Saturday, February 23, 2008

Flutterby or Butterfly?

Hi there!

I am trying a different approach to the blog this week, as I would like to share with you more detail about the classroom activities your child has on offer to them. This is in response to the parental questionnaire sent out earlier this year. Some children select the same activities throughout the week. We do encourage them to select a wider variety however the lure of the stickle bricks, water and sand are too much for some to ignore. The information on the blog may help you also to encourage them to try new activities. If you have any thoughts on which approach is best please let me know either via the comments route on this blog or through your child’s diary. Thanks.

At the end of last week the children took a vote on whether they would like to find out about the changes that happen to caterpillars or to tadpoles. The outcome of the vote, and therefore, the focus for teaching and learning this week is…How do caterpillars change into butterflies?

How does a caterpillar change into a butterfly?
The children’s existing knowledge will be explored with this question. A cyclical diagram skeleton will be used to explain the changes as the children read ‘ The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. The children will sequence the stages of change in the form of a zigzag book or on a cyclical diagram. The children will have choice as to how they wish to present their knowledge. Following on from their work on labels and captions last week, they will be encouraged to write captions and labels to accompany their sequencing. - this has a slide show. Faith really enjoyed this and after seven repeats I eventually got to carry on writing this blog. - this page has loads of activities you can click on.

Small World Play
The small world play table will be changed into a garden with leaves, flowers, stones, plastic caterpillars, butterflies and cocoons. Stories such as The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne and Cathy Shimmen will be shared with the children to enable them to reenact the story and use the language of change in their imaginative play.

The children will talk about how the butterflies need leaves to eat and plants to lay their eggs on. The children will plant different bedding plants in the tubs to attract the different minibeasts. If you have any spare plant pots, compost, seeds etc that you could donate we would be grateful recipients.

What would happen if a plant didn’t get any sunlight or water?
The children are to set up an investigation to answer the question. The children will work in small groups of 4 with an adult. You may want to have a go at this at home.

Have a go at home!!
To demonstrate how the stem takes water to the flower, try using a daffodil or a white carnation and place it in a glass of water with food colouring it. The result is amazing particularly if you use red colouring.

Butterfly Garden
The children will have the opportunity to have firsthand experience of observing a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. I have ordered a butterfly garden with real life caterpillars that we can watch turn into pupi and then change into butterflies. How exciting!! Mini books and clip boards will be left for the children to note down the changes. We will be charting the changes on a calendar.

What happens to a bean?
Each child will plant a bean. They will begin to chart the growth of their bean each week over the half term. A bean will be also placed in a glass jar for the children to see what is happening beneath the soil to theirs.
They will explore, sort, examine and handle seeds in fruit, vegetables, packets, pods etc. They will explore similarities and differences. This will be extended to planting them planting the seeds outdoors in small pots. If you can collect any seeds from foods such as melons, oranges etc we will plant them up.

Beebot Hungry Caterpillar Mat
The children are to programme the beebot to make it move to the different foods. The children are really getting quite good at programming the robot now.

Communication, Language and Literacy
By the end of the week, the children:
MUST understand the purpose of instructions
SHOULD be able to follow simple written instructions
COULD be able to identify some of the features of a set of instructions

This area of learning will be integrated into the children’s daily activities. They will be encouraged to develop their use of new and appropriate vocabulary, story language, role play and writing skills. Examples of this are;

How does a caterpillar change into a butterfly?
The children will be encouraged to write a label or a caption to accompany their sequencing.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar storyboard
Following the reading of the story the children will have the opportunity to retell the story in their own words. The magnetic story board will be set up in the book corner. There are also some large pieces and a puppet to retell the story with.

Life cycle story board
On the back magnetic board the magnetic pieces telling the life cycle of a butterfly will be set out in the form of a cyclical diagram for the children to place the sequence on. White board pens will be used for the children to label the sequence.

Writing table
Following the discussion with the children the life cycle of a butterfly the children will have butterfly shaped pictures on the writing table in which they can write about the life cycle.

Our phonics focus for this week is on the letters ‘j’, ‘v’, ‘w’ and ‘x’. There is often a confusion about the pronunciation of the sound ‘x’. The letter name is X as in X factor and the sound is ‘cs’ as in box.

You should have received an update on your child’s letter name and sound recognition and I am so very pleased with them all. The daily phonics session is rapidly becoming our most favourite time of the day.

As well as teaching these letters we will be focusing on the sounding out and blending of the sounds into words.

Websites from last week are also appropriate for this week.

High Frequency Words
You may have noticed the children coming in each morning and getting a whiteboard and pen. The aim of this is to ensure all children leaving the Foundation Stage know all their high frequency words. The children are loving it and last week 95% of the children could spell the focus words of I, can, see and mum. This week our focus words are ‘and’, ‘look, ‘me’ and ‘you’.

Mathematical Development
By the end of the week, the children:
MUST be able to recite the days of the week in order
SHOULD be able to order random numbers
COULD be able to sequence the days of the week

Websites from last week for the number activities should support the ordering of random numbers. The days of the week are best just learned by rote and then asking the children:
What day comes after Thursday?
What day comes before Tuesday?
What days are at the weekend?
What day is it today?
What day was it yesterday?
What day will it be tomorrow? - ordering the days of the week. - a lovely song about the days of the week. Sadly, I already knew it off by heart because of, what feels like a 24 hour running of CBeebies in our house!)

I have also included a sheet in your child’s diary (along with the number formation one I forgot last week) with some rhymes I will be using to help your child remember the days of the week.

Physical Development
Parachute game

The children will learn to use the parachute correctly with the rules and guidelines prior to them using it in their maths activity. It is hoped that the children will be able to use the parachute in their outdoor play throughout the week.

Butterfly Dance
The children will develop their movements of circling, sliding, small and large actions, twirling and turning etc to accompany the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Body changes
Throughout our physical activities the children will be encouraged to talk about how their body changes.

Running challenge
The children are to be given two cones and they are to have a five minute sand timer. They are to work with a partner to count how many times they can run backwards and forwards and record it on a chart with their name. They are to try and beat their score throughout the week.

Dancing caterpillars
Provide the children with straws and paper circles and butterfly templates to cut out to make a dancing caterpillar or butterfly puppet.

Creative Development
Can you make something for in the butterfly garden?
There will be a tray of soil and after discussions with the children, following the reading of the story The Butterfly, the children will be set the challenge of making something for them to create the small world play Butterfly Garden. In teams the children will be asked to make a list of what they think they might need. This could be butterflies puppets, flowers, leaves etc. The list will be placed up by the craft table for ideas. A range of different collage and natural materials will be in the craft area to allow the children access to them for their creative work. Bits of florist block will be placed in the soil for the flowers to be stuck in.

Acetate butterflies
The children are to make symmetrical butterfies using acetate, permenant marker pens and oil pastels. The children can also add detail through the use of sequins and tissue paper etc. These will be displayed as a mobile over the butterfly garden.

How do we make a giant caterpillar?
The children are to use rolled up newspaper to create a giant caterpillar. They will paint and decorate it. This will be on the grass in front of the classroom. If you have any old newspapers please send them in. also, any old shirts and t-shirts that can be used as aprons would be greatly appreciated as well as a prayer for nice weather!

Butterfly wings
Material with loops for hands will be placed in boxes and doodlebug headbands will be available for the children to act out the story.

Large butterfly life cycle display
The children are to work collaboratively on a large display piece for the classroom which shows the life cycle of a butterfly. This will include captions and labels for the different stages of development.

To link in with our theme of the week, the children will learn the days of the week in Spanish. Here they are for you if you wish to learn them. Don’t worry I have included the pronuciation!
Sunday – Domingo (as in Placido!)
Monday – Lunes (loo-ness)
Tuesday – Martes
Wednesday – Miercoles (me-air-col-es)
Thursday – Jueves (cwe-bes)
Friday – Viernes (be-er-nes)
Saturday – Sabado

Needless to say we will be teaching the children the Spanish for the different stages of the life cycle. Here goes…
Egg – el huevo (el hu-ebo)
Caterpillar – la oruga
Pupa – la crisalida
Butterfly – la mariposa

Bits and bobs
Mum’s watch out for a very special gift lovingly created just for you. Have a great Mother’s Day.

Wellies - if you have any spare wellies at home that are no longer in use we would love to have them.

I look forwards to meeting you all this week at parents’ evening. I have so many wonderful things to share with you.

Take care, have a great week and don’t forget to pray for nice weather.

Jayne Narraway and the Foundation Stage Team xxxxx

Friday, February 15, 2008

How do we grow and change?


Welcome back to the start of a new half term. Can you believe that your child is half way through their first year in school? Time has flown which means only one thing…lots of FUN has been had by all. This half term will be no different as we begin our new topic on CHANGES.

Knowledge and Understanding of the World
We begin the topic by looking at changes in people as they get older. A great story book to read to your child would be Martin Waddell’s ‘Once there were giants’. Perhaps you could also get out those embarrassing family photographs and let your child see how you have changed from being a baby to the way you look now. The children must be able to sequence simple pictures from youngest to oldest by the end of the week. In order for the children to focus on themselves please could I ask that you send in a baby photograph of your child. PLEASE do not send in a highly treasured one as they will be handled by the children. You will get them back at the end of the year. Thanks.

Creative Development
This week is one of my favourite weeks! We will be looking at the work of Vincent Van Gogh and in particular his painting Sunflowers. We will be looking at shades of colour and the use of texture when painting and drawing. The children will use a range of media including collage materials, oil pastels, chalks and paint. Watch out for our classroom transforming into an art gallery, with a range of media being used to represent the work of Van Gogh. In order to stimulate the children’s understanding of the fantastic artist I will be sharing with them the story of Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt. This is one of my most favourite books as it helps great art become more accessible to young children.

Communication, Language and Literacy
In order to help the children move towards achieving their reading targets we will be doing a two week unit on labels, captions and instructions. This also helps us to link in with the work we are doing on changes in Knowledge and Understanding of the World.

By the end of the two weeks, the children:
COULD be able to write a caption to accompany a picture.
SHOULD be able to create a labelled diagram and understand the purpose of a caption.
MUST be able to know what a label is and know how to read a diagram.

These are some good websites which I shall be using with the children in class. However, a visit to Penketh library to pick out some non-fiction books is the best way of making it real to the children. In particular, the boys in our class respond to non-fiction books on dinosaurs and animals.

The children will be labelling the external parts of the human body and the parts of a flowering plant to support their understanding of the importance and use of diagrams for information.

Nearly every child can recognise the letters sounds of the letters of the alphabet. This is truly amazing so early in the school year. It is our aim to have 100% of the children recognising the letter sounds by Easter. To enable you to assist us in this, I will have updated every child’s letter sounds and letter names in their diaries by the end of the school day on Monday. The letters indicated are the remaining ones for your child to work on.

In our phonics teaching this week we will be reviewing all the letters learned so far, and start to teach the phonemes: l, ll, ss, zz, ff.

Your child may have talked about ‘c’ and ‘k’, the two letters that love each other. Well, ‘ss’, ‘ll’, ‘zz’ and ‘ff’ are also very friendly letters. They too make one sound at the same time.

Throughout the week, the children will be asked to blend and segment words containing letters they have already learned and the new phonemes of the week. Here are some websites that will support the blending of the words in order to read them and others that support spelling. - this website asks you to see how many words you can make - great for blending sounds together. For those children who are already able to spell and read simple three letter words then try out these websites as they will focus on the spelling of consonant clusters in words e.g bl, cl, st, sm etc.

High Frequency Words
This half term we aim to ensure that all the children are up to where they should be by the end of the Spring Term. Please remember that going through the high frequency words is needed virtually every night. These are worth spending the time on as they will help your child develop more confidence and independence when tackling new texts. There is also some good news at the end of all this…the Year 1 words are actually a little easier and the children tend to pick them up very quick. - 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.

In your child's diary this week you will also have an update on their reading targets. Please remember to make at least one comment about your child's reading in the diary. You could comment on the targets they are working on. Thanks.

Problem-solving, Reasoning and Number
Amazed! Dumbfounded! Astonished! These are a just a few words to describe how I am feeling about the children’s development in this area of the curriculum. This week we continue with our number recognition to 20, number formation and ability to order numbers. Believe it or not ALL our class can recognise all the numbers to 10 already. This has never been done before by any other class!!! Therefore, we shall be working beyond the Early Learning Goals on Year 1 objectives.

By the end of the week, the children:
COULD be able to read and write all numbers 20 and order them.
SHOULD be able to read and order the numbers to 20.
MUST be able to write and order the numbers to 10.

Here are some great websites to support the recognition and ordering of numbers to 20. - the children are presented with a teddy bear and a jar of sweets. The computer generates a number between 1 and 15 and the children need to drag the given number of sweets into the bear’s tummy. - the children must listen to the number given and then post the letter through the corresponding door. - this is a real challenge for those children who can already recognise the numbers to 20. Encourage your child to say the target number out loud before finding it. - this is a good website for supporting number formation. - the children need to order the random numbers by placing the numbered hats on the children’s heads. - remember to select the numbers to 20. - missing numbers on a number track. The children click and drag them into place. The children should be able to access all three levels. - one that we have had before but remember to alter the minimum and maximum range of numbers to accommodate your child’s range of recognition. - click on the possum and python.

Number formation
Number formation is crucial at this stage and is something that we really need to develop in the children. However, whilst they are learning their letter formation, reversals often occur. I have enclosed a copy of the way we form numbers for your information. This week we are starting with the numbers 1, 2 and 3. A good thing to try is a tray of salt and ask the children to form the number in it. This is also a good way to be a little more environmentally friendly too!

In Spanish this week, the children will be reviewing their knowledge of colours and the different parts of the human body.

Here I Am
Due to the week we spent on the Chinese New Year we are a little behind on our Here I Am. We begin our topic on Thanksgiving. The children will learn to:
RECOGNISE that people give to each other.
REFLECT on all that is done for them by others.
RESPECT and appreciate that they have a lot to say thank you for.

Throughout the week the children will be making Thank you cards for someone who helps

We have a lovely assembly for the children on Monday presented by CAFOD, our chosen charity. We also have a Good Shepherd box in our classroom if children want to donate any spare change to be given to the charity during Lent.

Other bits and bobs…
We welcome another adult into our classroom this week, Miss Vicky Bott. She will be working with our class every Tuesday and Wednesday. She trained for her NVQ Level 1 with us a two years ago and is now returning to us to continue her training at a higher level.

Please could I ask that all outstanding parents’ evening slips be sent in on Monday to enable times to be finalised.

I believe that is all for now.

Take care and keep an eye out for your appointment time in the diary.

Kind regards

Jayne Narraway and the (ever expanding) Foundation Stage Team xx

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where is Barnaby Bear?


Welcome to the last week of this very short but exciting half term and yes, finally our much anticipated visit to the Science and Industry Museum has arrived. You should have received a letter with all the details last week. The children do need to be in school uniform and require a packed lunch, preferably in a back pack or a labelled carrier bag. The school day will be the same length and so there are no extra arrangements you need to make. Could I ask though that the children be in school promptly to enable us to get a quick getaway at 9am. Thanks.

The visit to the museum will be a great way to finish off ur topic on transport and journeys. The children (and I) have loved the work we have done and this will be the icing on the cake. I can't wait for Barnaby Bear to take us to the moon.

Assessment and Review Week
As always in the last week, we will be reviewing previous learning and making assessments to inform our planning for after half term. However, we will also have some new learning in Communication, Language and Literacy as some children are so close to being ready for the next level in their reading and just need to focus on the non-fiction reading targets. So for Communication, Language and Literacy this week, the children will start to learn all about information books.

By the end of the week, the children:
MUST be able to sort books according to whether they are fiction or non-fiction;
SHOULD be able to understand that information can be retrieved from books and find the contents page;
COULD know that information books have headings, photographs and captions, and be able to use the contents page to find answers to their questions.

They will develop their knowledge and understanding of the different features of an information book. For instance:
That they provide us with information about things that are real;
That photographs and diagrams are usually found in information books rather than illustrations;
That information books have a contents page that can be used to navigate their way around the book;
That an information book does not have to be read from start to finish – you can simply ask yourself a question and then seek to find the answer out in the text by using the contents page;
Pages in information books often have a heading, a photograph and a caption.

By the end of the week it is hoped that the children will have collaborated to create a class information book about transport. At the museum the children will take photographs for our information book. EVERY child will complete a part of it.

As we have a week off too, I have listed some websites you may wish to have a go at with your child.

If your child is still working on their letter recognition then please try out these websites also: - this is a great website for identifying the sounds at the beginning, middle and end of words. - the old favourite. In addition to this we will also be concentrating on the children’s spelling of simple three letter words such as big, man, cat, top etc as well as focusing in on the high frequency words more. The children are doing great as this is the end of year target for Foundation Stage and we are already working on it!! The following websites should prove very useful. - 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. For those children who are already able to spell and read simple three letter words then try out these websites as they will focus on the spelling of consonant clusters in words e.g bl, cl, st, sm etc.

Mathematical Development
This week we will be assessing the children's previous learning from this half term. We will look at:

2D and 3D shape recognition
Use of language to describe the shapes
Number recognition
Finding one more and one less mentally
Adding two numbers together
Ordering numbers ( this is to inform planning for after half term)

You may wish to look back over previous blogs to review the websites used.

Here are some good websites you may wish to check out over the holidays as the first week back we are working on ordering numbers and number recognition: - this is a great website and you can select the numbers you wish your child to work with. - to revise more and less; - click on the ordering numbers game.

So what else will be going on this week? WELL…

Kung Hey Fat Choy!

Yes, this week the children will be learning about the traditions of the Chinese culture and in particular the Chinese New Year. We look forward to this week every year as it provides us with the opportunity to cover all areas of the curriculum in a really integrated and fun way.

They will experience Chinese cuisine, even prepare and cook some for the rest of the class to share. On Thursday, we hope to invite the year 1 and 2 children into our classroom, which will have been set up like a restaurant, and serve them with some Chinese food. The children will learn a poem by Meg Jones that goes to the tune of ‘Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross’.

Chinese New Year
The house must be clean,
The food all made ready
For a happy New Year.
With bangs and firecrackers
And lions that dance,
With dragons all fiery
To China we dance.

The children will use the poem as a stimulus to finding out about the Chinese dragon dances, the firecrackers and the tradition of cleaning houses and giving money. They will learn about how the years were named after the different animals.

Creative and Physical Development
The children will have the opportunity to listen to and respond to Chinese music. In dance they will learn how to keep to a beat alongside a drum in preparation for our very own dragon dance on the playground during Golden Time. They will be creating Chinese lanterns, dragon masks and many other creative artefacts linked to the Chinese New Year.

The Domestics
There will be a service in school for Ash Wednesday at 9am.

A letter regarding parents’ evening was sent out on Friday. Please can you return it as soon as possible as I hope to give you the times and dates before Friday. Allocation of times is on a first come first served basis. If you are able to make as many choices as possible that would be great. Friday 5.10pm is always the favourite with about half of you asking for that time. So…please put as many times as possible down. Thanks

The comments written in the reading diaries are great. Thanks. We are still on 93% though. Come on let’s try to get to 100% this week.

There will be no handwriting homework this week due to the holidays. Talking of holidays…HAVE A GREAT ONE!

Kind regards

Jayne Narraway and the Foundation Stage Team xxx