During the summer term we decided to enhance our aquarium at Rachel Keeling. As part of our School Development Plan we wanted to create a living, breathing environment the children could care for and develop their scientific understanding in a meaningful way. The children, staff and families at Rachel Keeling have been lucky enough to be introduced to Ian, a local marine biologist. Under his expert eye (as well as that if his faithful canine, Olive) children and staff have researched habitats and fish types which could help support the children's scientific knowledge. Following visits to the local aquarium supplier as well as talks with Ian and research using books and iPads, a Lake Malawi aquascape was decided upon which would be populated with mbuna fish.
Then began the task of clearing and preparing the tank: this involved children (and Chair of Governors) problem solving, lifting, cleaning, collaborating and painting the tank. Some additional rockwork was purchased and filters, thermometers and cleaning magnets checked. The tank was filled with water and we needed to prepare the water for the fish. This included feeding the bacteria as this will break down fish waster. Amonia and nitrite levels had to be checked daily by the children and they used a traffic light system to signal if the habitat was ready.
Children have sustained interest and became increasingly independent in the monitoring of the tank. We now have children who are the aquarists of the week: they have the responsibility of monitoring the tank checking and recording the pH, nitrite, ammonia levels and the temperature, cleaning the tank and ensuring it is topped up.
During this time, a core group of children also visited the London Aquarium with their families and staff to further support their understanding of organisms that live in fresh and salt water.
Next is the task of stocking the tank. Our mbuna fish are currently in quarantine in Wholesale Tropicals on Roman Road.
Like our Shoppers of the Week this is a sustainable and meaningful means by which children contribute to the daily life and routine of the school and deepens their scientific knowledge.
Watch this space...
Once again our cyclists came out in force to join our families for our termly Bike It Breakfast. Bicycles and scooters arrived and families enjoyed a healthy breakfast of bagels, bananas, grapes (and a strong coffee for the grown ups!) Even the drizzly rain did not put off our budding cyclists.
At Rachel Keeling we have embedded our cycling programme and all staff have been involved in developing children's confidence and skills in using the balance bikes and two-wheeler pedal bikes. Seeing young children master the pedal bikes in the park is wonderful. Children have persevered and grown in confidence and self-esteem. Regular access to the bikes has enabled children and staff to work alongside each other to become confident cyclists. The excitement of sharing their achievements with families is wonderful. Families have been borrowing our bikes and helmets at the weekend as well and we have "helped" families by removing stabilisers from their bikes too!
Thank you to all our families who were able to join us today and happy birthday Aliea!
As part of our Black History Month celebrations we have been inviting our families in to share things which are of value to them. Francesca supported the children in making fresh Italian pizza across the day: making the dough in the morning and returning in the afternoon to top it with fresh basil, tomato, oil and mozzarella. She taught the children and staff how to pronounce some of the ingredients in Italian.
Joe, who lived in Nigeria for some years as a child, shared his old family photographs. He also brought in some artefacts including a thumb piano. The children were gripped to look at the photographs of people entertaining the Sultan by putting snakes in their mouths! Please don't try this at home. Some of our children are very young and new to nursery and they managed to sustain concentration for quite some time.
Angela came in and supported the children in making smoothies. They prepared and chopped the fruit, used the zester and juicer and blended the fruits together in the noisy NutriBullet. Children shared their delicious smoothies.
We are fortunate to have families from all corners of the globe and we always welcome them in to join in the life of Rachel Keeling. The pride and joy children show when their parents are working alongside them is wonderful. Next week we have more sessions planned: hair braiding and sports to follow...
Our local Metropolitan mounted police gave up some of their precious time to come and meet our children and families on Thursday this week. Quest and Penny visited us from Bow Stables and they were gentle giants in our playground. The children were allowed to stroke them if they felt comfortable. "They are so soft!" was the comment from many children. The police officers were very friendly and received a huge Rachel Keeling welcome!
We will invite them back again so that our afternoon children get a chance to meet them too. We have been invited to visit the stables to collect some manure for our garden! That sounds like a great exchange!
This week has been a week of discoveries: we have had our new border collie puppy friend, Bessie visit, Dr Sai has come in to help us think about new and exciting ways we can deepen our scientific exploration at Rachel Keeling and children have been sharing their expertise around fossils and archaeology. As part of helping some new children to settle into nursery life we always listen to their interests and value them. One parent expressed their child loved archaeology. Provision was enhanced to include books, fossils, items of interest, sand and brushes with magnifiers. Children searched for fossils in the sand, carefully using the soft brushes and tools to remove the debris, others knew fossils were "like skeletons". Children have shared books and closely observed artefacts to find out more information, with many children sustaining for long periods in this exploratory play. We will plan for a visit to the Museum of London to look at their archaeological finds and also hope to hook up with a local mudlark, to explore and scavenge along the river.