Great Barrier Reef Art Idea

Great Barrier Reef Art Idea

In Year 6 science, we have a unit called Reef Warriors. The children explore how the growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment. What better way to explore this concept than by looking at the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem! One that is in a constant battle of balance so that the plethora of species that call it home can continue to thrive and survive.

As part of this unit we encourage teachers to recreate the reef with their students using this fun Coral Reef Sculpture Art Idea.

And I thought it was just so fun that I couldn’t just keep it hidden in the unit. It had to be shared! So here it is… the steps we followed to create a Coral Reef Masterpiece!

coral reef art idea | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

What You Will Need:

  • Carboard from boxes
  • Alfoil
  • Cardstock
  • Collage paper
  • Recycled materials
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayola Model Magic clay
  • Hot glue gun (optional)


Step 1: To begin this project I cut out the sculpture bases 20cmx10cm (but you can use any sized base really – just remember though, whatever size you do choose to use, the larger the space your students will need to cover with their reef – so you probably don’t want your base to be too large!) and covered them with alfoil (you can get your students to do this part if you like).

Step 2: Then, after showing your students an example of one you have made up prior to class (which I find is best practice when doing art projects to help students see the bigger picture before they begin) have your students use the collage paper and cardstock to experiment with different folding techniques and arrangements on their alfoil base to come up with reef looking structures. Your students may like to try rolling their paper, folding their paper accordion style, and cutting their paper into a fringe and then rolling it. These techniques all work great from my experience. Maybe have them show you their structures before they glue them down but if you don’t have time for this encourage your students to at least place their pieces where they would like them to go before gluing so they can plan their layout.

Step 3: Allow your students to glue their paper structures to the base.

Step 4: Once they have these paper structures in place, your students can now begin using the Model Magic clay (this clay will air dry so is fantastic for simple projects like this).  The clay can be used to create additional coral pieces or be used to help hold other things in place like their recycled materials (bottle caps, pipecleaners, straws, etc) that they would like to add to their reef to create different looking coral structures. If your students are feeling creative they may even like to add some animals living among their coral using the materials available to them.

great barrier reef art sculpture | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

And there you have it! A super simple art idea, that is delightfully open-ended and will result in not only some fantastic art sculptures but also some pretty happy students as well!

Given this a go? Please tell me all about it in the comments below!

Yours in teaching 🙂

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 – Changes you need to know about!

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 – Changes you need to know about!

So your school has probably mentioned that either next year or in the years to come, your school will be transitioning to using the new version of the Australian Curriculum (Version 9.0)! Yey!! Everyone loves rewriting units and lessons plans to meet new curriculum requirements! – SAID NO ONE EVER!!

But don’t worry! I have read through the documents for you and am going to give you the teacher friendly summary of the content changes you need to know about – well for HASS, Health, Science, English and Maths anyway… I’m still getting through the other content areas!

If you are keen to reduce your time pouring over curriculum documents to find out what has changed and what has remained the same and spend more of your time watching Netflix… then read on!

Australian curriculum 9.0 changes

Summary of the key curriculum changes

Firstly, let me run you through some of the basic changes to the new curriculum that make it a superior version to that of its predecessors:

  • a 21% reduction in the number of content descriptions so the curriculum can be taught with depth and rigour
  • the English curriculum has been given a stronger focus on phonics
  • the Maths curriculum has been given an overhaul so that the content being taught is age-appropriate. The content to be taught is now more explicit in the content descriptors as well.
  • content has been removed from HASS significantly and is now clearer and easier to understand what needs to be taught.
  • a greater focus has been placed on the understanding of First Nations Australian histories and cultures, the impact on – and perspectives of – First Nations Australians of the arrival of British settlers as well as their contribution to the building of modern Australia
  • consent and respectful relationships has been added to be explicitly taught in Health lessons
  • Science has been refined so that content is more age-appropriate

So with these key changes in mind, let me run you through a few more specifics for each key learning area.

English Australian curriculum changes

Here is a summary of how I would approach teaching the various writing genres in each year level to meet the needs of the English Australian Curriculum Version 9.0:

Writing Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Maths Australian curriculum changes

The first thing you will notice with the new Maths curriculum is that the content structure has been simplified to 6 strands (Number, Algebra, Measurement, Space, Statistics and Probability). They have also raised the standards for teaching some concepts by introducing them earlier.

Here is a summary of the content for each year level in Maths and how I would squeeze it all into the year:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 Maths Scope and Sequence

Science Australian curriculum changes

The content for Science has had a nice shake up. I believe the content is now far more age-appropriate. Understanding how day and night works is now no longer a concept that you need to teach to Year 3 students but has been moved to Year 6 where it will be understood better. The Water Cycle has also been gifted its own content descriptor after its omission from previous versions of the curriculum. Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 teachers can also look forward to only having to teach 3 Science units each year due to the content shuffles in Science!

Here is a summary of the content for each year level in Science:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 Science Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

HASS Australian curriculum changes

The biggest change you will notice to HASS is that the content has been significantly reduced and I believe the content descriptors that have remained are now much clearer with supporting elaborations that more definitively explain how each content descriptor might be approached.

Here is a quick summary of the content for each year level in HASS:

Australian Curriculum 9.0 HASS Scope and Sequence | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Health Australian curriculum changes

Health unit topics probably won’t change much for you but several content descriptors have actually been dropped from Health which makes the content so much easier to manage and teach. The content descriptors are clearer and a lot easier to read. New content descriptors have been included to strengthen the explicit teaching of consent and respectful relationships including content that addresses the role of gender, power, coercion and disrespect in abusive or violent relationships.

Here is a quick summary of the content for each year level in Health:

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 Health Scope and Sequence

Overall, the updated version of the curriculum, in my opinion, is certainly an improvement on previous revisions. The reduction in the amount of content to be taught will hopefully simplify the teaching and learning experiences you need to provide for your students and allow room for you to explore topics in more detail and with more meaning!

But if you are still feeling overwhelmed by all these changes… never fear! Our soon to be released Ridgy Didge Membership will take all the stress out of planning for the new curriculum changes. Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of weeks as we reveal our unique membership package to help you overcome the change of curriculum blues!

Australian Curriculum Version 9.0 Summary of Changes | Ridgy Didge Resources | Australia

Yours in teaching,

Homeschooling Through COVID-19 – Part 3: Teaching Resources

Homeschooling Through COVID-19 – Part 3: Teaching Resources

So if you have been following our Homeschooling Through COVID-19 blogposts series, you will now have a rough plan in place for how you are going to tackle a homeschooling routine and have some idea of what topic you are going to start immersing your children in first to help teach them reading, writing and maths skills.

But I bet you are now thinking… ‘Where can I find the resources I need to teach my child this content’.

Well, never fear! Ridgy Didge has you covered.

We’ve scoured the internet for the best online resources that meet the requirements of the Australian Curriculum. Check out the list below for more information!

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an online portal of lessons created by experts and covering topics such as maths and science. The best part about it, is that it is FREE!

This website provides reading and maths lessons and worksheets for Kindergarten to Grade 5. This is a paid subscription but they do offer a 14-day Free Trial.

Epic provides a digital library for kids 12 years and under. Again this requires a paid subscription but they do offer a 30 day Free Trial.

KidsNews offers a great variety of news type articles that would be fantastic way of launching a new topic or for use as non-fiction text type reading.

Mathematics, English, Science and more! A comprehensive program of online educational activities for students aged 4 to 12, mapped to the curriculum. They are offering Free accounts for parents currently and have detailed information on how you can use their website through school closures here.

Hit the Button
Hit the Button is an interactive maths game with quick fire questions on number bonds, times tables, doubling and halving, multiples, division facts and number squares. The games, which are against the clock, challenge and develop a child’s mental maths skills. AND its free!

Read Theory
This website provides personalised comprehension exercises for K-12 and ESL students. AND its free!
Typing teaches the fundamentals of keyboarding skills, digital literacy and coding. AND once again it is free!

From the Pond
Mel at From the Pond designs beautiful colouring pages and offers a FREE Colouring Club – for when you need a bit of quiet time and want to strengthen your little peoples fine motor muscles!

ABC Podcasts
Probably more suited to the older kiddos, these podcasts are short and sweet and are great for encouraging your children to think globally.

Fierce Girls
Another ABC product that is completely free, and educates our children on the famous women who helped shape Australia’s history.

Vocabulary Spelling City
Not a free service but a fun one if you are looking for games to help your child with their spelling.

P.E. With Joe
Starting Monday 23 March, Joe will be hosting a free workout aimed at kids LIVE on his YouTube channel.

Wushka is a cloud-based digital school reading program, carefully levelled to support students learning to read. Currently there is no cost to using their program until June 30, 2020.

This is probably one of my most favourite websites. Current events presented in a child-friendly manner. A great source of inspiration for further research and study.

Stacks of interactive maths, STEM and reading games, sorted by grade.

Loads of videos about letters and sounds, sorted by grade.

Letter School
A FREE app to practice writing letters and numbers.

Jack Hartmann
This is a kids music channel with loads of active songs to practise and consolidate an enormous range of concepts.

The Night Zookeeper
The Night Zookeeper is your online writing too, class blog and library of interactive lessons. You can sign up for a 1 month free trial.

AlphaBlocks Youtube Channel
The Alphablocks are 26 living letters who discover that whenever they hold hands and make a word, something magical happens. Learn to read and spell easy, intermediate and hard words with the phonetic spelling technique designed especially for kids learning to read.

Art Hub for Kids
Art Hub is run by a man named Rob. He uploads new art lessons M-F, every week! Follow along with him and learn how to draw plus other fun art lessons for kids.

GoNoodle® engages 14 million kids every month with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Available for free at school, home, and everywhere kids are!

Cosmic Kids
Making yoga and mindfulness fun for kids since 2012. Free adventures on YouTube. Online kids yoga teacher training. Kids yoga DVDs. Kids yoga class plans.

Storyline Online
Stories read by famous people.

ANNNDDD the list could go on!

If you have any other favourite online resources or apps, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to add them to the list!

I hope this finds you well 🙂

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach!

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach!

Okay, so now that you have a plan in place for your day, I bet you are asking yourself the question, ‘What on earth do I need to teach my child?’

This virus has certainly forced us all into roles we weren’t expecting, as educators to our children, but there are some very clear and simple guidelines you can follow to ensure you child is progressing and you are teaching them what they need to know.

From the very start I will tell you there is a very easy way of finding out what you need to teach to meet the requirements of the Australian Curriculum. They are found here on the Australian Curriculum website. But if you aren’t a teacher, all this information can be a little bit overwhelming. So let me simplify it for you and make it manageable for a homeschooling context.

If nothing else in your homeschooling day you need to make sure you are covering the following subject areas:

These three curriculum areas are the pillars on which you can then base everything else. But what does Maths, Reading and Writing look like in your home context?

That really is totally up to you. Remember this is your classroom. How you teach is up to you but here is a helpful diagram explaining what these three pillars actually entail:

There are definitely more types of writing and reading strategies and maths topics but these are the very basics. It causes you to kind of wonder how on earth your child’s teacher actually gets all that done in a year doesn’t it?!

Well let me let you in on a secret!

The key to pulling all of this together and making the learning experience enjoyable for your child, is to use overarching topics/themes to teach these three pillars.

For example you may be doing an under the water theme. To start with you might do some READING to research the topic. You may then do some WRITING to record what you have found. You may then do some science experiments which involve measuring and recording data so this brings in your MATHS. You may draw some pictures of under the sea creatures and paint them. You can then WRITE some sentences describing what is happening in the picture. You then might like to do some more READING to find out more about the topic or simply READ some picture books relating to the topic. You may print off some whale pictures and write numbers on them that are relevant to your child’s age, have them put them in order, have them write them down using words and numerals and other ways of representing to draw in a bit more MATHS.

Can you see how one topic can cover so many areas of the three pillars?! It really is magic! And by teaching this way you are making the content engaging and fun for your child/ren.

The Australian Curriculum is very specific about the topics that need to be covered in every year level. So to save you time sorting through the curriculum website, I have simplified it for you in our Homeschooling Curriculum Overview document. Available now, in our Free Resource Library.

Have a read and let me know what you think by commenting below. Was this helpful for you? Is there something I’ve missed? I want this to be helpful for you so please let me know if there is anything I can add to it.

And while you wait for the third and final blog post in this series focusing on the resources you can use to teach the Australian Curriculum content in your home, have a go at integrating the three pillars into some of the topics outlined in our Homeschool Curriculum Overview. I hope you find it as fun as I do!

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 1: Planning your Day

Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 1: Planning your Day

Whether you have withdrawn your children voluntarily or your school has been shutdown due to COVID-19, the reality of homeschooling your own children can be a daunting one. I totally get it! I’m a teacher and it has me a little anxious about how I am going to educate my own child here at home too. Particularly with further travel and social restrictions being put in place, the options of environments to educate your child are getting few and far between, putting pressure on the few resources you most likely have in your home to cater for education.

But let me put your mind at ease straight away!

In fact it is the very opposite and when embraced openly can have great advantages over the traditional schooling system.

A typical homeschooling day looks very different to a typical school day. In a typical classroom, a teacher has up to 30 little people to manage and educate. At home you may only have one (as I do) or you may have several more (my hat goes off to you!). For this very reason then, the amount of time you need to spend teaching can be reduced dramatically. Really you should be spending no more than 2-3 hours engaging in ‘formal’ learning activities. Of course you can totally spend more, but for most children, with one-on-one attention, 2-3 hours will be plenty.

Who is feeling relieved already?!

The remainder of your children’s time may be spent doing the following:
– reading
– bike riding
– outside play
– building cubby houses
– arts and crafts
– bushwalks (if socially possible)
– cooking in the kitchen
And the list could go on…

Do not underestimate the value of these activities to your child’s education. Not only do they provide a brain-break opportunity, but they also serve to engage other parts of the brain that normal paper and pencil activities can not.

So then how can you plan your day? No doubt you will have other busy jobs to attend to, whether it be making dinner, cleaning the house, working from home yourself or even just needing a bit of downtime. Don’t underestimate the need for downtime. It isn’t you being slack, it is you being sensible! Teachers in classrooms need breaks too! DON’T FEEL GUILTY!!!

So let me layout a few ground rules before we talk about the specifics of a daily plan. Keep these close so that when you are feeling overwhelmed from trying to juggle everything (including teaching your children) you have a base-line to always go back to.

I can’t emphasise this enough. The best learning can happen out of the simplest ideas. You don’t need whiz-bang resources to help your child understand a concept.

Repetition is the key to learning. Most likely your child will not get a concept the first time you teach it to them. You will need to revisit concepts several (and I’m talking possibly up to 50 times!) before a child has fully grasped a concept!

I know this is easy to say from afar, but it really is important. And if you feel like you are loosing your patience, step away from what you are doing and take a break. Come back to it another time when both you and your child are fresh.

I can guarantee you will have the best success teaching your child in the morning rather than in the afternoon (although I’m pretty sure most of you would have worked that out yourself). Personally I am going to be avoiding doing any formal teaching after lunch. If we do anything after lunch it will be online, craft, art or physical activity based.

Did you know the attention span of your child is equivalent to their age? So my daughter who is 5, has a MAXIMUM attention span of 5 minutes (unless of course she is watching the television ;p). This is really important to note, as this will impact on how long you should be spending explaining something. Keep things as short and simple as you can. You may need to break things down into steps.

Don’t be afraid to change things up if they are not working. Google will be your friend during this time no doubt as you research different ways to teach certain concepts. You may also need to experiment with your daily routine until you are all comfortable with it. Also don’t be afraid to contact your child’s classroom teacher for tips and tricks to help teach your child.

You will no doubt need a break as much as your children will. Feel free to take days off from the routine to aide the sanity of all!

Play is a powerful tool for engaging children and teaching concepts without formally doing so. A great addition to your afternoon perhaps, to continue teaching covertly 😉

This may sound like a given but make sure you schedule in time to breathe and have some space to yourself.

This is always our motto here at Ridgy Didge. At the end of the day, if you and your child are having fun, the learning will follow. If an activity is not engaging you or your child, you have permission to think outside the square and make it more engaging for yourself and your child. Rather than writing your sight words out on a piece of paper, take a piece of chalk and write it on your driveway! If the sums on your sheet are driving you bonkers, head out to the sand pit and write the equations and answers in the sand! If your child is struggling with their reading, make a ‘microphone’ out of alfoil so they can speak into that as they read! There really are so many ways you can add fun to ‘dull’ activities.

So with all this in mind… To help you further I have laid out a possible homeschooling plan you can follow to get you started. And remember, you can take this and tweak it to suit your own individual needs.

The template for the plan can be found in our Free Resource Library and is editable for you to use to schedule out your homeschooling day. Below you can see how I have used it to plan out my homeschooling days with my daughter. I’ve added notes in there for you to consider and justify my reasoning for my schedule choices. Mould your schedule around these tips and your child’s needs.

Remember: Despite the world circumstances that are happening around us, you are being offered a really wonderful opportunity to connect with your child. We are wanting to support you in your transition to this new role in your household as educator. This is the first of four blog posts helping you make the transition with ease and reducing the overwhelm.

Let’s help one another make the most of it! Add your thoughts below in the comments of any other tips and tricks you may have to share with new homeschooling parents.

Keep an eye out for blogpost #2 coming tomorrow: Homeschooling through COVID-19 – Part 2: What to Teach.

Keep your chin up parents! Us teachers have your back 🙂

Teaching Sight Words the Fun Way!

Teaching Sight Words the Fun Way!

Did you know it takes 50 repetitions of a sight word in order to commit it to memory? BUT… through play this number can be reduced dramatically – by more than half!

We have been inspired by this concept to bring you a selection of activities that through play, immerse your children in non-threatening, engaging activities which will ignite their senses, develop fine motor skills, encourage verbal language and problem solving and most importantly, help your child recognise, at a glance, a sight word.

So where do you begin? How do you introduce sight words?
It is important to incorporate actions/rhymes/simple sentences, including the focus sight word, to help children remember them.
For example, when introducing the word ‘and’, you may show the word card and say ‘it is this and that’, placing emphasis on the ‘and’ as you say it. As you say the sentence, place one hand out at a time indicating the ‘this’ and the ‘that’. You will be amazed at how quickly your students will remember their sight words when you couple them with simple actions and repetitive sentences!

Then when your children are practising sight words:
Repetition is the key!
Don’t limit the teaching of sight words to just one part of your teaching day. Introducing a new sight word or two on a particular day may take no longer than 5 minutes. Here are some ways you can use sight words regularly during your day:
– Remind students of the sight word as you are reading to them.
– Randomly ask them during the day to read the sight word card you have left on the board.
– Have a secret password for students to read as they leave the classroom for playtime, etc. The secret password would be the sight word for the day. You can find a free template for this in our Free Resource Library.

– Have students see if they can find the sight word in books they are ‘reading’. You may like to give your students special ‘sight word glasses’ as they are looking through books for the sight word of the day. Or you may like to complete a ‘Sight Word Snapshot Camera’ and then have your students use these to take ‘photos’ of the sight words they find in the books they read.

Learning through play.
Learning sight words should be multi-sensory. Don’t limit your students to paper and pencil activities. Make sure you provide sensory play opportunities for your students to engage with the words using their whole body. Play, and in particular sensory play, will increase your student’s ability to remember their sight words. You may like to explore some of our Sight Word Play Packs for simple themed sight word activities that you can implement in your classroom straight away!

Sight Word Activity Sheets
Allowing your students the opportunity to interact with their sight words in a more ‘traditional way’ should not be avoided as this may be the preferred learning style for some of your students. However, like all things, moderation is the key.

Students like these activity sheets because they are predictable. Each sheet has the same activities so once they know how to complete one sheet, they will be able to confidently and independently complete the others. The use of the sheets then gives the students a confidence with the words they are interacting with.

To make the activity sheets less ‘dull’ for your more reluctant learners, you might like to slide the sheet under a protector pocket so they can use whiteboard markers to complete the sheet. Laminating the pages would also achieve this same result. Giving a variety of coloured whiteboard markers might also add a little extra spark to the activity.

It is important your little learner’s feel comfortable when working with new sight words. Never force them into saying a word or sounding out a word they are not confident with. Feel free to help them. With practise, and reassurance, they will begin to remember the words in their own time.

Remember, each learner is on their own journey. Through repetition and play you can support your little learners to success as they are ready.