Another week filled with awe and wonder! The arrival of our eggs led to children's excited discussions about the possibilities which laid inside - chicks, spiders, crocodiles, snakes and a dinosaur!
When the yellow and brown chicks hatched we were all delighted: 8 of the 10 hatched successfully and children have spent the week caring for them, cleaning, observing, listening to them and handling them inside and eventually out in the garden.
Children used information books and worked to created their own book to support understanding of the process of life and change and the life cycle of the chicks. Today, they returned to the farm in Essex but they leave their legacy in the rich learning and joy they brought us.
Happy half term to you all!
To celebrate the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle we have been sharing experiences of weddings over the past week. Families and staff have shared photographs of weddings and some children have shared their experiences of celebrations. The home corner has been transformed into a wedding banquet which has allowed sustained imaginative play for many children. Children worked during the week, planning, designing and making a wedding cake and dairy free wedding cupcakes, invitations and a poster.
On Friday this culminated with our Royal Wedding Tea Party. Children made cucumber sandwiches, homemade lemonade, popcorn and slices of watermelon. The sun shone and we enjoyed an afternoon of singing, dancing, sharing food and laughter. We even had some special visitors who popped in before they made their journey to Windsor!
Community celebrations are such a big part of what we do here at Rachel Keeling and we wish Duke and Duchess of Sussex many years of love, laughter and happiness and they are welcome to visit Rachel Keeling again.
We know initiating conversation is something we focus on for our children as well as developing their skills at asking questions, pondering and hypothesising. We use our environment and human resources to support this all encompassing skill in a variety of creative ways.
At Rachel Keeling we are lucky enough to have a beautifully mature garden. Over the past year, we have developed our garden, including our pond area to ensure it is fully accessible.
We waited with baited breath in the hope the flora and fauna of the pond would sustain our sensitive changes. Early indications are the army of frogs have returned and are breeding as we had a colony of frogspawn which has now developed into tadpoles. Children's understanding of respecting and caring for living creatures has been supported as they gently investigate the pond environment. Staff helped children to carefully transport some pond water into our observation tray. Children used magnifiers, visual aids, information books and the iPad to observe and research facts. Children asked questions, pondered and shared their ideas about what they could see. The tadpoles were of great interest and show children clearly demonstrated a good understanding of the lifecycle of frogs, using vocabulary such as 'tadpole', froglet', 'frog' and 'transform'. Mohammed thought he could see a "lobster" in the pond but when we researched it, we discovered it was a Waterboatman. Children's quiet conversations around the observation tank are a delight to hear and time and space to share ideas and listen to each other is key.
As we have just had a batch of eggs delivered from the farm, children are now discussing the possibilities and predicting what might be inside.
Staff, children and families proudly shared our Ofsted results with Bethnal Green and Bow Member of Parliament, Rushanara Ali when she visited last week.
Children shared their Special Books and experiences of the wonderfully, rich provision on offer to them every day. Families explained their experience as parents at Rachel Keeling and what impact our school has had on their lives. Staff and Governors shared our views about the importance of early years education and our concerns about funding and future sustainability. Staff enquired about Rushanara asking questions in the House to support and shape Government policy.
Rushanara and her aide, Daniel, listened and enjoyed Rebekah and Clare's homemade cake in the sunshine in our garden.
It seems we will have to fight the fight with our brothers and sisters in education to have our voices heard.
We truly hope Rushanara recognises the true value of the outstanding nursery schools she has in her constituency and the impact effective early years education has on the children and families who access them.
If someone were to ask me "What would you like to make?" I think my mind would race, then go blank and I can honestly say I would struggle to come up with an idea without needing to disappear off and search Google for hours! It's a question we often pose to children. We ask their opinions and value their ideas.
Over the past two weeks a group of children were given the challenge of thinking and researching something they'd like to create: plan it, marking making and talking through their ideas, resourcing themselves, problem solving and taking the lead in their project. The creations the children decided to make were a bag, a doll, a castle, a doll's house, a rocket and a racing car. The sensitive adult was available to support thinking but insisted they worked on the process independently (or with peer support). What resulted was six very different projects, very different processes, very different learning journeys and six very different creations.
The resulting outcomes and dispositions the project fostered were very similar though: independence, communication, resilience, collaboration, risk taking, problem solving, perseverance, confidence, pride, joy and relief!
The creations have been displayed, shared and now have gone home to enjoy with families (and I still have not come up with a definitive answer for what I would like to make!)
As part of developing the children's understanding of weight and capacity, staff worked with children around the theme of juicy watermelons. Children listened to the story The Gigantic Watermelon: they listened attentively and joined in with suggestions, comments and questions. They decided to go shopping. Bailey thought they should bring a shovel with their trolley to lift the watermelon up. Despite visiting many local shops they found no watermelons and had to make do with a much smaller honeydew melon. Maria sourced one from north London overnight and brought it to school the following day. Children explored its exterior: patting, stroking, feeling and rubbing it. They explored its size, reaching around its girth and lifting it carefully. Children then handled it and predicted whether they were heavier or lighter than the watermelon. Vito said it was "gigantic!" Children weighed themselves using the electronic scales and noted their weights on a huge piece of paper. They also weighed the colossal watermelon. Children cut the now slightly damaged watermelon to explore inside: it skin, flesh and seeds. It was incredibly juicy. Over the following few days, watermelon was shared and enjoyed, keeping us cool in the sunshine and children used pastels to draw after close observation.
Finally this morning, children created their own poems about watermelons: with an adult scribing their ideas. Photographs of the beautiful pastel drawings and wonderful poetry will be added above.