Miss Chen's blog: Literacy in the early years

Little J & Big Cuz is an animated children's series that follows two Aboriginal children who live with their nanna and lovable dog. The 13 episodes explore the unfamiliar world of school and how, with the help of their teacher Miss Chen, Little J and Big Cuz navigate their first years of school life. In this regular blog, Miss Chen will be sharing some of the F-2 resources she's been using in her classroom, which are all available to download for free via the Little J & Big Cuz website.

Hi, my name is Miss Chen and I am a primary school teacher. Teaching is one of my greatest passions in life. In fact, my goal is to have my students enjoy school as much as I do! I'm the only teacher in my school so I have to work hard to ensure my F-2 program is dynamic and based around the children's interests.

While my father was born in South East Asia, my mother's family have been in Australia for generations. My mum taught me a lot about the land and the importance of Aboriginal culture but I still have lots to learn, which is why I love working closely with Indigenous elders and other families in my community.

On this blog I'll be sharing some of the exciting resources I've been using in my classroom that are all free to download on the Little J & Big Cuz educator resource page.

Here's an activity where the students in my class create their own picture story books.

The children in my class seem to have such an array of unique encounters with the world around them. Each day they come to school armed with stories of the animals they've seen, the food they've eaten or the stories they've read at home with their families. I try to draw on their curiosity and enthusiasm, and use it in my lessons.

The students love reading books with bright, colourful pictures, but today I provided them with blank materials to create their own books for drawing. We went out on Country to observe the birds and any other creatures we could find, which were mostly bugs and insects. The children were encouraged to draw the animals that they spotted – their favourite was a black and white magpie!

Once we returned to the classroom we spent time finding the Indigenous words for the various birds we regularly see in our local community. The students spent time labelling the birds they'd drawn in their picture story books.

Following this literacy activity, we discussed how the birds moved and I invited the students to use their bodies to imitate the animals to music. We used music by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. The children thoroughly enjoyed this activity – it is important they are allowed time to experience storytelling through dance.

I'm always mindful that the transition to school can be challenging for these little ones, as they establish routines and learn how to navigate the school day. They've got such curious and excited minds, which can mean they can sometimes become overtired or find themselves struggling to concentrate. So if they're ever sleepy, I try to provide a space in the classroom for them to rest. We are always talking to together about the importance of a good night's sleep to help us grow up healthy and strong.

If you'd like to try any of these activities in your own classroom, here's more information to get you started.

The resource mentioned in this blog post is directly related to Little J & Big Cuz Episode 13 ‘Night Owl, Morning Maggie. It is recommended that your students view the episode before engaging in the activities listed in the resource.

Visit the Little J & Big Cuz website to view the full suite of resources for each episode in the series.