At Rachel Keeling we support children to develop all the building blocks for reading.
We start with supporting children to develop their listening and attention, tuning into words and language. Exposing children to a variety of rich and exciting literature: from information books to traditional tales to more complex stories from around the world.
Recognising rhyme and syllables as well as discriminating sounds are really important to developing skills as an early reader.
This week Maria has been working with groups of children to further develop phonic awareness. They have shared some Nick Sharratt rhyming books and reinforced previously learnt sounds S/A/T/P/I/N and introducing CK/G/D.
Our Rachel Keeling Values were focused on when reading The Shopping Basket by John Burningham. And this talk influenced play in the garden with children talking about 'respecting' everyone and everything.
Once children can identify the sounds in these words and begin to recognise the letter, we can begin building small words to read!
Look out for lower case letters on your travels with your child!
At Rachel Keeling we are keen advocates for cycling. We think London can be seen best by bike. We have worked hard for some years developing the skills of staff and children as well as our provision and teaching. This has resulted in many children leaving our school able to ride a two wheeler bicycle with confidence and skill. In addition all children have had support to develop skill using our balance bikes.
As our next step we wanted to ensure children are able to maintain their bikes.
Children keep the bikes clean and in good order.
Children are regularly involved in the checking of the bikes each day before they ride:
A - Air: checking the tyres are firm and pumped up.
B - Brakes: checking the cables are attached and brakes are effective.
C - Chain: checking the chain is attached and free of excessive dirt or obstructions.
We also do visual checks of the metal work and pedals.
Next, before we get on the bike, we check our helmets. Children know how to check them and ensure they fit correctly.
Children also check the saddle height is correct and their tiptoes can touch the ground.
In the garden we have our Bike Maintenance Posters that the children have made so children can refer to them.
If you're a cyclist, make sure you're doing your checks on your bike too!
Happy New Year friends!
Children have returned happy and engaged, full of their news.
We have also started to welcome new friends to nursery and we look forward to getting to know all of our new families well over coming weeks.
The learning that has started this week has included sustained model making: children have talked through their ideas and drawn up plans. Next they selected the resources they needed and used a variety of methods to attach pieces.
Children were able to sustain concentration and share resources.
In Bluebell class, some of the more experienced children have been supported in mark making: many have been interested in writing sounds they have been focusing on in their phonics groups at story time.
Our Shoppers of the Week were supported to write their shopping lists, count their money and do our shopping locally.
This really is a great opportunity to share talk and build confidence.
In the garden there has been focused work around bike maintenance: see separate blog!
The Christmas cheer has arrived: we have been baking with spices, decorating the tree, crafting cards and festive creations have been made.
The children have also listened to and re-enacted the Nativity scene, complete with costumes. They have remembered some of the key characters in the story and some children remember the name Bethlehem as the setting.
Children have also been supported in writing letters to Father Christmas. Interestingly two children said they had enough toys/presents already and they don't need any more!!! Other children cited watches and skateboards and one child asked for a cabbage!!!!
This Friday we come together in the garden to sing together our Christmas Carols around the campfire: please join us at 11.30am or 2.45pm. Access through the garden gate.
Merry Christmas to you all and health and happiness in 2022.
The team have been supporting children's understanding of number: cooking is a wonderful and meaningful way to do this. Following recipes, using measuring spoons, counting out and talking about the recipe.
Children have been focusing on stories about food which have then led onto cooking some cozy snacks to keep us warm this wintery week.
The book Mr Wolf's Pancakes inspired a large group of children to make some egg-free pancakes. The children all washed their hands thoroughly. All our children know that this is the first step when they come to have a snack or to cook. They took it in turns to measure out and mix the ingredients. Children sustained and worked well as a team.
Our children are very used to cooking in small groups, therefore they understood that this larger group meant they may have to wait for a turn. Cooking is part of our ongoing provision and valued as such. Children enjoy being part of a cooking experience but also know they may have to wait if they are not on the list.
The warm pancakes really helped to take the edge off a very cold day.
Pass The Jam Jim led to a batch of jam tarts being baked by children. We used ready rolled pastry which meant the children could be as independent as possible.
They cut the shapes out, carefully tessellating so they could get as many tarts as possible out of one sheet. They measured the jam and spooned it out carefully. Working in pairs, they shared talk and each took a tart home for tea.
One of the experiences we have missed so much over the past year is Shoppers of the Week. At Rachel Keeling the children are very much part of the running of the school: helping to set up and tidy up. We listen to the children's opinions and value their voice.
Part of this work is involving them in the shopping needed for the running our school. Children helped to write lists, checking with staff any shopping that is needed for the week ahead.
This week we are using stories to cook: The Gingerbread Man and Handa's Surprise.
We needed some ingredients today to make fruit salad so the children helped to write the list: drawing the things we needed and attempting to mark make some sounds.
Next they went to Pam in the office to collect the money, which the children counted out and put into their purses. They walked to Mark's fruit stall on the market square, sharing talk on the way. Mark helped the children find what they needed, using their lists.
Children were confident to speak and hand over the money, counting the coins out. They packed the fruit into their school backpacks and carried it back to school. The children returned to school and Pam asked them to fill out an invoice and sign their names for the auditors!
At the moment we are limiting the shopping to the outdoor market but hopefully next term we may be able to return into the local shops too!
As the cold snap arrives, we continue to embrace the garden at Rachel Keeling.
We support children to find ways to keep warm, we observe the changes in the environment and we think about how we can help the wildlife in our garden.
A few weeks ago children harvested potatoes, counting, estimating, tallying and studying them. Last week, children were supported in building a fire together.
They prepared the newspaper, kindling and made sure there was sand and water ready to douse the flames if we needed it.
We always use a flint to light the fire as a safety precaution.
The children sang and chatted happily as the fires took hold. The awe and wonder supported lots of talk and children used vocabulary such as, crackle, smoke, flames, fizz, pop, hiss.
We wrapped the par-boiled potatoes in foil and an adult placed them into the flames to cook. Meanwhile some parsley butter was made using parsley from our garden.
They were shared and enjoyed the potatoes in a little butter.
Later that day children were recounting the fire to some afternoon children: staff will ensure the afternoon children get to experience a campfire in the next week.
In Sunflower base children are fortunate enough to have continuous provision to support expressive art and design. This includes a woodwork area, colour mixing with powder paint and a workshop space to make and create.
Over the past two weeks children have been introduced to sculpting with clay: first they learned to knock it down (this is the process before you use it to get any air bubbles out of it). Then they cut it into smaller pieces and explored it using hands: rolling, pinching, kneading, prodding. Adding water changes the texture again and allows children to create a 'slip' which then can be used to join two pieces of clay.
Some children explored the clay freely using their hands.
Some children were supported to create sculptures: a "friendly snake", an "enchanted forest", some pencils, a Danish Flag, a light and a castle have been created so far. With children sustaining interest in them and returning to enhance their sculptures.
There is plenty more time to explore and work on mini-projects over the next week and a half.
Our new garden has supported lots of sustained learning this week.
Children helped to fill the bird feeders on Monday morning: this resulted in us attracting some new friends. Birds visited and the usual squirrels and then a cheeky mouse appeared to help itself to some food. The children were very interested to observe our new friend!
Then two amphibians arrived (we are not sure whether they are frogs or toads so if you know, do help us!)
Meanwhile the children were supported to harvest some potatoes and apples.
Children helped to pick the apples and dig out the potatoes, having much fun using the wheelbarrow. Then some children estimated the amount they had harvested. Next they counted and tallied them.
Next week we plan to enjoy the harvest: maybe with some baked potatoes around the open fire.
The garden is open!
We are so happy the garden has reopened and it is exciting to see the children accessing some wonderful outdoor space. There are some new and challenging learning opportunities out there. Children need to learn to assess and take risks so they have an awareness of danger and can keep themselves safe: negotiating space and challenging climbing are essential developmental learning blocks which help with brain development.
Please come outside when you drop your child off and see how the garden is used.
There is a full risk benefit analysis on the website.
In the meantime, I think the photographs do all the talking.
Thank you for your wonderful comments: this work was a massive undertaking and means Rachel Keeling has one of the most exciting outdoor school environments in Tower Hamlets.