Tweet your nativity pics with hashtag #srdrawing and I’ll show them in a video!
For the first 12 days of December, I’m going to show you how to draw, colour-in, cut out and make your own Nativity scene.
I hope you, your family, school or Sunday school are going to join in and have some Christmas fun!
If it’s all too much for you to draw on your own, why not buy the seven page, A4, ready to print Pdf download for only 99p, which is about $1.60, and easily bought through paypal. Just click below.
With both black and white drawings for you to colour-in and the full colour versions that are ready to cut out and make, that’s a bit of a Christmas bargain!
If you are following the stable-making videos the two Pdfs below are free and will make things much easier for you!
All the instructions are in the videos. If you are making the ready coloured-in version, start with Video 4 – Make a Nativity Scene – Part 4 – Cut out & make the Stable
1. How to plan out the drawing of your stable. You can follow this video exactly or do your own version at your own size. I’m using stiff paper or thin card.
2. Follow the instructions in the second video and learn how to draw the stable in ink. This shows how to do the wicker-work pattern.
3. Follow this video to learn how to colour in your video. At this point you might want to score the fold lines to make it easier to fold later. Watch this video if you don’t know how to score card and paper.
4. Follow this video and learn how to cut out and assemble your stable so you can start making the people and animals to fit in it. It’s all a lot easier from now on!
5. How to draw and make Mary
6. How to draw and make Joseph
7. How to draw and make the First Wise Man
8. How to draw and make the Sheep
9. How to draw and make the Shepherds
10 How to draw the Second Wise man
11. How to draw and make the Cows
12. How to draw and make the Third Wise Man
13. How to draw and make the Angels
14. How to draw and make the Baby Jesus is coming on Wednesday 11th January
I’m really pleased with Map Pad. Writing stories for early stage phonics books is a bit like playing a game of Sudoku. You let the letters you are allowed to use swim about in front of you,until they coalesce into groups of words that can be connected in some way. With luck, and a bit of perspicacity, in an interesting and entertaining way too.
Map Pad is written with only the letters S-A-T-P-I-N-M-D. I was only allowed to use three-lettered words plus four-lettered words with an S on the end.
I recently had an email complaining that I’d used slang in a phonics book – I’d used the word till instead of until. Apart from the fact that till is the older, and original word, which means that until could be thought of as the slang version. Anyway, I didn’t have the letter U available to me when writing. I thought I’d been really clever!
I love my simple books for the Big Cat series. When I write them I remember what it was like, all those years ago, being bored to death with Janet and John and then LOOK!- as my children began learning to read. I really try hard to entertain and make these little stories fun. Learning to read is hard enough without having to read boring stories too!
You can get you copy from Amazon here:
I used to worry about repeating myself but, when writing stories for very young readers, I love repeating words and phrases, twisting them gently to create new, surprising meanings with the same jumble of words and letters. It helps increase word recognition and the decoding of meaning.
Repetition is the essence of learning, making strong connections and pathways that form the foundations on which new connections are built. Repetition in physical activity is a given – press-ups, shooting at goal, exercises at the barre.
Reading is the the most difficult skill most of us will ever set out to master. But somehow, we have come to underestimate the difficulty and assume that it’s the job of schools to sort it out. But schools can’t cope with all they are asked to do, especially the way the curriculum continues to be fiddled about with.
Every time there is a crisis, the same voices wail in the media, “Schools should be teaching this!” And so more gets dumped on schools and they are expected to cope.
Schoolchildren now work at conceptual levels that are so much higher than they were in my childhood. Don’t believe the dumbing down stories. Children these days have to learn a breadth of information and life skills that hardly existed for my generation.
Once, Literacy meant the ability to read and write. Now it seems to have been redefined as the ability to write and decode text. And yet, for all the expense and effort, reading and writing levels fail to improve – arguably they have decreased.
I’ll repeat myself:
Reading is the the most difficult skill most of us will ever set out to master.
Phonics are great as a help when children are learning to read, but that is not the end of it. They need books, and most importantly they need stories. Stories with a beginning and a middle and a satisfying end, not an extract full of adverbs.
Children need to read bucket loads of books, and to get them to read books they need great stories. Children are hard-wired to listen to and learn from stories. Once they know that between the covers of a book lie multiple, parallel universes in which they can reside and become the heroes and heroines, they become addicted and want more. But they need to know those stories are there in the first place.
If there is no time for reading at school, how will they find it at home, where they are barraged by the cheap, unsatisfying pulp of the TV, internet, games and texting? If reading is not promoted or cherished at school or at home why should they bother? If they are never read to, how do they know what lies between the covers and why should they care? Why should they be bothered to read the books when they can wait and watch it on DVD?
If you want to improve your children’s writing skills it’s easy… let them read books – lot and lots of them. How are they ever supposed to learn the skill if they never practice? Want to be a great footballer? Watch Beckham or Ronaldo. Want to make great movies? Go watch a lot of movies. Want to be a Blue Peter presenter? Try watching Blue Peter!
How can children possibly hope to learn to write and improve their writing skills if they rarely see it being done and have no idea what it is they are trying to achieve?
Want to be able to write, understand particle physics or just do well in SATS? Then learn to read. All human knowledge is wrapped up in books. To be able to access that knowledge you need to be a fluent reader, and to become a fluent reader you need to do the work and read a lot of books.
Repetition, reading the words again and again, in new combinations until you can read anything with out thinking, allows the brain to get on with the business of learning what it is that the words have to say.
We all know how repetition is boring – doing the same press-ups every day, we soon give up and go flabby.
But the wonder of stories is that the repetition is wrapped up and served differently every time. Each new story somehow leads to another. Stories make the hard work of learning to read a pleasure. Stories should be at the core of education, cherished and repeated. Every school day should end with story-time, yes – even in secondary school. Stories – read aloud, just for the joy of it.
Not everything in life needs to have a measurable outcome. But reading stories, just for the joy of it, reading lots of stories, again and again, has the most immeasurable outcome of all: Literacy – the ability to read and find out independently, to understand, add to and pass on the learned knowledge.
This all comes from the core skill – reading. I hope you won’t mind if I repeat myself again.
Reading is the the most difficult skill most of us will ever set out to master.
If you want to improve your children’s writing skills it’s easy… let them read books – lot and lots of them.
I heard on the news this morning that more and more families are hiring home tutors. While that may be a good thing if your children need particular specialist help, there are things that you can do that will have a much deeper effect on your children’s education and also on the happiness of your family. They are not only cheaper, they are free!
The press and politicians love to bash schools. They do it to sell more papers and gain more votes. The care and education of the children comes a long way down their list of concerns.
Schools actually do an amazing job. Each year they are asked to achieve more and more, and are given a hard time if they can’t squeeze more into the same sized brains that enter their doors each year. The world is changing just as fast for teachers as it is for you I. Schools and teachers are doing an amazing job keeping up while meeting unhelpful political targets. Teachers want to teach, not win votes for politicians.
Teachers only have so much time in the day and rarely have time for a one to one sit down with your child. If they do, they are probably, subconsciously making sure there is no physical contact and that no part of the conversation can be misconstrued.
Children come home from school tired. They’ve been working hard all day. The last thing they want is to see the smiling face of a home tutor when they get through the door! They’ll put up with it and may even, reluctantly, learn something because, generally, children do what they are told.
You, as a parent are the best home tutor a child can have and you come free! Every thing you do is a potential learning situation. Separating colours for the wash, weighing and measuring, counting, adding and taking away. So many irritating moments can be made simpler and more fun but remembering to turn it into a game. I know it’s hard to remember when you are exhausted too, but it does make it so much easier than fighting and arguing.
But there is one simple thing you can do that no teacher or home tutor can do that will change the lives and educational prospects of your children more than anything else.
Snuggle up together at bedtime and share a book.
You don’t have to be the greatest reader in the world or be able to do all the whacky voices. You are your child’s hero, so whatever you do will be great. If you can make the time to spend twenty minutes or half an hour reading to your child every night, you will be increasing their educational prospects more than any other intervention could ever hope to.
However sophisticated we think we are, we are still apes and we still need moments of physical closeness to bond. It is that closeness that children crave that modern life does its best to exclude. If children learn to relate reading with the best, cosiest time of their day, they will want to learn to do that magic trick themselves.
Following along as you read, is the best way to learn those long words and see them being decoded before their eyes. Learning to read is the hardest job any of us encounter in our lives. It requires thousands of hours of practice to become fluent. And fluency in reading is the key to pretty much every subject in education. Even sport has become an academic subject! Without fluency, don’t waste money on home tutors. They will force learning in one ear for it to pop out of the other. A tutor should enhance a hunger for knowledge, not be there to force it in.
The stories you read at bedtime will stay with your children for ever.
And, if you remove TVs and computers and any other electronic distractions from the bedroom, you’ll find that children who’ve had that special, bedtime story and a quiet review of the good bits of the day or prayers, if you are that way inclined, will go to sleep happy in the knowledge they are loved and that someone has the time to care about them.
This can be your quiet-time and relaxing end of the day too – every day.
Tommy Donbavand, the author of Scream Street and Fangs, was due to visit libraries in Derby on Monday as part of the Summer Reading Challenge but sadly he is not going to be well enough, so I’ve agreed to take over and visit in his place. I’m not sure my books are quite as scary as Tommy’s but I’ll do my best.
I’ll be at Sinfin at 10.30 – Blagreaves Library 1-2pm and Spondon at 3.30 see you there!
In the meantime let’s all hope he gets better soon and gets back to thrilling us with his hairy, scary stories!
If you can’t get enough of Tommy’s zaniness, here’s a video of him shooting an apple off a small child’s head!
I’m thrilled to have just signed a contract with Firefly Press, a brand new Welsh publisher. No, I’m not writing a book in Welsh but a book in English with a strong Welsh theme. You could be writing writing one for them too, as they have a competition to find a new writer. They are looking for:
A novel must be aimed at 7-9 year olds, written in English, 15-20,000 words long and set at least in part in contemporary Wales. We will accept stories with a realistic setting or stories with a fantasy/timeslip element, but not stories set exclusively in a fictional fantasy world that has no connection to Wales or historical stories with no contemporary content.
If you don’t know much about Wales, this probably isn’t the competition for you, but if you know a lot about Wales, then maybe this is your chance to finally get yourself into print!
I was childishly pleased when I came up with the series title, Little Horrors. They’re horror stories for small children, whom we often call little horrors themselves. Actually there’s no horror in them at all, just the suggestion. They are meant to be funny with moments of doubt… Shiver with fear.. shake with laughter, as the series slogan goes!
I love reading these stories to Key Stage 1 children. Some hug each other, some pose and pretend they aren’t scared, some burst into tears, but most laugh and join in with the noises and actions. Sadly the publishers, Orchard Books decided not to reprint. But that gave me the opportunity to bring the stories back to life again.
Online, print-on-demand publishing is an amazing thing. The first book in the series, The Swamp Man in now available in old fashioned print and as an ebook for the iPad. When I discovered the Open Dyslexic Font, I made it available as a Dyslexic font edition on the ipad too. The type is weighted so the letters behave themselves and sit on the line and the page colour is cream.
If you would like a signed copy of the Swamp Man, then click here
The Swamp Man – Little Horrors book.
What a strange word is Author. When I go to a meeting of the Society of Authors, I always expect to find people like me. But I don’t. Every one of them is different. Having found myself caught up in a conversation with someone who writes about bees and pollination, a chic lit writer,or an academic who writes sadistic thrillers in Old Norse, I think, “I am nothing like these people at all!” So I huddle in the corner with my pals, the children’s authors.
But we have very little in common too. We use words and maybe pictures to express ourselves. When ever there is a discussion about children’s books, it’s hopeless. We all imagine that the thing we do defines the world of children’s books. But it doesn’t. If we are lucky, we find a tiny niche and stay there as long as possible before others notice and pile in.
Then I think, at least I’m the same as those in my niche – but I am not. Even within our little niche or genre, we have different ideas about what it is and how it should be done.
I remember being part of a group of writers brought together to write stories for a new reading scheme. You could see every one itching to get in first and claim the best books for themselves. I was amazed! No one wanted to do the beginner books – the ones with ten words or so – such a challenge! They others looked at me blankly. Why would I want to do that when I could write the older books? It would never occur to me to want to write them. It’s just not what I do.
And that’s the trouble with the little controversy I started a couple of days ago.
I see there is a prize for Children’s books. I know exactly what a children’s book is and do not understand why Young Adult books keep winning – the Carnegie WorkingParty have now explained to me that it’s all because of the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as the shadowing process takes place mainly in secondary schools the whole process is skewed to Young Adult books. I’d say the rights of the child would mean that primary schools should get an equal look in. But that’s me. My readers are children. They go to primary (elementary) school. That’s how I define children’s books.
I think if you have a prize that is really a prize for writers of books for older children, you should say so. Children have a right to know what is being promoted in their name.