Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!

Jennie

I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/

I wrote about my amazing granddaughter’s venture in pet boarding here. I am pleased to announce her business is doing very well. The Medicine Hat News is holding it’s Best of 2019 competition based on votes. Dear readers, would you please take a minute of your time to vote for Aunty’s Place. It is quick and easy. You can vote once a day until Feb 23. It’s easy, just click on the site, scroll down and vote.

https://heritage.secondstreetapp.com/Medicine-Hat-2019/gallery/140745088?fbclid=IwAR196gEdQbN_VZTdaVIHQPa5-N0n5fXCWjrUUGCJM3i25xAh2pEPMt-QnA8

And to show you some of the happy campers that visit Aunty’s place, here are just a few pictures.

 

They come in all shapes and sizes and Aunty loves them all!

Please share the love and help Aunty’s Place be the Best Pet Boarding of 2019.

Thanks so much!!

On my recent trip back to my home province of Alberta, I was fortunate to visit two schools where I did presentations, readings, and workshops. I may have mentioned before that doing school presentations is my favourite part of being a writer. These two visits were very special.

I was invited by a school in Airdrie, Alberta to visit as the Grade 4 classes are currently reading Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. I did four presentations to the grade four classes at Herons Crossing School the day after I landed in Calgary. The students were delightful and devoted Amanda Travels fans. Some had read all the books. They said they enjoyed the use of cliffhangers in the stories. I love that kind of feedback. They were all well behaved and asked very good questions.

Students eagerly listening while I read from Amanda in Alberta.

A few days later I visited Irvine School, just outside Medicine Hat, where I did a presentation in the library to about 70 grade 3 and 4 students. After the recess, I did a workshop with one of the Grade 4 classes.

This was a double special visit as I went to Irvine School myself many years ago and it is now the school my great-granddaughter attends. It is not the same building I attended as the original school burnt down in 1989 and has been replaced by a modern building. But it was a memorable visit for me. I brought along my old high school sweater and yearbook to show the children that I had once attended that very school.

Presentation in the library

Considering it was just a couple of days before the Christmas break, the students were very attentive and asked great questions. After sitting on the floor for quite some time, the teacher had them get up and do a few exercises.

After the presentation, many came up to ask more questions.

Later, I facilitated a workshop on using all the senses in writing. Using a photograph as a prompt, we brainstormed words describing the five senses. Everyone participated. Later they were given ten minutes to hand write something based on a picture, using as many of the senses as possible. Some shared their writing. I was amazed at how eager they were to do the assignment and how they produced such incredible work in a short time. A great example of how children still love to read and write.

Facilitating a workshop with eager participants is so much fun.

My oldest grandson was my driver, helper, and photographer. He was a huge help.

My grandson and his niece (my great-granddaughter)

I was so impressed with the school, the teachers and the staff. There was such a positive vibe in the place. Wonderful quotes decorated the hallway walls.

And look what I found on a door in the girl’s washroom!

Talk about positive reinforcement!

I went back to my old school and found that the future is in good hands. 

Check out my conversation with Colleen Chesebro, where I talk about libraries, my supportive family and upcoming projects.

The Faery Whisperer

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a new author, at least to me, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

First, please meet my guest, Darlene Foster.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends.

Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people.

She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul. “Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume…

View original post 1,120 more words

I have so many wonderful memories of my recent time in Canada including special school visits, Christmas with family, visits with good friends, snuggling with grandpets and fun with grandchildren. But the best memory of all is the valuable time I spent with mom. I saw her 17 days in a row, often more than once a day. We had some good laughs and a few tears as we reminisced. I usually sat with her during her meals, attended singalongs and quiz events with her, read to her and we looked at pictures together. We celebrated her 90th birthday by holding a party at the seniors home a couple of days before the actual birthday (which is Christmas day!)  48 friends and family came to wish her a Happy Birthday. She was so pleased, even though it was a bit overwhelming at times. I’d like to share a few mom pictures.

Mom with her siblings and their spouses

with a great-grandson

                                                                     

with her grandson (my son)

with a friend’s daughter

With my dad’s cousins

with longtime friends

with a niece and her family
with flowers from a son and a sister who couldn’t be there
with my brother and his girlfriend

with a great-grandson and a great-great-granddaughter
with a great-granddaughter, her hubby and great-great-granddaughter
with another great-granddaughter who added to the teddy bear collection

You can see she loves her teddy bears and was given quite a few for gifts. Many of them she won at Bingo!

4 generations of women, mom, daughter, great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter
with a great-great-granddaughter who loves her to bits

On her actual birthday, on Christmas day, the staff decorated her place in the dining room with balloons and streamers, sang to her and presented her with a cupcake and candle for her to blow out. She was made to feel very special. The staff at Valleyview Seniors Care are incredible. I am so grateful. 

Mom was showered with love. She is wheelchair bound, her hearing is failing, the words don’t always come out right and she is often confused, but she is happy and so well cared for. The more time I spent with her, the more alert she became. Her long term memory is very good. She remembers names of people I have forgotten.

It was time well spent and I am so glad I was able to be there for her 90th birthday!

I have mentioned my talented potter daughter previously. I am so proud of her as she continues to grow and create fabulous art. Recently she has been featured in a glossy magazine from the UK called Art Reveal 

In the article she states, I’m privileged to participate in the cycle of handmade artifacts.

Here is the link to the complete article.

https://issuu.com/artrevealmagazine/docs/39/42

If you get a chance to read it, you will see she is not only a talented artist, she is also very articulate.

Following are a few of her recent pieces.

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Susa, wood-fired stoneware

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Ocean Momma

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Amphora

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Raku Shake Basket

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Rhythm of the Dance

To see more of her work, check out her website. https://madmudslinger.com/

She will ship anywhere in the world!!

To see your children doing what they love and doing it well is the best reward for a parent. I couldn’t be more proud.

Recently, a dear cousin happened to be in Barcelona for a day before she embarked on a cruise. I love to see family so took a quick trip to my favourite Spanish city to spend the day with her. We packed a lot in and had fun.

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Cousins at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona

We managed to see quite a bit and catch up on family news. One place she really wanted to see was Gaudi’s Sagrada Família. Every time I visit this amazing work in progress, more parts of it have been completed. She was awestruck, as everyone is when they it.

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Happy to see La Sagrada Família

After a bus trip around the city and a delightful lunch on Passeig de Gràcia we visited another of Gaudi’s magical buildings, Casa Batlló, all decked out with roses.

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Casa Batlló dressed in roses

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Inside Casa Batlló

The roses were in honour of St. George’s Day or Día de San Jorge as it is known here in Spain. I loved all the references to roses and books scattered about the intriguing house.

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I found out later that Día de San Jorge is also known as the day of books and roses. A day where lovers exchange books and roses to honour the legend of St. George or San Jorge, who is the patron saint of Catalonia.

We ended the day by strolling along La Rambla and having dinner on this iconic street. This building covered in umbrellas with a dragon on the corner caught our attention.

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An umbrella building on La Rambla

I had the next morning to myself before flying back home so after a cafe con leche and a chocolate filled croissant across from Plaça Catalunya, I decided to walk to the Gothic Quarter which was nearby. I came upon the impressive Barcelona Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. Beside it is the Gaudi Exhibition Museum. Since this had been a very Gaudi trip,  I went into the museum and had a good look around. The displays depicted items from the great man’s life and things that influenced his work.  It was very informative and I got to know more about Antoni Gaudi and how he came up with his unique ideas.

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The legend of St. George slaying the dragon influenced Gaudi’s work. In fact, the roof of Casa Batllo is meant to look like the back of a dragon with a sword through it.

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Gaudi’s workbench

The building housing the exhibition was incredible. It was built in the 12th century as a hospital for the poor. Gaudi himself was a patron and would often visit the sick. Remains of the old walls and frescos added to the experience. It was well worth the visit.

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And when I went back outside, a bride and groom were preparing for a photo shoot by the cathedral. How special.

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And an orchestra played music on the steps of the cathedral

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People in the audience joined hands and danced to the music.

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The sun shone, music played, people danced and I was overflowing with happiness. A perfect little getaway to a city that never ceases to amaze me and a chance to see a family member.

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Don’t you just love this outfit made of fresh flowers?

We are off on a driving holiday to France so I may be offline for a few days, but will respond to your comments as soon as possible.


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