25th March 2022

Our Easter Week started on a joyous note when we welcomed many parents in for our Watch Dance sessions. It is one of the highlights of my week to see the children so happy and engaged in their ballet and funky dance sessions, and it is particularly special for parents to witness these moments. Our next treat was to watch the Junior play of “Hoodwinked”, and all of the children were animated on their return from the Theatre. Wednesday morning saw a happy band of children, parents and four-legged friends stroll through the beautiful grounds of Vinehall in the glorious Spring sunshine. The walk was brilliantly led by Mrs Bennett, who led us through the De Beer block and gardens before descending into the fields below. Here the children had a wonderful time playing and exploring in the gulley, and Henry P even found the skull of a snake! The children happily headed back to Pre-Prep, and parents enjoyed a well-deserved coffee on the Terrace. If you were unable to make this walk we have another one scheduled in the Summer Calendar, so please do join us for this increasingly popular event.
Throughout the week our Easter table was slowly but surely filled with an amazing display of beautiful and ingeniously decorated eggs. Who could resist the carrot-topped egg, or the egg on a pogo stick?! On Wednesday evening the judging commenced, and after a lot of deliberation I am delighted to announce the winners; Winnie C from Nursery, Rory C from Kindergarten, Henry P from Reception, George S from Year 1 and Coralie F from Year 2. The children were presented with their Easter prizes in our celebration assembly on Friday morning. We were all amazed to see a sighting of that rare creature, the Easter Bunny, who quite clearly hopped past the hall windows during proceedings. Happy Easter everyone!

18th March 2022

One of the greatest joys of being Head of Pre-Prep is to witness the wide variety of educational, personal and social experiences the children partake in on a weekly basis, and this week did not disappoint! Year 1 presented a fantastic assembly which was delivered as an interactive dinosaur museum. It was a celebration of poetry, music, sculpture and drama, and was a fitting conclusion to the dinosaur learning journey which had really captured the imagination of the children. Each child chose a different dinosaur to research and modelled it from clay. They wore a mask to represent that dinosaur and came alive with a plethora of facts as Vinehall presented its very own “Night at the Museum!”

Last week we gave a talk to parents about the Eduuschool approach which we are now using to plan and teach topics across Pre-Prep. The teachers highlighted the cross-curricular nature of this approach and explained how history, geography, science and design technology are combined to create a holistic learning experience. All of the classes had a fantastic conclusion to their Eduuschool topic this week, with Year 2 visiting Drusillas to have an interactive talk about creepy crawlies and Reception climbing the turrets at Bodiam Castle.

Next week promises to be just as exciting and will start with a dress rehearsal of the play “Hoodwinked”, which Mrs Alderson has invited Pre-Prep to watch on Monday morning. This will be a taste of what is to come in Year 3 for the Year 2 children, as they look up to those who walked in their shoes before them. It is also “Watch Dance” for all those parents whose children do ballet or funky dance with Miss Stacey each week. Please do join us for our early morning Spring Walk on Wednesday, and the week will conclude with an Easter egg hunt and a brief sighting of a very rare creature, the Easter Bunny. Now, where did Mrs Alderson put that costume?!


11th March 2022

Vinehall Pre-Prep had a fabulous start to the week when they met inspirational author and illustrator Sophy Henn on Monday morning. Sophy has written a variety of books for children, and her debut picture book “Where Bear?” was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2014. Sophy was the World Book Day illustrator in 2015 and 2016. She proved to be a huge hit with the children as she explained how she created her latest character, a superhero called Pizazz! Sophy did a detailed drawing of Pizazz with the children, who did brilliantly in following a series of detailed instructions to draw her, complete with funky hair and a superhero cape.

Sophy talked to the children about the wonder of our imagination; it doesn’t need to be charged like an iPad, and we all have one! She explained that she likes to create characters by turning them “upside down and inside out.” This can be seen in her hilarious book “Pom Pom Gets the Grumps.” Sophy drew Pom Pom, who appears to be a cute little panda, before showing us how she turned him upside down and inside out to become a grumpy little panda, whom all the children can identify with!

The last book Sophy shared with the children was entitled “Lifesize.” This captivating non-fiction book had the children enthralled. Each page featured a different animal, part of which is drawn in life-size proportions. The children listened intently to the facts about each animal, for example, that each hair of the polar bear is transparent, and its skin is black. I hope that all of the children treasure their signed copy of the book they purchased by Sophy Henn and that they get great pleasure from reading it for years to come.

4th March 2022

It has been an action-packed week in Pre-Prep, enabling us to reconnect with each other and with our learning.
The Pre-Prep Bake Off engendered a healthy dose of competitive spirit between all five classes and Friday morning saw a flurry of activity as displays were mounted and the delicious aroma of baking wafted from the cooking area. Just before lunchtime Head Chef Susie came over to taste the creations. Who would win? Would it be the delicious carrot cakes made by Nursery or the healthy courgette cake baked by Kindergarten? Who could resist the freshly baked focaccia made by Reception, or the appetising marshmallow sheep cakes created by Year 1?

In the end, it was Year 2 who triumphed, with their cheesy Easter biscuits. Susie said ‘they had done a brilliant job of creating a gluten-free biscuit, and that she would cook their recipe for the whole school next week’. Kindergarten were the runners up, while Year 1 achieved first place for creative presentation and display. Mr Powis handed out the certificates in our celebration assembly before all of the entries were divided into small portions and the children enjoyed tasting their wares!

On Tuesday morning all of Pre-Prep congregated in the Sports Hall for our Shrove Tuesday Pancake day races. Mrs Whittaker and Mrs Bennett had great fun demonstrating how the race should be run, with Mrs Bennett finishing victorious! All of the classes were then divided into two teams and the children worked brilliantly together, using their collaborative skills just like Billy Bee!

Our week ended with a wonderful celebration of literacy as we celebrated World Book Day with a variety of different characters, from The Enormous Crocodile to Achilles from The Illyiad! The children loved sharing their favourite book with one another and enjoyed our competition to guess all the mystery readers.

11th February 2022

Children’s Mental Health Week

We launched Children’s Mental Health Week in Pre-Prep with our assembly based on the theme “Kindness Matters”.  We planted a sunflower seed and observed that when we water a seed we don’t see it grow straight away but that taking time to give it special care helps it to blossom later.  The children were able to understand this analogy, and we discussed how we need to nurture ourselves in the same way to achieve good mental health.

We also thought about the barriers to feeling good, and how that little black cloud can sometimes hang over our head, especially on a Monday morning.  This feeling can be common to children and adults alike!  Several children told me that they feel a black cloud when they wake up feeling tired and do not want to get out of bed in the morning.  Others said that their black cloud was made by not having anyone to play with at playtime.  The third most common black cloud was having to have a Covid test done!

Achieving good mental health starts with an awareness of those things which bother and eventually upset us, and with developing an effective tool kit which we can use to help us when we find life tough.  Year 2 explored this further in their PSHE lesson on Wednesday afternoon, when we undertook a mental health survey together.  We identified the following five strategies as being vital to support mental health and wellbeing: get moving, be mindful, stay connected, keep learning and share kindness.  When these are all used effectively the children are being supported to develop that all- important growth mindset; and with this, there is no ceiling on what they can achieve.

I hope that during half term you can enjoy sharing the goals the children made with them, whether this is “going for a bike ride” or “playing a game with my family.”  Have a lovely week reconnecting and relaxing, and hopefully the sun will shine and improve the wellbeing of us all at this time of the year!

28th January 2022

Protect the garden birds and gain so much

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place in the last weekend in January and heralds the fact that Spring is just around the corner.  Every year families across the UK devote one hour of their time to count all the feathered visitors to their garden.  This year, the count starts at dawn on Friday 28th January and concludes at dusk on Sunday 30th January.

We started the week with a wonderful assembly in which we paused for thought and considered our garden birds.  The children were engaged, enthusiastic and keen to guess which birds had made the “top ten” in last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch.  Between us we managed to name the top six most commonly spotted birds; Albert identified the robin at number six, whilst Florence B correctly identified the house sparrow coming in first place.  The children were amazed that over 1 million people had joined in and that between them they had counted 17 million birds.  Almost everybody’s hand went up when I asked the children who would like to participate this year and at playtime the following day Gabriella G told me that she was going to make a video of all the birds she spots and set it to classical music.  The children in Nursery and Kindergarten have undertaken a wonderful variety of bird-related activities through the week, especially having their feet painted to create their very own garden bird!

Today we set up spotter tables at play-time and lunch, complete with binoculars, bird identification books and tally sheets.  The tasty pinecones which Rachel Borrows and the gardening club made last week have long since been eaten, so we replenished these to entice the birds down from the trees around the Pre-Prep garden.  I was very excited to help the children partake in this worthwhile survey; perhaps spending an hour spotting the birds in your garden over the weekend could contribute to well-being through some lovely family time spent outdoors?