Snuggle Up!

Hello!  Last Friday was a very exciting day at school when we had our ‘Pyjama Day’.   We were all looking particularly cute and cuddly when we arrived at school wearing our pyjamas.



In the morning we enjoyed activities inspired from listening to some of our favourite stories and celebrations that we are enjoying at the moment.   Here we are making some ‘firework rockets’.


We had our slippers and dressing gowns too which really helped to set the scene for a lovely story time in the afternoon.   The lights were switched off, stars were projected onto the ceiling and the fairy lights were twinkling. The theme of our stories for the afternoon was ‘bears’ (as it’s always nice to cuddle a teddy bear when listening to stories).





We snuggled down and listened to the story of ‘Old Bear’ followed by a special bedtime story called ‘Grrr’ by Rob Biddulph.   We were lovely and warm and cosy and we all listened so well to the stories.   Was there some snoring we could hear at the end our story time?

Well, it had been another very busy week in Class R…




Rainbows and Puddles


What a wonderful start to the new term with the birth of little Ernest Canniford!   We also have the positive news of a return to school for some pupils and, hopefully, many more days of lovely weather to look forward to as summer takes hold.

As we come to the end of the first week of the last term, and we settle into another new normal, I thought it might be timely to think about ways to keep us motivated during Term Six.

Rainbows have taken on a great significance recently, and they have always featured heavily in the reception classes I have taught over the years.   Children are drawn to their beautiful colours and simple shape.


Sighting a rainbow has long been believed to be a promise of good things to come.   This commonly stems from God’s promise in the Bible.  Rainbows are also seen as a symbol of peace, serenity, hope and good luck, with the promise of a pot of gold at the end!

With this in mind I was very interested to hear about my friend’s idea for her five-year twins.   She has been using the concept of a rainbow to help with motivation when home schooling. Her twins have tried to ‘collect’ a rainbow by completing pieces of home learning.   It is wonderfully adaptable.   The rainbows could be collected daily or weekly, depending on the needs of your child.



To see a rainbow we need rain and sun.   Rain and sun also help highlight spider webs.  Here are two fantastic webs made this week;



I have written about rainbows, but what about puddles I hear you say!  Puddles too play a big part in the life of a reception class.  In fact, there is a well-known Early Years book called ‘The Potential of a Puddle’ exploring learning opportunities outside.

Here are just a few ideas for puddles; stir it, race through it, sit in it, hop over, leap over, twirl the water, make perfume, make a mess, watch it disappear, find a bug, take measurements, name it, the list is endless!

So I will leave you with this thought, I wonder if baby Ernest will grow up to be a puddle jumper or a puddle splasher?

with love from Mrs Menzies x

It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny!

Dear Reception parents, carers and children

It was wonderful to see so many faces again via Zoom yesterday morning.  Thank you for sharing your favourite books.   What wonderful choices!

The book I shared, ‘It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny’, is a firm favourite of mine with a special meaning.   I have loved this story since a pupil in my very first Year One class, who had been struggling with reading, picked it up and read it to me!  I will never forget the feeling of such joy and pride as he turned the pages and read.   It is a repetitive story with a reassuring message about accepting yourself for who you are.  I can’t wait to read it to the children when we are in school.


It’s been lovely to see all the wonderful learning enjoyed by the children.   What fantastic artists, writers and designers you all are!

Murphy has loved reading all his wonderful letters.  Thank you!

Some lovely bee craft!


Did you know it was ‘World Bee Day’ on Thursday?

Adam’s fantastic knight.


I hope you have been enjoying the warm weather.  Let’s hope it continues.  It allows us to do a few more really fun activities outside.  Someone has been having a great time in a tent!


Like many families at this time, I have been trying to improve my garden.  My garden is small with not much in it so I have quite a job to do!   I have even managed to grow some plants from seed this year and it is very exciting watching them grow week by week.  I was very inspired by the ladybird and bee pebbles painted by Iris.

Can you spot the tiny bee?

I think I will try to paint some myself to brighten up my garden.

Thank you for reading this Blog.  Take care everybody and I hope you have many happy times during the half-term break.

Love Mrs Menzies x


Dear Reception parents, carers and children

First of all, thank you for making me feel so welcome.   I have really loved receiving your emails and photos and it has been wonderful putting some faces to names.  I’m really looking forward to the day when we can all meet in person.

I have also been so impressed by the wonderful work from the children.  However, I am not at all surprised as I have known Mrs Canniford for many years and have seen first hand what a wonderful teacher she truly is.   I am sure, like me, you are looking forward to hearing her happy news in the coming weeks.

I thought it might be helpful and, hopefully, reassuring to share a little bit more about me.

I began teaching in 1990.  Quite a long time ago now!  I have always loved teaching young children and have been lucky during my teaching career to spend most of my time in reception classes.   However, I have also taught in Year 5 and more recently in Year 3.   Teaching older year groups has certainly made me a better reception teacher!   I have gained an insight into the demands of the Key Stage 2 curriculum and how those early skills are so important.

I began teaching in Brighton before moving to London for 10 years and then, since 2004, I have taught in Sevenoaks.  During my time as a reception teacher I have also been a Moderator for the Foundation Stage Profile for many years.  This has involved visiting reception classes in schools throughout west Kent. During these visits my role was to help with classroom environments and observations of children as they play and how these observations feed into the Early Learning Goals.

It probably won’t be a surprise for you to know, that I believe passionately in play and children engaging in first-hand experiences.   I also feel strongly that children must feel happy and secure when they are in school and I place relationships with staff at the heart of all learning.

Recently I have enjoyed reading ‘The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play’ by Laura Brand and would recommend the book if you have not already got a copy!  Laura also posts on Instagram.

Currently, at home, we are enjoying looking after our foster dog Apollo.   It has been wonderful to walk with a purpose and he is such a comfort at the present time.




Here is a picture of some beautiful bluebells we saw on a recent walk.






    Apollo having a snooze!

I hope you can all enjoy the weekend and the promise of warm weather.   Whatever you find yourself doing, celebrating VE day or playing in the garden, I hope it is a weekend filled with a generous sprinkling of happiness and laughter.

I must finish by saying that I am so excited to be joining St John’s and becoming part of such a wonderful and inspiring learning and family community.

Warm wishes to you all,

Love Mrs Menzies x

Farewells all round!

Well, the date I have had marked on my calendar for a while is here, and I suddenly don’t feel quite ready!! Don’t get me wrong, I could not be more over the moon and excited to meet baby Canniford and become a little family of three! But alongside the joy and anticipation of becoming a parent I have to say goodbye which I am not particularly good at!! A wise soul once told me, “If you don’t like saying goodbyes just say ta ta for now…. It is much easier!” So that is what I am going to do! And really, it is only goodbye for a year, as I will be back! I do just want to take a moment to say how lucky I feel to have been part of a brilliant school for the last ten years. It has been a huge part of my life and really is a unique place to work with such wonderful, supportive families and hardworking staff, I will miss it!

I had a little idea that I thought might be something fun for you to do over the weekend! Inspired by all the fabulous support for the NHS and the various rainbows I have seen popping up everywhere I thought about what other things you could use to make a rainbow. For anyone else that used to love a bit of ‘Art Attack’ I had a go at making my own giant rainbow art attack using clothing from around the house. I will quickly admit now that it was while I was meant doing some sorting/packing and may well have been a good excuse to procrastinate! As I begun to make my giant rainbow, I couldn’t help but think how much children may enjoy doing something similar. You could use a whole range of things you have in your home from books to clothing to towels. Have a go at making your own giant rainbow, or you might like to make another giant picture?

Your Reception children have been busy bee’s again this week. I’ve been so thrilled so see and hear about so many of their wonderful challenges they have been completing. I know they may well be having ups and downs in terms of their mood and motivation and please feel reassured this is to be expected. Just like adults, they are trying to make sense of the changes that are happening and may well have days of not being so keen to do their work. Please don’t be hard on yourselves and think it is something you are or are not doing right. Focus on the things they do enjoy for a day and try again tomorrow. With this thought in mind, the school gallery is a great way to motivate children, looking at their friend’s photos and seeing what they have been doing. Here are a few highlights from this week in Reception.

It seems rather fitting that on my final day the butterflies have finally emerged from their chrysalises and are ready to be released, so it is a double goodbye! I will think of all my class as I watch the butterflies spread their wings and flutter off to find some lovely flowers to drink nectar from. I have included a little video of them just after they appeared from their sleepy chrysalises, dried off their wings and were showing me they were ready to be set free!

So, it is time for me to say ‘Ta ta for now’

Sending all my love, stay safe and hope to see you soon,

Mrs. Canniford xxx

Learning through play

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well and have been able to enjoy some of the glorious sunshine this weekend.

I really wanted to echo my sentiments from Friday’s blog and say how wonderfully everyone has been managing working with their children at home. I have been so delighted that parents and carers have not just been doing the minimum required but have been wanting to know how they can help to best support their children in these unusual circumstances. Below are few highlights from last week. One musical member of Reception class has been making the most of this time at home and has started learning the guitar! Huey made a brilliant number poster, exploring many different ways to make fifteen and I know many of you enjoyed getting crafty with your nature collages. Here is one mid creation!

Last week I had been speaking to a lot of parents about how they were managing their timetables. Many mentioned, slightly shamefully, that at times they haven’t been sticking to the planning exactly. So I thought it was important to let you all know that this is nothing to be worried about! As long as you are not forgetting the idea of any learning indefinitely! I’ve always described teaching Reception as being able to disguise learning. Children go home at the end of the day and when asked what they have done with their day, if I am successful, most will say, “I played today!” Because the learning is hidden within the many play based activities, games and songs throughout the day.

The wonderful thing about having your child at home with you now, is you know exactly what your child enjoys, their fascinations and hobbies so use these to your advantage. For example, if your child is a really keen artist and creative but is a little less keen on writing, encourage them to use writing when they are creating. “Let’s make a label for your brilliant picture/model so everyone knows what it is.” Or if your child is always outside on the go and very sporty but isn’t as interested in maths. Suggest they make a tally chart of the number of times they can run back and forth or create a score board for their throwing game that they can write numbers on. When children are this age the learning opportunities are everywhere! I want you to feel you have the confidence to go off piste when you child takes a particular interest in something.

I obviously must caveat this by saying that some structure each day is crucial. There are certain ‘mechanics’ when teaching children English and Maths, that are taught in a certain order to build on their knowledge. That is why things such as phonics, daily reading and certain maths progressions are in place. I suppose what I am trying to say is that you can find a balance. Try and keep up the key elements of their school activities while not feeling guilty if one day they really want to spend an hour and a half building a cardboard boat to take them to Australia!

If this has got your brain buzzing there are some lovely ideas on a website I will share below.

Take care of yourselves,

With love, Mrs. Canniford x

Caterpillar update!

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve got an exciting update on the caterpillar front. Can you guess what’s happened? After those tiny little wriggling creatures arrived, all they have done in munch their way through the food in the pot! They kept growing and then shedding their skin, then growing more and then this week they started to crawl up to the top of the pot and then looked like they were dangling down. Then the most amazing thing happened, I came down on Thursday morning and they had shed their skin for the last time and looked like this!

I wonder if anyone knows what these are now called or why they change like this? Let me know if you do. Who knows what might happen next?

It has been fantastic to see so many wonderful examples of the work you have been getting up this week. You are doing a brilliant job! I am only sharing a couple of photos on today’s blog as hopefully you will soon be able to see the amazing new galleries on the St.John’s homepage where we can proudly exhibit all the amazing pieces of artwork, writing, maths etc. that you have been busy creating at home. What wonderful children St.John’s are lucky enough to have!

I wanted to share these pictures of Iris’ fairy garden, Jemima’s story and Seb’s city skyline because all three of these brilliant creations were extra ideas! These weren’t specifically on the daily plan of Reception tasks. They were opportunities that arose naturally from the children’s interests and their parents went with it and they are all wonderful! I know I’ve mentioned it before but I just want to reassure you again that this is a brilliant way for children to learn! I will be writing my Monday blog about this idea of using your children’s interests as a learning tool so stay tuned for more ideas, but for now I just want to finish up by praising you all for coping so incredibly with the current situation. So many of you juggling working and teaching your little ones at home are amazing! The grateful and supportive emails I have received have been incredibly uplifting and it is times like this that you really see how much good there is around!

Have as lovely a weekend as you can everyone, stay safe and see you (or speak to you at least) on Monday!

Love from Mrs. Canniford and some not so wriggly caterpillars! x




What fabulous learning!

It has been wonderful to hear from so many parents and children, finding out how you have been getting on over the last few weeks. I can honestly say how impressed and amazed I am with how everyone has been coping, managing to juggle working from home with making time for school tasks, at the same time as all the regular trials and tribulations that come with parenting. You are all doing an amazing job! Let’s all take one day at a time!

I have been busy not just planning lots of lovely things to keep you busy at home but also doing some learning of my own! I will let you into a secret now… teachers don’t actually know everything! This weekend I became a pupil as I started a course to help me prepare for becoming a Mum! My husband and I began learning all about babies and how the grow and develop. We were even given some homework to do, so I know what it feels like Reception class!

Since starting the daily emails I’ve already been sent some fabulous examples of work you have been doing and wanted to share some from last week with you all. It seems that the ‘Make a nature poster’ task inspired some brilliant research to take place and I love the use of real examples as you can see in the photos below. Hugo and Hayley choose some beautiful flowers while Sunny did some really careful drawings of her pinecone and branch. Daniel’s lavender poster showed how much wonderful writing he’s been practising at home and I was so impressed with a certain ‘Peter Pan’s’ sentence you can read in the picture below that he wrote all on his own! Brody also shared his brilliant writing using the ‘ai’ digraph, what a great sentence! I also wanted to share a picture of a rather creative member of the class’ toilet roll models she made as she didn’t stop at one! After making 2 chicks and a bunny she decided to write a story about them which I loved reading.




I have to say a huge well done to everyone who is working so hard at home. I know it must feel a little funny doing schoolwork at home but I’m really impressed, and can’t wait to see more great examples this week!

Finally, it’s time for ‘Caterpillar Update’!  I hope everyone was able to view the little video I put on last week of our new wriggly friends. Since they have arrived, they have grown so much! In the first few days they were like tiny babies and did a lot of sleeping. The funny looking brown stuff at the bottom of the pot they are in is actually their food and as they’ve started to eat more and more they’ve been getting bigger and bigger so I can now show you a couple more photos so you can see how much they have grown. Can you guess which photo was taken on day 1, day 7 and day 14? Looking back at the clues I gave last week does anyone know what will happen to the caterpillars when they are a bit bigger? I look forward to seeing and hearing how you get on with this week’s learning, have a great week and look out for the next blog on Friday.










Lots of love from, Mrs. Canniford and the wriggly caterpillars! x

Spring is here!

Welcome back lovely Reception class and all your families!

I do hope you were able to have some form of relaxation time over Easter despite the circumstances. At least the sun was shining down on us all, helping lift our spirits. I cannot remember the last time we had such fabulous sunshine over Easter weekend. I was thinking of you all, imagining what you might be getting up to, hoping you are staying safe and happy.

I’ve been making the most of my little garden enjoying the sunshine and planting some herb seeds in the hope of creating a proper herb garden one day. I have loved getting out each day for my exercise and my baby has been exercising a lot in my tummy too! I can now feel legs and arms moving and grooving every day and my bump is getting bigger each week!

I’m also looking forward to hearing your name ideas for the little owl I made before Easter. Send in any of your suggestions to me via email as I have a feeling this little owl may be keen on an adventure!

I had a rather exciting delivery at the beginning of the holiday….no don’t worry, not the baby yet!! I’ve still got a few weeks to go on that front fingers crossed! A box arrived with something rather exciting inside. I normally bring this mystery item into school at the beginning of term as it links with our next topic. If I give you some clues, shall we see who can guess what it is without peeking at the video revealing the answer below!

  1. It is something that is alive
  2. They are small and quite hairy
  3. They turn into another creature

Right, if you haven’t guessed it yet have a little look on the video link below and you will see what or who was in the box! And don’t worry there will be more updates to come!!

Take care everyone and look out for the daily emails,

Lots of Love, Mrs. Canniford xx

Childhood memories

Hi Reception!

Well Wednesday has come around quickly, as I must admit it had slipped my mind that today is actually the last official school day of this term. Despite the lack of being together I hope you will all take the opportunity to take a breath and smile that this is the last day you have to do any official schoolwork for a couple of weeks! It’s now time for Easter egg hunts, den building and some family movie nights! The overview you have currently should last you until the end of April so ‘school’ begins again on Thursday 16th April. I hope some of you may have the chance to take a little time for yourself over Easter. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into a good book! I love to read a range of books from children’s stories to a mystery novel. I thought I would share a page from one of my favourite books at the moment by Charlie Mackesy. It is the most beautiful and uplifting book and I thought the message on this page was very appropriate at this current time.

Since I have been researching ideas to include in your next grid of ‘learning from home’ tasks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about things I used to do when I was little. My lovely Mum was very much of the belief that “Only boring people get bored” and always encouraged imaginative games and activities we often invented ourselves. I spent much of my childhood making up plays for our ‘home theatre’, choreographing dance routines, learning poems or practising the cereal box drums for a performance! (I will see if I can hunt out any old photos to share with you!) Every year on our summer holiday we would perform a show to the adults and much of the week’s holiday would be spent preparing for this big event. On reflection I wonder who had this idea, as it kept us children out of the grown up’s hair for large chunks of the day!

It is not just the rehearsing and performance of the dance, song, poem or sketch but also there are all the other elements that go into a production that children can get involved in. There’s the making of the ‘theatre structure’ itself which may well have involved some bed linen curtains, which will appeal to those construction/den building experts. The ticket sales and production for your maths lovers, and of course don’t forget the crucial programme to accompany the performance that your artists out there will love to create. When you allow your children the freedom to create these sorts of large-scale projects that reflect real life you will see their imagination and involvement flourish. Have a think about your child’s interests and explore that route perhaps. Whether it be letting them take over the sitting room with a railway station, rearranging chairs and making tickets or putting on their own garden Olympics with different races and homemade medals? There is no limit to children’s imagination, so in the strange time we are living in at the moment allow them the ability to follow their visions and you will see how ingenious and resourceful children can be with what they have around them.

I had great fun this week completing the toilet roll craft challenge and again used any bits and bobs I had lying around in my craft box, which included some scraps of left-over wrapping paper from my Birthday. It’s amazing what you can find when you can’t get to the shops! See pictures below on the making process in case anyone wants to have a go at making one too.

I’ve since grown quite fond of my little owl and thought it might be fun to take a few photos of him or her in some different places! I thought you could decide on a name for my owl. Over the Easter break you might even like to choose from the photos and come up with a story to go with it? How did it get there? Will it meet any other characters on its adventure? Or maybe you could have a go at doing this with a toilet roll character of your own? Let me know how you get on and any names or story ideas.

Before I sign off for a couple of weeks, I just want to wish you all a very Happy Easter. I really am thinking about you all and hope you are all staying healthy, happy and managing as best you can. Stay tuned for more exciting updates soon! Sending you lots of love, Mrs. Canniford and bump! x

P.S I haven’t forgotten about our rhyme of the week so anyone that has been learning it, well done, you’ve just got a bit longer this time!