Learning Tips – Writing

Hi everyone,

Here are some strategies on which the Preps have been focusing as they move towards learning to write:

Pencil grip

The most efficient way to hold a pencil when writing is by using the ‘tripod grip’. Teachers are supporting students to develop this grip. There are lots of different ways to do this. Have a look at the videos below to learn more.

Source : excerpt of video posted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIxUtwO29r8

Note: we did not send any special pencils home with students. They can work on developing a tripod grip with whichever writing implement they are using (pencil, texta, crayon, white board marker, etc).




Pre-writing patterns

Creating written letters of the alphabet is more complex than it looks! Students have engaged in several sessions of pre-writing exercises. The sessions involve copying and tracing some abstract patterns. These patterns utilise the muscle movements needed to write the letters of the alphabet. As these movements become more familiar, it frees up concentration for future focusing on correct letter formation (that is, starting each letter at the same place each time and forming it the same way each time, as they will be taught).

Click on the link below to access your own free downloads of pre-writing patterns. 


After clicking on the link, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the pink text that says ‘writing practise’. Scroll down again and click on the pink text that says ‘pre-writing practise printables’. See screen shots below if you need help to find them.




Imogen practises some of the patterns we use when we write the letters of the alphabet.

At home you can play ‘Mr Squiggle’ by both creating a ‘squiggle’ that is a pre-writing pattern, swapping squiggles and turning them into a picture.

Have fun!

The Prep Team

Fun Learning Tips for the Holidays

Hi everyone!

If your kids are stuck inside on a rainy day looking for something to do, why not try some of these ideas?


Below is a selection of games/ideas using everyday objects/situations. All you need is one of the game boards (you could draw up your own together), 2 six sided dice and some colour pencils.

(These ideas are credited to the website: http://mrswheelerfirst.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/math-games-on-fly.html).

You may need to help your child match numerals with number words. Have some objects available so your child can ‘make’ the numbers if s/he would like to do so (eg. marbles, buttons, pasta, match sticks).

As mentioned in previous holiday learning tips, link maths to everyday activities. This term we have focused on addition and subtraction.

Tell each other number stories using concrete objects. For example:

Addition stories

  • If you’re shopping for groceries together ask your child to help select items like fruit or vegetables and turn it into a number story – ‘We’ve got 4 bananas in the trolley and we need two more. How many do we have altogether now?’. Addition strategies can be used according to your child’s needs – counting all, counting on, number facts, doubles, doubles and one or two more. Students have mostly worked with numbers between 1 and 10 when engaging in addition, except when counting on because knowledge of the verbal counting sequence supports them to work out these problems (eg. ‘There were 42 monkeys in the tree and one more came along, so there were 42….. 43 all together’.

Subtraction stories

  • Or, ‘We baked 12 muffins and ate 4. How many do we have left?’. Encourage your child to count the items that are left. If you are drawing subtraction stories like ‘There were 8 frogs on the log and 4 hopped away. How many frogs were left? ‘ have your child cross out the frogs that hopped away and count how many are left.

Make your own ten pin bowling game at home (using empty water/soft drink bottles and a tennis ball). Encourage your child to say how many pins s/he started with, how many got knocked down and how many are left (eg. ‘I had 10 pins, I knocked down 5 so I have 5 left’).


As always, enjoy reading lots of stories together! A love of reading helps children develop into lifelong learners! Following on from our excursion to see the live show of ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, you might like to visit the library and begin to explore other classic works of Australian literature together. Some ideas are:

  • ‘Seven Little Australians’ by Ethel Turner
  • ‘The Magic Pudding’ by Norman Lindsay
  • ‘Blinky Bill’ by Dorothy Wall
  • ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ by Ethel Pedley

Dust off some of those Magic Words games/activities you already know, like:

  • Magic Word Snap
  • Magic Word Memory
  • Magic Word Treasure Hunt
  • Take turns to pull a Magic Word from the hat/bowl and put it into a (verbal) sentence
  • Motorised Magic Words – place some Magic Words next to your child’s train set tracks/toy car circuit and have him/her say the Magic Word as the vehicle passes the word
  • Use chalk to write Magic Words together on the path in your yard
  • Look/Say/Cover/Write/Check


Keep a holiday journal

Whether you are heading off on far flung adventures or staying home for the holidays, your home group would love to share some of your journal entries when you come back to school for Term 4!

Tell each other stories!

  • Make storytelling dice like we did in Week 8 (print off paper 3 paper dice templates (see link below) or try small empty boxes; use magazine cut-outs or your own drawings to create one ‘character’ die, one ‘settings’ die and one ‘special object’ die; take turns to roll all three dice and weave a story for each other! Encourage your child to use storytelling language to open the story (eg. ‘Once upon a time….’; ‘One sunny/wet/windy/snowy day…’; ‘Once there lived a …..’; ‘A long time ago….’)
  • Draw your story – stories have a setting, a character(s), a problem or challenge and a solution. Encourage your children to draw a story in three sections or boxes: introduction of character/setting; problem;solution. If they wish, encourage and help them as needed to add writing to their story

Link to paper dice template (when you follow this link, click on ‘printables’ and then search up ‘dice’).

Performing Arts

Why not have a look in your garden and make up your own nature based characters, like May Gibbs? You could draw your characters and make up a story about them. The setting could be your very own backyard! Once you have created your characters and story, you could act out the story with some help from brothers and sisters, friends and mums and dads! Remember that you can play more than one character by changing your voice and your costume items. In ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, the person who played Mrs Snake also played Mrs Fantail and Ragged Blossom! The person who played Mr Lizard was also Mr Possum, Mr Kookaburra, Mr Frog and a Big Bad Banksia Man!

We hope you have a fantastic holiday! See you all in Term 4!

The Prep Team

Learning Tips – Term 2, Week 3, 2016

Here are some more ideas to help your child learn while having fun together at home!


‘Friends of Ten’

The ‘Friends of Ten’ app explained by Mr Ramage below has a range of activities to help your child develop the skills of:

  • accurate counting
  • connecting quantities to numerals
  • subitising (recognising the amount of objects in small collections without having to count each object every time)
  • an awareness of ‘part/part/whole’ – that is, which numbers are present within numbers? For example, 6 is: 4 and 2; 2 and 4; 3 and 3; 5 and 1; 1 and 5; 6 and 0; 0 and 6

These skills help children develop mental objects essential for the flexible manipulation of numbers.

Teen numbers

Miss Benci found this YouTube clip to help students read the ‘tricky teen’ numbers and develop confidence in the counting sequence:


Developing awareness of descriptive language

Use descriptive language when you are going about daily activities with your child. Talk about the colours you see, how things feel to the touch, what they smell and sound like, or how they taste. Many children take great interest in nature, which lends itself well to descriptive language.

Encourage you child to draw a picture of something that has caused an impression and help them create a ‘word shower’ at home by writing down some of the words that describe the object, like they did with Albus and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot.

Magic Words

Students are doing a really wonderful job learning their Magic Words! Teachers can see the benefits of this when we read with them and when they use Magic Words in their writing. We have been presented with some wonderful work children have been doing at home, practising their writing by copying out their Magic Words! Emelia even copied her list into two different categories – those she knows and those she is still learning! Great idea, Emelia!!!

Have you thought of….

  • playing ‘Magic Word Bingo’? – just make up two simple game boards consisting of the Magic Word list of your choice; leave a couple of different words off each board; load that list of words onto the ‘Sight Words Pro’ app (or simply write the list out, cut it up and place them face down); go through the list on the app or turn over the words one by one and place an object, like a block or a toothpick, onto each word that is present on your board; encourage your child to read as many words as possible; help when s/he is stuck

Letters and Sounds

Oral blending

All students are developing the skill of blending sounds together to make words. For most students at this point, this involves oral sounds only; some are blending the sounds present in written consonant/vowel/consonant words (CVC for short), like ‘p – i – g’ during reading. You can help your children at home by saying the sounds in CVC words when reading them a story or when out on a walk. For example, ‘The cat wore a h – a – t; hat’ – say the word straight after you say the sounds, to reinforce the idea of blending the sounds together.

Social skills – awareness of the diversity present in the structure of families:

  • talk together about the different family configurations you see when you are out and about or reading stories together
  • speculate on the role you think someone may have in that family and use family based vocabulary – ‘Do you think that is the little girl’s brother?’; ‘We are going to see Uncle Barney’
  • Explain the meaning behind family role based labels. For example, ‘Uncle Barney is my brother, that’s why we call him ‘uncle’. Granny Jones is my mother, that’s why we call her ‘granny. Do you know any other names people might have for their grannies or grandpa’s? Let’s think of some together’.
  • Talk together about the things you and other people do when they relate as families. For example, ‘Look, that boy’s Dad is giving him a big hug after he fell off his scooter. He’s helping his son feel better’.

We hope you have fun learning together at home!

Learning Tips – Term 2, Week 2, 2016


This week during Work Work in reading sessions, students will be using the ‘ABC Pocket Phonics’ app on iPods and iPads. This is also a great app for them to use at home because it introduces students to the letters and common sounds made by those letters in the same order that we introduce them during the Letters and Sounds program. It also encourages students to blend sounds together orally to make words (eg. ‘s – a – t’ ……. sat’). This is an important skill for reading and leads on to the related skill of breaking words up into sounds in order to write them down (eg. ‘sat, sat …… s – a – t’). If you would like to find out more about this app, watch the video below, created by Mr Ramage previously.


Reading stories to your child remains very important because it builds a love of reading and the child is able to observe the behaviours of a reader. You can ‘think out loud’ while you read together. For example:

  • picture walk – go for a ‘picture walk’ before reading by looking through the pictures in the book. Talk about what you see (eg. vocabulary – car, cake, rollers skates, girl – could she be someone’s sister in the story?)
  • predict – ‘I wonder what is going to happen next?’
  • infer information from the pictures and ask yourself questions while reading – ‘Look at Dad’s face. He doesn’t look very pleased, does he? I wonder why?’
  • use the reading strategies your child is using, like using starting sounds with the pictures – ‘”Toby patted the d…..” Oh look there is a dog in this picture and this word starts with a ‘d’ sound. That word could be ‘dog’. Let’s see if it sounds right’

Encourage and help your children to point under each word once as it is read, using their index fingers when reading the take home school reader.


Why not draw a picture for someone special, like a grandparent or other family member. Ask your child to say what s/he would like to write on the picture and help as needed – provide the words for them to copy; help them find Magic Words they want to use from the Magic Words list in their Reader Folders.


Number Treasure Hunt. Skill: reading numerals

  • Take turns to hide a number outside and give each other clues to find it, like ‘warmer/colder’ etc. When the number is found, read it together (start with 0 to 20).

Counting up by ones. Skill: understanding that numbers are said in a particular order and there are patterns in the way we say them

  • Count up by ones, starting from different numbers – start between 0 and 20, progress higher if your child is comfortable with this.

Before/After. Skill: developing fluency with forwards and backwards counting

  • Play ‘what’s the number one before/one after/one more/one less/one smaller/one bigger than …..’ between 0 and 20.

Create collections. Skill: understanding that each object must be counted only once, that the arrangement of objects does not affect how many there are and that the last number counted answers the ‘how many’ question

  • Create small collections of special objects (eg. 4 shells; 8 leaves) between 0 and 9. Children need lots of experience at seeing how many objects make up the numbers between 0 and 9. This lays a firm foundation for later learning. When you count together, help your child to count each object only one time. Put the collections in order from the smallest to the largest number.

Number of the week

  • You could focus on a special number of the week between 0 and 9 – have fun ‘finding’ this number when you are out and about; create different collections of items which model this number during your daily routine (eg. four beans while you chop vegies for dinner; four pieces of bark when you’re gardening; pull up four weeds, give each other four kisses).

Have fun!

Learning Tips – Term 2, Week 2, 2016


rEd writing app

Students will be using this app during ‘Word Work’ in reading sessions this week. The app reinforces the most common sounds made by letters of the alphabet and gives students opportunity to practice writing upper and lower case letters and numbers in a fun way. This video will give you some tips if you would like to try the app at home!


Talk together about the length of things at home. Here are some ideas:

  • compare the length of different object (eg. ‘Which sock is longer? Which sock is shorter?’)
  • objects of different lengths/heights in ascending/descending order; describe them using words like ‘long’, ‘longer’ and ‘longest’
  • estimate the length of common objects (eg. ‘I think this book might be 10 blocks long. What do you think?’ – then check together)
  • take turns to toss a toy/bean bag or roll ball gently; measure the length of the roll using heel to toe foot steps or hand spans for shorter distances


Fun Learning Tips for the Easter Holidays!

Hi Preps and Families!

We hope your holidays are going well!

If you would like some fun learning activity ideas to try in your holidays, have a look below!

Memory Games

Prep students depend on their memories a lot as they begin to learn to read and write. For example, when learning Magic Words, when connecting sounds with letters of the alphabet and when writing letters and numbers. Here are some memory games you can play together:

‘I went shopping…’

You may remember this game from when you were small – it’s an oldie but a goodie! It’s easy to play when you are in the car. Just in case you haven’t played it before, this is how it goes:

  • play in a pair, or with the whole family
  • take turns; the first person says ‘I went shopping and I bought a ….. (choose anything you like, one word choices work best) cat’
  • the next person says ‘I went shopping and I bought a …. (must mention all previously bought items in order) cat and a (chooses a new item) ball’
  • the game continues with the next person ‘I went shopping and I bought a cat, a ball and a … cake’

Feel free to help your child if s/he can’t remember an item. Play for as long as the child is having fun, (or as time allows!) stopping if they are not enjoying it. Any amount of time spent playing this game will help develop their memories.

What’s missing????

Ask your child to select five objects to place on the floor/table between you. Spend some time naming the objects together, then ask your child to turn away and close his/her eyes. Remove one object and place it behind you. Tell the child s/he may turn around, look at the objects and tell you which one is missing. Then swap roles – you turn around, close your eyes and your child removes an object. If this is too easy, gradually introduce some more objects. As above, play while it is fun, stopping as soon as it isn’t.

Magic Words Memory

Thanks again to Mr Ramage and his son Banjo who have given permission to use this video filmed a few years ago when Banjo was in Prep. It’s important to take note of what Mr Ramage says regarding using about five Magic Words when you play this game, consisting of three your child knows well and two they are a little unsure of, giving lots of opportunity for success while building on their learning.

Oral Language/Reading/Writing


Holidays are a great time to encourage children to think and talk about their local environment, seasons and daily weather. Here are some conversation starters/activities based on three of the key questions (1. What are places like? 2. What makes a place special? 3. How can we care for places?) found in the Victorian Curriculum Foundation to Level 2:

  • How can we tell (Nanny/Poppy/Dad/Mum/) about our visit to the (pool/park/skate park/bike track/movies/library/beach/bush)? What was it like there? Encourage your child to think and talk about what s/he could see, hear, smell, touch, taste. Did it take a short time or a long time to get there? Did you walk to somewhere close or drive to somewhere further away?
  • Talk with each other about special places you visit. What makes them special? Is it the people, the natural features like the sea, the activities you can do there or how you feel when you go to that place?
  • Look at a map together if you are going on a trip. Read familiar place names to your child and point to them (eg. Geelong/Melbourne etc). Talk about different lines/colours on the map (eg. blue for rivers, red for big highways, black for smaller roads; lines marking state boundaries)
  • Draw a map together including special features of your street (eg. my house, post box, corner shop, park, friend’s house)
  • Talk about the ways you ‘look after’ the special places you visit. For example, when we visit the bush, skate park or beach, we take our rubbish home with us or put it in the bin; if we go hiking, we walk on the track so as not to squash growing plants; at the library we treat the books and computers with care.
  • Look for autumn leaves when you go for a walk; name the other seasons
  • Describe the weather to each other (what can you see, feel, hear?)


Enjoy lots of stories together! Take some extra library books with you when you visit relatives and make the most of those other willing story tellers (Nans and Pas, Uncles and Aunts…)


Part of our learning last term focused on developing an attitude of gratitude, as John Butler sang about in our Juniour Assembly item song ‘Better Than’.

  • Talk with your child about the things in your lives for which you are thankful and draw a picture together of some of these things
  • Make a ‘Thank You’ card for the Easter Bunny! Your child will probably need you to write any words down for copying
  • Construct a useful item for the Easter Bunny using Lego, blocks, play dough, kinetic sand. You could make Easter Bunny a house, a turbo charged car or a nice deck chair for relaxing after all that hard work!


  • Play ‘Simon Says’ using ‘location words’ (eg. ‘Simon says, “Stand in front of your brother/behind the chair/on top of the hill” etc)
  • Location words students tuned in to during Term 1, Week 9 were: left, right, above, below, on top, underneath, over, under, middle, next to, beside, forwards, backwards)
  • Practice verbally counting from zero to 20 in order (or to whichever number your child can accurately count from memory; if s/he has difficulty with any of the numbers between 10 and 20, you can help)
  • Play ‘What’s the number before/after, one smaller/one bigger, one more/one less than ….. (between zero and 20 or zero and 10 if your child finds counting to 20 to be difficult). If your s/he can count in sequence to a higher number than 20, play the ‘before/after’ game up to that number
  • Make a hungry ‘ Monster’ (or an Easter Bunny; Alien; Crocodile; Transformer; Dinosaur; Unicorn; Fairy) out of cardboard and a box; take turns to throw small items (scrunched up scrap paper/blocks/balls/uncooked pasta pieces) into the mouth, counting as you go. When you miss the mouth, it’s the other person’s turn. See how many you can get into the mouth before you miss it! Start off aiming for accurate counting of each object entering the mouth from one to 20; move past 20 if your child is keen to do so, helping with the oral counting sequence as needed
  • If you’re talking about rainy days, why not try this numeracy craft activity?


For the dinosaur loving student, remember that the Melbourne Museum has both a special exhibition ‘Jurassic World’ and a regular free entry exhibit ‘Dinosaur Walk’ which you may enjoy visiting with your family! You can find out more by clicking on the links below.

Jurassic World: The Exhibition

Dinosaur Walk Melbourne Museum

We hope you enjoy these ideas for some of the ways you can talk, learn and have fun together over the holidays!

Please remember that these suggestions are not homework, but just some ways you may enjoy learning together at home if you have the time and inclination.

The emphasis is on relaxed and fun! Enjoy!

The Prep Team

Learning Tips – Term 1, Week 8, 2016

Magic Words – ‘Say and Find’

Mr Ramage created this video in a previous year. You may find this activity helpful for your child.


Point out items of interest to your child in different types of texts as you go about your daily activities. For example:

  • there might be an article about a circus or holiday activity in the newspaper, with pictures to go with it. Look at the article together and read out interesting parts of it to your child
  • point out any of your child’s Magic Words that you see on signs, magazines, catalogues
  • Read information together that is relevant to your activity (eg. at the movies point to and read the words on the ticket, like ‘cinema 5’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’; if you are at a cafe or restaurant, look at the menu with your child – point to and read words of interest with your child, like ‘menu’, ‘chips’ and ‘sushi’)

These activities help students tune in to the relevance of reading to their every day activities, adding another layer of motivation and interest to their efforts towards becoming readers!


Talk about and use ordinal numbers/words with your child (1st/first, 2nd/second, 3rd/third, 4th/fourth, 5th/fifth, etc). For example:

  • after going to the park you could talk about it later by order of what you played on – ‘First we went on the swings, second we went on the slide’ etc
  • have ‘races’ with toys (cars/teddies) or people! – talk about who came first etc
  • look at the calendar together; talk about how the dates on the page are arranged in order; cross off the dates, check the dates for important events, like the Easter Bunny. Help your child pronounce the small sounds (st, nd, rd, th) at the end of the ordinal numbers by gently repeating the pronunciation correctly if they mispronounce or leave end sounds off the words
  • tell funny bedtime stories to each other using ordinal numbers (eg. ‘One day, five animals knocked on the door all in a row. First, it was elephant …’ etc). Take it in turns to introduce the next animal with its ordinal number


Continue to encourage any activity that helps strengthen the muscles needed for writing. For example:

  • Lego/block construction
  • Play Dough
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Cooking (mixing, rolling dough balls)
  • Monkey Bars
  • Catching balls/bean bags
  • Colouring
  • Cutting/pasting
  • Threading (beads, pasta necklaces)

We have been creating simple sentences about what we like (‘I like my trampoline’).

  • talk about what you both like
  • help your child write down what s/he likes if keen to do so and/or encourage a picture to match
  • most students will need you to write the words down for them to copy.

Have fun!

Learning Tips, Term 1, Week 7, 2016

Magic Words

Students are doing a FANTASTIC job of practising their Magic Words at home! This is great because learning Magic Words will help your children to learn how to read and write! Here are some ideas from previous years of how you can have fun learning your Magic Words at home.


Look for Magic Words in your reader when you look at it by yourself or read it with someone!


Eli and his Dad built train tracks and placed Magic Words beside them. Every time the train went past a Magic Word they read it together!

Magic Words learning idea

Or you could ‘hide’ individual Magic Words around the house where your child will find them. Ask your child to bring them to you when s/he finds one, and read it to you. You can help if it is tricky!

Sight Words App

Mr Ramage created these videos showing how to use a useful Sight Words app. You might like to try this!

We hope you have fun trying some of these ideas at home!

The Prep Team


Learning Tips, Term 1, Week 6

Here are some more fun ideas to try at home if you like! Please remember that your children work very hard at school and do get very tired during their first year of school (as I’m sure you would agree!). These ideas are for you to use only for a fun way to build learning games/activities into your week. If your child doesn’t seem to be enjoying the game/activity, please feel free to discontinue it. Students will always learn best when they are having fun and interested in what they are doing!


‘Guess My Number’

You can play this game in the car or walking to the park!

Say ‘I’m thinking of the number that is one after/one bigger/one more than ……’ (choose a number between 1 and 9). You can interchange the options in your game so that students build awareness that they all mean the same thing. For example, for one of your turns say ‘one after’ and for the next turn say ‘one bigger’ etc.

For numbers that come ‘before’ we use the words: ‘one before/one smaller/one less’.

If you think your child finds this version of the game too easy, extend the game to include numbers between 1 and 20. You can use a simple number line written on paper for visual support if you think your child needs this.

Finding Shapes

Look for shapes (circles, triangles, rectangles and squares) at home and when you are out and about. Ask your child to tell you why it is that shape. For example ‘it is a triangle because it has three sides and three corners’.

Shape Pictures

Make some cardboard shape templates together at home (triangles, squares, rectangles and circles) or find objects to use (a tin can for a circle, a box for a square). Your child can use them to trace around to make shape pictures. Ask your child to tell you which shapes s/he has used. Encourage your child to add colour to the picture after tracing because this will help strengthen the fine motor muscles.

Letters and Sounds (reading/writing)

Enjoy rhyming books together. Some authors who write fun books incorporating rhyme are:

  • Pamela Allen
  • Julia Donaldson
  • Lynley Dodd
  • Dr Seuss

As you get into the swing of the story, leave off the occasional word at the end of a rhyming sentence and give your child some time to supply the word, using starting sounds and pictures to help. For example, read:

‘In a house or with a mouse?

In a boat or with a g…. (goat)?’

(From ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr Seuss)