Reception w/b 16th October
Date: 20th Oct 2023 @ 5:03pm
Congratulations Reception on completing your first half term of school. You have settled into school life absolutely beautifully and are working ever so hard. Mrs McAree, Mrs Mayson, Mrs Ball and I have adored spending these seven weeks with you and are already looking forward to the excitement that next half term will bring.
It was such a pleasure to speak with you all during Tuesday’s parent consultations to celebrate your wonderful children. We are so proud of each and every superstar in our Reception class. As shared in these consultations, I have completed Read Write Inc. phonics assessments across Monday and Tuesday. It was such a joy to see the progress that the children have made in such a short time of learning phonics. Inside your child’s diary, you will now find a grid of sounds that have been highlighted to show the sounds your child knows. Please practise any sounds that are not highlighted and keep recapping the known sounds. We would advise securing a row at a time. For example, if ‘t’ is a gap, we would practise this as a priority over ‘u’ as a gap. Please also record any reading that has been completed over half term; it will be so lovely to chat with the children about this when we return to school to recognise and celebrate their hard work.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday involved learning the sounds: e, l, h. We used the following handwriting phrases:
e – cut off the top, scoop out the egg
l – down the long leg
h – down the head to the hooves and over the horse’s back
Now that phonics assessments have been completed, children will work in small groups to access phonics teaching after half term. This will allow children to work on their target sounds, at their stage of blending and at a pace that works best for them. This tailored approach, with lots of repetition, will best support the children to progress with their phonics. The children will work with phonics teachers from across the key stage. After half term, we will introduce the staff to the children before completing any phonics work! We will also inform you of your child’s phonics teacher via the Friday Dojo message in the first week back. We are very excited to begin; this approach worked wonderfully last year.
In maths, we have continued to build on our subitising (speedy spotting) skills, both for visual representations of numbers and for the number of sounds that they can hear (e.g. claps or drum beats) – recognising instantly without needing to count. We played a ‘same or different?’ game with Counting Croc, looking closely at small quantities to decide whether the quantity has changed or only the arrangement. We have particularly focused on investigating the shapes made by Numberblock Four and making similar arrangements, noticing the parts that can make 4. For example, Numberblock Four can be arranged with 2 blocks on top of another 2 blocks or as a line of 3 with 1 on top. This has further developed our understanding of composition and part-whole relations. We have represented numbers on our fingers, with buttons, with cubes and much more. We have been busy mathematicians this week! We also enjoyed a Friday pattern challenge, keeping our understanding of AB, ABB and ABC patterns fresh in our minds.
This week concluded our ‘Bears’ focus and thus was the last week of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ literacy lessons. On Monday, after using the story map to retell the story, we completed a teddy bear challenge. This lesson focused on using positional language to describe, including: under, behind, next to/beside, between, in, on. We played ‘hide and seek’ with the bears and described where they were found e.g. behind the board, between the baskets, in the trolley. Children enjoyed practising this in the subsequent choosing time session. The remainder of the week has then had an ‘innovation’ focus, changing the story of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. To understand this concept, we first enjoyed listening to the story, ‘We’re Going on a Lion Hunt’. In this story, we were able to identify how the character had changed (from a bear to a lion) as well as the settings (e.g. a swamp). We then enjoyed becoming authors to think of our own animals and settings (e.g. a shark in the ocean, a polar bear in the snow, a camel in the desert). We used post-it notes to innovate our class story map. I then added story maps and post-it notes to the provision, prompting many children to have a go at becoming innovative authors! Lots of children have also enjoyed creating mini books, either retelling the ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ story or inventing their own. I was very proud to see so many children recording sounds on each page to represent the words in their story.
This week, we had our first No Outsiders lesson of the year. No Outsiders is a wonderful aspect of our PSHE curriculum which uses picture books to encourage children to celebrate their identities and to accept and value others. To find out more, visit our school website: http://www.breretonprimaryschool.org.uk/page/no-outsiders/116740 . This week, we looked at the book ‘You Choose’ by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodheart with a focus on the fact that we all like different things. We first looked at the front cover of the book and discussed what it means to make a choice. After reading the book once, we looked at it again but this time thought about which objects the children would choose. For each page, we shared our answers with our partners and then a selection of children shared their answers with the class. By the end, every child had shared an answer with the class. We thought about the fact that we all had a turn choosing in the game; that was fair. We asked: Why do you think it was important that everyone got a turn to choose? How would you have felt if you had missed your turn? Lots of us chose different things – does that matter? Is it OK to like different things? We decided that this is what is wonderful about our class: even though we are all different and like different things, we all get a chance to talk. This was a lovely discussion and was followed up with children returning to the ‘You Choose’ pages in provision time to further discuss their choices with their friends.
Forest School had both an autumnal and fine motor focus…autumn leaf threading! For safety reasons, the windy weather meant that our Forest School lesson took place on the field rather than in the forest itself. The children had a lovely time collecting leaves, comparing the colours and carefully threading them onto some string. Lots of conversation ensued about autumn and the seasonal changes it brings.
Our creation station was this week enhanced with some pumpkins – a white pumpkin and an orange pumpkin. We have loved the artwork that this has inspired – beautiful pen drawings with pops of colour added with watercolour paints.
One of our most exciting lessons this week was our ‘Understanding the World’ session. Firstly, huge thanks for the wonderful baby and toddler photos that you all took the time to send. I cannot even express how truly delighted the children were to see these. Firstly, we looked at non-fiction books about human life cycles, exploring the changes that occur from being a baby to being an elderly person, helping us to then order photos from being a baby to being an elderly person. Then it was time to look at the photographs from home. When the photographs were revealed, the children first guessed who it could be! We talked about what we could see and compared the differences between the children as babies, toddlers and Reception age children. We identified similarities and differences. The children loved these photos so much that we have had them playing on a slideshow during provision time ever since!
Our PE warm up was once again a game of musical shapes. We were so impressed with the children’s knowledge of these shapes at the end of our gymnastics unit. We then paired up on the mats, just as we did last week. We firstly recapped last week’s tuck rocks and tuck rolls. We were amazed by the improvement! Children were so much more confident and successful with their tuck rocks, with more children now able to add the challenge of rocking into a squat or to standing. We then learnt our final roll: a straight rocket roll, ensuring that we pointed our toes. Our final challenge of our gymnastics unit was to draw on our knowledge of shapes, jumps and rolls to create a sequence with a start, middle and finish. Well done Reception, you have been superb gymnasts this half term.
As I am sure many of the children would agree, a highlight this week was Thursday’s Bear Day! Thank you ever so much to all parents and carers for going to such trouble to make sure that all of the children had outfits and/or bears to share. We had the most wonderful day. In the morning, we enjoyed working in groups to complete a carousel of activities, inspired by some of our favourite bear stories:
- ‘Whatever Next!’ by Jill Murphy was the inspiration for our junk modelling station where used our imagination to create rockets from ‘junk’ materials, just like Baby Bear, who created a rocket from a cardboard box. This was a great opportunity for children to employ creativity and independence to bring their vision to life!
- Our focus bear stories of the half-term ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ inspired our tuff tray activities. The children were enthused by both the sensory exploration and the chance to retell the stories. It was lovely to listen in to these retellings.
- We looked at illustrations in Mick Inkpen’s ‘Bear Stories’ for inspiration for creating bear masks. This produced an array of beautiful bears!
- Our final two activities involved food preparation for our afternoon’s teddy bear tea party. After reading the story ‘Biscuit Bear’, we were most excited to decorate biscuits to look like bear faces! Miss Witham couldn’t find brown food colouring, so we performed an experiment…we mixed red and green food colouring and were delighted when our icing sugar did indeed turn brown.
- Of course, no teddy bear tea party is complete without some marmalade sandwiches – Paddington’s favourite! The children were each able to spread the marmalade and cut their sandwiches independently.
An extra challenge was added during choosing time and many children did indeed choose to create a picture of their bear and write the sounds that they could hear in the name of the bear. After lots of lovely choosing, we ended our day with our teddy bear tea party. We enjoyed milk/juice, marmalade sandwiches and our biscuits, all whilst chatting with our friends and listening to party music. We all loved it! What a wonderful Bear Day we all enjoyed! This was such a joyful celebration of a busy first half term of learning.
Today, we have focused on pumpkins of prayer, praise and peace. We have been amazed by all the effort and creativity that have produced such wonderful carved pumpkins reflecting these words. As the school gathered, it was an incredible spectacle to observe the pumpkin lit messages. In the provision today, children have: decorated doves with pictures of prayer, praise and peace; completed a calming ‘pumpkin patterns’ activity; engaged with a ‘missing number’ pumpkin challenge; enjoyed printing with 3D shapes to create pumpkin patches. Outside, it was at last time to explore the inside of our pumpkins. We made predictions about the colour and scent of the flesh of the white and orange pumpkins. Interestingly, the white pumpkin had a stronger scent. We have then had such sensory fun, scooping out the insides of the pumpkins! We have then been using our fine motor skills to pick up the seeds with tweezers, placing them into ten frames to count them. The seeds have then been used in the nature kitchen to make pumpkin soup! We were amazed by the number of seeds contained in each pumpkin.
Goodness me, what a busy week we have had! By this afternoon, we could see that the children were very sleepy and ready for a rest. This is no surprise after seven weeks of hard work and excitement! We hope whatever you do this half term will be enjoyable and be a lovely break from the routines of school. We look forward to welcoming everyone back after the holidays, rested and keen to embark on a new adventure together.
With many thanks,