Judith attributes Dr Seuss’ fantastical tales about faraway places to her love of writing children’s books. She is an English teacher, intrepid traveller and modern wordsmith. After teaching phonemic awareness to children in Europe, the Middle East, India and China, Judith saw a growing need to support diversity in schools. With 44 sounds in the English language and hundreds of ways to spell them, the children would recall the sounds and manipulate the letters to make different words, but while attempting to master the many vagaries of spelling––it became much more of a challenge. While researching a master in phonological awareness Judith began to use visual language in stories, so that children could make a holistic sense of the different spelling patterns in a meaningful way.
Judith’s books support the teaching and learning in language arts, balanced literacy, phonemic awareness, phonics, science, geography and across the primary school curriculum. Topics may include: Indigenous Animals and Habitats, Aboriginal Heritage, National Parks, World Heritage Sites, The Great Barrier Reef, Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, endangered species, threats to birds and wildlife; crown of thorns starfish and responsible practices in nature.
After returning to Melbourne for the launch of her first children’s book The Oo in Uluru, Judith has since won the Speech Pathology (Australia) Children’s Book of the Year (2019) and was recently featured at the Prom. Coast Festival Children’s Literature Day in March. Another four books in the series about phonemes will be published by Woodslane this year. When Judith is not writing children’s stories or plays, she teaches music and movement therapy. She lives in Melbourne with her adorable Australian terriers, Nellie and Dusty.
I deliver 3 x 45 minutes presentations or 3 x 1 hour presentation according to the grades and literacy levels of the students. Each presentation can be customized to suit the needs of the teachers and librarians with the session times scheduled according to the regular school timetable – I am flexible.
My presentations are designed for primary Grades 1 - 3 however, I customise the sessions according to the different grades and literacy needs of the learners, teachers, librarians, special education teachers and speech therapists. Children of similar ages or mixed groups may be combined into the same sessions (P-1, 2-3 or 4) and I always differentiate the presentation for learners with special needs, or those at risk.
A standard session size is about 18 - 25 students, but class sizes will vary, based on the needs of the teachers and librarians. Please let me know your preference for the grades, group sizes, literacy levels – and special needs requirements.
I prefer to present in the classroom or the library, if possible so that teachers and students have enough space to participate in the fun and interactive activities with easy access to materials, such as colouring pencils, scissors and whiteboards – but it depends on the availability.
Requirements – Students
Every student should arrive with:
- coloured pencils
- small whiteboard and blue/black pen (I use this a lot) and eraser.
- a pair of scissors
- something to lean the paper on (eg. book, folder, clipboard)
Equipment for presentation:
- a whiteboard
- table/desk to put things on out the front
- data projector (I bring my presentations on USB or laptop as backup)
- cables for laptop overhead projector and laptop
- speakers for music
- space for students to move freely
Do teachers need to stay?
Teachers, librarians, special needs assistants - and everyone else who inspires young readers are integral for quality outcomes, feedback – and best practices.
Aim of presentation
Visual Sounds in Stories is designed to reinforce the teaching and learning of sound, letter and spelling recognition, or phonemic awareness in a fun, dynamic and interactive environment. This is achieved through a range of multi-sensory activities including, art and craft, music, movement and relaxation.
Overview of Presentation:
Set the scene of Uluru/Great Barrier Reef with music of the didgeridoo, GBR and colourful visuals with an acknowledgement to the indigenous region.
- Introduction: Q & A – How are you feeling? Get in touch with your emotions and feelings with creative hand gestures and movem
- Short guided meditation/relaxation.
- Power-point presentation: Q & A What are sounds?
- Fun and interactive quiz – Q & A Guess the sounds.
- Poster hand-outs for writing the spelling patterns of the long vowels (OO and/or EE)
- Book Reading with Sound Owl: The OO in Uluru/The EE in the Deep, Blue Sea (overhead projector)
- Q & A and feedback.
- Activities: rock painting (incorporated into an art class), two minute plays (pair work) making decodable mini-books to fold-colour and take home – and other options available.
The OO in Uluru
This book describes a range of native animals in their natural habitat and environment. There are indigenous animals that go beyond the usual kangaroo and koala, which young readers will find colourful and engaging. The book is notable for its use in teaching children the many different digraphs that have the ‘oo’ sound. This playful focus on sound and letter representation is a perfect link to a phonological awareness lesson and a discussion with children.
Speech Pathology Australia (2019)
The EE in the Deep, Blue Sea
The EE in the Deep, Blue Sea is a fun Australian phoneme-themed story that teaches young children about the vowel sound ‘ee’ and where they can find them in different words. Written by Judith Barker and beautifully illustrated by Janie Frith, the rich colours and vibrant use of multi-media enhance the magical experience. The book explores many undersea and reef environments and introduces children to 20 of the creatures that live there. It is a great book to not only educate, but also show children enchanting illustrations about the oceans that surround our beautiful island nation.
Access National School Librarians Magazine (2020)