The past two weeks have been filled with festivities across Rachel Keeling. Children have shared different ways some families celebrate festivals. We started by decorating the beautiful tree which was kindly donated by Empowering Learning. This sparked lots of conversations about Christmas decorations and lights children had seen out and about in Bethnal Green. Children have made their own decorations from salt dough stars to willow hangings and paper pictures to hang on the tree. Far from being an area of frenetic energy, the Christmas tree have evolved to being a space of relaxation and moments of calm!
Children have been introduced to the Christmas Story and enjoyed retelling it using clay models and by dressing up and entering the 'stable' themselves. Some children are able to retell the story, remembering place names and the people involved. Some children commented "Christians celebrate Christmas" and "I like Christmas at school but I'm a Muslim so I don't celebrate it in my house".
The sensory immersion of Christmas music has been enjoyed with carols to popular Christmas hits shared. Children have been learning We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Twinkle Twinkle, and one child has mastered We Three Kings ahead of our Carols Around the Campfire on Thursday where our ukulele band will debut.
No Christmas would be complete without plenty of food to share and enjoy. Festive gingerbread has been made with cinnamon and ginger wafting across the nursery most days.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Reed Smith who donated 25 wrapped boxes of gifts for the children. It has certainly helped Father Christmas and the reindeers with their mission. Thank you too to Kim from School Home Support for their ongoing support for our community and their knowledge and signposting.
Our celebrations are culminating with our Christmas Party on Friday morning before all families, staff and friends hopefully enjoy a wonderful Christmas break with their loved ones.
Over the past three weeks children have been supported in developing an appreciation of music. A sensitive practitioner drew on a wide range of musical styles to expose children to different beats, rhythms and tempos.
Children started by collaboratively building a stage, decorating and lighting it and thinking about how children could use it (deciding on a 'shoes off' policy eventually!) Children used scarves and dancing ribbons, which they made themselves to respond to the different music they heard.
Some children further developed their learning by accompanying the music and dance with the djembe drum: creating different beats and tempos.
A group of children who have shown considerable interest and skill in dance and musicality were introduced to the piano. They read the coloured notes from left to right and played Twinkle Twinkle independently, showing great pride in their achievements. One child recognised the musical notation found in a book and wanted to create her own marks in it. She was supported in understanding that notes also have letter names.
Finally some quiet time in the afternoons was taken to focus on the forming of our new ukulele group. They were introduced to the instruments, learned how to hold them and began with their first chord. They have taken them home over the weekend to practice with their families as well. They will make their debut at our Annual Rachel Keeling Nursery School Christmas Carols Around the Campfire on Thursday 20 December at 2.30pm.
Cooking is an integral part of life at Rachel Keeling. The children harvest, shops for and prepare snacks and we regularly cook with children to enrich their experience at school. The past week has been no different with many cooking experiences and opportunities to share food as a group. As part of a mathematical focus in Bluebell, children made bread rolls and had mastered them the following day by adding cheese and making cheesy bread rolls. Whilst measurement, accuracy, number recognition and simple calculation were the main focus; concentration, using one handed tools safely and the art of conversation were also important aspects of learning which benefited. Children's independence was challenged when they designed and made their own pizzas to take home and share. Children were encouraged to prepare all the toppings and then make choices about the healthy topping they would like to enjoy. Our healthy cooking continued with children creating vegetable skewers to oven roast and share: they used up the last odd vegetables we had in the kitchen and persevered with the peeling and chopping. Finally on Friday, the children made a campfire in the garden and enjoyed some marshmallows (not so healthy!) which they toasted carefully. Only one child ate their marshmallow before toasting it!