Reception w/b 9th October
Date: 13th Oct 2023 @ 3:40pm
What a joy it is to teach this wonderful class of Reception superstars! They are working so hard and are simply brimming with enthusiasm. I am very much looking forward to next week’s parent consultations where there will be so very much to celebrate.
Once again, we have been introduced to four new sounds in phonics. Whilst it can seem that we have introduced rather a lot of sounds in the first half term, the Read Write Inc. ‘Making a strong start’ principles mean that all children are introduced to the first single letter sounds together, spending a day on each sound for this half term. Next week, we shall assess the sounds that children have retained so that, after half term, they can work in smaller groups on their target sounds and a pace that works best for them. This tailored approach, with lots of repetition, will best support the children to progress with their phonics. We are looking forward to it! Our four sounds have been: k, u, b, f. We used the following handwriting phrases:
k – down the kangaroo’s body, round the tail and down the leg
u – down and under, up to the top and draw the puddle
b – down the laces to the heel, back up then round the toe
f – down the stem, and draw the leaves
K and f needed an extra focus as, at Brereton, we form these letters differently than shown in the Read Write Inc. scheme, a ‘precursive’ approach, helping the children to establish letter formation habits from the start, that will eventually help them to join their writing once they reach Year 2. ‘Word time’ has continued and the children just get better each week – such confident and speedy blending! ‘Quick-fire’ opportunities to show children the sound cards continue to prove to be very useful.
In maths, we have been exploring how numbers can be composed of 1s and, from this, have investigated the composition of 3 and 4, e.g. seeing that 3 can be composed of 1 and 2. Through practical experiences, the children are learning that a ‘whole’ (e.g. 4) is made up of smaller parts (e.g. 3 and 1) and is, therefore, bigger than its parts. We have helped Counting Croc to realise that differences between objects, such as size and colour, does not mean that the number of objects is different. For example, if we have a red cup, a green cup and a blue cup, we still have 3 cups! If we have a large bag, a medium-sized bag and a small bag, we still have 3 bags! Counting Croc is learning so much about the counting principles from our expert Reception mathematicians. In the provision, we have continued to practise copying, continuing and creating repeating patterns. Many children have focused on AB patterns (e.g. red, yellow, red, yellow, red…), whilst others have investigated ABC (e.g. green, red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green…) and ABB (e.g. yellow, red, red, yellow, red, red…) patterns. This would be a useful skill to keep practising at home.
We have a new literacy focus for the final two weeks of half term…’We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. After a lovely time spent understanding harvest and feeling inspired by ‘The Little Red Hen’, it has been exciting to return to our ‘Bears’ focus. First, we read the story and it was wonderful to already hear so many children joining in so confidently. We worked as a team to sequence the journey of the family and then revealed our ’We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ story map. We have been learning to retell the story with Makaton signs, prompted by the story map images, acting as a useful visual reminder – particularly for remembering all of the steps once the family arrive at their front door! Later, we were challenged to match the sounds to the correct part of the story e.g. ‘swishy swashy’…long wavy grass. We have then been using instruments the best match these sounds, to add an extra element to our story map performances – a musical retelling! We have delighted in observing children returning to these instruments during provision time, using them to retell the story together on the stage. Towards the end of the week, we have then been thinking about the feelings of the characters in the story. We looked at illustrations from various points in the story (e.g. swishing through the grass, shivering through the snowstorm, entering the gloomy cave, spotting the bear) and thought about how each setting/scenario may have made each character feel. We used stem sentences such as: I think they feel…because…We then ‘hot seated’ the characters. Children volunteered to sit on the hot seat, as their friends asked questions. It was lovely to listen to these developing questioning skills, understanding what it means to ask a question and then listening to the character in question carefully consider their answer. I am already looking forward to spending another week exploring this wonderful book.
Mr Simmons has enriched and enhanced our learning by taking us on a Brereton Bear Hunt through Forest School! We walked through the long wavy grass on the field, through the deep cold river (a water tray to splash through), through the thick oozy mud in the mud pit, through our own deep dark forest, through a swirling whirling snowstorm of bubbles and finally into a narrow gloomy cave. Luckily, our bear hunt didn’t end with us being chased by a bear! As the photos show, this was such a rich learning experience full of language opportunities and sensory fun, helping to embed the sequence of the story.
We had such fun in Wednesday’s gymnastics lesson, where Reception impressed with both their sensible listening and superb gymnastic skills. First, we warmed up our bodies with a game of musical shapes. Whilst Miss Witham shook the tambourine, we travelled around the room in a variety of ways but, once the tambourine stopped, we froze in a strong shape. This was a good recap of the shapes we have been learning over the last few weeks. We then paired up on mats to learn and practise some rocks and rolls. First was the tuck rock, rocking backwards and forwards in a tuck planet shape. Lots of children initially found this tricky so we practised together, with the help of our teachers. We were already seeing superb progress within this lesson. For those of us needing a challenge, we practised rocking backwards and forwards to come up into a squat shape, trying to avoid using our hands to push up. We then learnt the tuck roll: beginning in a tuck shape on our knees, tuck rolling across the mat and finishing on our knees. One partner rolled whilst the other partner was the teacher. Excellent work, Reception!
Our Understanding the World session was especially linked to history this week. We began by reading ‘Once There Were Giants’ by Martin Waddell, a story that was thoroughly enjoyed by all children. We thought about how the main character gains new skills with the passage of time: sitting up, walking, talking, running, starting school. We noticed that the girl changed physically as she grew older, for example getting taller. We asked: Why does the little girl think her mum and dad are giants? Do they look like giants as she gets bigger? What is happening to her? Has she really become a giant? We then sequenced images from the story and learnt that this was a timeline. We then looked at similar photos of Miss Witham as she grew up – lots of giggling ensued! The children were able to sequence this timeline of photos, and we used language including: newborn, baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult. Next week, we shall turn our focus to how the children in Reception have changed since they were babies. Please look out for a message about sending some photos across.
During our PSED session, we focused on being a caring friend. We read the story ‘Harold Shares his Scarf’, in which some of Harold’s friends are sad because other toys have been unkind to them. He cheers them up with his kind words and by including them as he offers to share his long scarf. We thought about both Harold’s kind words and actions. Fred the Frog then visited us as his brothers and sisters had been unkind to him, telling him that his spotted pattern had faded, teasing him about it. We thought about how we could help Fred to feel better as well as how we could help the other toys to be kinder. Fred was then doted on during provision time, with lots of children endeavouring to cheer him up! We related this story to what we should do if somebody is unkind to us, as well as thinking about how we can make sure that we are kind to others.
It was an afternoon of Friday fun as our carpet session was music. We began with a ‘Hello Song’ https://youtu.be/KSHtf0MNDVs . Next was the ‘Tap your name’ game. To the tune of Hot Cross Buns, we sang:
Tap your name
Tap your name
Pass the drum around the room
And tap your name
We did indeed pass the drum around the room and then each person ‘tapped’ their name. This is a super game to encourage children to start thinking about rhythms in music by playing the syllables in their name on a drum. Our final song was 'The Farmer plants his seeds', relating to our harvest focus. https://youtu.be/WUkvbhWe8Lo After learning the song, we enjoyed singing along and using an egg shaker to shake to the beat.
Of course, we have enjoyed lots and lots of choosing time. From this week, we have adjusted our timetable, so that we begin the day with phonics, a ‘wake and shake’ and then a story-based literacy session. We then have snack at 9:45. There were two reasons for this: firstly, an earlier snack means that we are hungrier for lunchtime and we are seeing the children eating much more of their lunch as a result. Secondly, having the English input followed by snack, allows for a longer, uninterrupted period of choosing time. This week, we have really seen the value of this, allowing for sustained play opportunities which are naturally extended and developed. We are so impressed with the way in which children interact so beautifully and engage in such creative, purposeful play. Reception truly are superstars!
Our Makaton sign of the week has been ‘finished’, a sign that we have enjoyed using as we complete an aspect of our day and turn the card over on our visual timetable. Here is a video below so that you can enjoy learning this sign together at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-lHz2DjPJU
Next week, we are looking forward to Thursday’s ‘Bear Day’. Please refer to the email for information about this and please do get in touch if you have any queries at all.
I hope that you all enjoy a lovely weekend. As we near the end of the half-term, children must be feeling very tired and there are lots of bugs going around. We really are impressed with how well they are doing but I hope that you all look after yourselves this weekend and have a good rest. I shall look forward to seeing the children on Monday to begin our final week of our very first half-term.
With many thanks,