Juniors Almanacking – Memories of 10-year-olds. Brilliant.

It’s Tuesday night. We’re packing away the left-overs; a few stray coriander leaves, some grated carrot. Make-your-own ricepaper rolls are one of those dinners upon which we can all agree.

Steph packs the dishwasher, Kyla folds the washing. It’s all moving well. Earlier this afternoon they have met Cesar Romero as The Joker. As for me at their age, Adam West and Burt Ward are the only Batman and Robin these kids have known (eternal thanks to SBS catch-up).

“Hey Dad,” says Kyla. “You’re coming to teach us tomorrow.”

I’ve volunteered at the school. It’s art and literacy week at Brunswick East Primary School and I’m heading into one of the Grade 456 classrooms to run a couple of sessions on story writing. We’re going to write about memory.

“That’s right,” I say. “I think I start at 9 o’clock.”

“You do.” Kyla, warmly grabs my hand. “I signed up to your session. There are two groups, Dad. And each group has 16 people signed up.” We’re both smiling.


“Steph, can you please help me with this plan for tomorrow?”

She’s turning away from the piano, towards the kitchen bench.

“What plan?”

“This one. I’m making a plan for these writing sessions in Kyla’s class.”

Steph is Grade 6 at the same school. Kyla in Grade 4. I’m standing at the bench, writing on a homemade notepad of recycled paper.

“Sure. What have you got so far?”

Together we step through a six point lesson plan. It’s pretty high-level. Pretty straightforward.

“Yep. I think you’ve got the hang of this,” she says, and nods.


I used to teach. For a couple of years I taught Maths and Science at Brunswick Secondary College. And I do miss the classroom. Good things happen in classrooms.

It’s Wednesday and today I’m back in front of a class. I’ve got 45 minutes with two groups of 16 students – each roughly 10 years old. And I aim to encourage the writing. I’m telling my Footy Almanac journey, I’m showing them Kaisha Thompson at age 8 on the back cover of the 2014 Almanac. And we’re reading parts of Kaisha’s 2014 Preliminary Final story; the one that had her as a published author (at age 8).

After a short intro, I’m showing them the Junior Almanac website, where we navigate to see Steph’s recent Junior Almanac story of her netball. Steph is known to these kids. She is in the next room. And she has a story published on the internet!

“Who has a memory that they could share? It could be sporting. It could be a holiday. It could be an injury. Anything at all.”

Hands shoot up.

It’s a terrific session. Which is repeated immediately afterwards. The second group has come in from PE. They’re a bit flighty. And mostly boys of high energy levels. But they’re into it. Revelling in stories of footy, soccer, holidays.

One fella sits aside from the group, hood pulled up over his head. I check on him a few times, asking about memories, passions. The third time I visit him, he is still without a word written. He asks if he’s allowed to write about Minecraft.

“Absolutely. Tell me about Minecraft.”

And he’s off. Worlds, lava, TNT, heart points, holes, buildings and tools. And he’s writing.

“Great that yer man is writing,” says the teacher, popping in to check on things.

I nod.

“That’s rare. And he has taken his hood off. That means he feels comfortable.”

It’s been a wonderful morning. Wonderful to be shown inside the minds and observations of these students; to see what is important.

At the end, students are thrusting stories into my hands.
And these are lovely stories.
Stories of observation and detail, looking through the eyes of a child.
All of us could probably do with looking through the eyes of a child.


Some stories set a scene: First quarter: I’ve gone to my friend’s house for a sleepover. Together Connor and I are going to watch the game. Connor goes for Hawthorn and I go for Collingwood. (Felix, 10)

Some are stories of participants: When I get out of the car, the grass is cold as well as the freezing breeze. I see my team and run over to them to warm up my legs – covered in goose bumps. (Bromley)

And performers: We drive towards Kaygees gymnastics and I’m wondering what we’ll have to do. It’s very crowded so we can’t park in our usual spot but in the end we find a free space. We walk inside and it’s chaos – everyone going everywhere. (Kyla, 10)

We arrive at the pool. It’s cold but the hot chocolate I drank keeps me warm. (Lily, 10)


Some are indications of perspective; of the role of a game: The game started and both teams started hard. It was a good environment for footy but in the end we won. We lined up and both coaches said a few words and then we went into the rooms and started singing our club song. (Connor, 10)

And some reflect on life itself: Monty was lying outside with his scar showing. He was a beautiful golden retriever. Monty had had surgery on his left side. It was because of the cancer he had in his chest. I’d noticed the lump of cancer on his side as he walked through my legs; he loved to do that. (Emily, 11)


All of these stories take us inside the experience. In movies you always see kids get lost or left alone and you think “that looks like fun!” Take it from someone who knows, it isn’t. (Delilah, 10)



It’s Wednesday afternoon and we’ve walked home from school.

“Dad can we go to Kmart? I need something to finish off my Frodo costume.”

It’s book week. Characters for Friday’s dress-ups are decided: Frodo Baggins and Roald Dahl’s Matilda.


It’s then that I spot the Footy Almanac story of Jasmine Conrad’s dress-up.

“Hey guys – check this out.”

“Whoah! That’s cool!”

And I know that we are moving in the right direction.



Thanks students and staff of Brunswick East Primary School.
Thanks Footy Almanac.
Thanks Junior Almanac.


Brunswick East Primary School – writing



Read more about The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017 HERE

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Special rates for footy clubs – especially girls and women’s. Great end of season gift.
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About David Wilson

Hit for a towering 6 by Mike Gatting at the Banyule Cricket Club, December 2002, theatrically attempting to reproduce the SK Warne delivery. The ball is yet to land. @e_regnans


  1. Yvette Wroby says:


  2. Nice one, it was great to hear you celebrate and appreciate so many good things about sport, family, learning and memory.

  3. David- well played sir. Brilliant. I remember Sarah MacDonald once commenting on Triple J’s morning show that teachers, “create lives.”

    What could be more inspirational?

  4. E.regnans says:

    Thanks Yvette. It was. It is.

    Thanks Ben. Agreed- it was exciting to be a part of this.

    Thanks Mickey- we probably all remember teachers from our lives. This little session reminded me of the depth and variation of the experience; what it important. We’re all muddling along.

  5. Peter Fuller says:

    Great stuff, David; I’m glad you had that opportunity, and the students were lucky to have the benefit of your imaginative empathy. I’m completely unsurprised that you managed to draw the young fellow in the hoodie out of himself. It might well be a pivotal encounter for him.
    Mickey, as well as providing occasional inspiration, it’s also true that we’re privileged to have these magic moments. I think of myself as a veteran of 65 years in education from the time I began in Bubs, and I’m lucky enough to be still doing some volunteering. I’m a Monash product, and the University motto is “Ancora Imparo” which is rendered in English as “I am still learning.” It’s my guide to life.

  6. Great read .

    I often feel (I say feel because you never really know what does or doesn’t get done in the clsssroom until the years end when work books come home) that creative writing is a somewhat neglected craft. It’s so good to see kids being able to turn away from from the day to day realities and distractions , and be able to turn inwatds with pen and paper in hand. It takes a lot perseverance and encouragement, but it can be done.

    My youngest wanted a day home, feeling sick he said, recently, he didn’t seem too sick, so I said on the proviso you write me a piece about your weekend…he had had some terrific sporting moments to draw upon.

    And so he did. Sent me the finished piece via text message..He had written up on the notes app on his iPad.
    I was rapt.

  7. ER,

    Love this. I have read a couple of stories over at http://www.junioralmanac.com.au

    As you know, kids (people generally) often have a fear of writing. Sounds like you helped them overcome some of those fears.

    They often feel like they have nothing to say. But that can be sorted out.

    I think Almanac writers generally take as their special subject ‘The Everyday’. Is there a conundrum there?

    Thanks for taking the time to write this.


  8. And of course for actually doing the school visit too ER.

  9. E.regnans says:

    G’day Peter, Kate and JTH,
    Thanks for taking the time and sharing.
    Peter – that’s very kind. And a wise outlook to have adopted as life motto.
    Kate – that’s a lovely little win. It has me smiling here.
    JTH – thanks – I received some great feedback from a classroom teacher and the principal today (hi Mel and Janet).

  10. This is a great piece, I just read it to the kids and they loved it!! My son has just found the love of reading and Jasmine (since discovering the Almanac books) is loving writing like those in the book.

    How rewarding helping the kids too!

  11. E.regnans says:

    G’day Amy.
    Thank you. That’s very kind.
    The whole exercise was a pleasure.
    It is both heartening and humbling to imagine your kids listening to and enjoying the story.
    G’day to your kids.

    And JTH – reading your comment again – what do you mean about the conundrum of the everyday as a special subject…?

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