28 September 2009

Our second Unit of Inquiry – a note for parents

Of course work will continue throughout the school year on our first Unit of Inquiry, as we come to understand more fully about the Profile of the Learner; indeed as we continue to display these qualities in our everyday lives.

However, what with our recent activities in the school garden we are already getting into the mindset of our next unit.  It is entitled Our World of Plants and the Central Idea is that 'Plants are vital for life on Earth'.  In order to further our understanding, we will be following three main lines of inquiry:

  • Plants have similarities and differences
  • People depend on plants for many purposes
  • Our responsibility to look after plant life

These inquiries will be supported through activities such as hands-on observations of a range of different plants, scientific investigations to discover how plants grow and what they need in order to thrive, visits to nearby places to find out how different plants are cared for and research into what plants are used for.

During the unit a range of skills will be developed; from research skills, where children will observe carefully using different senses as they become aware of details, to thinking skills where they will acquire knowledge, use new vocabulary and remember what has been learnt.  They will hone their social skills as they co-operate in a group or with a partner and learn to share and take turns and their communication skills as they listen to directions and instructions and share ideas.  As we venture out of the school grounds, so self-management skills will lead to children becoming aware of safety and avoiding putting themselves or others in danger.

Although the focus of the unit is science, work right across the curriculum is of course possible.  Look out for the results of a range of classroom surveys into how many people like and do not like certain fruits and vegetables. 


Discover along with us, for example, whether all apples have the same number of seeds. 


Join us as we hone our observational skills and learn to sketch what we see.


Tuck in with us as we enjoy the ‘fruits’ of our labours in the kitchen.


Why not watch this space for more examples of cross-curricular links as we piece together Our World of Plants?


26 September 2009

In the style of…..me!

With the focus of late being on the caring community that is our school, it is no wonder that when I asked children to think of somewhere that is special to them, they were immediately able to choose a favourite place.

And if you were asked to make a picture of that favourite place, how would you choose to do it?  Would you sketch with a pencil…..


or opt for poster paints? 


Would you prefer pencil crayons or oil pastels?  What about watercolour paints?


With such a range of possibilities, of course there was a wealth of different materials in use as we set to work.

And if you were later asked to write why it is so special for you, what would you write? 

For some that special place is the classroom (phew!)  Arathi, for example, says it’s her favourite place, ‘because it is so fun’.

my favourite place1

Shinnosuke’s favourite place is the sandpit, ‘because it’s fun so I always come to play’.

my favourite place3

Afif wrote, ‘My favourite place is the library.  I like the library because it’s quiet.’  Something of a contrast to the classroom, methinks! 

 my favourite place2

Paulina too likes the library.  ‘You can get new books and there are nice books to read,’ she wrote.  Enakshi is in agreement.  ‘There are many books in the library,’ she concurs.

my favourite place

Kareem wrote that his favourite place is the football pitch.  ‘Because I feel free,’ he explains.

school misc

Nandine, an enthusiastic linguist, is firm about her favourite place.  ‘The French class.  I like it there because we learn French,’ she wrote.

 my favourite place4 

The gym is a favourite place for lots of us.  Liam likes it, ‘because  you can jump and slide.’  Sebastian is also enthused.  ‘It’s where we do sport and it is very big.  You must see it!’ he recommends.

Keen scientist Alex loves the garden.  ‘There are creepy crawlies – and you get to dig!’


Why not come along to the classroom and take a look at all of our special places?  I wonder how many of them you recognise. Do you have a special place?  What makes it special for you?

(with heartfelt thanks to Mira, without whose calm, efficient assistance, all would have been a nightmarish muddle!)


Soil Sample

Take a look at this.


A handful of soil.  But what exactly is soil?  Well, soil contains these things:

IMG_0612  water

IMG_0615   air

IMG_0616 organic matter

(that means things that were once living, like dead leaves)

IMG_0617 minerals

(minerals are things like stone or sand, that come from the ground)

But not all soil is the same; not all soil contains the same amount of water or air, or the same amount or kind of organic matter or minerals.

And some soil is better for growing things than other soil.

Which brings me to today’s ‘mission’.  We would work in a ‘team’ to see if we could find samples of at least 4 different types of soil in and around the garden.

  • We should be able to find sandy soil, that is a bit like the sand in our sandpit; dry and grainy and pale in colour.
  • We should be able to find dark sticky clay.
  • We should be able to find stony soil.
  • We should be able to find rich, dark, sweet-smelling, crumbly, ‘perfect-for-growing-plants’ soil.

With trowels…..


and containers at the ready, off we set.  Pretty soon we discovered dry, grainy, pale sandy soil under the trees…..


and stony soil nearby.


There was dark sticky clay…..


at the edges of the flowerbeds; and underneath the pretty flowers…..


and the juicy peppers…..


we found find rich, dark, sweet-smelling, crumbly, ‘perfect-for-growing-plants’ soil.

At least 4 different types of soil in all.


I wonder: Can you tell which is which?

21 September 2009

In the style of…..

Just take a look at this young man; what do you think he is feeling? 


Well, we all agreed that he looks cross.  But how do we know he was feeling angry when the picture was drawn?

Daniel noticed that his eyebrows were down.  Leo spotted that his mouth was also down.  Camille pointed out that his whole face was down; that even his hair looked grumpy!

Paulina said his arms were crossed and his shoulders were up.  And Daniel said that he was all alone.

Meet Angry Arthur. 

Angry Arthur is a character in a story of the same name by Hiawyn Oram.  In the story, Arthur got into a rage about something quite minor.  But his rage got out of hand, becoming a stormcloud; a hurricane; a typhoon; an earth tremor; and finally a universequake!

Having shared one or two anecdotes about our own experiences of temper tantrums (!) we thought about how we might depict such anger.

First we sketched the outline of a face.  The we added the features.  We made the eyebrows go down.


When we were satisfied that all the right things went down, we took a black wax crayon, and traced over our pencil marks.  We pressed hard (just as if we were in a rage) so that the lines stood out.  When we had finished, even the hair was in a rage!


Next we painted a strip of bright yellow paint right down the middle of the face, covering the features.


Then, drip by drip, we added black to the yellow…..

after edvard munch

and painted increasingly darker yellowish strips on either side of the bright yellow features.

after edvard munch2

A drip or two more…..

after edvard munch1

until eventually, at the edges of the paper, we painted a strip of pure black.

after edvard munch3

A painting in the style of…..?  Well, why not come to the classroom and make up your own mind?

In the garden – in September

Toes sensibly buried in shiny boots…..


we clomped out into the Thursday afternoon sun, ready and willing to do our bit in the now well-established school garden.

September in the garden means a lot of tidying up.  It means pulling up the tangled plants that have died and harvesting the fruits of others.

in the garden in september9

It means collecting certain seeds for planting next year and saving others for the birds.

seattle misc

It means squatting down…..

in the garden in september1

and getting our hands mucky as we dig over the compacted soil to loosen it…..

in the garden in september2

and taking away the larger stones – by the heavy bucket-load.

in the garden in september4

It means raking the remaining soil to a fine, friable tilth in preparation for the next batch of seeds.

in the garden in september

It means taking the time to enjoy a bit of colour…..

in the garden in september3

as well as getting to know one or two…..

in the garden in september6

or three or four…..

in the garden in september7

of the more interesting residents!


16 September 2009

Let’s be friends!

Poor bored Fox. 


When his mum told him he needed to go and make a friend, Fox thought she meant that he should – well – make one.  And so he set about making a friend, using sticks for arms and legs, an apple for the head and nuts for the eyes!  Oh dear!

Of course the new friend did not play with Fox.  So Fox asked Rabbit, who happened to be nearby, if he would help him make a bigger, better friend.

By the end of the story, Fox and Rabbit – and also Squirrel – had worked together to make three stick ‘friends’, none of which was much use.

But of course, they soon realised that they had made friends all along – with each other.  They had made friends by playing and working together.

That got us talking.  And writing.  And drawing.  ‘What’, we asked, ‘can I say to make friends with someone?’


I could ask, ‘Can I play with you?’



I could ask, ‘Can you play with me?’



I could ask, ‘Please can you be my friend?’


Try it – the answer will usually be…..YES!