Lets do this!

Good morning Reception!!

How are you all? I wonder who the busy bees are going to be today?! This is normally one of the exciting parts of our morning at school! At least one positive is that you can all be busy bees for your family, helping with any little jobs around the house this week.

I hope everyone had a good weekend. It feels funny doesn’t it when the weekdays and weekend blur into one? Finding a way of differentiating from ‘school days’ and weekends becomes tricky when we are all at home but I’m sure you are all finding ways to make learning at home work for you and your family. My advice would be to try and find a balance that suits your situation. If anyone has any great ideas that have worked well for them, please let me know and I can share with everyone. Has anyone made up their own visual timetable, or are you wearing your uniform to make it feel more like school? I wondered if anyone would like to try using a new reward system. In Reception class we have a number of reward systems, including a class marble jar, house points and our greatly sort after ‘star of the week’ award. I thought you and your children may like to invent your own idea of something to work towards each week. If you wanted to continue collecting house points you could practise your maths recording skills and keep a tally chart. Or maybe you could make your own marble jar or chart where children can earn stickers or stars for challenges. Just make sure you and your children both understand what they need to do to earn the rewards. The targets should be achievable for your children to feel the benefit of achieving their goals. Let me know how you get on at the end of the week.

I thought we could start our week as we normally do at school with our rhyme of the week. On a Monday morning I normally introduce the children to a new rhyme, ditty or poem that we learn together as a class over the course of the week. We then try to recite the poem at the end of the week together and I give children the opportunity, if they feel brave, to have a go at performing it on their own! Can anyone remember any of our previous rhymes? A tiny seed or maybe Wake Up Spring? Here is your rhyme for this week Reception. It’s a tricky one but we have time on our side! Will anyone be able to recite it by Friday?!

I’ve been trying to get out for a walk each day for some exercise and fresh air, and on one of my walks this weekend I spotted a little flower which got me thinking about maths in nature! Have you ever looked around to see what shapes, patterns and numbers you can spot in nature? Once you start looking there is maths everywhere, counting the petals on a flower or spotting the spiral on a snail shell are just a couple of examples. How many petals do you count when you look at my white flower? Let me know what you think? If you are going into your garden or for a walk this week what numbers or patterns can you spot in nature?

Looking ahead to this week’s learning challenges, I’m looking forward to finding out what you all decide to make using a toilet roll tube. I will of course be having a go as well! Here are a few of the ideas I’ve found so far but I’m undecided as to which to choose! I hope you all have a good week and please stay in touch by commenting on my blog. I’m researching whether we can enable you to email me via mini mash, so I will keep you updated.

Take care and happy home learning, Mrs. Canniford x

Is it only day 5?!

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe it was only four days ago that I was writing my Monday morning blog! I definitely feel like time has been going a lot slower recently. I’m so used to looking at the clock and thinking, “Wow is it quarter to three already? We had better have tidy up time otherwise we won’t have time for our end of the day story!”

How has everyone’s first week been? I really hope the work packs have helped! I know from speaking to my sister, who has three children under seven now at home with her, that she has had her hands full trying to juggle all their various needs and their set activities. Please do not feel in any well under pressure to stick to the timetable in a rigid fashion. We are all obviously finding our way in these unprecedented times. As teachers, we are hoping to provide you with enough to keep your little ones occupied but not too much that you’re tearing your hair out looking in the loft for craft materials for an activity that you might end up doing alone as they’ve lost interest!

I have found myself breaking the days down into bite size chunks to try and replicate a school day as much as possible. You don’t realise how much you rely on routine until you no longer have it! I’ve found myself naturally being pulled towards the kettle at 10:45 to make a herbal tea despite there being no official ‘break time’! I thought as I had set you some creative tasks this week, it was only fair to have a go myself to make sure my ideas weren’t too unrealistic.

On Monday, I set about on my mission to make a flotation device using recycled materials. Luckily, I’m already in the habit of saving boxes and tubs so I had an array to choose from. I channelled my inner Reception child, thinking of the details my boat needed such as a comfortable bubble wrap chair and a toilet roll life ring! The pictures below show my finished model, and I even adding labels (a great way to encourage your children to write independently while remaining focused on something practical.)

    

I have also been attempted to explore some new mindful tasks and hobbies this week. With the prospect of self-isolation, I decided now was the time to teach myself to knit. If I wasn’t going to master it now then there would never be a time… so with the help of a knitting book and YouTube I have taught myself a basic stitch and am hoping it may be able to become a blanket for my bump when it arrives! Here is what I’ve done so far.

I also wanted to talk briefly about cooking/baking and the endless learning opportunities involved when doing this with children. I am aware that food supplies may be tricky however even looking in the backs of your cupboards you may be able to scramble together enough ingredients to bake something simple. I chose a lemon drizzle recipe as it had minimal ingredients and I had some lemons that needed using. Getting your children involved with counting out the eggs, comparing the weights of different ingredients as well as the language opportunities when describing the different textures, smells and tastes as they mix, squeeze and drizzle are all wonderful learning opportunities. So maybe you will have a go over the weekend? Whatever you have been up to or are planning to do to keep busy please do comment on the blog and let me know as I’d love to hear how you have all been getting on? Stay safe, Mrs. Canniford

A sunny start to the week

Morning to all my lovely Reception’s, parents and carers!

I hope everyone is well amid this tricky time and that the recent sunshine has been something to smile about! I think, especially now, it is so important to look for the positives each day.

What a surreal week we have had! I’m so sorry I couldn’t say goodbye and thank you. I can’t tell you how much the beautiful flowers brightened my day. I have missed Reception’s sunny smiles more than ever, so thank you so much for the extremely kind and thoughtful gesture. I hope most Mums received their feathery Mother’s Day cards yesterday (if your children were in last week) as this was the last thing I organised before having to leave. Fingers crossed they flew to you and you were able to have a lovely Mother’s Day!

I’ve begun to realise that during this tricky time, extreme situations can bring out the best in people! In the face of all that is going on in the world, there is still so much kindness and thought for others, something I’m always rabbiting on about to Reception! Kind words, kind hands and thinking about others! I would love to hear any kind stories that you have seen or experienced? Perhaps you and your little ones are going to do something kind for an elderly neighbour or family member? Even drawing a lovely picture, making a card (to practise their independent writing) or baking some biscuits and popping it through their letter box could make someone’s day!

Finally, I thought it might be nice for us to all try a little idea together this week. We may be in our separate homes, but we can still be a team (I’m always talking about being a team in class!) I think we should find a few minutes each day for some mindfulness. Adults, you may be thinking “No chance of that” but I’ve put a few little ideas on here as well as a great YouTube link that does it all for you… so give it a go! It doesn’t have to be sitting still and meditating like you might imagine, some ideas are outside, so see what would suit you and your children. I think during this uncertain time it is so important to take a few minutes to feel calm and grounded when there are so many other things out of our control. I will let you know how I got on in Friday’s blog and look forward to your feedback!

Lots of love,

Mrs. Canniford xx

Get your lettuce here!!

We have welcomed the children back this term with the grand opening of Reception’s very own farm shop. To link in with our topic this term learning about ‘Farms and Growing’ the children have loved sorting the produce, writing labels and most importantly, working out how much to charge for prize winning potatoes! We have begun making some more long lasting fruit and vegetables in our craft area to be sold in our shop as I thought the fresh produce won’t look quite so appetising by week five!

I am also keen to link the role play area to some real life maths opportunites as we learn a little more about money in maths this term. We have already been using coins in our daily snack shop, so we will be building on this to understand the value of each coin and begin working out various ways they can pay for things using a range of coins.

We had great fun this week exploring different ways to make ten using our ten frames. The children have become so good at recognising patterns when looking at the ten frames that they could begin to record their explorations as shown in some of the pictures below. By securing this understanding of what various numbers are made up of it forms the basis of their knowledge when working out how to add and subtract numbers.

As your children may have already told you, every week as we learn a new tricky word we sing a rather catchy little song to help us remember them. There are a couple of words that we learn separately as they don’t feature, but I thought it might be handy to put a link to the song on our blog so if you want to have a go at home you may! I do warn you though it is rather catchy so be prepared to be singing the words ‘I, to and go’ all day!

Talk for writing in Reception

I am hoping that at this stage in the term, some or all parents and families of children in Reception may have been lucky enough to have your children telling them about the stories we have been learning about in Reception class. Have you become the audience for a retelling of the three bears or perhaps the three little pigs? If so, I am thrilled, because this term I have embarked on a new approach to teaching traditional tales, inspired by the fantastic Pie Corbett (he is worth a google for anyone that is interested.)

‘What is talk for writing?’ I hear you ask. Well the best way for me to explain is to use a quote the book written by Pie Corbett and Julia Strong. Here they are explaining about the basis children need to be able to write successfully,

“Children cannot create out of nothing. They need both rich experience as well as a language bank inside the mind to draw upon. Where the reading of stories and poems is a regular part of daily life, children are helped to internalise a living library of poems and stories, like templates that can be used for their own imaginative flights of fancy.”

In their Reception year it is more important than ever to expose children to a wonderful range of stories, poems, songs and rhymes, in order to give them a firm foundation to begin their literary life at school. The ‘talk for writing’ approach helps to ensure these stories remain in their mental bank of resources by teaching them stories in a more dynamic, interactive way. I have begun telling the children the traditional tales using props, puppets and lots of visuals as I normally would. We then move on to the children becoming the story tellers, joining in with a choral rendition of the story, adding actions to certain words or phrases. This then means the children eventually should be able to verbally recite the story using the modeled story language, that they will later be able to use in their own writing. I have been absolutely blown away by how quickly the children have picked up on the actions and their confidence in performing the stories has been inspiring!

We also use story mapping as a tool to help children retell and process the story, turning words into images. This means that even before children are able to ‘write’ a story they can map a story from beginning to end independently. Above are some of our three little pigs maps we created. I hope this is just the beginning of your children’s venture into talk for writing and over the next few weeks you will see and hear more performances of a range of stories. I would love you to share any of these moments that happen at home with me in the children’s home learning books or with photos?

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

What an incredible term we have had in Reception! It is fantastic to see the progress the children have made since they started school in September.

Since our ‘Story evening’ and ‘Phonics/Reading’ talk I hope you have felt more confident to support your children with their reading and writing at home. In the classroom we have enjoyed reading to our reading buddies. This is a lovely way of encouraging children that may be reluctant to read. If they have a favorite toy, doll or even a pet that they could read to, they instantly become the part of an adult reading a bedtime story and the roles are reversed! Perhaps you could give it a try over the holidays and see if it gives your children a new energy?

We have also been experimenting with lots of different ways of creating, building, sounding out and writing cvc words (consonant, vowel, consonant). The children have great fun deciding whether the words they make are real words or ‘alien’ words. This is a great skill to practice as the phonics screening in year one features a mixture of words for the children to read.

In maths we have been counting, sorting, ordering and working on our number recognition. It is incredible how much using our advent stockings in the classroom has helped with numbers beyond ten! I’m sure at home as well the lure of wanting to know whats hidden behind the door of their calendar has helped with their numbers! I have also been using certain episodes of the cbeebies programme number blocks to demonstrate mathematical concepts and ideas. Although I know its important to limit screens and technology, if you ever have a ten minute window on a rainy day I do recommend it as a wonderful, educational tool.

I would like to finish up by saying how incredibly proud I was of all the children for their performances in the Nativity. Every child played their part, whether it be singing, acting or dancing, and I hope you agree that they were brilliant. For ninety children aged between four and seven to all be on stage at the same time performing together is no easy task but it was certainly worth it to see all their smiling faces singing away! I hope you all have a wonderful break over Christmas and a Happy New Year!

A buzz for writing

Bearing in mind our topic for this term is mini-beasts, can you guess which little creature we have been learning about this week? Yes it is indeed the small but mighty bee! The children have been fascinated with the wonderful variety of bee’s, how to tell them apart and learning all the different jobs they do within a hive. I am sure we have a few budding entomologists in Reception! Not only have they loved trying to spot them in our outside area they have also bee, crafting, counting, sorting and reading about our striped little friends.

                                 

This ‘buzz’ of excitement lead to some brilliant examples of the children’s independent writing as they created fact books about bees, bee themed stories and posters galore. Which leads me on to a question parents often ask, “How do I encourage my child to write?”

I know I have spoken top many of you at parents evening about ‘writing for a purpose ‘ as this is something I am passionate about. I believe this is the key to inspiring a love of writing from a young age, making writing real and worthwhile for children. Of course, every now and then a little bit of writing practise doesn’t do any harm, but to nurture that desire to write is crucial. Thinking about those real life situations when writing is useful if not essential. Menus, sign posts, shopping lists, cards, letters, recipes, anything you can think of! Especially if it is related to your children’s interests. For example I often “forget” things in the classroom, and the children then love to write me note or list to help me remember! Writing signs or labels for large and small scale models is another great example of when previously reluctant writers will happily spend time writing. Whether it be to say, ‘Please don’t touch’ or ‘Tom’s dinosaur cage’ it is a real reason for them to write! Here are a couple of lovely examples of signs children wrote in child initiated time this term to warn others about mini-beasts (one was a real spider the other was for some fantasy dangerous bugs, just in case you were worried!)

The first sign reads “Stop, web, spider!” and the second “deadly, do not touch!”

 

These are both great examples of children seeing an opportunity to write for a purpose that meant something to them and whatever activity they were engaged in. It came from their own interests therefore half the battle of encouragement is already won. Then the technical side of writing comes into play, however I often find where there is a will they find a way to access all that they have learnt so far. So maybe see if your children can surprise you with their independent writing? What will give them the urge to pick up a pencil?

Spring is here!

What a brilliant term we have had in Reception class. Not only have we very much enjoyed the arrival of Spring and some long awaited sunshine but it is also at this time of year when I really begin to notice the progress children are making in their learning. All the children have been working so hard improving their writing and the introduction of the ‘Super Sentence Challenge’ has brought with it a surge of keen writers! I have also been setting various challenges during their child initiated learning time which has spurred on lots of independent writing. The latest writing challenge was a colour hunt, where the children had to search for things inside or outside that matched their colour chart. It was fabulous to see so many of the class using their phonics knowledge and choosing to write!!

 

Our topic ‘Farms and Growing’ has been very popular with the children and has inspired many of our green fingered members of the class. We have used seeds to help us practice one to one correspondence in our maths, we have done some observational drawings of plants and flowers as well as combining technology with our writing skills by taking photos in our garden and making the pictures into or own plant fact books.

    

We have been working on adding two groups of objects together this term. Whether it be Easter eggs or apples, this is great activity to practice at home as it naturally comes into so many aspects of everyday life. We have worked on the method of ‘counting on’ to find the total. For example, “We have 6 cakes and I’ve made 3 more, can we count on from 6 to find how many we have?” Board games are a fantastic way to practice this skill of counting on from a given number. This Easter see if you can dust off your snakes and ladders and any other board games and have a go!

 

I hope you all have a wonderful break over Easter and I look forward to seeing you next term!