Dyslexia

A Runthrough My Dyslexia

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Blog, Visual Literacy

 

Valeria De La Vega talks about her experiences of growing up with Dyslexia in Colombia and how she overcame the challenges of this reading disorder.

In the first grade I had an activity where we had to go around tables and read a paragraph out of a book. Once you finished it you could move on to the next one. I remember just staring at these pages and their illustrations and not being able to understand the words while my classmates passed by me on to the next table. So instead of trying I pretended to know what was going on and imitated what my friends did. This sort of thing happened a lot in primary school. I didn’t participate much, I got nervous every time I had to read out loud and I loved going to the nurse’s office just because it would get me out of class.

The Challenge of Reading Aloud

This is how my dyslexic brain works now when I have to read out loud, or better yet my thought process. Okay I can do this, I’ll just read it before so I don’t make a fool of myself. Starting now, alright these words I can read, I know them and this is going pretty smoothly, oh long word now, it’s okay I know it… continuing ugh made a little mistake with that one, back on track… oh no this next word I don’t know it I’ll read it a bit slowly but not too slow so people don’t notice it, oops said the wrong word, this time I said it right. Okay Vale keep up, I just stumbled on some other words and made up a word again but it’s okay it’s going alright and now it’s over, success.

It’s not like I’m stumbling across every word I read, or that it takes me twice the amount of time to read out loud. Sometimes when I don’t recognise a word or if it’s too long I have to stop and sound out the letters. This leads to a slower reading time and in some cases mistakes because my brain doesn’t sound them out properly or it decides that it’s another word. This happens more frequently to me than to normal readers. Reading silently is something that I prefer, nobody is looking at me, I can read at my own pace and I make fewer mistakes because I feel no pressure. Unless it’s like when I was in school and I had to read in pairs. The other person would want to turn the page and I wasn’t at the end yet so I felt hurried, had to run through the sentences and not enjoy it at all.

When I was younger I had trouble recognising letters, I would confuse b-d a-q-p c-o l-i r-t, and I would stumble more when reading. That lead me to ask more questions, a thing that is normal among children I think, but in my case curiosity was also accompanied by a break. Recognising letters wasn’t my only problem, once I solved that I still had other reading difficulties.

For me reading was a tedious task and it took me longer to learn how to do it than it did to my classmates. When having to read out loud in the classroom I would see which was the passage that I had to read before so I would do it just like my classmates did. This way I wouldn’t stumble or have the others read the word correctly on top of me if I took too long.

The Invisible Disability  

I had a lot of help growing up, and I didn’t realise that I had a problem. I had to go to special-ed classes in school, do extra homework, went to after school tutorials and I even had reading classes during vacations. However, I think that there is an age where you don’t question why you have to do some things and you just do them because it’s part of a routine. Or you don’t really notice that you are struggling with some things because you just find it normal until it fades away. So when I had to do all of this I found it normal, unless I was lazy or I saw that my siblings were playing while I had to work, and that’s when it started to bother me. On the other hand, my mom always said I was special, but I thought she meant it as a quality I had because of my personality, while my sisters who were a bit older did know that I struggled. One of them loved to help me out, showed me different ways to succeed with creative ideas for school, and something about the way she explained things to me made it all more simple.

There were various exercises that I had to do along the years that I had help. Sometimes my teacher and I read a text in unison, in other cases I would have to read a paragraph out loud and start again every time I made a mistake (an exercise that could be very frustrating). There were times when I did exercises with audio, for example writing down the lyrics of a song, listening to an audio and writing down the main idea or learning how to take notes from dictations or things I heard. There were other ones that had to do with identifying differences between letters and having to write them properly, as well as identifying different shapes and cataloguing them with colour. Images played an important role. With them I did exercises like cross matching vocabulary to pictures or describing what was happening in sequences that I saw. Since it wasn’t only about learning to read it was about comprehension as well I learned how to identify the main idea in a paragraph and its supporting ones as well.

This was a process that took various years until I got a hang of it. Up until the third grade going to the nurse was a hobby for me to skip classes. Everyday I would say to my teachers that my stomach or my head hurt, of course they knew that it wasn’t true but off to the nurse I went. There she would make me have some tea and because of that I’ve developed a dislike for it now. In classes I would get easily distracted and just go to imaginary worlds. I loved story time when my teachers read out loud to us. So I wanted to be a writer, but when someone told me that in order to be a writer I had to read a book per week I thought that I couldn’t do it and I didn’t want to anymore. But little by little I started getting into books, stories became more captivating and all the extra work I had done was starting to pay off. It wasn’t hard to read anymore.

Overcoming My Dyslexia

Some people think that dyslexic people are dumb and I can assure you we are not. Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Walt Disney and F. Scott Fitzgerald were all dyslexic and they were brilliant. Now I’m not saying that I’m anything like them, only that dyslexia doesn’t mean not being intelligent. I had a switch go on in my head when I finished primary school. I decided that I wanted to be one of the best and so I paid attention, I read, I studied hard and even graduated second best in my class. I think few people from my school know that I was dyslexic because it’s not something that I talk too much about or that showed after primary.

In university I started studying Communications and I wanted to go into publishing. However, I was scared because spelling in Spanish wasn’t something that I had mastered. Even though it’s my first language I was always better at English because I preferred reading in this language and it doesn’t have accents like Spanish does. I took a copyediting class and had a talk with my professor and told her about my fears and her words encouraged me. She told me that she is also dyslexic and she is a great copy editor, so I said to myself well if she can do it so can I, and I did.

How to Help Someone with Dyslexia

Dyslexia can subtly affect you and lower your self esteem, it can make you shy and not want to shine and it can make you feel slow. Once you get a hang of it there is nothing you can’t do, your brain just works differently. I believe that there is nothing bad with that. It is something that I will always have and struggle a bit with but from my experience it won’t impair you to do what you want. I can read out loud but it’s something that if I can avoid it I will, on the other hand I love speaking in public, doing speeches and presentations. So it’s not a thing about stage fright, it’s about feeling confident in what I can do in front of others.

If you know anybody with dyslexia it’s important to encourage them and not make them feel dumb. Since I can only talk about my experience and I got help when I was young I believe that the earlier you start getting help the better, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying if you are older. Visual learning is another way to get information through and I’ve found that it is very effective, words matter but so do images. A combination of both of these is a great approach towards learning for anybody, especially for dyslexic people who take longer to decode words, and you can get tired of working with letters again and again. Also, remember that every case is different and what worked for me could work differently for someone else and this is why it’s important to see what works out for each one and develop a strategy from that.

I do believe that there have to be different approaches to reading. There should be books made that can engage those who have difficulties with them, and the earlier it starts the better. I’ve seen that there are typographers that have been developing typefaces (fonts) specially made for dyslexic people that make it easier for us to recognise each character, and I think this is wonderful. What in my opinion is a great approach for reading is to patiently give approachable stories to children and let them discover them little by little, encourage their own taste in reading in whichever genre they prefer, they’ll get where they need to get in their own time, but do help out. For example, I loved stories and when I read to my little brother I didn’t feel any pressure to get it right. Because he was three years younger than me, he enjoyed the stories as much as I did and we both loved the images that they had. Having this in mind get books that interact with kids, but also don’t forget that they are kids and need time to have fun, too much help can lead to rejection. I had great teachers that were caring and we took time out to play and cook so I enjoyed going to my extra classes. My mum celebrated my successes and I loved it, it made me feel encouraged, but she didn’t do this all my childhood which I think is great because I didn’t want to get great grades for a prize, I wanted to do it for myself. I now enjoy reading and want to work with books. I’m happy dyslexia didn’t ruin this for me but I’m also happy to be dyslexic because it helped me develop a different approach to reading and a passion for books.

Valeria De La Vega just finished her undergraduate degree in Communications with an Emphasis in Publishing and Multimedia at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. She is currently working at the Corona Foundation a non-profit organisation that works towards education in Colombia.

Curved House Kids are hiring enthusiastic teachers!

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, News, Principia Space Diary, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy, Worksheets

Curved House Kids are an energetic educational publisher with a focus on visual literacy and visual methodologies. We aim to make the art of communication achievable for all children, regardless of their skill level or circumstances. We take a democratic approach to learning and visual literacy is our secret weapon!

If this sounds like your kind of approach and you’re a practicing teacher in the UK, read on…

Teacher Ad SM1

This year we have run the Principia Space Diary programme in partnership with Lucy Hawking and Queen Mary University of London. This programme has been funded by the UK Space Agency as one of nine educational outreach projects associated with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS. The programme has been a huge success, reaching over 60,000 primary-aged students across the UK, and we are now working to develop new resources and programmes that can be accessed in the classroom.

We are expanding our resources library for primary and early secondary students (Key Stages 1-3) to include more free, downloadable learning materials for teachers and we are looking for experienced educators to review our work and help us build a library of first-class materials. These materials will teach a wide range of subjects using visual methods, and always intersecting with literacy learning and visual literacy.

As a passionate and creative teacher, your job will be to review materials that we produce and help us to align these to the curriculum, making them as effective as possible for busy teachers. You will also attend our annual brainstorm in which you tell us what you think we should be producing and what we’re doing right and wrong. We’ll also show you new ideas and technologies that might improve your own work.

This is a freelance role at an agreed hourly rate and we offer plenty of flexibility to fit in around busy teaching schedules. All work, bar the annual brainstorm, is done remotely and with plenty of notice. We expect it would be around 10 hours per year initially, plus one day for the brainstorm. Expenses will be paid for those who need to travel. 

This call is currently open to all teachers in the UK and Ireland. We are keen to hear from KS1-3 teachers and welcome those with specialisms in particular areas. Our materials are not tied to the curriculum but they need to be complementary, so it is important that all applicants have an up-to-date knowledge of the curriculum.

Please click the link below to complete a very brief application form (it will only take 5 minutes) and we will contact you if we think you’d be a good fit. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at info@curvedhousekids.com.

Apply Now

 

Shakespeare

Decoding Shakespeare’s Sonnets

By | 8+ years, Blog, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy, Worksheets

Four hundred years ago Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon. He left behind a legacy of 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two epic narrative poems. Since then, people all around the world have embraced his work, through books, plays, films and creative projects. We even use his phrases in everyday language, feeling ‘faint hearted’ (Henry VI, Part I), ‘dead as a doornail’ (Henry VI, Part II), or ‘fancy free’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Shakespeare has given us wonderful insults, like ‘loathsome as a toad’ (Troilus and Cressida), and powerful descriptions of love, like ‘it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests, and is never shaken’ (Sonnet 116). In almost any situation, you could find a Shakespearean line to express how you feel.

Young people often find Shakespeare difficult to engage with – it’s a little like learning a foreign language! Seeing his plays live or as films can be a great starting point. But decoding Shakespeare’s sonnets is a bit harder, since they’re not often performed or produced. At Curved House Kids, we like to take a hands-on approach to making literature accessible, so we’ve developed a suite of ‘Write your own sonnet’ worksheets for students in Key Stage 3-4.

Our worksheets explain what a sonnet is and how it’s structured. They provide a simple template so that young poets can plan their rhyming scheme easily, without getting lost on the way. Each template includes a visual prompt to kickstart the imagination. These prompts will help unlock creativity, providing inspiration for the ‘story’ the sonnet will tell and the vocabulary poets might use to tell it. The prompts on each of our templates have different moods and styles, so your poets can choose one which appeals to them, or challenge themselves by writing several poems.

Download our worksheets by clicking in the image below and get your aspiring poets scribbling. Feel free to email us at info@curvedhousekids.com to share your work or use the hashtag #CHKshakes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

If you want to explore Shakespeare’s works in other ways, check out Shakespeare400. This year-long programme coordinated by King’s College London includes performances, exhibitions and creative activities for all age groups. Visit the Sheakespeare400 website for programme details.

We wait with ‘bated breath’ (The Merchant of Venice) to read your sonnets!

The Bumpy Road to Reading Nirvana

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Blog, Visual Literacy

It’s International Children’s Book Day on 2nd April 2016 and we at The Curved House are reflecting on how we developed our love of books…

I would love to boast that I was a prodigious childhood reader, ticking-off The Wind in the Willows aged 4. I was not that. I loved a good picture book, Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted being one of the best. But when it came to attempting chapter books, I had no interest.

I now wonder whether it simply came down to taste. I won’t blow my own trumpet and claim I just wasn’t being challenged – it felt very challenging! – but I felt very keenly the effect of being educated using strict reading levels. The alternatives, provided by my very well meaning Mum, were painfully fun, zany, and garish which was even worse. I could count on my fingers the number of books I finished between the ages of 6 and 12, outside of school.

Written word purists might disapprove but audiobooks were what pulled me back in. The discovery of Stephen Fry’s rendition of Harry Potter and the fully dramatised (but unabridged!) production of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights were completely magical. And suddenly I saw the point in reading again.

One of the most important things I’m discovering at The Curved House is the universal importance of visual literacy. It’s becoming clearer that children learn and develop in completely different ways. This has encouraged me to reconsider my critical and self conscious attitude about the way I got into reading, that there is something wrong, or easy, about audiobooks.  

Audiobooks are an amazing format in themselves and they are also a potent gateway drug into the world of reading! For the uninitiated: I recommend anything Philip Pullman has ever recorded!

Rosie Cunningham is a graduate of MLitt Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. During a condensed and highly productive four week work placement at The Curved House in Berlin, Rosie authored and project managed a Curved House Quick Guide, conducted extensive marketing and picture research, and assisted with editing and proofreading. She’s now returned to Edinburgh to work for Picture Hooks Illustration Agency to pursue her career in other areas of publishing.  We wish her all the best!

 

Y3 students countdown to Principia launch!

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, Blog, News, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy
Design your your own space suit principia space diary tim peake

Designing our own spacesuits

This blog has been written by Tim Bromwich’s Year 3 Class at Cooper and Jordan School, Aldridge

Today in Year 3 we have witnessed the most amazing thing!

We all sat together and experienced a once in a lifetime event. Tim Peake made history by becoming the first official British astronaut to go to the ISS.

Over the past few weeks we have learnt more about space through our Space Diaries, preparing ourselves to become astronauts, and watched many videos from aboard the International Space Station. The more we learnt about life in space, the more we couldn’t wait until lift off. This morning we were all extremely excited by the fact that we could see Major Peake blast off, all the way over in Baikonur Kazakhstan. We huddled together in Mrs BB’s classroom and watched the BBC coverage of the launch. We learnt so much from the presenters, from the training that astronauts undertake to the importance of their space suits.

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Creating our first meal in space

We eagerly waited for the countdown and as soon as the timer in the corner got to 10, we joined in with the countdown.

As the counter reached zero the whole of Year 3 cheered, along with people all around the world, as we watched the rockets propel Tim and his team towards space. We all felt overwhelmed with happiness as we saw the rocket successfully leave the launch pad, and were excited to find out more about what Tim would get up to.

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The launch countdown and our first creative writing exercise ‘8-minutes to space!’

To make it even better, as the rockets ejected themselves from the craft, Tim turned to the camera gave a big thumbs up and a wave, then went back to concentrating on his flight checks. It felt like Tim was waving to us thousands of miles away in Aldridge.

We will all be rushing home tonight to turn on the television to see how Tim and the team have progressed, and cannot wait until we hear him talk from aboard the ISS.

What a fantastic morning for us all and the start of an awesome adventure for Tim and his crew.

Well done Tim!

Tim Bromwich’s Year 3 Class
Cooper and Jordan School, Aldridge

Principia Space Diary Primary Literacy Resources Curved House Kids Make Your Own Books 27th Lincoln Scouts

Scouts embark on a space journey

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, Blog, News, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy

DOFE LOGOI’m sure you can recall a time when someone asked, ‘Do you remember where you were when…’ usually followed by a major historic event. Imagine future dinner table conversations, when our young people are asked if they remember where they were when the first British astronaut went to the International Space Station under the Union flag, and they reply, ‘Remember it? I was part of it!

The young people in the 27th Lincoln Scout Group, with the support of Eagle Community Primary School, are headed for an out-of-this-world orbit whilst creating a lasting record of their involvement in the Principia Mission. As Major Tim Peake lives and works on the ISS, conducting scientific experiments like determining the ability of human life to survive, grow food, and undertake activities in microgravity conditions, we will be following along on Earth. Our group will imaginatively document their experiences in a unique Space Diary from Curved House Kids and the UK Space Agency Principia Mission outreach programme.

Lincoln ScoutsThis week all seventy of our young people (aged 6 to 14) and leaders started their diaries, putting themselves into the boots of a real astronaut, and living up to the scouting motto, to find out how prepared we would be for space. Watching the introduction video from Lucy Hawking and Dallas Campbell, we found out why it is so important to be fit and healthy for space. Then we completed an Astronaut Workout – jumping for space, stretching up to measure how tall we are, perfecting our balance and floating postures, as well as steadying our breathing to remain calm in our space suits. The young people used these results to consider and discuss the physical impact on our bodies from being in a weightless environment. Finally, we had a look at nutrition and the sort of food astronauts – past and present – would eat, and designed our own healthy meal in our diaries to be packed up for our mission.

 

Our own space journey began at the beginning of October, on a group camp titled ‘There’s No Place Like Space’ which coincided with the launch of International Space Week.

Imaginations were unleashed on our ‘Area 51’ camp area with its own mission control (camp/office), ISS (kitchen and mess tent) and briefings in the ‘air lock’. Young people became space cadets for the weekend, split into mixed section/mixed age teams named after pods on the ISS (Unity, Harmony, Destiny and Quest), to take part in activities that accumulated points in our own weekend space race.

Our space race challenges included scaling the climbing wall in ‘Planet Exploration’ and decorating souvenir neckerchiefs with space related designs for ‘Space Pennants’, as well as pitching and striking a tent as part of cadets’ survival needs. ‘Ignition’ found the young people building and igniting small fires to be the first team to boil water, and in ‘Rocket Launch’ they explosively launched decorated plastic bottles using a foot pump and hosepipe to create hydro pressure.
‘We Come in Peace’ – interacting with other life-forms at camp fire – was a huge success and a ‘Spaced Out’ quiet area was used by many of the young people under the umbrella canopy of a glowing solar system for a quiet few minutes and planetary discussion. Even our menu was given a celestial makeover with dishes such as Black Hole Breakfast, Gibbous Grub, Moon Rock Meatballs, Radiant Wraps and Cosmic Cocoa.

As with any structured learning, our Scouting programme sets out requirements for all ages, making a balance of activities that not only cover traditional outdoor pursuits but a full range of interests and activities. From learning the names of planets to making a scale model of the solar system, or from knowing what to look for in the night sky to building our own satellite dishes…it’s all part of the Scouting programme.

It’s not all science though; the Principia Mission has given us opportunities to explore humanity itself. Last week we prepared for a Remembrance Sunday parade, taking time to remember the servicemen, women and animals who have given their lives and those who continue to risk theirs. We also reflected on what symbols might be fitting to represent the many humans and animals who went into space, giving their lives to progress the space programme for mankind. We will display these symbols and take time to remember them all during our meeting on 28th January, the NASA Day of Remembrance.

During a ‘Top Secret’ briefing, the group was told of their involvement in the Principia Rocket Science project with RHS Gardening for Schools. We are so excited to know that Tim will be looking after rocket seeds on the ISS that will be making their way to us in Spring 2016, to grow and add our results into the national database.

27th Lincoln Scouts 5We’ll be enhancing our Space Diary use with Principia materials such as Mission X: Train like an Astronaut and Heston Blumenthal’s Design a Space Dinner as resources for diet, healthy eating, exercise, gardening and scientist/experiment badge work, whilst completing the 250 mile Space to Earth challenge during our hikes and expeditions. Our Scout programme links perfectly with the Space Diary chapters to inspire another generation into scouting, science and space exploration.

On camp, we had a ‘Scouts’ Own’ time allocated for reflection and spiritual thought. We talked about Tim, his hard work and perseverance, just two of the many positive qualities that have led to his incredible mission. We also thought about Rick Mastracchio, a NASA engineer whose applications to be an astronaut were repeatedly knocked back. Rick did finally make it to space nine years after his first application, because he refused to give up on his dream. We became confident of opportunities still to come, hopeful that whatever our dreams, whatever we already know, there is always something new to be found if we are brave enough to go and look for it, while recognising that it will take boundless enthusiasm and determination to get us there.

“If you work hard, aim high and follow your dreams then you can achieve what you set out to do.” Tim Peake, November 2015

Anything worth having may not be achieved in one giant leap, but through many small steps. It is reputed to be lonely up in space but we are going to have tremendous company taking our first mission steps, proudly alongside our very own rocket man, Tim Peake, using our Principia Space Diaries.

 

 

Ellie Compton
Beaver Section Leader
27th Lincoln Scout Group

Astronaut Tim Peake with Principia Space Diary by Kristen Harrison, Lucy Hawking, Peter McOwan and Ben Hawkes

Principia Space Diary to reach 30,000 UK schoolchildren

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, Blog, News, Visual Literacy

Space Diary Logo We are thrilled to announce that the UK Space Agency/ESA have extended funding of the Principia Space Diary project, doubling the number of UK primary school students who will receive copies of the book. That’s twice as many space apprentices, and twice as much fun!

We launched the Principia Space Diary in October with the aim of registering 15,000 UK school kids. One month later we are celebrating sign-ups for 30,000 children to participate in this project. What an amazing response from schools across the UK who have shown such enthusiasm for this and other Principia projects.

Sign up for the Principia Space Diary project

For those not yet familiar with Principia, this is the name for British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station. Tim launches on 15th December and has worked closely with the UK Space Agency, ESERO Schools Network and the ESA to develop a range of educational outreach programmes to engage children and young people. Find out more and get involved here: http://principia.org.uk/

Our own Principia project is the Principia Mission Space Diary that allows primary-aged children to document Tim’s journey and work their way through a space apprenticeship. Schools who signed up before today will receive printed books, delivered to them before Tim’s launch on the 15th December.

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Anyone who registers from today onwards (including schools, home educators, community clubs, after-school programmes etc) will automatically register for the online version of the programme, giving you exclusive access to the book in PDF form to download and print yourself.

This is a STEM-literacy project written by author Lucy Hawking and Professor Peter McOwan from Queen Mary University of London. It presents complex ideas is a simple, visual way and is designed to strengthen science, literacy, visual literacy and numeracy skills; expose children to the breadth of careers in the space science sector; help them learn about themselves; and make sure they have fun. Feel free to contact the publisher, Kristen Harrison (kristen@thecurvedhouse.com), if you’d like more detail about our methodology.

If you haven’t already signed up, visit principiaspacediary.org.

This is your chance to create a lasting memory of Tim’s historical journey.

Curved House Kids to publish UK Space Agency-funded Space Diary

By | 6-8 years, Blog, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy

15,000 schoolchildren invited to write and draw their way into space with British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake.

Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids have launched a new UK Space Agency-funded STEM literacy project to get 500 primary schools involved in ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS. Tim’s mission, called Principia, blasts off with a launch in December from the Russian spaceport at Baikonur, Kazakhstan. As Tim lifts off, school students will follow his mission by creating a personalised log book, the Principia Mission Space Diary.

Hawking says:

“Through imagination, scientific research and creative writing, we are all going into space with Tim Peake as he makes his journey to the International Space Station.”

With scientific and puzzle-creating support from Professor Peter McOwan and the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London, Lucy Hawking and the team have devised a fully illustrated activity book. The book is packed with activities that inspire children to read, write, draw, research, experiment and problem-solve while strengthening STEM, literacy and visual literacy learning.

In video clips included with the programme, science communicators and experts such as Stephen Hawking, Carol Vorderman, Dallas Campbell will offer their views and insights to help the students complete their monthly mission challenges. These videos are filmed among the world-leading collections at London’s Science Museum.

Curved House Kids publisher Kristen Harrison says:

“The Space Diary is full of visual activities and we hope this creative, interactive approach will encourage more children to get involved in Tim’s mission. Students will be learning about space and science while forging a love of books at the same time.”

The Principia Mission Space Diary is one of nine projects to be awarded funding by the UK Space Agency, as part of a scheme to support educational outreach associated with Tim Peake’s mission.

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, says:

“We’re delighted to support another project that brings space and Tim’s mission to creative young people around the UK. We hope that schools and students will get involved and take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn new skills as they follow an astronaut’s adventure.”

Hawking and illustrator Ben Hawkes launch the project today with a school event at Islington Central Library as part of World Space Week. About 60 students from two local primary schools will test the content of the Space Diary during a 90-minute Astronaut Bootcamp.

For other schools wanting to get involved, the website is now open for sign-ups and all primary schools in the UK are invited to register at principiaspacediary.org to receive free copies for up to two classes (60 students). Books will be delivered in the first week of December. Schools will then have access to an online portal releasing new video content, teacher guides and resources for six months worth of activities. This programme is free but places are limited to the first 500 schools to sign up, so be quick!

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Lucy Hawking (www.lucyhawking.com)

Lucy Hawking is a British author who works with scientists to write adventure stories about their research for primary school aged audiences. Lucy’s books, the George series, combine story telling with science and give young readers an exciting and entertaining introduction to the world of science and maths. An Oxford graduate, Lucy started her writing career in journalism and worked for British newspapers, radio and magazines before becoming a published author.  The George series of books is published in over 40 languages and is now in production as an animated television series with DHX Media. Lucy has been recognised for her work in science and education with several awards – she won the Sappio Prize for Popularizing Science in Rome 2008 and the UNSW Medal 2015 for Science Communication and was awarded a Doctorate in Science by Queen Mary University of London in July 2015. Lucy has travelled the world giving talks about science to young audiences. She has frequently featured on television and radio, both as a subject and as a interviewer. Lucy is a trustee of the Autism Research Foundation, supporting scientific research into the condition of autism.

About Curved House Kids (www.curvedhousekids.com)

Curved House Kids has a simple mission: improve literacy levels among digital-native children by creating books that reflect the world these children are entering– a world that is visual, interactive and full of tools that allow individuals to create. All of the Curved House Kids books and workshops empower children to make their own books – in print, digitally or both, and in doing so they nurture the instinctive visual literacy skills that digital native children possess. Making children part of the creative process ensures that they form a strong bond with books and an understanding for how reading, writing and drawing can positively impact their lives. Curved House Kids founder Kristen Harrison is a former Penguin editor who now runs publishing and design agency The Curved House, alongside Curved House Kids. She sits on the board of the International Visual Literacy Association and holds a Masters in Communications.

About Peter McOwan (QMUL)

Peter McOwan is a Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London and Vice Principal (VP) for Public Engagement. His research interests are in human perception, artificial intelligence and robotics. He is a space enthusiast and amateur magician and has used these talents successfully in a number of outreach projects, from our-space.org which charts computer games developer Richard Garriott’s adventures in space, to The Manual of Mathematical Magic, where he teaches fundamental mathematical and computing  principles through simple magic trick. He is also the co-founder of the innovative cs4fn project (cs4fn.org) and holds a HEA National Teaching Fellowship award. Peter was also awarded the IET Mountbatten Medal in 2011 for his work in public engagement. In his role as VP he also oversees and champions all the College’s outreach activities created the College’s Centre for Public Engagement.

About Principia (principia.org.uk)

Astronaut Tim Peake will begin his five-month mission on the International Space Station in December 2015, becoming the first British ESA astronaut to visit the station. His mission is called ‘Principia’ and together with the UKSA and ESA, Tim has a number of educational outreach activities associated with the mission, designed to get children and young people engaged in STEM learning.

Tim will be involved in many experiments aboard the ISS during his mission. Research in space crosses many different subjects – the unique environment of the ISS offers a great opportunity to investigate novel materials, life in space, the human body, fluid physics, new technologies and many other things. Through the Principia educational activities, students have the opportunity to engage in a rage of related activities.

About UK Space Agency (http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-space-agency)

The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space. It is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

The Agency is responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in the space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. It leads the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefits to all citizens.

The UK Space Agency

  • Co-ordinates UK civil space activity
  • Encourages academic research
  • Supports the UK space industry
  • Raises the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
  • Increases understanding of space science and its practical benefits
  • Inspires our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
  • Licences the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
  • Promotes co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

About the European Space Agency (www.esa.int)

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 21 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 19 are Member States of the EU.

One other Member State of the EU, Hungary, has signed the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention and, upon ratification, will soon become the 22nd ESA Member State.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU.

Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES

Curved House Kids
Kristen Harrison (Publisher)
Mob +44 7594 262 688 or +49 176 876 02770
Email: kristen@thecurvedhouse.com
@curvedhousekids

Queen Mary University of London
Sian Halkyard
Head of Public Relations
Email: s.halkyard@qmul.ac.uk

UK Space Agency
Julia Short
Press Officer
Tel 01793 41 8069
Mob 07770 276 721
Email: Julia.short@ukspaceagency.bis.gsi.gov.uk

visual literacy in the classroom curved house kids house of illustration

Visual Literacy in the Classroom: Working with hearing impaired children

By | Blog, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy

Canada’s Global News has just published a wonderful story about the use of visual literacy in a Candadian school, to help hearing impaired students with their literacy learning. Joana Weber, the teacher who implemented the programme, writes of the significant improvements in literacy among her group and also of a remarkable increase in confidence and self esteem. Weber notes the benefits of a holistic approach to literacy learning:

“Literacy is connected to language. Language is connected to thought and experience, so I think that introducing things like drama, like art and drawing, to engage students and engage communication can only have a positive impact on literacy.”

It is this very approach that guides our visual literacy workshops. Much like Weber, we aim to give student a full experience of language, not just an education about language. We work on core literacy learning while always mixing this with visual literacy and some kind of creative output, ensuring that all kids have the chance to create something they can be proud of. As practicing publishers, artists and writers we also bring our day-to-day professional experience into schools to give students insights into where well-rounded literacy skills can lead to.

Weber’s story is the kind that inspires us – we hope it inspires you too.

Read the full article on the Global News website

Photo courtesy of House of Illustration, taken as part of our collaborative project Our Cally Stories.

Curved House Kids and House of Illustration announce a new partnership

By | Blog, Events, News, Visual Literacy

Islington families invited to create their own stories with House of Illustration and Curved House Kids

Curved House Kids and House of Illustration today announce a new partnership, offering Islington families the chance to publish their own book in an empowering series of workshops, entitled “Our Cally Stories”.

Run as part of Islington Council’s Word15 festival, the 8-week programme will offer hands-on training in understanding visual and written literacy, as well as offering local families unique access to those working in creative sectors.

Commencing today, 23 April 2015, the workshops will be held in Holloway Library, Paradise Park Children’s Centre run by Islington Play Association and House of Illustration’s new Clore Studio at its gallery in King’s Cross.

The programme will map out a typical book development workflow, led and supported by an established author, illustrator and publisher. Young children and their parents will go through the process of planning, writing, editing, illustrating and publishing a professional quality book. Themes will be selected by participants, allowing them to create their own unique stories, and finished books will be produced and shared through local libraries.

House of Illustration and Curved House Kids have come together because of a shared focus on visual literacy, and on using visual tools to empower people to communicate fully in a modern world. This is a guiding principle for the programme, as Kristen Harrison, Publisher at Curved House Kids, explains: “We live in an increasingly visual world, and for the many who struggle with text-based literacy visuals can be extremely effective at breaking down their barriers to reading. We’re thrilled to join forces with House of Illustration, who already have an exceptional education and outreach programme, to provide Islington families with the tools they need to create and share their own stories. ”

The final book will be launched at House of Illustration, at 2 Granary Square in King’s Cross on Thursday 18 June.

NOTE TO EDITORS

About Curved House Kids (www.curvedhousekids.com)

Curved-House-Kids-Logo-BlueThe Curved House Kids produce books and downloadable learning materials, and run workshops that inspire primary aged children to read, write and see the world. Curved House Kids projects are based around the idea that visual tools and visual literacy skills can greatly improve a child’s ability to learn and that by making children part of the creative process we cement their learning (and their love for reading and storytelling) from an early age. We recognise that the world around us is now highly visual, digital and interactive and our methods engage with children the way children are engaging with the world.

About House of Illustration (www.houseofillustration.org. uk)

logoHouse of Illustration opened the UK’s first gallery dedicated solely to the art of illustration in summer 2014. Through changing exhibitions, events, courses, workshops and competitions it aims to reach audiences of all ages to learn about, participate in and enjoy illustration in all its forms. Our education department has been running since 2009; we have delivered over 40 projects in schools with high indexes of deprivation. Now equipped with a Clore Studio, we hold regular workshops for families, primary & secondary schools and adults. All workshops are delivered by professional illustrators and aim to empower participants of all ages and abilities with new skills, increased confidence, opportunities for creativity and enhanced visual literacy.

About the Word Festival

imgresThe Word festival celebrates the transformative power of words through a one year programme of high quality, commissioned arts activities, events and learning opportunities that encourage residents across Islington to develop enjoyment in reading, writing and freedom of expression. The festival is a partnership initiative between Inslington Council’s Library and Heritage Services, Arts Services, All Change and Free Word. Word 2015 will take place between 25 May and 19 June, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES

Kristen Harrison
Curved House Kids
+49 176 876 02770
kristen@thecurvedhouse.com
Twitter: @curvedhousekids

Emily Jost
House of Illustration
+44 203 696 2024
emily.jost@ houseofillustration.org.uk
Twitter: @illustrationHQ

Visual Literacy Reading Curved House Kids

Reading Fast and Slow

By | Blog, Visual Literacy

This is an extract from an article published on The Bookseller Blog, 13 March 2013. 

Last week was one of our favourite days – World Book Day. This annual event is a chance for parents, teachers, kids and readers of all ages to celebrate books and stories – a day to remember the reasons why we read.

Our world is now split between online and offline, the virtual and the real, the physical and the digital. We all know these two realms do not exist independently of each other, which is why being able to read whatever is in front of you (whatever form that takes) is becoming more nuanced and complex. For us, finding a way for books – particularly children’s books – to acknowledge those two worlds seems more important than ever. We need to allow ourselves to be open and flexible to the idea of reading taking more forms than it ever has before – but we also need to ensure children have ways to appreciate the value and transformative power of stories, and the act of reading itself.

Working in the field of visual literacy we know that digital media has transformed the volume of information presented to us on a day-to-day basis, particularly when it comes to images and messages. We see them everywhere and we often find ourselves wondering which bits to recognise and acknowledge, and which bits to stop and dwell upon, to reflect and comprehend and engage and build upon the ideas we are being shown. Stories are perfect for this – allowing us to spend time getting to grips with a narrative, with characters, giving our brains the opportunity to concentrate and focus. They train us to remember how to do something beyond an immediate reaction to stimuli.

To read the full article visit The Bookseller Blog…

Can you make this face happy? A visual literacy exercise for everyone

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Blog, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy, Worksheets

When we teach visual literacy we don’t just teach how to ‘read’ and interpret images, we also explore the interpretation of other visual references. One of these is facial expression and, in particular, understanding emotion. Being able to interpret an emotion, and knowing how to express different emotions, are vital to our interactions with the world. This is a quick exercise to try yourself.

Download and print the worksheet below.

Try to turn this face into a happy face.

What changes will you make to change it’s mood? Are there small changes that can make a big difference? Can you completely reinvent the face? Tweet us a picture to @curvedhousekids or post it to our Facebook page, we’d love to see what you make of it.

Visual Literacy Exercise

Click to download PDF

 

 

Andrew Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards

Visual Literacy Packs for Teachers, Parents and Guardians

By | Visual Literacy

This Visual Literacy Packs, compiled as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the 50th anniversary of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal awards – provide activities and teaching plans to accompany the reading of Carnegie and Greenaway award-winning books.

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-born philanthropist (1835–1919) who established over 2800 libraries across the English-speaking world. Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) was a popular nineteenth century children’s books illustrator. The Medals are awarded by librarians to those who show outstanding excellence in children’s and young person’s literature.

Check out the packs below!

Visual Literacy Pack 1
Visual Literacy Pack 2 (top ten)

 

Brian Kennedy, Director, formerly Hood Museum of Art

By | Visual Literacy

We often refer to this TEDx talk by Brian Kennedy in our work, so wanted to share it here. This is from when Kennedy was director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College (he is now Director of Toledo Museum of Art), speaking about the growing field of visual literacy and why we need it.

Kennedy notes in his speech that, although society has become much more visual, visual literacy itself has declined, and what’s necessary is to “reintegrate the capacity of our senses” for the digital age.

Much of our work and thinking stems from the idea that ours is an increasingly visual world and in order to get children reading (and get everyone interested in words, text and storytelling) we must present it in a way that reflects how they navigate the world – ie. visually.

Visual Literacies Project Archives

By | Visual Literacy

More great Visual Literacy resources from the US. Inter-Disciplinary.net, the Project Archives of Visual Literacies: Exploring Critical Issues has made available materials from conferences, research events, and other publications related to the project to provide you with some wonderfully helpful resources for developing future research and publishing opportunities.

Available presentation topics from the most recent conference include “Visual Literacy Through Graffiti” and “Visual Literacy as a Means to Facilitate Conscious Choice in Learning.”

Click here to find out more about the project.

Project Archives Visual Literacy Resources

WALL-E Visual Literacy resources

Examining WALL-E: How we can show meaning without words

By | Visual Literacy

“Visual Literacy” available online as a chapter excerpted from the book Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom, by Frank W. Baker, published by the International Society for Technology in Education. The chapter examines the ability of photography and video—notably the first 10 minutes of the animated feature film WALL-E—in conveying meaning without words. The excerpt also provides details about the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Corporation’s set of “Language Arts Viewing Standards” K-12 education.

Read the chapter here!

 

Vislit Visual Literacy Conference

The 2014 International Visual Literacy Conference

By | Events, Visual Literacy

Toledo Museum of Art Visual Literacy Conference VISLIT

The Toledo Museum of Art is hosting the 47th Annual Conference of the International Visual Literacy (IVLA), this year’s theme being The Art of Seeing: From Ordinary to Extraordinary.

Conference events include Panel Discussions and Paper Presentations to interactive Workshops and Demonstrations which brings together teachers, researchers, students, artists and anyone else with interest in the field of visual literacy to discuss and critique work and practices.

We hope to attend the conference and engage with other thinkers and do-ers, movers and shakers, working in visual literacy education and we’re looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of the various workshops and events.

Head over to the VISLIT resource page as well, for an excellent introduction to visual literacy, perfect for anyone wanting to know how they can improve visual literacy through art.

Parents: Can’t get to Toledo? Don’t worry! There is even a family guide resource so you can explore the museum and visual literacy with the kids without having to leave the house!

http://www.vislit.org/

 

Martin Scorcese Video on the Importance of Visual Literacy

By | Visual Literacy

Our favourite bushy-browed filmmaker, Martin Scorcese, discusses the importance of the filmmaker’s visual decisions in conveying aspects of the story that can’t be told through dialogue. He notes that students today “need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed through a visual form” – such as the filmmaker’s tools such as lighting, panning the camera, and framing an image — to make an emotional and psychological point to an audience.

Aaaaaand ACTION!

Primary Literacy Workshops Curved House Kids Make Your Own Books

Reading Images: An introduction to visual literacy

By | Advice for Parents, Blog, Events, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy

“Images are all around us, and the ability to interpret them meaningfully is a vital skill for students to learn.”
– Melissa Thibault and David Walbert, authors of Reading images: an introduction to visual literacy.

Have you heard of “visual literacy”? If you’re a parent or teacher struggling to engage your kids with learning, maybe this is something that can unlock things for you (and for them!). It has worked for us.

The Curved House Kids series of books is based on the belief that some kids are visual learners – they see the world in pictures so by providing books without words we invite them to understand how to interpret images and then use language to express what they see and understand. Similarly, by providing books without pictures we allow kids to reinforce their comprehension and vocabulary by drawing what they read. They are etching knowledge into their brains AND having fun at the same time! This is a visual literacy technique to teach children to read, write and use their imaginations but there are many other ways to use visual literacy in the home or in schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about it and want to try some visual literacy techniques, LEARN NC (a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education in the US), has put together a good primer on the topic, aimed at educators of students from Kindergarten through 12th Grade (early years through secondary school in the UK). The overview links to a variety of lesson plans on the subject, tagged to note the appropriate grade level for each lesson.

Click here to visit the Learn NC website for lesson plans and other great resources…