May 19

5 ways to be a helper on a class excursion – with tech and without!

Have you been asked to go on a school trip? Or even a school camp?
Despite what your child may imply, attending school events with your child is a great way to learn more about their daily lives!

There are a few things to remember though, so I’ve made you a little list! Not all tech ideas but all important! As a teacher who has taken students on excursions and camps for 20 years, these are my best suggestions for a happy time!

Do arrive on time!
I know, easy to say, but you are a helper for all the kids, not just your own so get to the bus, station, school on time to ease everyone’s mind!

Don’t take a million photos to share on Facebook!
Take all the photos you like of your own child, but be aware that other parents will have their own beliefs about online publishing. If in doubt, blur out the faces of kids who don’t belong to you. A good iPhone app for this is ‘Annotable’.

Do be present!
Yes, the bus is loud and you just want to finish your take-away coffee, but you have been invited to help supervise. This means engaging with the students and teachers – not checking emails or Facebook. Save that for after the children are (hopefully) asleep or you’ve finished the day excursion.

Do ask the teachers how you can help!
Offer to do the head count, get the coffee, check in with the Museum Education Officer, call the bus to come get you…All these little things need to happen while the teachers are also trying to educate and manage the little darlings. I love, love, love excursions – but there’s no doubt they are hard work, be a helper and we will love you forever!

Do ask if the teachers want photos of videos taken for back in the classroom!
We won’t just need photos of the students, but also of museum exhibits, views from windows, photos of the walking paths we took, the places we saw and maybe the information plaques we read. These are invaluable back in the classroom. Videos of experts talking or of the local environment are great educational resources back in the classroom!

Enjoy and have a great day with your child and their classmates – and if you can, be a helper! You’ll get asked back for more fun adventures!!


May 10

Tech-Tip Friday – Ideas for a busy (and rainy) weekend

It’s getting colder here in Melbourne and winter is definitely with us. While I love kids to be outdoors and running around, when it’s another rainy weekend, I’m ok with them playing inside!

Today I’m sharing  5 online resources that your kids will love for some rainy day fun.
I’m not suggesting these as a replacement for actual one on one play, but when they just want to be indoors and you’d rather they didn’t watch Frozen for the millionth time, these might be a good (more educational) option!

Click the image to visit the site…

National Geographic for Kids Great resources for kids interested in science, animals, geography, the environment...and lots of other stuff too.

Great resources for kids interested in science, animals, geography, the environment…and lots of other stuff too.


This week in science...

Great science resources – with updates on what Science is happening this week…


Cyber-safety – learn how to be safe online through a series of great videos and activities centred on Kara and her crew aboard their pirate ship.


Great interactive games for learning

Great storybooks online (for free) – easy to read and great pictures to go with them.

Oct 10

But won’t they just lose their laptop? 5 Tips for helping kids keep their tech safe

When we begin a computer or iPad program at a school, I’m often asked if the kids are responsible enough to look after it. Especially as us parents are often forking up the cash for the shiny new tool. I have to let you know that YES. They most certainly are. At one school we have over 400 laptops and 160 iPads – in 3 years we’ve had 1 laptop stolen in a home burglary and NO laptops lost by kids either at school or at home (or on the walk home!). But, to keep your kids tech safe there are a few important things you need to know however.

Our kids do understand the value of technology. Maybe not for the money that it costs but for the things they can do with it. They certainly don’t set out to lose it or break it.  A lot of schools are going with laptops or iPads these days. And primary school kids love to use and learn with them. Maybe your school is asking you to pay for the technology too – schools don’t do this lightly and they want to give your kids the best learning experiences they can, while not sending families bankrupt either.

We all want our kids to be responsible adults with their behavior and with their belongings. And Primary School is where this often starts.

Us teachers ask you kids to be ‘monitors’ or have jobs in the classroom. This isn’t just to get them working :0) but also to feel what it’s like to have a responsibility in their daily lives.

Our kids do lose stuff – I can’t deny that at school picking up lost or abandoned clothes or toys is a bit of a part time job.  They do lose things and it drives us mad.

I bet we all hear this a lot…

kids losing laptops and technology

However, we parents tend to think that if they can’t keep track of a simple piece of clothing, then how can they possibly care for an expensive piece of equipment.

And here’s my answer –


It’s not the same thing at all.

Their jumper (sweater) doesn’t let them play, learn, find out how to do things or collaborate with their friends.

Their sweater isn’t totally necessary to their day…their computer is.

So, Here are my top 5 tips for teaching your kids to take care of their new technology.


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Be very clear with your child about where the laptop/iPad gets stored at home and at school. If they go to after school care, find out where it will be stored. It should be locked away somewhere. They should always have somewhere secure to leave their laptop/iPad


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Go over the tech and talk about which bits are particularly fragile. On a laptop that’s the clips that keep the battery in, the ports (holes) in the side and the screen. On an iPad it’s the ports (holes) and the corners.


number 3


Make sure they have some kind of protective case and they ACTUALLY USE IT. Anytime the computer/iPad is moved it needs to be in a case – any. time.


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Talk to your kids about what to do if it does get lost or damaged. Tell an adult (teacher at school, you at home) and explain exactly where, when and how it might have gone missing. Sometimes kids don’t tell us these things cos they think they will get in trouble. We need to explain that it only makes it worse if they don’t tell us right away!


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Check in regularly to see that they actually have the laptop or iPad and that it’s in good condition. We are still responsible for teaching our kids how to look after things of course!


So, your child can handle looking after their technology tool. But just as with anything else, they need our help to learn how to do this.

They love their tech tools and want to have them in good working order. We just need to work with them we can be sure they are getting the most out of their learning tools.

Your turn – any stories to share or other tips to share?

Oct 06

What are infographics?

How are you today? I’m just about catching my breath from the school holidays. My work doesn’t stop for holidays – its the two weeks that I madly work on my Doctorate, and this time did some lecturing and workshops at Melbourne Uni too. I love it but, boy, I’d love an actual school holiday! Anyway…enough moaning!

I want to show you these cool things called Infographics today.

I love them cos they let our kids look at complicated data and ideas through pictures. If you want to help your kids go deep with some info or make sense of something for their school project – try infographics.

There are Infographics on nearly every subject you can imagine. To find one  go to Google Images and search for “(your topic) AND infographic”.

So, like this, with the same punctuation –

 “infographics AND insects”


       “infographics AND fruit”

Here’s an infographic about one of my fave topics – coffee :0)

what are infographics?So that’s what we are talking about :0) Easy to read, right?

This coffee info could be shown in an eXcel spreadsheet – but would you really read that as closely? I wouldn’t :0) Give me easy, quick representations – so I can take the data and just move on!

Infographics are where graphing goes wild! The amount of information, comprehension and general head-tilting (you’ll see what I mean!) required to interpret these complex images is impressive! Check out the image below:

what is an infographic?


This ones a bit silly – but you get the idea.

So Infographics make complex information simple.

  • They use graphics and word art to get their message across.
  • They often use size to imply quantity and the theme of the graphic generally matches the topic of the data

(so. if the data is about pollution, then the data might be represented using smoking chimney stacks).

You could argue that this particular Infographic (above) could easily be recreated using a simple timeline. However, an Infographic aims to give the reader instant context for the data, in this case using all green objects and a grape-vine to represent the timeline.


Below is a section of another Infographic. This one attempts to convince us that we should farm insects for meat instead of animals! Yuck. Not me, thanks.

what are infographics

Check out the entire image here:


When you roll your mouse over the image on the website you can magnify or zoom in to aspects of the graph – making it even easier to analyse the data presented. This kind of zooming is often a feature of Infographics and it’s always worth rolling overwith the mouse or clicking the image to see if it offers this useful function.

So off you go and find an Infographic that your child can use today. Or make your own!

Try  –

Sep 29

Kids and Videos

So, we talked last week about YouTube and your kids. But there are a couple of other tricks you need to know about using videos at home.

Videos are great for learning. They are readily available, on pretty much any topic and offer a way for your child to research online.

We know kids love to watch videos

But we’re not talking Frozen here. We are talking about the types of video that are educational in some way.

Intro to GravityMaybe it’s this video about Gravity 









Brian Cox TedTalk ExplorersOr this TedTalk about Explorers








ABC Splash RhymingOr even this one about rhyming







 These videos are, of course, multi-media.

That means there are multiple things going on at once.

So your child is trying to take in information through video, graphics and spoken words. This makes it much more complex than your average, linear book.

So here’s what you need to do to help your child get the most out of the video.

  1. Have them watch the video – just watch it.
  2. Play it again – this time stop it after each key point and ask your child if they understand or a question about what they just heard/saw
  3. Play it again – let your child stop the video this time. They now get to tell you what they know

This is how teachers should be using video in classrooms too. Maybe forward this blog link to them if they are not sure.

What this all means of course is that a 3-minute video is now at least 15mins long. That’s ok. The amount of info you can get from a video is like reading a book on it (depending on the quality of the video of course). So it’s time well-spent.

Do you watch movies or documentaries and sometimes wonder – what was that all about….? Can you remember what you saw the next day? I know I struggle to retain all that info in one go :0) and so do our kids.

Sep 18

ABC Splash – we love you <3

How’s life today? I had a great day working at Melbourne Uni today. I was running some workshops with Masters students and they seriously rocked. I’m so lucky to work with these adults who are so passionate and dedicated to their new profession of teaching. Some schools are going to be very lucky with their new staff next year. Well done guys.

I was sharing some useful websites and one that they loved was ABC Splash.

I wanted to share this with you asap cos it’s just good to know about. ANd this blog is about helping your kids at home with their learning (and maybe giving them a leg up in the meantime).

So, ABC Splash –  It’s a video resource site with vids on a range of topics. It’s linked to the Australian Curriculum but most of the topics are transferable to other countries. The maths and literacy vids are worth a look.

With videos you do need to remember a couple of things.

Watching a video once is not enough! There’s a lot of info and videos give the benefit of a pause and rewind button. Yay! You can’t rewind the teacher but you can the video! Take advantage of those play/pause buttons!

Encourage your child to stop the video and make notes or mind map or ask questions. It’s meant to be an interactive experience :0)

So next time your darling calls out “Mum…what does this mean” give ABC Splash a go. Bonus: this could just save your sanity during the witching hour at home.


PS no affiliations here – just sharing whats been useful to me ;0)