3rd March 2017
You officially know that winter is on its way when the nights seem to come that little bit quicker; the children start arriving in their brand new winter coats and Mrs Harris, in Reception, refuses to take off her fur lined jacket. One also knows that winter is but moments away when you go out on a course, for barely a morning, and you come back to find that Beth has turned the heating on and is luxuriating in her cosy little office. While the cat’s away
Year 1/2 ventured slightly further afield than usual to Caldicot Castle this week. If you have never been before it is exactly as you expect a castle to look – it is like someone has dragged it out of Robin Hood times and plonked it down in the 20th Century. As they crossed the moat, they were greeted by Sir Thomas, in full knight’s armour, and so the experience began. While half the group took a tour of the battlements and Keep, the remainder learnt about medieval life from Sir Thomas. Various topics were discussed, including crime and punishment. It will come as no surprise that Helen, Max’s mum, was quickly identified as a trouble maker and sent to the stocks as punishment. Unfortunately, the necessary collateral could not be raised in order to secure Helen’s release; thus she still remains in Wales. Mrs Brierley and Mrs Yandall felt that 2 pigs and a bag of flour was just a wee bit excessive.
Years 3-6, took part in an inter-house tag rugby competition, which was the culmination of their rugby development course. Once we had persuaded Miss Madge that it wasn’t fair if she took the field for Griffin House, the competition could begin. After a keenly fought contest, Dragons won the Year 5/6 and Year 3/4 competition, demonstrating great skill along the way. (Now, if we could only find an ex-rugby player to pick up the mantle and further develop their burgeoning talent... cough, Matt, cough). You know the children loved it from the noise they were producing. They have come so far over the last 6 weeks and this was a great forum for them to showcase their skills. So what did I learn from watching them? Eva is not to be messed with, Ben is like a greased whippet and Sam still favours the... direct approach. He sort of ran over the opposition rather than around them. Still, nothing’s perfect. Many thanks to Michaela who ran the sessions for us; she was a great coach and really enthused the children.
For many of the children though, the highlight of the day was traditional Indian sweetie making. Fearing it could go horribly wrong if Mr Fossard or I were left in charge of the cooking, Mrs Brierley brought in the big guns: Mrs Brown was wheeled out of retirement and ensured that everything went smoothly. Cocoa powder, biscuits, chocolate chips and the secret weapon, condensed milk, were all mixed together to produce little chocolate balls of gooey deliciousness. Messy? Absolutely. Good fun and delicious? You
bet. In fact, they were so good that Mr Fossard ate 52 of them. A huge thank you to Mrs Brierley who organised the day for us and is on the case to ensure the lanterns and dancing take place next week (we can now confirm that his is happening on Monday).
Throughout the week, we have been running our first round of Spelling Buzz tests across Years 1-6. Roughly half the children who sat the tests managed to move up a level, some of them even progressing through two or three stages. This is all about personal best (not what their mate is on) and working hard to move up the levels from whatever stage they are on. If they did not manage to quite do it this time, it is not a problem as we will have another round of tests before the Christmas holidays. Keep persevering guys, this really is worth it.
It has been all go in Reception this week. In maths they have been looking at length: which snake or row of cars is the longest, shortest, widest and so forth. There has been some fabulous writing inspired by their class book, ‘Ahhhh, spider!’ (I would say that the handwriting is now on a par with Year 6 but that would do Reception a disservice). However, when weather has permitted, the real action has been in the outside area. It has looked like a scene from Bob the Builder out there. Hi-vis jackets and goggles have been warn (you never can be too careful) and foam brick walls have been constructed. Credit where credit is due, they do a nice little job and their pointing is excellent. To go with our Reception hairdressing and cleaning division, I am now pleased to announce that Wraxall and Co are available for patios, extensions and conservatories. Prices are reasonable but they do not work on Fridays. It is chip day and they have spellings. (Having read this back through, I fear I may need some new material soon).
25th of November
Undoubtedly, Reception shifted up through the gears this week in preparation for winter/Christmas celebrations. (Are we really at that stage of the year already?) Little feet were covered in white paint, pressed onto paper and snowmen appeared. All very cute stuff. Everyone did a cracking job, although Mrs H was particularly taken with Freddie’s creation which had eyelashes! Just to break up the festivities, Jessica (Ava’s mum and new chairwoman of the FWSA) came in to talk to them about the American festival of ‘Thanksgiving’, which, of course, centred around things we should be grateful for. They had a splendid time listening to some of the traditions, especially when corn bread and pumpkin loaf was shared out, and came up with some great answers for things that they felt thankful for. Nathan was thankful for ‘life’. Deep. Very deep. (I am just grateful that Beth is part of my life. Where would we be without her smiling face, strong moral code and tenacious work ethic?) A very ‘big thank’ you to Jessica for taking the time to talk to and bake for our Reception children.
If last week was ‘fresh’, then this one has been decidedly parky. On Wednesday morning, Loui was heard singing that 90’s classic ‘Ice, Ice baby’. Very apt. One has to question the decision making process of some of our boys who continue to wear shorts even in this weather. They are a funny breed in Wraxall. Hearty, but funny.
There really is no other place to start than with our Christmas Production. As I said at the time, there is something very special about the children performing at night, in our old church with so many of our community there to support them. For such a wee school, they don’t half belt out a good tune. Aaron, in particular, sang with commendable gusto. Highlights included Reception being uber cute as the church mice... and absolutely, definitely and completely not nearly falling off the stage; Alex and Will turning out to have voices that choirs of angels would be proud of and the spectacular villagers’ umpa dance. What you guys could not see was Miss Madge performing all the dances so that the children did not get into a pickle – she is quite the John Travolta, don’t you know? It was a great night and I was very proud of them all. A big ‘thank you’ to the staff who worked so hard to bring the whole production together. As you can imagine, it took an awful lot of effort.
Cold, bright and not a wet playtime in sight: what more could you ask for? Academic efforts have been redoubled, children seemed to have learnt something (ish, I mean, let us not go overboard here) and the only blot in the copybook was when the boiler temporarily packed up on Wednesday morning. Miss Madge actually let out a yelp of delight when she heard this news. Conversely, you should have seen the size of her bottom lip sticking out when she realised that school would stay open.
Chinese New Year has been providing Reception with their inspiration this week. Once videos and books had been poured over and discussed, an ensemble of activities from Chinese drums making (why would you give a class of four and five year olds drums?) to designing cards with messages in them were attacked. This variety of tasks allows both creative and fine motor development, as well as the opportunity for the children to practise and refine their writing. In fact, this was so successful that both Jamie and Reuben declared that they had written their best ‘e’s ever. On close inspection (they were not going to allow me to leave the room until I had verified their claims), I can confirm that these were the most perfect letter ‘e’s I have ever seen. Excellent work boys.
If ‘fact’ was the theme last week in Year 1/2, then ‘fiction’ waltzed into the spotlight this time through the medi- um of Little Red Riding Hood. As the children have found out, depending on which particular version of the story you read, the wolf fares considerably better or worse than one might expect. For example, in one version, the wood cutter takes the wolf to task, while the Jess Stockham flap book has the wolf fainting at the first sight of the woodcutter’s axe (a far more Wraxall ending, I think you will agree... if a little underwhelming from the Big Bad Wolf). Reading multiple versions of the text, more than once in some instances, allows the children to become immersed in the story, which in turn gives their own version greater structure and detail. Before they write their own next week, they have been warming up with some character descriptions – a couple can be found below. Enjoy.
‘The wolf has bright eyes. He is selfish and mean.’ Sam Year 1
‘He [the wolf] has pale pink fangs. She [Red Riding Hood] is kind and generous. She is caring because
she brings some food to her Grandmother.’ Molly Year 1
‘ He [the wolf] has razor sharp claws and bone crunching teeth. He has sharp eyesight... The big bad
wolf is cunning because he tricks Little Red Riding Hood.’ Otis Year 1
This week has been e-safety week. As you can imagine, this is a very hot potato, with issues such as cyber bullying making newspaper headlines on almost a weekly basis. This year, the theme centred around keeping oneself and friends safe from images – what do you do if you see something you should not be able to? The e-safety committee, with Mrs Harris’s help, led assembly, using the story of Smartie the Penguin, to suggest scenarios that children may come across and how they should deal with them. There was a wee saying that they kept on chanting: ‘Before you tap and click, make sure you stop and think and tell someone.’ Rather than ignoring the image or getting upset about it, TELL SOMEONE. As much as we would like to prevent children from seeing upsetting images, it is virtually impossible to prevent this from happening. Therefore, what we can do is educate them about keeping themselves safe and making sure they tell someone.
As part of their Mayan topic, Year 5/6 have been assuming the identity of Victorian explorers, hacking their way through the South American undergrowth, discovering the ruins of the long lost civilisation. Once they had written their recounts of their discoveries, they were allowed to draw a picture of the temple/pyramid/altar they had ‘found’. The originals were meticulously created using a camera obscura (think image, projected onto paper using mirrors and traced) and Luke managed to bring in a modern day equivalent for everyone to have a go with. It was so successful that even Ollie’s drawing looked like a work of art.
For World Book Day, the children brought in their favourite books, redesigned the front cover and produce a new blurb to entice the reader in. Year 1/2 went to town on this and had a dummy run earlier in the week, using ‘Zog’ by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler (if you haven’t read it, this is an excellent tome about a young dragon going to school and being desperate to do well). As Year 1/2 found out, the trick here is to whet the reader’s appetite without giving the game away. According to several members of the class this was, ‘Easy’. (Imagine a little person saying this while giving a distinctly Gaelic shrug and you will have a pretty clear picture). Well, let us see if this bears up to scrutiny. Below are three blurbs about well-known books. See if you can work out which classic piece of literature they are describing – answers at the bottom of the newsletter. Just as an aside, when one looked at the books the children had brought in, all the girls had chosen story books, while the majority of boys had gone with non-fiction texts. No comment to make, I just thought it interesting.
Mildred Hubble is a pupil at Miss Cackle’s academy for witches. She’s always getting into difficulties and hard time. But will Mildred get through all the years at school without getting expelled? Sophie
An adventure of a group of children that stepped into a wardrobe and saw a beautiful place covered in ice and snow. But what do you think happened next? Holly
You will love this book. You can look at any page and learn about anything: Napoleonic Wars to Navies. What do you want to look at? Benny