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365+ Ways to Make Writing Fun for Kids

Cam ‘writes’ every day and she thoroughly enjoys it.  Sometimes Cam’s writing is self-directed and other times I provide her with a variety of writing prompts or invitations. But mostly she just likes to spend time in the dedicated space we have set up for her to write. I often write about or share photos [...]

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Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen

When it comes to Christmas books, Tea and Sugar Christmas is the pinnacle for me. As a self-professed foodie, I fell in love with what I thought was a cute title. But, this book goes far beyond the cutesy Christmas tasks, fun traditions and rhyming texts we’ve come to see in most modern Christmas books. It tells a true Christmas story, one that is historically Australian and represents many Aboriginal and migrant workers of the outback.

Review of Tea and Sugar Christmas by My Little Bookcase

Tea and Sugar Christmas is a story based on the Trans-Australian Railway train that would travel for decades across the Nullarbor Plain. Its carriages provided groceries, meat, household provisions, medical staff and bank services to workers who lived in isolated settlements. Just once a week settlers could access the train, filling their wheelbarrows with stock to last them the week.

And just once a year, the train carried a very special visitor. One of the locomotive inspectors would dress as Father Christmas, bringing joy and gifts to each of the children who often dressed in their best clothes to meet him.

This story is Kathleen’s. Her anticipation, excitement, joy and gratefulness jump out from the words and illustrations and straight into our hearts.  As readers we are right there with her as she waits for the train in the searing heat and when she first glimpses Father Christmas as the carriage door slides open. Adults will be reminded of  how wondrous Christmas is for children, especially children who want for very little.

Black and white pages fold out to reveal exquisite large-scale colour illustrations by renowned illustrator, Robert Ingpen, that you will no doubt pore over  for hours. The book also features photos and images taken during the Sugar and Tea Train era. It truly provides a wonderful insight into an interesting aspect of Australian history.

Although based on true events, Tea and Sugar Christmas is a sincerely magical story for adults and children alike. In my opinion, it is a must-have for all Australian families.

Buy the book:

Book Details:

Author: Jane Jolly

Illustrator: Robert Ingpen

ISBN: 9780642278630

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: NLA Publishing, November 2014

RRP: $24.99

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About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

Constructive Ways to Help Kids Read, Write and Recognise Their Names

It’s hard to believe, but Cammy starts school next year. It feels like only yesterday that she first appeared on My Little Bookcase as a baby- not yet walking.  But the time has come and we are starting to prepare.

I recently received a voucher to purchase labels through Skool Labels, and I began thinking…

Cammy can spell her name. She can read her name too. But, can she read it when I am not there to prompt or help her? When searching the lost property box, will she be able to recognise her name amongst dozens of others?

Constructive Ways to Practise Reading, Writing and Recognising Your Name

Constructive ways to help your child practise reading and writing her name

Like many pre-schoolers,  Cammy has been able to read and write her name for quite some time now, but I’m keen to give her many meaningful opportunities to practise reading, writing and recognising her name independently.

This is a short list of opportunities I’ll be setting up for Cammy as part of our preparations for starting school.

  1. Help Mum and Dad label school items (See below for more info).
  2. Check our letter box daily, sorting through our family’s mail and sifting out anything addressed to her.
  3. Write Christmas cards to friends,  and read aloud any Christmas cards she receives from friends and family.
  4. Write postcards to her new classmates and teacher, signing off each time with her full name.
  5. Stamp her name into clay to create personalised Christmas decorations.
  6. Create her own Christmas placemat or place card.
  7. Use alphabet beads to thread her name onto a bracelet or necklace.
  8. Make her name from alphabet-shaped cookies, decorated in Christmas colours.
  9. Leave her mark (i.e. write your name) on Dad’s dirty car.
  10. Look for her name in books (In Cammy’s case, I’ll be asking her to search for her surname).

Skool Labels

The idea to create these opportunities came about when I logged onto Skool Labels to place an order, and I realised how simple the site was to navigate and use.   I decided to ask Cammy to help me design and order the labels, using it as an opportunity to help her develop confidence in writing and reading her name independently.

On one simple web page she was able to independently type her name and select colours, fonts and symbols for her labels.

Skool Labels

By helping you create and order labels, kids will:

● Practise and develop confidence in reading and writing one’s name

● Recognise and identify letters

● Practise using a keyboard

● Develop mouse control

● Use design skills

Computer Skills

Key features of Skool Labels:

● Because Skool Labels solely focuses on labels, the site is clean, clutter-free and easy to use.

● The order form page is simple to use. Kids can type in their name and see a preview on the screen.

● Kids have the freedom to choose from a range of fonts, background colours and symbols.

I love the use of symbols on a label. I think it helps kids identify their name label but it is also a good chance to pick a symbol that begins with the first sound in your child’s name (e.g. Cammy chose a cupcake as the symbol for her labels).

● The labels are affordable and have many uses (e.g. stationery, lunch box items, clothing, books etc.)

● FREE delivery on all orders Australia wide with no minimum order value

Skool Labels

We received a voucher to purchase labels through Skool Labels. However, ideas and opinions expressed here are our own.

Skool Labels


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About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase