Thank you for the donations of ‘junk’ for our modelling table to be used from next week onwards. I’m so looking forward the wonderful creations your children will no doubt be producing and bringing home. We’ll need a steady supply of cardboard, loo roll holders, boxes and tubs for this to happen, so please reserve a bag of such goodies from your recycling. I’m hoping to add a doll dressing up station (fine motor skills) and writing basket (literacy) next week too.
Since the start of term, I’ve been keen to encourage a sense of independence, perseverance and resilience in the children. These important learning skills can be empowering, leading to enhanced self-esteem: in short, great for learning and well-being. The Y2s this week, have been working on multiplication problems in pairs, supporting each other rather than relying on adult help. Y1s have taken more responsibility for getting resources ready and looking after personal possessions.
In Maths Y1s used milk bottle tops and 2 tens frames to explore adding numbers to 20, while crossing a tens boundary: 8+5 is the same as 10+3. We use this strategy because it’s easier to add a number to 10 (see photo). Y2s have persevered with arrays, and have drawn a range of arrays for 12.
History spilled into Guided Reading this week, when the children sequenced the life of Mary Anning, as learnt through ‘Stone Girl, Bone Girl’. They also considered the effect of bullying Mary experienced as a child.
‘Show and Tell’ was a highlight this week. 7 children spoke with confidence and clarity about their items, among which was an Islamic prayer mat, a model of a doll made from ‘junk’ featuring a lever which moved the doll’s head and an art book full of the child’s own drawings and paintings. We also enjoyed the book about Minecraft! Next week, we’d love to see some fossils. I will make an exception to the Tuesday rule for fossils, and these may be brought in on any day for showing.
Things you could do to help your child for next week:
· Y1s – practise number bonds for 10 (1+9, 2+8 etc.)
· Y2s – talk about sharing out of anything in preparation for work on division (sharing 20 grapes between 4 people etc.)
· Research what life must have been like for the common person 200 years ago (time of Mary Anning)
· Learn any words or rhymes using sign language
Have a lovely, cosy weekend. See you on Monday!
Beech Class have been getting into the swing of things. We have talked about expectations throughout the week, and I’m pleased to say we have some amazing role models.
In Maths the Y2s have challenged themselves to see the relationship between repeated addition and multiplication. They have learnt about the commutative law of multiplication: 2x3=6 and 3x2=6 by looking at arrays, and have created their own pictures to show equal groups. Today Miss Barton practised ‘doubles’ with the Y2s by playing the ‘Double or Halve’ game.
Next week, we will revisit the 2, 5 and 10 times tables and look for them in arrays (think of a tray of ice cubes, or a box of eggs). The children will also encounter multiplication word problems. If you fancy an extra challenge in the week, why not practise counting in 3s and 4s …... and beyond! The website ‘Topmarks’ offers free online Maths games for Key Stage 1, and you might find some useful times tables games here.
Y1s have used knowledge of bonds to 10 to add numbers to 20. So, if we know that 3+5=8, then we also know that 13+7=20 and 3+17=20. This is a tricky step for some, so any extra practice at home would be great. The odd verbal question in context is always best. You could also say ‘I have one ten and six ones. What number is it?’ etc. - a fun game while walking to the park or in the car.
In History we had ‘the big reveal’ with the announcement that our significant woman in history is Mary Anning, the famous fossil hunter in the early 1800s. I can highly recommend the picture book, ‘Stone Girl Bone Girl’ by Laurence Anholt, which is a story of her life presented in a beautiful way. All of the children loved hearing this story in Guided Reading this week.
Next week in Science, we will continue with Sound and think about how sound gets to our ears. The children will ponder over what a sound wave looks like, and they will order quiet and loud sounds. We will look at measurements in decibels. Why not take this opportunity to make a paper cup telephone at home?
In my Read, Write, Inc group I can see improvements in spelling and handwriting, which is so encouraging. The children are really thinking about sounds in words and doing ‘Fred talk’ (sounding out) when spelling unfamiliar words.
So now the moment you have all been waiting for...... When can your child bring in something for ‘Show and Tell’? As a result of our days being extremely busy, I have decided that children can bring in an item to show on a Tuesday. We will hold this session from 3pm to about 3:15 as a way of celebrating the interests of the children away from the classroom. Please can the item be related to our learning at school, so as to make the most of the learning opportunity.
I promised you details of how you can support your child at home during next week. If you have made it this far, then you will have read my suggestions already and a list would be repetition. I hope this has been helpful.
Many thanks for your continued support.
I can’t tell you how lovely it is to have a class full of happy children who are eager to learn. Beech Class have been catching up on each other’s news after the Christmas break and reigniting friendships. It’s great to be together again.
In Maths, Year 2 have been recognising and making equal groups. They have learnt that 12 apples can either be split into 3 groups of 4 or 4 groups of 3. Pictural representation has been at the core of this learning (excuse the pun). Year 1s have been revising addition to 12, by adding the number of dots on dominoes and writing the corresponding number sentence. I’ve been most impressed with this work and look forward to challenging the children to add up to 20 next week.
Our new Read, Write Inc groups began on Thursday. The children have settled quickly and have been practising their handwriting. Some groups will be focusing on correct letter formation and others on developing the different joins. Any support with this at home will certainly help your child progress.
This week, we have welcomed Miss Barton with open arms. Chloe will teach the children every Thursday from now on. In Computing Beech Class learnt that an algorithm is a set of instructions. They played a game whereby one child was a robot and had to follow a sequenced set of instructions. I believe that in weeks to come, the class will be programming an actual robot!
This afternoon, I introduced our RE topic “What is a Muslim and how do they live?” The children were fascinated by pictures of mosques around the world and in the UK. I emphasised that there are many British people who are Muslims in the UK. The children have designed their own prayer mats.
In future blog posts I would like to inform you of details regarding learning for the following week. As it is the start of term, I have yet to finalise some aspects of our programme. Therefore, I will list things you can do to help your child in the following week, starting next Friday.
Have a well-earned rest this weekend. I look forward to seeing you all on Monday.
What a busy half term it’s been in Beech Class. Thank you for all the hard work with making the amazing timelines for our History project. The children loved learning about each other’s personal histories and a wealth of historical language was generated. A special thanks to James Warner (Evas’s grandad), who shared family photos and artefacts from his life; we listened to his favourite song from the 70s and found out about phone boxes! The children prepared probing questions…..we have some future historians in Beech Class!
Next half term in History, we will be studying the life of an inspirational woman from the past and viewing her in the historical context in which she lived; I’m really excited about this one. All will be revealed in January. In Science our topic is Sound. This will give us the perfect opportunity to get the instruments out to investigate how we hear sound and how sound is measured.
In Maths Y1s will be using manipulatives to explore addition and subtraction up to 20. By manipulatives, I mean school resources such as Numicon, Dienes Base Ten and Unifix Cubes etc. However, everyday items work well too, so look out for my suggestions next half term. Nearer to February half-term, Y1s will take a look at place value up to 50, so studying number in terms of tens and ones (26 represents two tens and six ones): you could start practising this now. Place value forms the basis of all future number work.
Y2s will begin 2022 by exploring multiplication and division, so we’ll look at “groups of” and the relationship between these two operations: 2 times 3 equals six, so 6 divided by 2 is 3. At home you could start looking at groups - how many groups of 3 are there in a box of eggs? How many groups of 2 are there in the same box of eggs? This is a tricky area, so we’ll use lots of visual representations to aid understanding. After this, we’ll investigate data and be interpreting visual representations such as block graphs.
Read, Write, Inc. will continue in January, though the groups may change as a result of assessments carried out this week. Your children are encouraged to read at home every evening and change their books throughout the week. Regular reading at home has a huge impact on a child’s reading progress.
In addition to our Monday ‘Saints’ PE sessions, we’ll be starting ‘Real PE’. This scheme focuses on specific skills such as co-ordination, balance and technique. This gives the children an excellent grounding for PE and other areas of the curriculum - I believe PE is good for the brain too. In RE our topic is “Who is a Muslim and how do they live”, so we’ll be enquiring about what it’s like to be a Muslim in the UK today.
Of course, I have not covered everything here, but promise to let you know more in the new year. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful festive season.
Apologies to everyone for the lack of a blog last week. Mr Finch, who takes care of the blog, was off sick and didn't manage to get to the job. He must try harder.
First of all I have to say just the most enormous well done to Beech Class for their performance at the Carol Concert on Thursday night. Your lovely singing brought a tear to my eye. Luckily it was raining so no one would have known it but you really moved me.
It has been another busy week of fun and learning in Beech Class. I enjoyed reading their thoughtful science work thinking about the different properties of materials. Look at this great work from Frankie.
IN maths a lot of the children have been focussing on improving their counting - something you can do which will help your children enormously is practicing counting daily. From zero to twenty and back down again is essential and you might be surpised when you listen carefully how many children get a little bit woozy somewhere in the middle of the teens. If your child is confident in this bit of counting, are they equally confident counting from fity to seventy? From ninety to one hundred and ten?
ALl our children should be practicing counting every day - skip counting twos perhaps or counting in increments of one tenth from 1.5 to 2.5 and back again! There's nothing that builds familiarity with properties of number like a daily counting practice. Speaking of properties of number, I loved seeing children today using our Numicon equipment to investigate 'teens' numbers. A ten and a four to make 'fourteen'. A ten and a six to make 'sixteen'. Numicon is great stuff - you sometimes see a cheap 'knock off' version in Tiger in Exeter - if you spot it snap it up it's a wonderful tool for early mathematical investigation.
This week has had a bit of a focus on assessments - we've been seeing how far the children have come along and trying to spot what gaps we've left that need addressing. Mr Finch has been taking the children for a phonics check and has been blown away by their positive 'have a go' attitude and the progress that they have made over the first term of the year - their parents should be very, very proud of their children. I am very very pleased with the progress from every child but I particularly wanted draw attention to the wonderful raised standard in handwriting in Year One and Two. Look at this great work from Eva, her lovely even letter formation is laying the groundwork for beautiful handwriting. Well done Eva!
Thanks to everyone who has helped make this week a success - have a wonderful weekend everyone.
Another fabulous week of fun and learning in Beech Class has come to an end. The phonics groups are flying pupils are making great progress. The work on addition and subtraction has continued and it's easy to see that confidence is increasing. INscience the children have been looking for different materials all around the school - what materials are things made from in your houses? One real highlight of the week was the children's hot seating of our Teaching Assistant Mrs Hazeldine who worked a good few years ago as a teaching assistant in the old school building. She told the children all about how the school used to be and they were able to think about the changes that had taken place and use historical language to talk about 'then' and now'. We were surprised how many of the children had memories of the old building and of the opening of this one - a really interesting way to focus on our theme of 'Changes in Living Memory'. I believe that the class will be getting to interview more people with memories of Chagford in the past - real living history!
I took great pleasure in sharing the artefacts that children had brought in from home to help them think about their own family in the past. Lotte brought in a treasure trove of old photographs and a beautifully engraved silver hop flask which attested to her great grandfather's interest in hunting and her family's long link to this corner of Dartmoor. Leo brought in an old iron axe head found on the farm - his dad said he thought the axe had belonged to his own grandfather. One wonders if the axe is still with us after several new heads and several new handles...
Children have started to bring in their concertina books reflecting on themselves as babies, toddlers, preschoolers and great big Key Stage One children - lots of progress in just a few years. A blink of an eye for us is a lifetime for them and it's wonderful to see them reflecting on their own life stories.
Thank you so much to Mrs Fitzgerald who is working hard to ensure every day is packed with interest and fun.
What a pleasure to see and hear the happy buzz of learning from Beech Class this week. Mrs Fitzgerald has been in her element making the magic of learning happen and the children have been having a ball too.
The children have been thinking about changes in the world during living memory, they have been cracking on with addition and subtraction in maths, they have been excelling in phonics, in RE they thought about special places and special people that make them feel calm and safe, in art they have been continuing with their work inspired by Bridget Riley - the list goes on and on. I loved seeing some children who used to be reluctant learners really coming out of their shells and showing real spark and curiosity.
IN maths children have been thinking about 'part and whole'. I loved the various representations the children considered to make sense of this concept. A really useful game to play with children is to think about 'fact families' - how one true number statement automatically gives you three others 4+2=6, 2+4=6, 6-4=2, 6-2=4. I have seen children get addicted to this and fill page after page with families of facts. As a car game it's fun to call out addition statements and for the child to call them back as subtraction statements.
Next week Mrs Fitzgerlad is hoping to set the class a special homework project thinking about families and the past. She will explain everything then but if you are at a loose end why not get out the photo albums or memory boxes and have a talk about the child's past and, maybe, the family's past. How many years back was the child born? How many years back was mummy born? How many years back was grandpa born?
Have a wonderful weekend everyone - we'll see you all on Monday.
It has been a busy and positive week in Beech Class. We have seen lots of smiles and lots of good learning and the atmosphere in the room has been happy and purposeful. Mr Finch has been popping in each time he passes to check on what has been going on.
Maths has been strong this week as children have been using manipulatives and representations to cement their understanding of part and whole. By this we mean the way that six and four make ten or, to take it quite a step further, six and five make eleven. Most of us don't remember when this sort of understanding clicked into place for us - once it's secure the episodic memory or learning how numbers seem to 'fit together' becomes the semantic memory or understanding of this that, once gained, feels innate. It's quite a privilege to be in the class at that moment when a child puts three and seven together and finds it makes ten - then put seven and three together and finds that makes ten as well.
It has been a great pleasure to look around the school and see art in the various classes - upstairs in Oak Class the children were busily working on spiders inspired by Mr Finch's all time favourite artist, Louise Bourgoise while back in wonderful Beech Class it's the wonderful world of monochrome as the pupils try and get into the visual world of the queen of op-art, Bridget Riley. Oddly some of the works ended up reminding me more of Rothko than Riley. Well done children and thank you Mr Dray for your inspiring teaching.
It was remembrance day on Thursday. This isn't an easy topic to talk about with the very young but it's important we try so that they can make sense, in their own way, of the poppies and the stories on the television and the memories of relatives who, perhaps, know a little more than they would like to of the tragedy of war. We like to spend time with the children to listen and discuss. Sometimes we hear profound truths from our youngest pupils.
In history the children have been thinking about changes in our way of life in the lifetimes of themselves, their parents and grandparents. Mrs Fitzgerald brought in some things that have been in her family for a while - a tin that used to have OXO cubes, a toy train that belonged to her father, a toy she had when she was little. It's funny to think about our parents and grandparents being as young as we were once and to wonder if they liked their toys in the same way that we like ours - especially as their toys seem so strange and old fashioned. Rosa led some great thinking about how different it must have been to use a telephone that was fixed to the wall and couldn't do anything except make calls. Thinking about this makes Mr Finch feel terribly, terribly old. Mrs Fitzgerald has asked the children if they can bring a picture of something that belongs or belonged to a parent/carer or grandparent. If things aren't terribly valuable they could be brought in for a show and tell but a picture is probably fine!
It has been good to have more consistency in the classroom this week. Mrs Fitzgerald taught the class on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and will do the same again next week and for as long as is needed until Miss Coleman is properly recovered and well enough to return to the class. We are lucky to have her. Let's hope that next week sees another brilliant round of learning!
Many thanks to all the parents and carers of children in Beech Class for their kindness and patience over what has been a challenging week.
I know that everyone will be joining me in sending the very warmest of best wishes to the class teacher Emily Coleman who is currently recuperating at home after a serious medical situation over the half term break. Emily, we miss you and we are looking forward to welcoming you back when you are well enough to return.
I know that many parents and carers have concerns about the running of the class in Miss Coleman's absence. In normal times it would be reasonably simple to find a supply teacher to cover a class for a period when necessary but things have not been normal for quite a while and good supply teachers are now very hard to get hold of indeed. At one point in the week we had secured an excellent teacher for the period of Miss Coleman's absence until that teacher tested positive for covid. This has been very challenging indeed.
I am very glad to say that Audra Fitzgerald who knows the children very well indeed having covered the class for an extended period last year is with us on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. She has a prior booking for Thursday but the excellent teacher who taught the class on Thursday and Friday of this week has agreed to return to fill that day. Of course none of this is ideal - we would so much rather have Miss Coleman back in the class but we know that we have secured really good people to help us in the meantime.
I have been hugely impressed with the children in the class this week. Despite coming back to school after half term to the 'wrong' teacher, they have been incredibly resilient and their learning behaviour has not faltered. As I mentioned in an email to parents earlier in the week - one of the absolute highpoints of my week was watching the children's lesson with Miss Fitzgerald where they had the opportunity to explore the exciting apparatus in our hall. This was the first time that the apparatus had been used since before the pandemic and it made my heart sing to see it being used. I have been delighted with the progress in writing the children are showing me - especially Bodhi who has been making me proud every single day. In math I've loved seeing the different models and representations that the children have been using and making to represent part and whole. I have seen bead strings and unifix and Numicon being used and real thought and investigation going into exploration of number. Good good work. Outside in the playground I love to see how the children interact between classes and years - I'm very pleased indeed when I see our younger children confidently interacting with the older ones - especially taking advantage of the new play leaders to make sure they are having a positive and active playtime.
Our main Humanities topic this term is a History unit on 'Changes Within Living memory'. To explore this children might like to talk to relatives about how things have changed during their own lifetimes. It can be mind-blowing to children to think that mummy and daddy were children once, and that granny was a little girl once upon a time. Talking to children about this is very valuable and very entertaining too. It would be wonderful if children could look at photos of people and places familiar to them in past times. I'm not talking about the distant past here - looking at a photograph of the garden and seeing that the tree which is so big now was only little when they were born is a really powerful learning moment. If possible we would love for children to bring in copies of any photographs that they find interesting - don't bring in originals as they can get lost or damaged in a busy key stage one classroom.
Our maths for the next week focusses on addition and subtraction - for the majority of the Year Ones this is within ten and for the majority of Year Twos it is within twenty. A very powerful bit of learning that you can help them with at home is securing their instant recall of number bonds to ten (Year One) and twenty (Year Two). Number bonds is the term we teachers use for numbers that go together to make a certain sum. So the year ones would be practicing 'one and nine makes ten', 'four and six makes ten', 'five and five makes ten' and so on. There's any number of ways to make this fun: I hold up some of my fingers and you see how quickly you can hold up the right number of fingers on your side to make ten. I count out ten lego bricks then hide some and you have to see how many there are and tell me how many I must have hidden. You will think of more - I used to play number bond tennis in the car with my son when we were out driving.
We changed all the books in the children's book bags this week - or at least as many as we could find - if you have any of the schools books at home do send them in for a change. This week we will be making the system more rigorously matched to the children's learning in phonics to make sure that in their phonically decodable books they are reading material that is in exactly the right place to build confidence. Of course in their own choice of reading for pleasure, by themselves or with an adult, we hope they are choosing a wide, wide range of fun and engaging sources of reading whether that's The Beano, a book about Dinosaurs, a funny story, the Argos catalogue, grandad's fishing magazine whatever it is that grabs them. We aren't fussy - reading is reading.
In science we will be thinking about building things. About the materials we use to build and how we make structures. In a sense this as much an engineering unit as a science one. It should be the most immense fun. I wish I could be teaching it myself if I'm honest. If any mums or dads work in the construction industry and would be happy to come in to school to be quizzed on their jobs we would love to hear from them - they will get a swift invitation.
I'm looking forward to a slightly more settled week next week. Thanks again to all the parents and carers for their kindness and understanding this week and, once again, a huge well done to the children for rolling with the challenges they have faced.
Sincerely, Ed Finch
Apologies for the long delay in updating this blog. This ahs been a VERY busy term! The children in Beech Class have made us proud over and over again. For our Year Ones, stepping into the new class after such a disrupted Reception year must have been an enormous challenge but you wouldn't know it - they have settled in and made us proud from day one and we can see progress in all areas of their work. For last years year Ones, now Year Two, getting used to not being the littlest ones in the class and sharing and learning alongside people who seem quite a lot younger than themselves must be a challenge but, again, it's a challenge they have taken on. We have especially loved seeing the children welcome a new member to the class with real warmth and kindness. Well done Beech Class.
One big change in our classroom this week has been the introduction of the new Bug Rug. Now that everyone has a place to sit it's a lot easier to get everyone settled quickly and sensibly on the carpet - it brings a welcome splash of colour to the room too.
Welcome to the blog page for Year 1/2 - Beech Class at Chagford Primary School