Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Questions help us think

Yesterday, I was asked by an experienced university professor about something I wrote in my book, The Question Mark Method. About the difference between learning and studying, and how to approach it in teaching.

The lady professor, a wonderful and esteemed colleague, stated she had never thought about it like that. At first she thought I was merely talking about little learners, but when I explained I teach all age groups and levels, she was puzzled. ‘Yes, I see. But it must be difficult teaching like that every time… it drains your energy to be so motivating and to try so hard every time…’

After a while, we agreed it was, but then again – we agreed it was not. Just lecturing and testing is NOT teaching. Teaching them (how) to (want to) learn IS.

This is a tiny book packing a lot of wisdom – for #teachers in all phases of their career – #nonfiction #tips by this here teacher trainer with 25 years of teaching #experience! Change the way you #think about yourself, your learners, your teaching and your #trainees! Simplify your work to let the #heart conquer over paperwork!

The Question Mark Method can be used by learners and educators. If I could tell you one crucial thing about it to instigate your interest, this is it – IT WORKS! It really does. It really, truly simplifies things!


*paperback Lulu.com https://bit.ly/2E27ltx
*e-pub Lulu.com https://bit.ly/2qzmYFs
*Apple Books https://apple.co/2LFY7aB
*Lehmanns Media https://bit.ly/2DZRwDB
*Amazon https://amzn.to/2RzJVUd
*Kobo Rakuten https://bit.ly/38oyvJ2
*Barnes&Noble https://bit.ly/359QJvF

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A CALLING, NOT A JOB

(Written on the 12th July, 2019, back when I couldn’t see)

It often surprises me when people think I am younger than I am, or when I am in the company of people my age and I feel younger than they are. Not physically, mind you – the face reveals everything. No matter how much we may try to hide it. But younger in spirit.

And then a day quite like this one takes place – the results of high-level English exams arrive, for children I’d worked with  since their kindergarten age, and who are now 18 or so. And in all that excitement and enthusiasm, I suddenly realise that those children will not be attending lessons again, that those children are not even children any more, and what’s best and most important, I know how much they’ve grown up, and how much still lays before them. And they are so well-directed or life and simply wonderful.

For some people it may seem strange for anybody to get attached to other people’s children like this, children you’d only seen maybe once or twice per week, but this connection is extraordinary and magical, filled with emotions, severe turbulence, changes and progress. And it lasts. And this is where I reach my key point – how this relates to my feeling of youth.

When there are such amazing young people growing up around you, you feel proud that life has given you a chance to be at least partly their guide, their teacher. And now that they are setting out on their journey of adulthood, it gives you a feeling of hope that the world will be a better place, that there will still be good, caring, kind and smart people around. Because you know that they are. And this hope makes you young at heart.

(There is lots more written on this paper, but it is empty and only shows traces of me moving my pen – the pen had run out of ink, but I could not see that then. Never mind. All is well now.)

#teaching #education #love #joy #work #cvrcak

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Reading with Children

To parents, friends  and educators reading to children

The actual process of reading, sitting down with somebody you care about, whether it is your child, grandchild, student, or even an adult, is a wonderful experience – you share time, place, dreams, worlds… Children are especially open to gratitude. After a busy day, having their parent sit down and set this time aside only for them… there is nothing better than this! There is no better gift that you can give your child than your time and attention. 

Of course, if you read and comment along with children, ask for their opinion and challenge them to think, it is even more worthwhile, but it is not always necessary. Sometimes you are tired, you skip words and they correct you, they stop you with questions, and you really don’t feel like reading at all. But their questions, their corrections, their hillarious comments, all this will just magically wipe away your stress, make you smile and forget about everything else. 

It is the love they share with you in those moments. 

The same goes with reading to and with adults. If you read with your partner, to your mother or father, to people who can no longer read to themselves, remember – we are all children at heart! Stories have that mysterious power of waking up that honest, non-constricted, free and imaginative child, dormant but present within us. 

I have seen the magic of reading stories to all age groups, and would never trade in its power and positive effect for any technological device there is, much as I respect and use them in my teaching. Reading awakens playful freedom, sets emotions free and channels them, challenges the mind into critical and creative thinking, and lets us grow, develop and express ourselves. 

So yes, children, meaning all of us, associate books with love and affection, because this is what we share when we read together. 

And if you are ever lucky enough to have your child read to you, relish every second of that love. 

(From the afterword of Mimi Finds Her Magic)

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Back 2 School in a fun way!

​Back to School – online event:)

September 10, 2016 

Let me invite you to an online fb event organized by Karina Kantas. It is all about children’s books, and we are inviting readers, educators, children, parents and grandparents. There will even be rewards in the form of children’s books and many more surprises. Meet some of the authors of children’s books, myself included, ask questions, comment, play games and have some fun. 

This is the link https://www.facebook.com/events/1781083468794793/?ti=cl and it would give me such joy to see you there. It will be my first author guest appearance so you might help me get rid of some stage fright.

Here is the guest list and times.
(All times are EST)

10am – 10.15 Welcome from your host

10.15 – 11am Wanda Mital Luthman

11.00 – 11.30 Jenny Burke

11.30 – 12.00 Ashley Marie Uzzell

12.00 – 12.30 Claire Plaisted

12.30 – 13.00 Anita Kovacevic (18.30 CEST – my time zone)

13.30 – 14.00 Andrew Fairchild

14.00 – 14.30 Traci Sanders

Looking forward to meeting you there!

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Back to School or Preschool? Mimi can help!

Sometimes going back to school and preschool gets to be hard on both parents and children. Parents need to re-learn to let go off total control over their little ones, and children need to stop depending on their parents for every single thing. 

I know – I am a teacher AND a mother.

Every autumn, when the school starts, this is the story I role-play with my little ESL students (4-8), and they love the feeling of achievement it gives them. Even the preteens, aged 8-10, enjoyed doing it as role play, whereas the preschoolers love doing the rhyme hidden in the story.

If you are looking for a fun and positive book to help your preschooler become slightly more independent, check out Mimi Finds Her Magic! There are forest animals, some magic, role-play, think pieces and a TPR rhyme!

Kobo link 

iBooks link 
Amazon link
Lulu link
Mimi and other tales on youtube

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Teaching has rhyme and rhythm

Why I love poetry? Ever read The Gruffalo? Vocabulary, rhythm, intonation, TPR, and a positive message! Tons of things to think and wonder about. Teaching with stories/poetry rocks!

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Just finished my Gruffalo week, working with a clever group of amazing preschool kids and then a wonderful team of dedicated teachers.

Teaching Narnia, Taya Bayliss and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, depending on age groups. Awesome!

Day job at its best!

PS: Plus, all my students passed their B2 and C1 Cambridge exams. Woohoo

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WINNIE FLIES AGAIN by K.Paul and V. Thomas – my review no.24

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A WITCH’S CHARM

Funny how you own some paperbooks at home and never think of writing a review for them, although you read them over and over again with enthusiasm. The Winnie the Witch series is one of them.

Winnie Flies Again was one of my son’s favourite stories when he was little, and now it is one of my daughter’s favourites as well. As a teacher of English, I often tell this story to my little preschoolers or younger primary school learners, and they always find Winnie funny and charming. The illustrations are so quirky and adorable, and they blend in with the story just perfectly; the partnership between the story author and the illustrator is really admirable.

In this particular story, Winnie the Witch and her grumpy, yet loyal cat Wilbur go off flying, but due to Winnie’s poor eyesight, the two encounter numerous problems long the way. Their misfortune is eventually solved when Winnie gets her glasses, because not everything can be solved by magic. The story is fun and funny, but also very educational, because children fall in love with Winnie and, should the need arise for them to wear glasses, it will not pose a problem. If Winnie can do it, so can they. It also lets children see why some of their friends need to wear glasses, even though the moral is never obtrusively emphasized, nor does it feel like preaching. I am a proud owner of the edition for learners of English, which also includes activities by K. Harper, which offer every teacher great opportunity to work with this picture book on more levels than one. Not to mention how well the storyline lends itself to vocabulary extension on the topic of vehicles and verbs. There is a lovely fluency in the text, easily readable and acted out for and by children, with enough repetitive phrases for effective language acquisition, yet never losing the native language flow and feel. There is absolutely no need to worry about certain children fearing this witch – Winnie is just your friendly, neighbourhood elderly lady with a black cat and silly habits;)!

Winnie the Witch will definitely remain one of our favourites, along with all other books in the series. I recommend it to parents, grandparents and teachers! Learning and reading can really be fun!

Winnie Flies Again is available on Amazon.

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CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR INTERVIEW no.5 – Stephanie Bridgeman

Stephanie Bridgeman is one of many children’s authors I have met through a fb authors’ group Books Go Social, and one of those whose creativity may stay below the radar in the ocean of books published in the world today. Being an author, an inventor and tutor, her optimistic creativity has truly earned her the chance to promote her work. Learn something about Stephanie and her books, and check out her books. You never know the things that you can learn!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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INTERVIEW

1. Pretend we are all children and tell us five things about yourself which you consider the most important!

(1) I am quite curious and a bit of a wild child! (2) I like to run in the gully for miles and pick the honeysuckle flowers behind our house; (3) I love all animals, and they sometimes follow me home! (4) I love to dance in the wind and chase fireflies (which may be faeries)?! (5) I stare at the stars, and make-believe they are angels lighting up the night sky.    

2.  Why do your write books for children? What motivates and inspires you? How do your books come to life?

I want to write more books for children, which positively spark their wee imaginations! I feel that there are too many books for children that have way too much violence. So, I am inspired to create books that help kids see the goodness in life, and make them laugh whenever possible! I enjoy creating the glowing pictures for the books that I (and my co-authors) like to write.

3.  What were your favourite children’s books and characters when you were a child (and still)? Was there a character you wanted to be, or a book you wanted to step into? Why?

I remember that I read every fairy tale they ever made when I was in fourth grade! I even read the “Olive Fairy Tale Book”, the “Chartreuse Fairy Tale Book”, and these were over One Thousand pages! (If I missed a book, please let me know, and I’ll go read it!) When I read these fairy tales, I wanted to be a princess! This princess would have many friends with animals and Unicorns; she could talk to them when she felt lonely. Plus I would have a Fairy Godmother who’d magically appear in times of trouble: and help me transform into a lovely person -both inside and out!

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4. What is your main goal when you write a children’s book? What do you want your readers to think or feel?

I hope to make them laugh – to fill them with wonder and excitement about learning new things, instead of fearing what’s around the corner.

5. How do comments and reviews affect you? What do your friends, family and colleagues think about you as a writer?

Of course, I am human. I am like most authors and want great reviews! If I happen to get a bad review, then I would check it out: to see if it is constructive criticism, or simply a person who’s having a bad day! If I feel it is constructive criticism, I will do what I can to correct the text (within reason). Finally, I will have to walk away and move on with my life! The important thing is that my friends and family truly seem to like the books that I have written (along with my co-authors). I must admit it has been a very gratifying experience!

6. What is the most difficult thing about writing a children’s book? What is the most fun aspect of that process? 

The most difficult (and the most fun!) thing about writing a children’s book has been creating the pictures. Some days, the pictures were easy to make.  Other days, I couldn’t get the pictures to “glow” just right, and got a little frustrated when it took so long to complete them. On those days, my computer would usually overheat and compound my frustration!

7. Do you like reading your book in public? Who is the tougher audience – the adults or the children? Share an anecdote if you wish.

The adults would be my toughest audience. I like reading my books to one or two children at a time (when teaching them to read). I have great fun reading “Horton Hears a Who!” by Dr. Seuss.  The book is really funny. One time, I was reading this book to a very somber student, who never laughed, before that day. I desperately wanted to cheer her up, since she seemed especially down and out. So, I started reading to her, using a deep voice for Horton (the elephant), and then an unexpectedly high-pitched, tiny voice for “The Who” people. It was a miracle! My student started giggling and couldn’t seem to stop!  I believe this one book sparked her love for reading, since she advanced three grade levels in less than one week!

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8. What is the one genre or topic you think you would never write and why?

I don’t believe that I would write a horror book or any book that has gratuitous violence. I wouldn’t want to be that author, who’d scare children, causing them nightmares. I want to be the author (like Dr. Seuss) who helps kids think “happy thoughts”.

9. If you could interview any famous children’s author, who would it be and what would you ask?

I would interview Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).  I would ask him, “How did you get so inspired to write such fun children’s books, in a rhyming style that’s so far ahead of your time?” Before Dr. Seuss mass marketed his books, school kids had to start their reading journey with boring books that had repetitive phrases like: “Run Jane run!” (I wanted to run from reading that book – right out of the school!)  I wish Dr. Seuss could see his legacy: watching my students laughing with glee when I read his books to them!

10. Why is reading important for children? Is it more important for them to read by themselves or with an adult?

I believe reading can spark children’s imaginations and help them learn how to deal with stressful situations.  It is good that they learn to read by themselves but make sure they choose the right books! For example, if they are reading a book with sensitive subject matter (dealing with death or divorce) it is best that a loved one is there to help counsel them.  Plus, by reading a book with someone they love, it will create memories these children will always cherish!

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11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?

I am planning to write amusing children’s books that make learning a breeze.  I believe I have found a way to make a “times tables” book with bright pictures, puzzles, and riddles to help children remember their “times tables”.
My other children’s book, I am planning to write would have characters from outer space, to teach kids the basics of science. It would include a lot of hyperlinks, so they can click them to learn more advanced concepts.  I suppose if I had a mission statement, I would say: I am passionate about creating books to help children (and adults) learn new things, but help them enjoy the process!

Stephanie on Amazon
Stephanie’s YA book on Amazon
The Glow Faeries fb page

ABOUT A BOOK

The Glow Faeries: Wee Stories & Wisdom
(For excerpts and reviews, see this)

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WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THIS BOOK:

• Do you want to Know how-to Attract True Love -& Keep Love Alive?
• Do you want to Know how-to Create Love Perfume?
• Do you want to learn how-to Make a Faery Wish Jar & Make Wishes come True?
• Do you want to Increase the Peace in Your Life?
• Do you Know the Top Ten Things the Glow Faeries want you to Know?
• Do you want to Learn How-to Make Fun “Glow-in-the-Dark” Projects?
• Do you want to Learn How-to Grow a Faery?

MORE INFO:

This wee book of wisdom is perfect for children -or older humans who wish to connect with their “Inner Child” (or want to know more about Glow Faeries)!
Now’s your chance to peek into the Glow Faeries’ enchanting world!
You are in the right place at the right time! That’s because nowadays, the faeries wish to help people! Now they’re revealing their magic to anyone who “chooses” to hear!

The Glow Faeries book is colorfully illustrated that’s chock full of ancient wisdom & stories that have been passed down through the ages…
You’ll discover the top ten secrets things that the “Glow Faeries” want your to know!
Read and learn how you too can see a faery! Is it possible that you could have seen one, but you didn’t realize it?

This book will tell you their favorite places to hide out!
We’ll reveal some of these hideouts, and what to look for—right down to what they look like!
If you are one of those people who have always wanted to attract Glow Faeries—then you will be delighted to read how-to entice them!
Do angels and Glow Faeries work together? Is it possible to grow a Glow Faery?
We have the answers to these questions and more—plus inspirational quotes and 25 illustrations that show you how to get things “glowing” in your life!

This book has wonderful recipes for you to explore! Let us (and the Glow Faeries) help you attract love, luck, health, happiness, peace, and perhaps a faery—or two!
Maybe if you make a wish & believe in faeries strong enough—you will see the “Glow Faeries” too!

Come join us & learn the ancient secrets of the Glow Faeries & explore our magical, mystical world!
Thanks for visiting our virtual land! We (and The Glow Faeries) appreciate you!

~♥♡♥Silver FaeryHawk & Stephanie Bridgeman♥♡♥~

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Winky’s Colours – special review

Just received this special book review via e-mail. So proud of Winky’s Colours! Thank you!

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In the introduction of  Winky’s Colours: A Penguin’s Story, the author Anita Kovačević describes what inspired her to write the story of a little penguin who represents family, love, kindness, courage, curiosity, friendship. My experience in therapy of children with complex problems tells me this story has didactic value, so I was happy to receive this book as a gift. It shows the life journey in a very sensitive period of children’s development.

Surrounded by white snow, the author who is also a school teacher, one cold night, in her dream, met Winky the penguin. As a mother and teacher, she knows children very well.

Winky, the cute, little penguin is as lovable as his name. It represent the child, the inner child in adults, or the author herself as she mentioned in the first lines of her story.

Divided into small chapters, the story tell us all about Winky, how he looks, what he wants, who he meets on his journey… After every chapter there are simple questions for children or other readers, which give the story its educational value.

Winky has courage, and is like his father, with that one lock of hair ’which sticks up and won’t be smoothed down by any water, ice, spit or anything’. The main character has got nice features but his cute lock of hair is a nice ‘touch’ that separates him as a brave and good child.

Winky has a nice family, parents, grandmother and grandfather, brother and sister who are described very colorfully. The reader can recognize the importance of family values which the author emphasizes in the story as the first important environment for the healthy life of children.

But…all around him is black and white with a little bit of gray… School, friends, things, everything. Winky is not quite happy, because he loves and dreams about colors. Reading this story, the young readers learn the symbolic power of colors. In  a light and smooth way, the author guides the child as an experienced teacher, knowing the importance of children’s curiosity, and thinking and understanding that each child can learn so many things in this sensitive period of their lives. It is so important for establishing the basic and healthy knowledge each child needs for life.

Winky found his colours and much more. Can we find more than white and black colours just in a rainbow, in garden flowers, or can we find it in somebody’s smile? Find the answer here.

The author has touched the reader’s heart, with a wink like her cute character of the story; she makes us wish to read more about Winky, or maybe in her next beautiful story like this one.

Natalija Bolfan-Stošić, PhD. Associate Professor Department of Speech and Language Pathology. University of Zagreb, Croatia

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Winky’s Colours e-book on Lulu.com
Winky’s Colours paperbook on Lulu.com
Winky’s Colours on Amazon (e-book and paperbook available)

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WHY TEACHERS WRITE

Being an ‘apprentice’ writer myself and trying to learn a lot all at once, I have already been blessed with meeting so many wonderful authors. A lot of them, along with plenty of renowned authors from the past, are or were teachers. That got me thinking.

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Now why on earth would someone who spends their working hours (and free time, because, let’s own up to it – we all take work home) reading, writing, tossing paperwork, checking homeworks and tests, writing student appraisals and lesson plans… why would this person simply not end a working week by going into a spa or travel the world? Why do they write? Not like they have to, right?

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And this is what I came up with, so please, feel free to add your own or kindly correct me:

1. Force of habit – the poor people just don’t know when to stop

2. They can’t afford a spa – writing surfaces are always available (even when writing on the backs of their old lesson plans to recycle)

3. They think it’s their own homework – you know, lifelong learning and stuff (can’t teach an essay without practising)

4. they just want to be able to finish a story for once without being interrupted (parent/teacher/writers, good luck with that one)

5. Escapism and therapy – where better to escape from books than into books;)

6. Ego – they read so many books they start thinking ‘I can do better than this!’

7. Never enough time – lessons can be wonderful, students can be amazing, and there is simply never enough time to cover all great tales with them in class

8. Serious obsessive-compulsive disorder – ‘gotta be more, gotta do more’ (Thank you, Mr Keating/Robin Williams for setting the bar so high!)

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9. Too many stories we see – students and their parents bring so many destinies into our lives, we have to vent off – hence so many fantasy writers out there (a dragon here, a witch there… all personifications and metaphors;)

10. Hmmmm… can’t remember what 10 was… (Insomnia drains me sometimes with all the stories popping in my head.) I’ll have to get back to you on that one… in my next piece of writing.

Ta-ta for now! Off to my fantasy spa!

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Anita Kovacevic

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