What a busy week! We have been taking part in the Wildlife Trusts #30dayswild this week. The children have been exploring grass, sand and mud in bare feet, searching for creepy crawlies, making daisy chains and cloud watching.
In Science, they have been exploring Colour In Nature - learning about how we see colour and how plants and animals use colour to benefit them. Some children continue to keep Tawny Owl in touch with how their gardens are coming on.
Tawny Owl visited our Forest School area yesterday and was delighted to find many exciting things - not least that although we have really missed being in the woods, the wood has really benefitted from Lockdown and has become an even better habitat for wild things while we have been away. She spotted blue-tits and great-tits nesting, as well as wrens, pigeons, and magpies. There were various species of bee buzzing in the buttercups and foxgloves, and the nettles were also busy with invertebrates. Squirrels pottered about (seemingly unbothered by her presence). All was quiet (apart from the noise of birds and insects), and Tawny Owl found it an amazing and healing experience.
Have a look at the amazing record of everyone's learning in the photos as well as a short video of Tawny Owl's visit to the woods. There is also a video which James made of his Colours in Nature Learning.
Hollie has made a beautiful and very interesting Nature Table today for #30dayswild.
Every day I receive 100's of emails. I came across this blog from the EEF (Education Endownment Foundation) which I thought you might find useful:
It is Childrens Mental health Week this week and we lots going on in school:
Parent Support-Drop in
Would you like the opportunity to chat about emotional support, behaviour guidance, boundaries and establishing routines at home?
Pop in for a coffee with Mrs Donoghue and volunteers from the support group, Parents Supporting Parents
Date: Tuesday 4th February 2020
Time: 8.45am (after drop off)
Location: Sunshine room
Tea, Coffee and biscuits will be provided!
Inside Out Day: Thursday 6th February 2020
Year 2 enjoyed a beautiful day in the woods today. We were joined by Sparrow (Mrs Benson) for the day, which was lovely for the children.
They helped to pick nettles to make nettle crisps and nettle tea. Most of the children tried the nettle crisps, and agreed they were quite tasty - and crispy, as well as slightly bristly!
Both groups enjoyed a game of Blindfold Caterpillar. They learned from last week the importance of communication and both groups demonstrated much better communication today, resulting in greater confidence and a sense of trust among the group.
A brown caterpillar joined Alice during Silent Spot. Tawny Owl has failed to identify it...at the time of writing. Can anyone help? Alice was sat under an Oak tree (with a lime tree above that).
We watched the Blut-tits working very hard to keep their babies fed. Sadly at lunchtime we found a baby Coal-tit which had been injured. It was quite lively so Tawny Owl placed it carefully under the nearest hedge, hoping the parents might visit it and keep feeding it. Sadly later in the day we found it dead.
Hornbeam Group had time for a wonderful Silent Spot and really enjoyed a time of sitting silently in the sunshine. They were quite reluctant to return to the fire circle and remained calm until we returned to school.
Included here is also a photo of a piece of writing done by Alice about last week's session.
Year 2 had a great day in the woods last week. Have a look at the video to see what they were up to.
This week we are so grateful to @Allchurches for their grant of £1,800 towards our next project-creating a Godly Play space adjacent to the Peace garden. Mrs Omer with the support of Mr Draper are running a Godly Play after school club, but our vision is that we will have a dedicated building and resources in order to embed Godly Play sessions into our RE Curriculum and SMSC development areas of in the School.
Godly Play promotes knowledge, skills, empathy, values, spiritual growth and develops the needs of the whole child:mind, body and spirit. It provides a multi-sensory approach to learning, developing language and communication skills and encourages children to make meaning for themselves.
Our project has the full support of Reverend Hugh Nelson and his team and our vision is that St. Mary's Church Community will use the building and resources as part of their mission to improve the spirituality and mental health and well-being of everyone in the community.
At our school we take emotional well-being of our students and staff very seriously. We strongly believe that by developing spirituality, we can improve resilience and emotional well-being which in turn will lead to happiness. If you are happy you will learn!
I hope that you all have had a great half term and were able to enjoy the glorious weather. As you know we are committed to outdoor learning whether it be in the form of Forest School, Creative Play or Learning Activities which simply take place outside. We have been on our journey since 2014, and I thank you the parents for your positive support in helping us achieve our goal of extending and enriching our already diverse curriculum even further.
Over the holidays Tawny Owl came across this article:
Learning how to interact positively with others is a vital developmental task of early childhood. However, many teachers are reporting a worrying increase in social problems such as bullying, lack of problem-solving skills, and anti-social behaviour.
Current trends, such as the increase of media and technology in the lives of young children, combined with fewer opportunities for play and interaction with others, are feeding this widespread problem which Diane Levin has characterized as “Compassion Deficit Disorder”.
No, this is not another label to slap on children’s behavioural difficulties. Rather, it is an indictment on a society where childhood is not valued and supported. It is vital that children have real life, meaningful experiences right from the start that help them to learn compassion and empathy. Parents and educators are in a unique position to curb this damaging trend. Read Diane Levin’s article.
Just before half term, as a National Support School, I had the pleasure of hosting some training for newly appointed headteachers. During the morning they witnessed the children playing outside at lunch-time and of course I took time to celebrate everything we do at our school. This week I received this email:
"I recently came to your fabulous school for the first session of the Kent New Headteachers Induction. I came back absolutely buzzing about what you have done with your forest school – in particular the way you have embedded a culture of outdoor learning, beyond the forest school sessions.
Essentially, I am writing to ask if you would be willing to share some of the great work you do with me and my soon-to-be-fully-trained forest school lead."
Please read Read Diane Levin’s article.
As a term draws to an end, I always reflect on all the opportunities the children have experienced and I am sure you will share my delight when I received this email from a prospective parent:
"Dear Mrs Roberts,
Thank you so much for your time last week in showing my son and I around your school. I had heard such good reports, however seeing it first hand far exceeded my expectations.
I was so impressed with the breadth of learning, the focus on sport, and the quality of facilities. The ‘feel’ of the school as we walked around was wonderful; happy, focused, polite children.
Sport plays a significant part in our lives; my husband and I run Evolution Tennis and coach a good number of local children, many of whom I saw in class! We are dedicated to improving children’s overall fitness, movement and coordination, which by default helps them in so many other areas of their life. To hear the value you also place on physical activity, and your knowledge around the benefits this brings to learning was music to my ears.
I was also particularly happy to hear of your work with your Forest School, and the way you have incorporated it into the creative learning for the children back on the ‘traditional’ school grounds. They really are very lucky children indeed."
Have a lovely half term.