to launch as a business. My headteacher was happy for me to take time out from school to launch the business.
What do your readers learn from Reading on YourHead?
We aim to use raising reading engagement as a tool to improve confidence with reading which then raises attainment.
Pupils can use the website both in school and at home. Once they have read a short section of text they then answer a multi choice reading quiz. Teachers can then use the assessment data from the questions they answer to inform where pupils are doing well and where they need extra support.
Pupils can also create their own reading quizzes they can share with their friends and compete to answer each other’s quizzes.
All this allows pupils to become more familiar with how answers to reading comprehension questionsshould look, how to answer questions effectively and how to read a text effectively and efficiently to find the answers to questions.
What’s next for Reading on Your Head?
We think we’re completely different to anything else that’s out there. We’re working hard to spread the word about Reading On Your Head and get into schools, both in the UK and internationally.
We’re already booked in for the BETT show next year and are looking for primary schools who would like to work with us.
We’re also keen to begin working with parents as we think what we offer is perfect for parents who want to effectively support their children with reading at home.
Reading to children is such an interactive process and doing voices as well as facial expressions can help tell and story, with young children, getting them involved in the story brings it to life.
Here’s how I would use this book for development in the EYFS.
A little synopsis from me- Biff is a dog who is not like any other dog, he doesn’t do dog things. He likes moonlight, music and walking on his tiptoes! He thinks he is a ballerina. This is a great story for talking about holding on to your dreams and breaking down stereotypes.
Personal, Social and Emotional development
Throughout the book, Biff is told that dogs don’t do ballet- he doesn’t touch his food, he howls at the moon at night, his tail drops and his ears droop, and on stage he turns bright red.
Ask your children how Biff is feeling, this can help your children acknowledge different feelings. This is great to open up a conversation with your little ones about if they have ever felt like this and you can discuss what they can do to feel better.
Understanding the World
People and communities looks at the lives of people close to them, this can be looking at different jobs that people do, such as ballerina, dance teacher etc
Using this to break down the barrier of what girls should and should not do, boys should and should not do! Or Dogs! Remember, dogs do do ballet! Haven’t you seen Britains Got Talent?
This book lends itself to a ballet lesson, doesn’t it? Have some fun with plié, jeté, arabesque, pirouette, first position and even practise your curtesy’s. Did you know that your gross motor skills can help fine tune your fine motor skills so doing these big movements can in turn help their mark making skills. Using the Sugarplum fairy music by Tchaikovsky from the Nutcracker, after dancing, have some paper and coloured pencils and encourage them to mark make with the music. WriteDance is an amazing way to support your children in early writing.
Make your own musical instruments and play along with the music or use a triangle to tap the beat. Have a look at the picture of the orchestra and see if they can name the instruments?
Design a new tutu for Biff so he can have one all to himself.
Time- there is mention of different parts of the day in the book. Our really little ones have no concept of time so reading a clock is not the goal here. Talking about night and day/days of the week (she goes to Ballet on a Saturday) and that birthdays happen once a year!
Using the picture of the ballerinas, you can add counting into your reading. How many ballerinas are there? Counting in 2s? How many feet are there?
Communication and Language
This book lends itself for hot seating. Support your children in forming questions and then pretend to be one of the characters from the book. Be it Biff, the little girl, the father, Miss Polly or the Lady in the front row. by modelling first, they can take over and you ask them questions, it is brilliant for opening up answers in sentences and helping them think from a different point of view.
Depending on the age of your child, I love to give them the book and let them seek sounds or High Frequency Words. From my teacher days, with the whole class we would say “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fastest of them all, who can find….” So, start with sounds such as ‘t’ or ‘o’, move on to digraphs (ee, th) and trigraphs (igh) and words that are used a lot (HFW) such as I, to, and, in, the.
A lovely activity for our older children is to write a newspaper article from the back of the book; the title is “Sugar Pug Fairy takes ballet by storm!”
Share pictures of your activities with your children! Email email@example.com
A few weeks ago I was exhibiting at the Bett Education show with Thinkably. I’ve been volunteering with them for a while on EQAG where we read books and discuss the content, age appropriateness and if it needs to be a supported read. For more info on Thinkably head to:
I met to many amazing companies with the same ethos as mine. Bringing learning to life through books, I believe there is more to books than Reading and Woongjin Thinkbig definitely prove that. There exhibit pulled me in, they definitely bring learning to life!
How did Woongjin Thinkbig start?
Woongjin Thinkbig Co., Ltd. started it’s business as a publishing company in 1980 but during those last 42 years we’ve extened our business into smart learning platform service specialized in Education via books and tutoring, with a focus on improving creativity and thinking skills.
In 2014, by digitazing the entire contents that we’ve developed and by using platform, we introduced the “smart education service” for the first time in Korean Education market. Furthermore from 2018, we started develop our sercives based on AI technology.
There are 3 major business department:
(1. Academic learning 2. Book content reading 3. Publishing) and there are hundreds of services each department offering to the customers in Korea so it is nearly impossible for us to explain all the details in this e-mail however, you can find more details about our company and business via our website below.
Our product is an innovative Educational approach that combines best aspects of traditional print-based books with digitalized material accessed through a tablet/mobile.
Readers can expand their knowledge of the world through interactive digital contents that spark their imagination and trigger visual and auditory senses. It’s not simply a static picture or video clip but it’s interactive. At children’s fingertips, ARpedia opens the doors to a world of learning that make reading engaging and fun.
What’s next for Woongjin Thinkbig?
– We continuously strive to create new values in the Educational culture by commiting itself to create innovate and differentiate products and service offerings to the world. And as you might know already, our new series in our pipeline waiting to be developed and launched such as AR English and AR Math in the future.
As some of you may know, I’m a few drafts in to a children’s novel with main character, Mousey Poopins, being not only a mouse but also a Nanny.
So when my friends’ village was having a Mousefest, she knew I’d be interested. Not only that, but they had knitted characters from childrens’ stories and if that doesn’t say more to books than reading, I don’t know what does!
So I thought we could play a game! Gather your children and guess which stories these mice are acting out!
All the money they raise will go to Children with Cancer U.K. charity.
I want to thank them for their hard work, expertise and bringing a little joy to our weekend.
Which was your favourite?
I loved the tiny dormouse on the Alice and Wonderland scene.
Love Kat x
Answers 1. Robin Hood 2. Pied Piper 3. Snow White 4. Alice in Wonderland 5. Emperors New Clothes 6. Goldilocks 7. Little Red Riding Hood 8. Wizard of Oz 9. Cinderella 10. Jack and the Beanstalk 11. Sleeping Beauty 12. Peter Pan 13. Frozen 14. The Snowman 15. Arabian Nights
My books support parents to bring learning to life in the home through books and organising and while they can support young families, as an EYFS teacher working in nurseries, reception and schools as well as private homes, my books are for children aged 2 plus. So when I connected with Bernie, I knew I wanted to share all she does for our little walkers!
How did your book, Finding Their Feet, come about?
A lock-down project! I was going to write about the adult foot as I had been seeing so many issues with my client’s feet – either the feet themselves or problems elsewhere in their bodies caused by their feet. As I researched it became evident that if I was to make any sort of change or impact in society it was by targeting the newest of feet and setting them on a better course for success. There were two things that really impacted the change in my focus – the first was an X-ray of an infants foot (this one here is of a 6 month old) and the other a journal article titled “Children’s footwear: Launching site for adult foot ills” by a podiatrist William Rossi. I knew I had to share all of my knowledge and experience of the human body with parents/carers and anyone working with babies – the caretakers of the newest feet – from womb to walking. I had to find the answers and explain why we should care about feet from day one.
My book has been described as a ‘parenting book like no other’ and that’s pretty accurate. I read many other parenting books and none really talked about how a baby actually gets up and walks! Something we just take for granted….but the journey to walking is so much more than that and each stage leading up to that joyous moment is important.
What do your readers learn from your book?
Hopefully an understanding of how their baby’s physical development can impact their future. I’ve shared a little bit of relevant anatomy from the brain to the foot so that as I explore and explain movement and milestones they can grasp concepts more clearly.
Parents are introduced to primitive reflexes – this is an area that I wish I had known more about when my boys (now 19 and 22 years) were little. They both had certain challenges growing up, and things could have been different if I had understood more.
I can really see dad’s picking up and running with this book, a bit like a Mechanics 101 – your baby!
It’s full of activities and movements that support healthy natural development and growth, access to online resources and videos via QR codes.
And I talk about shoes – going back to the X-ray – if their feet don’t fully develop until they are teenagers then we should pay attention to what we put on them!
One huge thing parents can do – right now – is create a ‘SHOE-FREE ZONE’ at home. How they can create an environment that is safe for the toes be exposed! Perhaps that’s where Nannies can help too!
We’ve heard how your story began, what’s next for Bernie Landels?
Spreading the word – any way I can. The book is just the tip of the iceberg, with the contents being one part of the puzzle – how children develop.
I’m excited to be networking with like-minded people and organisations to help and support parents, and help the newest of feet have a healthier and stronger future.
As an avid reader myself, I love inspiring a love of reading in children. After all, it is a pre-requisite for most other learning. So when I found Book Club Buddies on social media, I knew it was something I wanted to share.
Now is the perfect time to ignite a love of reading in children with new formats like Book Club Buddies®, an online interactive book club, www.bookclubbuddies.com which develops a passion for reading in primary school children.
How did Book Club Buddies begin?
Book Club Buddies® was born, through one teacher’s passionate desire to get children reading and discussing books. The aim of the book club is to develop and enhance a love of reading. It has run many successful book clubs, gathering 5 star google reviews and over 80% of children rebooking onto new book clubs.
“This Book Club has been amazing for my 7-year-old son. It’s transformed him from a child who didn’t want to read to one who would rather read than be on an iPad.” Joanne Jarratt
It launched in late 2021 and has chosen many wonderful books for children to read and discuss, featuring great storylines that will make readers laugh out loud, as well as talk about key issues for children from stress and bullying to friendships and family relationships.
What do children learn from Book Club Buddies?
There are enormous benefits for supporting children to read. The Department for Education paper, ‘Reading for Education’, shows that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on broader learning outcomes, linking the enjoyment of reading to better test results and showing that reading for pleasure is a stronger indicator of academic success than socio-economic background.*
Lizzy Laymond, who is the creator of Book Club Buddies®, explains, “As a teacher and a parent, I know that there is less time available for teachers to dedicate to reading for pleasure in the classroom and parents lead busy lives which can make it difficult to find time to read and discuss books with children at home. In fact, many parents believe they don’t need to read to their children once they can read when in fact it has huge benefits for both.
“Both these factors are resulting in less primary-aged children reading and getting the most out of their books. Book clubs are a fantastic way of providing an opportunity for children to have fun, exploring, discussing and reading books within a small group. It benefits them is so many different ways: socially, mentally and academically.
“Our book clubs are built around research on reading for pleasure,” continues Lizzy, “we know that talking about reading, creating an environment to celebrate it, and giving children a chance to choose what they want to read all help foster a love of reading.”
Ross Montgomery, author of ‘Max and the Millions’, was one of the first books that Book Club Buddies read, says, “I love the sound of Book Club Buddies – I would have absolutely loved an online book club as a child, and the chance to dive into a book and discuss it with other kids.”
Literary legend Michael Rosen said “Book Club Buddies® sounds like a great idea to me. Reading loads of books on all sorts of things, written in all sorts of different ways, is a great way to be in this world. It helps us think, care about others, know about what’s going on, how people tick, and how to have fun. Book Club Buddies® is a terrific route to getting into the world of books. Have a great time.”
I met the lovely Natasha Brame at a virtual networking breakfast. She is the Community Fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities. We connected for a blog because I am passionate about supporting children and families.
Always wanted to try something daring and different?
In 2022, we are hosting a series of Ice Walk Challenges, with seven locations across the UK to choose from. You will be specially trained to walk across broken glass and experience the barefoot sensation of walking on ice. The Ice walk is made up of hundreds of broken bottles which are put into a frame that you walk across. It takes approximately one minute for each person to walk safely across and a training session is run before each session. It’s fun and great for everyone to take part with the minimum age to participate is 10 and no maximum age limit. Registration is free, however everyone taking part must agree to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100.
UK; Edinburgh, Warrington, Cardiff, Birmingham, Oxford, Central London and Brighton.
Link to sign up
About Ronald McDonald House Charities UK
Having a child in hospital is a frightening time for families. The nearest specialist hospital may be hours away. Where is there to sleep or get food to eat? Ronald McDonald House Charities UK (RHMC UK) is here to help. We provide free ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families with a child in hospital at one of our 12 Houses across the UK. Our Houses are close to specialist paediatric hospitals, enabling families to be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments. Every year we help 6,000 families stay close to their child in hospital.
Where the money goes
All the money raised from the Ice Walk will go towards providing families with a home away from home, when their child is in hospital. It costs just £25 to accommodate a family for a night so by raising the £100 sponsorship target, you will be providing 4 nights of accommodation for a family.
More to books…
McDonald’s sponsors Ronald McDonald House Charities. I love the initiative at the moment where you can choose a book instead of a toy with the Happy Meal.
Networking is an amazing thing. Jacqueline and I met through Instagram and our love of supporting children to learn.
What is Wizzy’s Words?
A fun rhyming book for sharing with children from 0 to 5 and beyond
A book for developing reading readiness
A book based on children’s language development data
A book for keeping in the toy box
How did Wizzy’s Words come about?
Wizzy’s Words came about due to the fact that as an early year’s teacher, I observed too many children not being able to access reading and therefore the curriculum. This is captured in the words of one six-year-old that I met along the way.
‘I’m always in trouble because I can’t read and write my sentences’. A quick chat revealed that like too many children, this six-year-old was unable to construct or read simple sentences because they did not have the oral language to do so. They had not developed reading readiness.
Most of us can recognize how ‘There is more to books than reading’ and there is ‘More to reading than books.’ Looking at picture books is fun for children. However, if that child cannot then move on and comprehend the words in that book the world essentially becomes a closed book for that child.
On completing this literature review:
PLUGGING THE EARLY LANGUAGE SKILLS GAP
A literature review addressing the question:
Is the importance of language development from birth being overlooked?
Jacqueline E. Alexander
AND after a 15-year gestation period!
It was time to put my money where my mouth was…
Wizzy’s Words was born!
What do you think children learn from Wizzy’s Words?
Firstly, readers will learn to understand the importance of early language learning.
Parents, grandparents, carers, nannies, educators… will learn that by sharing the contents of Wizzy’s Words with their children, before school entry, that their children will enter school with the key oral vocabulary that underpins educational and life-long success.
Readers of Wizzy’s Words will learn that it is a book of 70 modern nursery rhymes for today. Some of the rhymes follow traditional tunes, others follow a rhythmic pattern. The focus is on the creative delivery of the spoken word.
Head to: www.wizzyswords.co.uk for frequently asked questions (click on interview tab) and free downloadable sample rhymes and to listen to the audiobook sampler
Keeping with last weeks post where I told you about the exciting launch of my new business More to Organising- help your child to be more independent and making your life easier by organising with your child in mind!
Pull out all of your books onto the floor.
This helps you see the amount you really have. It can look overwhelming at first. Now I don’t agree with Marie Kondo when she says we should only have 30 books, but perhaps you don’t need all 300 in your child’s space?
Start with your older siblings books first. Any that are too young for them now, put in a pile to move to the younger siblings in the house. (This might be in the same bookshelf, as it might be in the living room or play room)
Any books that are still too old for them, perhaps the content is too old for them just yet but they might read it in a couple of years, pop them in a labelled box and keep for later years, just don’t forget about them)
Any books that are too young for all your children, either donate, give to friends or family with younger children or bin if they are too broken.
When you have chosen the books to keep, and you are keeping them in one room, put the books where your children can reach them! It sounds obvious but to make them more independent, they need to be able to access them themselves.
Put the youngest child’s right on the bottom shelf, and the eldest on the highest shelf. A middle child can usually access younger and older books. It’s also nice when they read to each other.
Now, choose books related to the season that you’re not in, and put away in a labelled box and rotate them. You can keep their most favourite books down, but Halloween books can go away now and be switched out for winter and Christmas related book.
If things are always available, children get bored with them. But also, too many books can be overwhelming!
The one’s that are salvageable, get the sellotape out to fix rips or put flaps back on. I used to be DT coordinator when I was a teacher so rejuvenating well loved, pop-up books is my forté.
This bit can be done with the children. Put the books in piles of the colours. Which ones do you have the most of? Which do you have the least of? If you want to make it into a learning opportunity make tally chart and then a bar chart or pictograms, recording their maths and then ask questions about the information you’ve gathered!
I usually put black, grey then white together. From white I move into yellow, orange then red. Pink follows from red, to purples, blues and then greens. It flows nicely and looks so calming. But also, your child knows what colour their favourite book is. This means they can be more independent without pulling all the books out. It also means they know exactly where to put a book back, meaning they can help you to tidy up making your life easier.
Once you’ve chosen what colour to start with, but the tallest book to the side of the book shelf and go down in size from largest to smallest in that colour, when you switch to the other colour go from shortest to tallest. And keep going, to make that easier, put in the books and then pull the smallest out and put to the front until you’ve got it, that way you can use the books to measure against in the shelf. It just makes the process a little quicker.
When you do this, wipe down the shelves and any books. To be honest, if they are really dusty, maybe evaluate whether you actually need to keep that book?
Oh and I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but go and check under the bookshelf too!
I think it is so important to support our local libraries. The excitement of getting a new book is fun and it costs nothing. Most libraries do story time and singing time for free as well. It’s a wonderful time for them.
I keep library books separate from their actual books because I’ve been there! The day they were supposed to be returned, sorting through their book shelf (this was before colour coordination days) to find said books. Luckily, I could remember what they looked like. But also by keeping them separated, they are more special and you can keep them in good condition.
Make a space for them to read. Cushions, blankets, a den. Make it fun and inviting, snuggle up with them and make Reading a pleasurable activity. Reading is a pre-requisite to most, if not all subjects. Reading even helps in maths when you have those pesky word problems.
Have a time in your week where you read your own book and they read theirs. Children copy what you do. Why should they read if they never see you read?
Also, even when they are competent readers, read to each other. Listening to you pronounce words correctly helps. I thought Hermione was Her-me-own until I went to the cinema. But also, have fun with intonation and different voices!
Show me your newly organised bookshelves!
Follow me on Instagram @more_to_organising for more tips on how to organise with your child in mind.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, contact me about coming to do it for you!