Children and staff enjoyed the first signs of spring appearing in our garden this week. The appearance of daffodils lifts our hearts and reminds us spring (and the rain) is on its way.
The garden team positioned easels, tables and a range of images and mark making tools next to the newly emerged daffodils. Children were then encouraged to observe the flowers closely, talk about them and were introduced to the watercolours and palettes. Children explored colour, texture and created a range of shades. Many children returned and sustained their learning over the week. The results were beautiful and unique: our artists were so proud of their artwork as well.
Children also enjoyed listening to the Easter Story and recreating The Last Supper with bread they baked and cranberry juice. Some children were able to retell different parts of the story and many were able to talk about their own families celebrations and beliefs.
Enjoy your Easter break friends of Rachel Keeling.
I recently heard someone describe themselves as an 'influencer'. When I looked up what this actually means, I read "A person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others".
It struck me that we all have this ability. In our roles as teachers we are role models for the young children in our care every minute of the day: how we interact with each other; our displays of affection; care; our ability to listen; to love. When interacting with our families at school and in the community: how we greet each other; value each others opinions and ideas and how we trust each other. When working alongside our colleagues: how we speak and look at each other and how happy we are to be in school.
Children are so perceptive and notice these things. We are constantly influencing the young children around us to make sense of their world, to feel safe, secure, happy and ready to learn and attempt new challenges.
A colleague took a series of photographs of a five minute encounter between me and one of our friends at Rachel Keeling. I was completing an observation of another child and she approached me , looking up and my towering figure above her. She scurried off and resources herself with a clipboard and pen (just like me), she look up, open faced and smiling, as I crouched down next to her she began to write, also watching the child. "I'm writing just like you Becky" she said. This continued for the next few minutes with her muttering to herself and us sharing broad smiles as we 'checked' each others writing. She then went and stuck her writing in her Special Book to share. Whether we are teachers, parents, friends or neighbours, we all have the ability to influence someone's behaviour or even their mood by sharing a smile!
Over the past three weeks children have had the opportunity to research, explore, handle and create mosaics. Children sustained concentration first laying out and playing with the tiles, later they fixed the tiles. Some children worked on a collaborative, large-scale frame. Others worked on individual pieces. Some children began to be able to create patterns, including some complex repeating patterns. Children talked about their work with their friends and adults and some children also wrote and drew about them.
Finally some photographs depicting the learning were displayed in the beautiful large frame for everyone to enjoy!
Family workshops in the nursery environment are a model which we find works so well at Rachel Keeling. By Spring Term all our children are settled, more confident in their environment and have developed strong relationships with friends and adults at school. It is then that we run some of our workshops with families learning alongside their children and staff. This morning Lize ran her first Science in the Kitchen workshop. It was attended by many families, children (with and without their carers) and visiting Governors as well!
The aim was to support families in engaging in scientific conversations, using scientific language and finding science using everyday, household items. Children and families excitedly gathered and Lize unveiled the range of apparatus (all everyday), components (also everyday) and method (very simple). They pondered and predicted what they thought might happen, closely observed and talked about what did (or didn't) happen and hypothesised why they thought they had the results they did.
They completed three experiements: Rainbow Density Kitchen Chemistry, Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano Experiment and Egg in a Bottle Demonstration (the hard boiled egg gets sucked into a bottle through a narrow opening!
Children sustained for the entire session and got involved in the experiments. Families left with leaflets, detailing the experiments they had been involved in and had the opportunity to share any further ideas they had to support children in exploring and developing their knowledge of scientific concepts. One parent said as she left "It was amazing, so exciting. We will try doing it at home for sure."
One morning Ana came to school and was finding it tricky to say goodbye to her daddy, so her sensitive key worker supported her to share some books and do some mark making. What ensued was a deep and sustained conversation in which Ana showed how much she knew about elephants and how much she still wanted to find out. As the focus for the three week cycle was using ICT to research projects, Ana's tricky morning kick started a project which other children were very keen to join her in - the creation of our very own Animal Encyclopedia.
Children were supported to use information books and the internet (on iPads and the interactive board) to discover and share facts about animals they like. Small world resources were used for children to explore and play imaginatively with. Children then used our digital cameras to photograph small world animals they were interested in. Children worked alone and in small groups to document their findings in a range of ways: drawings, writing, photography, photocopying and sticking, talking and showing what they knew. They then were supported to ask questions about animals they didn't know the answers to. Ilyaas asked "Why are polar bears white?" Then they were supported to research answers to their questions and add them to the page.
Regularly children shared the book as it took shape at story time. Finally children were supported to number and order the pages, add the contents page, index pages, sign the researcher and photographer pages and bind the books together.
A large group of children engaged in this project over the three week period and the book is almost ready to go into the class library so it can be used by our families and friends everyday!
We didn't let the snow dampen our enthusiasm for World Book Day. Children and staff were invited to come to school dressed in their pyjamas with their favourite books to celebrate this annual event. Most did, but we know some chose not to because of the sub-zero temperatures outside.
We love books and have a literature-rich environment at Rachel Keeling and this was further enhanced by our visitors from Penguin Books last Thursday. The famous publishers sent six volunteers to share stories with the children, involve them in craft activities and the children even went on a monster hunt!
It was evident that children at Rachel Keeling really enjoy listening to and engaging with stories. Children here often share books during the course of their day, whether researching an interest or enjoying some quiet time with friends. We also have a rich and embedded history of telling Helicopter Stories and our children are used to adults valuing their words and ideas.
Children, staff and families were treated to snow galore in London when the 'Beast from the East' came to visit this week! For many of our children this is the first real covering of snow they had experienced. Snowball fights, skidding and just enjoying the touch and feel of the snow on our hands, faces and down the backs of our necks when the snowballs went astray, was wonderful. Children explored the snow in their classrooms as practitioners and the children created icebergs and snowy habitats inside as well as in the garden.
Three days was enough of it though and we have all heaved a sigh of relief when we woke up to blue skies and green grass this morning.