And so we reach the end of a long term: the children, families and staff have showed great resilience and joy.
Children have enjoyed Christmas dinner, festive stories, the nativity, warm, cosy cooking, hot chocolate and the nativity. Today we enjoyed our annual Carols Around the Campfire.
We know some of you were not able to join us due to being in isolation, but we sang extra loud just for you.
Here is a selection of photographs, but your child will have some of them in their Special Book as I could not get more on this page.
We would also like to thank Empowering Learning who donated our beautiful Christmas Tree and Allen and Overy who donated presents for all of our children! What a difference you have made to our community,
Please enjoy your break and Merry Christmas if you are celebrating.
We finish at 12pm on Friday 18 December and return on 6 January 2021.
Look after yourselves and each other.
Check in on a neighbour if you think they may be alone.
Good luck to our 4 friends who are leaving us to go to primary school - we will miss you.
Thank you all for your support and kindness. It means a lot to each and every one of us.
O Little Town of Bethnal Green, how still we see thee lie.
What a perfect end to a strange year.
The children have kept us going with their positive energy and boundless enthusiasm for learning.
During the past few weeks children have been exploring Christmas.
They have been supported to make decorations for the school and helped decorate our tree.
Snuggly spaces have been created to enjoy winter tales and books.
A writing workshop has been established, filled with children mark making and writing letters to Father Christmas.
Children listened to the Christmas Story and retold it using the wooden figurines.
They were exposed to different versions of the birth of Jesus, some told from different points of view. Children decided on roles and acted the story out.
This week we have introduced costumes - we made the decision to do this after the children had enjoyed many opportunities to explore the story.
Children negotiated roles (the donkey was a very popular role!) and some acted as the audience. They then swapped and really were able to display great independence, joy and support.
Our wonderful Meal Time Supervisor, Brooke, recently had her baby boy.
Sadly we can't invite Oakley in yet due to COVID restrictions but wish him love and we can't wait to meet him.
Children's imaginative play has been supported alongside their numeracy with the introduction of a bakery in the home corner.
Children helped to set up the area, making signs and deciding on prices.
Lots of scaffolded play was needed to support turn taking and we limited the number of children who could enter the shop at a time.
Natural resources as well as some fabric buns were introduced.
This enabled high quality talk to be supported.
The team observed that the children needed some malleable materials, such as playdough to further enhance the quality of the play and exploration.
After some thought and ensuring it was a COVID-safe area the team decided:
A small, fresh batch of playdough would be made each day;
Children must wash their hands before they come to the playdough area;
Only two children at a time (they wear an apron and sit at the table) to minimise other cross contamination.
It has worked so well and actually the quality of paired play has been very rich.
We often work in small groups, large groups and 1-2-1 with children but this has reminded us the beauty of paired play so we will ensure this continues after the bakery is closed.
As part of this work, children then were supported, looking at different bread recipes: they baked parathas, pretzels, gingerbread, doughballs, bread rolls and pancakes.
These were enjoyed in school and some children took some home.
Make yourself a cup of tea and settle down by the fireside.
The Rachel Keeling children have been telling their stories using the Tales Toolkit method.
As part of our continued school improvement a few years ago we adopted the Tales Toolkit methodology of story telling.
Children are supported to break down stories into 4 elements:
We then work through collaboratively to tell stories with the physical help of props. The children then add descriptive language and they help to develop a narrative.
Last week children worked with an adult as part of a group, most having been part of Tales Toolkit sessions in their own baserooms. Children were mostly familiar with the 4 story elements and used the vocabulary of "character", "setting", "problem" and "solution" within context. The props that were introduced were:
a magical unicorn (character)
some green, textured fabric (setting)
a shiny, golden egg (problem)
a bunch of heavy, ornate keys (solution)
The children came up with names for the character and decided the setting was a "forest" or "hillside".
The children enjoyed handling the props and for many the problem was that the unicorn got stuck inside the golden egg! Many children decided the large, heavy keys would free the unicorn by cracking or opening the egg.
Children then were supported to tell their own stories which were scribed for them and they chose to mark make around them.
How lovely to hear some children beginning to use vocabulary linked to storytelling and others developing and using it fluently.
Please scroll below to read their amazing efforts.
This isn't all of them as there were so many lovely stories.
Check your child's Special Book to see whether they told one yet.
Maybe you can try the method at home? Please ask your child's key worker or Becky if you need any support.
Following our Harvest Obstacle Course armed with potatoes, we needed to do something with them.
The children gathered some rocks for our fire pit to create a base that would conduct the heat to bake a batch of potatoes.
Each child wrapped their potato in tin foil and helped to build a fire, using kindling, newspaper, cotton wool and Vaseline (added by an adult so as not to contaminate their potatoes.
The potatoes were arranged in the fire and children sang and chatted as they baked.
Campfires are a wonderful way to encourage children to share language, develop awe and wonder of the natural world, use their sense and they can be incredible calming (when managed by a confident adult!)
To speed the process up a little, the potatoes were part-boiled beforehand in Bluebell class.
The children then enjoyed eating their hot potatoes straight from the foil!
Please join us at 2.45pm on Tuesday 15 December for our Christmas Carols in the garden around the campfire!
At Rachel Keeling we recognise the link between food and well being.
Last week the children noticed how cold it was in the garden.
With an adult they checked the bird feeders and saw they were empty.
Using vegetable suet and sunflower seeds the children created birdseed cookies and balls. They had to problem solve, using the step ladder to position the feeders in the tree.
Children were then supported to use bird charts and books to identify different birds they thought might visit our garden. The list was:
Children returned the next morning and were delighted to see the cookies and balls had been eaten.
No peacocks spotted yet though!
Thank you so much to all our friends and families.
Last week we held our harvest obstacle course.
The children selected a potato and then with their parent's encouragement, they had to climb along a course (taking them the route of Sir Walter Raleigh taking potatoes from Peru to Ireland).
In doing so the kind folk of our school donated £143.28.
This money will go to First Love Foundation Food Bank.
Our local food bank which supports our local community members who need it.
You can find out more about First Love Foundation here
What a busy fortnight the children have had learning about Diwali.
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. Diwali, which for some also coincides with harvest and new year celebrations, is a festival of new beginnings.
Some of our families are celebrating Diwali and they have shared they may wear special clothes, illuminate their homes, decorate with diyas and rangoli patterns. They will also share special food and children might get sweets too!
Children at Rachel Keeling explored the story of Rama and Sita, many were able to name the characters and retell the exciting story using interesting vocabulary.
Many children used beads and perspex to create rangoli patterns.
A small group created saltdough to make their own diyas.
They shaped and added embellishments to them.
We wish a Happy Diwali to our lovely Rachel Keeling community who are celebrating!
At Rachel Keeling Nursery School we need no encouragement to celebrate.
We usually mark autumn term with some quiet fireworks.
This year we thought it would be especially important to celebrate and enjoy together.
There were quiet whizzes, pops, bangs and crackles.
Children and staff alike enjoyed the small display.
Becky was very careful as fireworks are very dangerous.
Arvo also reminded us we need to be careful of the birds with our fireworks.
Great Rachel Keeling thoughtful behaviour Arvo!