Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Blue Planet Aquarium

Firstly, may I thank all those parents who have kindly offered their services to accompany us to the Blue Planet Aquarium. I am sure both you and the children in your care will have a marvellous time. Did you notice I forgot to place the Spanish words for the days of the week in the children’s homework books? Many apologies, I printed them off and then forgot to send them!

Now onto business…

Our week gets off to a ‘swimming’ start (sorry couldn’t resist) with our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium. The children have been prepared by using our non-fiction text to find out information about the sea-life creatures housed at the aquarium. This year we have booked them on a more advanced classroom session as we found last year that they could answer all the questions the presenter asked.

Communication, Language and Literacy (linked with Knowledge and Understanding of the World)
By the end of the week, the children:

MUST be able to think of a sentence they wish to write about their visit to the aquarium and have a go at writing it with support;
SHOULD be able to write a sentence with a capital letter and a full stop;
COULD be able to write more sentences about their visit and use a connective to join two sentences together.

As we move on in this term I aim for all the children to be able to write a sentence. You may want to start working with your child asking them to draw a picture and then thinking of a sentence to go with it. In school we use key questioning to support them in their thinking. We never give the children the spelling of the words as we like them to think for themselves and have a go without the fear of making a mistake. Here are a few pointers for you:

Start by asking your child what they want to write and then get them to rehearse it by stamping it out or clapping it.

Ask: What do you need at the start of your sentence? (a capital letter)

Remind them of ‘Wiggly Finger’ who gets upset if they don’t leave a finger space between their words.

As the children spell the words ask them to stretch it out. At this stage the children only need to write down the sounds that they can hear.

When your child comes to the end of their sentence, ask: What do you need to finish your sentence?

High Frequency Words
I am thrilled with the way in which the children are now tackling their high frequency words and their decoding of words when reading. This is great, thank you. Please continue with them as they are very important.

Last week, I worked heavily on phonics with the children. How impressed was I? This week, we will be continuing to develop their phonological awareness, and by the this end of this week, the children:

MUST be able to spell simple three letter words such as cat, pen, dig, hen etc;
SHOULD be able to spell four letter words such as flag, slip. Plan etc;
COULD be able to spell words with double consonants such as doll, sick, clock, mess, off.
If you also look back on previous blogs for the phonic websites they should still be okay also.

Mathematical Development
Mmm…may have been a little too ambitious planning so much work last week. Therefore, we will be continuing to work on the children’s understanding and use of money. This week, the children will continue to focus on the use of 1p coins to pay for items in the class shop. So, why not get out those tins from the larder and play shop with 1p coins? Go on it will bring back childhood memories and make you realise what you put your dear parents through. (Didn’t Grandparents play forever though?)

Last week’s websites are still useful to visit. It is much better to use the real coins and rather than giving you new websites, working with the real thing and playing shop is the best tool for teaching money.

We will also be developing the children’s understanding of exchange. That is their understanding that two 1p coins is the same as one 2p coin etc. They will also learn to count a mixture of 1p, 2p and 5p coins to find the total. All in all, by the end of the week, the children:

MUST be able to use 1p coins to pay for items in the shop;
SHOULD be able to understand exchange;
COULD be able to count a mixture of coins and pay for things in the shop using the coins.

Running alongside the work on money is the review and reinforcement of the children’s number recognition.

Please be aware that the writing of the numbers to 10 and 20 need to be worked on alongside their recognition.

Here I AM
As last week, we will be learning about the energy the Holy Spirit gives; and Pentecost, a day to celebrate this.

Creative Development
What can I say? The children designed some fantastic ‘fabulous fish’ that they will begin to make this week with Mrs Higgins and Miss Davies. Model making is an excellent way in which the children can develop their thinking skills, being able to make decisions, evaluate and modify their work. The fish will form part of our display on the Blue Planet Aquarium. Can’t wait!! Following our visit the children will also complete under the water collages.

Physical Development
Last week the children created a hanging with Mrs Higgins using a range of materials to create an under the water piece of art. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of textile work I have ever seen and the children have really enjoyed making it. They were told that they were doing it to help their handwriting and so this added to their motivation.

The hanging will provide a beautiful background to the amazing felt sea-life creatures the children have been sewing with Mrs Latham. The children will continue with these this week.

This week, the children are not going to learn anything new in Spanish as we are going to consolidate what they have learned before. However, the children will be creating a DVD, introducing themselves in Spanish, which will then be posted to our partner school in Malaga. I will be placing a sticker in your child’s diary that I ask you to sign giving consent to them appearing on the DVD. They will simply be standing before the camera and saying ‘Hello, my name is ….’.

Have a fantastic week!

Best wishes
Jayne Narraway and the Foundation Stage Team xxxxx

Friday, April 20, 2007

Have you got webbed feet yet?


I hope you all received a letter regarding our visit to The Blue Planet Aquarium next Monday. We are so excited and have already learned so much about the different sea creatures we will see there. Why not try asking your child these questions?
How many rows of teeth does a shark have?
Why is a catfish called a catfish?
What happens if you chop off the leg of a starfish?
How many eyes does a starfish have and where are they?
What can a piranha fish bite through?
I think you will be amazed at their eagerness to share the information they have obtained through the reading of our non-fiction book.

Parent helpers
If any parents can accompany us to the Blue Planet on Monday that would be fabulous. Please call in and see a member of the team and we will get back to you as soon as possible. You do not have to pay for the visit as the cost is already covered. We do need quite a few parents to allow for a small adult to child ratio, and to ensure the children get a rich experience from the visit. Even Mr Barker has got in on the act!

Communication, language and literacy
This week we are continuing to read our information book in preparation for the visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium. The children have really begun to understand the features of this genre. However, some children are struggling with the function of the contents page. If you have the chance a look at a non-fiction book with a contents page would be a good idea. We encourage the children to ask a question and then use the contents page to find the page which will give them the answer.

In addition to this, we are focusing on the children phonics again this week and their ability to read and spell the high frequency words. Please be aware that we only test the spelling of the children’s spelling of the high frequency words when they can read them without hesitation. These websites may be of use to you. There are a few old favourites in there! - this is a great website for identifying the sounds at the beginning, middle and end of words. - the old favourite. - this website asks you to see how many words you can make - this focuses on high frequency words - this concentrates on the spelling of the high frequency words. You can simply type in the high frequency words that your child needs to work on for them to play the game with. - great for blending sounds together.

Mathematical Development
Well…did you manage to find a 3p coin? Each year the children struggle to understand that there is no such thing a s a 3p coin. So…if your child came home and asked for, or looked for a 3p coin…don’t worry! It was all part of the Narraway Master Plan! I racked my brained for an idea and yippee it worked. So too did the idea of teaching the children the coins to the value of 10p before they start to work with them. We are now able to start teaching at a different level than we would have done otherwise. Onwards and upwards that’s my motto! So, by the end of this week, the children:

MUST be able to recognise a 1p coin and use 1p coins to pay for items in our class shop;

SHOULD be able to recognise all the coins to £2;
COULD be able to add the price of two items together and pay for them with 1p. - a great website to start with. The children must count the number of 1p coins and then match it to the price on a ticket. However, nothing beats getting the real coins out and asking the children to count the one penny coins. - a great, yet addictive snap game to help the children recognise the coins. - the children must make the price of the item on the tag with a mixture of coins. This is great at the children can start on 1p coins and then begin to introduce 2op coins. - this is for when the week goes on and the children learn how to count totals of up to 10p using a range of 1p, 2p and 5p coins. Worth a practice though. - a little advanced for some children but definitely worth a look towards the end of the week when the children learn how to combine coins to make values. - great to help your child to review their understanding of subtraction. Remember to use the vocabulary – subtract, minus and take away. If you want to be really impressive you could do it in Spanish.

4 – 2 = 2
This would be : quarto menos dos son dos
Menos - minus
Son – equals

The children actually did their subtraction lesson in Spanish one day last week! Perfecto!

Here I Am
Last week we looked at what energy is. This lot have it in abundance! Wish I had half of it!! Anyway, Mrs Latham did a fantastic job in PE linking their understanding of energy to exercise, as well as linking it in to the Healthy Lifestyle topic before the Easter holidays.

We move on in our topic to helping the children to learn about the energy the Holy Spirit gives; and Pentecost, a day to celebrate this.

Creative Development
I bet you were all wondering what the children needed a clear, plastic bottle for? Go on I bet you were! Well… the children will be making FABULOUS FISH from them. They are going to design a fish friend for the Rainbow fish, a fantastic story. They can add glitter, sequins, feathers etc. In fact, the more they look like a costume Dame Edna Everage would wear the better.

Physical Development
Last week the children started to weave with paper and tried very hard. However, this is a very hard skill to master. Therefore, the children are going to work with Mrs Higgins to create a wall hanging with an under the water theme. They will use different shades of material in blues, greens, browns etc to create the effect, weaving onto plastic, green garden mesh. We are a bit like Steptoe and Son, can make anything out of other people’s rubbish! If you have any old pieces of material in these colours then we would really appreciate them. Also, any old buttons you have would be great too.

The children are also practicing their sewing skills following the success of their Easter crosses. Weren’t they gorgeous? The children will be decorating felt fish with sequins and beads, then stuffing them to learn to over stitch. These will then be added to the weaving Mrs Higgins is doing with the children. All in all, it should look fantabulous!!!

Knowledge and understanding of the world
The children will look at the ways in which water is used in the home, school, farming etc. They will also set up an investigation to answer the question: How does a flower/plant feed? Why not have a go at home?
What to do:
Get a vase, a carnation flower or a daffodil, water and coloured food dye (red works best).
Place the water and food dye in a vase and place the flowers in.
Observe what happens!!


Well this week, we will be teaching the children the days of the week. Please find in your child's homework folder the pronunciation.

By the way... have you asked your child to say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

in spanish? If you haven't... then ask them. It's amazing!

I think that is all for now. This blogspot is getting longer and longer each week.

Have a fab week!

Take Care
Jayne Narraway and the Foundation Stage Team xxxxxx

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Can you hear a tap dripping?

Welcome back to the final term of your child being in the Foundation Stage (their first year at school). It is now that we step up a gear in preparation for achieving those final few goals before we pass the children on to their Year 1 teacher.

One of our main goals is to make sure the children come into school on their own from now on. Your support in this would be much appreciated.

This half term the main theme of the children’s learning is WATER. This is a great topic, which is enhanced by a visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium. You should receive a letter this week with the details. Please complete the permission slip and return it as soon as possible so we can confirm numbers. Thanks.

Before I forget, please can you ensure that your child has a labelled sun hat and a small tube of sun cream to protect them in the sun. The outdoor play equipment will be used a lot now and keeping your child safe is paramount to us. Unfortunately, we can not rub the sun cream on to the children but we will ensure they put it on. Many thanks.

Communication, Language and Literacy
We being this half term with a review of the children’s understanding of non-fiction books and their features: a contents page, an index, photographs, caption and labels. This is the perfect opportunity for the children to become members of the local library. Why not loan some information books on animals that live under the sea?

By the end of the week, the children:
MUST be able to identify and name the features of a non-fiction text;
SHOULD be able to understand how a contents page is used;
COULD be able to use a contents page to answer questions.

The children will be working on a non-fiction book I created after a visit on to the Blue Planet. The children will have the opportunity to learn lots about the creatures they will see prior to their visit. In addition to this, the children will create a new page for the book after their visit.

As always we will be continuing to work on the children’s high frequency words and phonics. The children’s high frequency words will play a major role now as they begin to form sentences and develop their reading even more. Please endeavour to practice them every night for about 5 minutes at a time.

Here are some good websites to support your child with their phonics and reading: - the children must identify the medial sounds in words. - the children must make rhyming words but sound it out to see if it is a real word or not (level1), spinning the initial or the final letter to make real words (level 2) and the children could cope with level 3 also. - sounding out words and matching pictures to the cvc words; - spelling and reading cvc words; - blending game.

Mathematical Development
We have been amazed at the children’s understanding of the concept of addition and will continue to develop this through its application to real-life problems. Therefore, we begin this half term with a look at subtraction. By the end of this week, the children:
MUST be able to work out one less than a given number to 10;
SHOULD be able to understand that subtraction involves ‘taking away’ and carry out simple subtraction sums with support;
COULD be able to independently subtract one number from another.

The following websites should be a good start for you and your child. However, never under estimate the power of food to help children understand subtraction. the children must put in a number and then find one less before the machine works the answer out. - for those children who can subtract one mentally than this a real challenge for them. - this is a great website for the children to learn how to apply their understanding of subtraction to word problems. - this is a great website too with the actual subtraction sum written out for the children. They must type in the answer and then press enter to bowl the bowling ball towards the skittles. Fabulous fun but try it with real skittles!!! If you haven’t got any real skittles at home try filling plastic pop bottles with a bit of sand. As long as the ball is heavy enough to knock them over then it will work. - WOW! Once I actually worked out how to use this game I was mesmerised for ages. You have to count how many aliens and then click on the number. Then you work out how many were taken away. - great for generating subtraction sums but remember to select level 1. - for all those budding footballers out there. This is a great site for helping the children that when zero is taken away from a number then the same number remains. For those footie fans out there it may be the only chance England have of beating Brazil!!! - always a good start to review the language of ‘less’ which is a precursor to subtraction. - good for those children developing their number recognition to 20. - great for developing the recognition and writing of numbers to 20. - naughty that we are…or should we say that we are pure genius!?! The children are working on counting in tens to 100. This is a great game for those children learning numbers beyond 20 but with an adult, all the children can access this if they count in tens. - as always this websites provides really good activities for the children to do. Start with the Reception/Foundation Stage link and then as your child progresses move onto the Year 1 activities. We do have many children who will be able to access it.

In addition to all the work on subtraction we are doing, we will also be preparing the children for the work we will be doing next week on money. With Uncle Visa and Auntie Switch being very much the currency of today, children find it difficult to manipulate, use and understand the value of the different coins. I remember having 10p to go and get a 10p mix, but what can they get for that now? Anyway…we will begin to teach the children how to recognise the different coins this week. Any help with this at home would be very worthwhile.

Here I Am
We begin our new topic on ‘ENERGY’. This week the children will learn to:
RECOGNISE what energy is.
REFLECT on their energy.
RESPECT – appreciate they have and need lots of energy.
The main vehicle for teaching this will be through our PE lesson. Once again, Lazy Town comes into the play as they have a song all about ENERGY!

Physical Development
We begin this half term with a little assessment of the skills the children were taught before the Easter break. These areas will include:
Using small and large equipment, showing a range of basic skills e.g rolling, throwing, catching and kicking a ball;, balancing a beanbag on a bat and target activities;
Cutting skills

The children will also be doing some weaving. This is a great way of developing the children’s fine motor skills. We hope to be able to create a class fabric hanging using a weaving techniques which will have an under the sea theme.

Creative Development
The children will reinforce their pattern making skills with the creation of patterned sea life puppets. The children will decorate templates which they have cut out. These will then be made into puppets and have an under the sea environment created for them.

In addition to this, the children will use the musical instruments to accompany the rhyme 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a fish alive.

Knowledge and Understanding of the World
The children will learn to sort and classify different animals according to their habitat. Do they live in water or on land? Can they fly? Etc. The children will record their understanding in pictures and in written form. You may wish to talk with your child about different animals in preparation for this.

In ICT, the children will create a friend for the main character in the story ‘The Fish Who Could Wish’. The children will learn how to use the shape icons on the art program we have in school. Once again they will develop their pattern making skills when they can decorate their character.

The programmable robots will be out also, one with high frequency words to program the Beebot to and one with sea life creatures on.

This week, the children will learn some of the names of the different sea-life creatures. Here are some of them for you. Hopefully the phonetic pronunciation is okay.

Esto es – This is…
A fish – un pescado ( oon pescado);
A sea horse – un caballo de mar (oon cabayo dey mar)
A shark – un Tiburon
An octopus – un pulpo
A dolphin – un delfin
A whale – una bellena (oona beyena)
A jellyfish – una medusa
A starfish – una estrella de mar (oona estraya dey mar)
A crab – un cangrejo (oon cangrecho – the ch is pronounced as in loch)
A frog – una rana

Good luck!!!

And the surprise…
This week a message in a bottle will be left from a deep sea diver who has found a magical city under the sea. The children will be encouraged to use the writing table to write back to him. The children will place their message in a bottle and ‘throw’ it into the ocean to see if they get a reply. (Of course this is all make believe and the ocean is actually a piece of blue material, but hey who cares? The imagination of a child has no limits!)

That’s all for now.

Have a fabulous week!
Best wishes

Jayne Narraway and the Foundation Stage Team xxx