15th October 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Sunday morning saw an assorted crew of happy children, chatting adults and dogs of all shapes and sizes set off on a ramble around the beautiful Vinehall grounds. The sun shone, the cobwebs glistened in the dew of the crisp Autumn morning, and Heidi rang the bell to set us on our way! Having Mr and Mrs Coles and the boarders join us added to the convivial atmosphere of a relaxed Sunday morning stroll, and I am delighted to announce that we raised £375 for Children in Need, thus raising 187% of our original total! Thank you so much to all of you who joined us and/or donated so generously. The children have most definitely fulfilled the school motto of ‘To Do our Best for the Benefit of Others’.
Last week we also had the chance to learn about how life can throw unexpected challenges when we were fortunate to be visited by Izzy Everest. Izzy is the daughter of our judo coach Paul, and at the tender age of 15 is twice European Champion. Izzy used the afternoon of her INSET Day to come and talk to the children about her life as a Judo Champion with cerebral palsy. Izzy explained to Pre-Prep how she does not let anything get in her way but simply adapts the way that she participates; for example, when she had recently abseiled 13 floors down the building of St Thomas’ Hospital in London to raise money for other children. Izzy then treated the children to a powerful display of Judo on the mats we had laid out. I suspect we will have some more children join our after school Judo club next term!
Our last Pre-Prep pal to feature this term was Maisie Monkey, and in assembly on Monday we thought about how it feels to try new things, and discussed what we can do when we feel frightened. The disposition of resilience was ably borne out on Tuesday morning when Coralie F, Arya E and Gabriella G stood up on the stage in the Theatre and recited their poem in front of an audience all older than themselves. They were frightened, but they felt the fear and did it! Not only did they recite their poem beautifully, they went on to win their section, which was for Juniors from 6-9 years old. We send them our congratulations and feel very proud of their achievement. What a wonderful way to end the term!
Nursery and Kindergarten
Autumn is just such a beautiful season with so much to celebrate and this week it was the celebration of pumpkins! Who would have thought that from one pumpkin, so much learning could take place! The children were thoroughly engaged with exploring the texture of both the inside and outside of the pumpkin; scooping out the seeds and counting them; listening to the story of Pumpkin Soup, recalling the sequence of events, cooking the pumpkin and eventually eating pumpkin soup – which of course was the best bit, for some of the children!
The beauty of working in the Early Years is how flexible and adaptable we are. Through our observations of children this week it was noted that some were very focussed and engaged with caring for the dolls and noticed that one of their garments was dirty. This led onto such valuable conversations about what we could do to make them clean. After much discussion, the conclusion was that we should wash them, which led onto both the dolls and clothes being washed and cleaned – an important life skill to learn at such a young age!
In Kindergarten this week, we introduced our third letter and sound “S”. Having already heard the sounds m and a, the children are really listening to the sounds in words and found brainstorming “S” sounds easy! Rory, who came for a taster day, turned up in sunglasses! He quickly settled in and helped us list some “S” words. We enjoyed making playdough and our sound of the week was a highlight again. We heard lots of the sound “S” as we worked. We used a spoon as we stirred the ingredients. We added salt. We thought it felt soft. We made spiders adding straws for the legs. We made sausages and even a moustache! After some play with imaginary electric wands last week, we investigated static electricity. We used a ruler and a balloon to create electrons to move a tissue ghost and of course made our hair stand up on end! Another busy and exciting week of learning and fun.
The children had a wonderful final week full of laughter and discoveries in Reception. The Halloween table has been the biggest attraction and has encouraged the children to find spiders, explore leaves and discover more about pumpkins. On Thursday, we decided to cut open the pumpkins to see what was hidden inside, we also used our hands to make ghosts. The children had a wonderful day celebrating Halloween, the costumes were amazing and of course we had to take part in some themed activities. We used the left-over pumpkin flesh to make warming pumpkin soup; mixed reviews from the children but they all tried it like Maisie Monkey!
I am so proud of the fabulous week Year 1 have had to finish our topic about Amazing Animals! Finding out about the different types of endangered animals inspired the children to want to do something about the issues; after much discussion, they decided to design and create their own posters. The children thought of things they could highlight: ‘Don’t chop trees down’, ‘No more hunting’, ‘Use electric cars’, ‘Don’t litter’ etc. We marched around the school drumming and shouting these ideas to everyone we saw, explaining that we need to ‘save the animals’ from becoming endangered and extinct! We were very pleased when we bumped into Cruella de Vil (Mrs Percy White) from 101 Dalmatians and convinced her to change her mind about wearing spotty animal clothes!
A well-deserved celebration to our amazing term of learning. I look forward to seeing all of the children back after the half term break!
We are all so proud of the Year 2 finalists who took part in the Poetry by Heart final on Tuesday. It is rather daunting standing up on the stage in front of the whole of the Prep School but Gabriella, Coralie and Arya recited their poem ‘The Sea’ beautifully, despite feeling a little nervous. We all loved watching all of the performances and the girls were thrilled to win the Junior category. Very well done to them!
In Maths the children have been finding different ways to subtract a 2-digit number from another 2-digit number with renaming; most preferred using the column method but they were all able to use number bond diagrams to solve the questions too.
In Year 2 we are observing weather patterns so we have set up a weather station. We have recorded the temperature every day since the start of term to find the average monthly temperature. So far both September and October have been quite mild; we will see how this changes as we head towards winter.
The children all had a wonderful day of Friday, dressing up in spooky costumes and bringing in their carved pumpkins. What a lovely way to lead us into half-term!
8th October 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Nursery and Kindergarten
We were all so proud of our Little Vines as we celebrated our Harvest Festival this week. This was the very first time for some of the children to visit the theatre for the Harvest assembly. They sang ‘Big Red Combine Harvester’ in front of the whole school and Mrs Whittaker said they were all fantastic to perform in front of so many people. The children helped Mrs Borrows dig up some of the vegetables and pumpkins from the vegetable patch and we could not quite believe how big the pumpkins had grown! We continued the theme of Harvest time by reading the story of ‘The Little Red Hen’ and the children then worked together to bake their own bread which was delicious!
We had a wonderful surprise from Freddy’s garden this week – the most enormous sunflower! We measured the sunflower to see if Freddy or the sunflower was the tallest; as you will see in the picture, the sunflower was definitely the tallest.
We are very fortunate to have an interactive whiteboard in the classroom and the children have been learning how to design, create and draw on the screen. They learnt how to use the interactive pens and selected different shapes to create pictures. Using the screen supports their knowledge and understanding of technology and mathematics as well as their fine motor skills when drawing.
Reception have had a wonderful penultimate week in the lead up to half term. We started the week by reading ‘The Giant Sandwich’ by Julia Jarman. The children then created their own huge sandwiches to feed to the giant. Bears are the chefs that create the giant’s sandwich so, after looking at the shape and colour of some visiting teddy bears, the children then used crepe paper to make their own bears. On Tuesday, the children took part in the Harvest Festival celebration in the theatre and sang about a big red combine harvester. The theme of harvest has seamlessly flowed into our topic about growing. To finish the week, the children made their own giant sandwiches to take on a picnic in the woods. As always a trip to the woods would not be complete without den building and bug hunting! We have continued our number exploration into 4 and 5, which linked perfectly with the layers in the Giant’s sandwich.
The children in Year 1 continued to learn about the human body this week and were introduced to their five senses. We experimented with what it would be like to lose one of our senses by participating in an obstacle course with a blind fold on! The children decided that they did not like not being able to see and used words such as “it would be really sad not to be able to know where you were going” and “not being able to see was mega-bad!”
‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is our new focus book this week and the children enjoyed dancing around ‘wildly’ like Wild Things! Let’s hope that our ‘Wild Things’ go to sleep for you this weekend.
This week the children have written character descriptions about Rosie Revere and included some super expanded noun phrases. They realised she is like all of our Pre-Prep Pals as she tries her best, never gives up, is brave, curious and works well with others. What a good role model! They also enjoyed creating freeze frames from the story, thinking carefully about facial expressions and how to use their bodies to show how the characters felt. They then performed a short scene from the story and loved watching each other perform.
They found out about four famous inventors in our Learning Journey: Karl Benz, James Watt, Thomas Edison and Alexander Fleming. They had to think about what impact they have had on the World and completed further research on one of the inventors. They have realised how important all of these inventions are but lots of children thought the car was particularly useful!
1st October 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Nursery and Kindergarten
What amazing bakers the Little Vines children are. This week on the menu were courgette and carrot muffins using the vegetables from our vegetable garden. The children enjoyed the process from beginning to end and of course the best part was eating them all up! Participating in these cookery sessions, the children are learning all about how vegetables and fruit grow, basic mathematical skills in weighing the ingredients as well as new language and building their vocabulary.
After looking at books and talking about the changing seasons, we headed off for an autumn walk. The children really enjoy the freedom of running down the field to the big oak tree where we found some beautiful coloured autumn leaves all around us. We used the red, yellow and brown paint to print leaf pictures and this led to the children wanting to explore colour mixing.
It is always so refreshing when the simple things in life are just the best – for example rain and puddles! What fun and so many squeals of delight could be heard as the children splashed and jumped in and out of the puddles! Who needs to buy lots of toys!
We have been thinking mathematically in the Kindergarten this week. We chose our favourite fruit and made a simple graph. A new rug proved very popular, as the children became engaged in their own sorting game. They searched the classroom for objects that matched the colour of the buttons on the rug. A big tidy up was required afterwards but well worth it for the self-initiated engagement, the teamwork and all the cooperation displayed. We have also been exploring shape by using shapes to create pictures. Some of us even noticed how we can make other shapes by putting shapes together; for example, two trapezoids become a hexagon! Fantastic problem-solving and mathematical thinking.
Reception started the week with a fabulous gardening session with Mrs Borrows; the children picked beetroot from the vegetable garden for us to use in cookery. The next day we grated the yellow, white and purple beetroot into our brownie batter; it made them very moist and gooey and a definite hit with the children. ‘The Tiny Seed’ by Eric Carle has been our focus text this week, as it explores the change in seasons and the growth of seeds. The children used their observations and their own experiences to discuss the seasons and how they differ. With the help of Mrs Borrows, the children also sowed cress seeds to grow on the classroom window ledge. The children decorated their pots by drawing their own faces on them, so they should soon be sprouting some rather wild hair! The fancy dress box has been introduced this week, the children became magicians, cats and teachers to name a few. We are looking forward to seeing where the children’s imaginations take them next!
The weather has taken a turn this week as we move into Autumn and the children were caught up in some sudden downpours during their games sessions. Luckily for children, this always brings a refreshing delight and re-ignition of energy to all! Year 1 imagined what it would be like if a real tiger came to their house for tea and wrote about what they would do first , next and finally with their furry creature. Excitement filled the classroom when the children took to the stage and became ‘Sophie, Mummy, Daddy and of course, the Tiger!’ They used real and imaginary props and retold the story from their character’s point of view. We thought about the human body and the different parts that are found on the outside and inside and how we can best look after it in order to stay healthy and happy.
Poetry by heart has been on our minds this week; the children have been practising regularly, making sure they are expressive and clear, and have thought about what actions they might include. We performed in front of Pre-Prep on Friday morning and everyone was fantastic, showing great courage, just like Maisie Monkey. The semi-finals are next, on 5th October. Good luck to all involved!
We started a new focus text in English this week: Rosie Revere Engineer. The children completed a guided reading task and thought of questions that they would like to ask Rosie, remembering to use a range of question words and to finish with a question mark. Mrs Hawtin then pretended to be Rosie, giving the children a chance to ask their questions. Everyone was fascinated to learn about Amelia Earheart in our Learning Journey – what a trailblazer! Some were a little sad to learn that no one really knows what happened to her on her final voyage though. We also looked at different seeds and sorted them into ways in which they are dispersed. We will be going on a walk around the grounds to look for some examples of seeds, especially conkers!
24th September 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Nursery and Kindergarten
We are so fortunate here at Little Vines and have a wealth of opportunities on our doorstep to enable our little ones to learn, thrive and develop. Following on from our topic about ourselves and our bodies, we worked with Rachel Borrows (our amazing school horticulturist) to harvest some of the vegetables growing in the vegetable garden. We read the story of ‘Oliver’s Vegetables’ by Vivian French and smelt, tasted and cooked an assortment of vegetables, some of which the children said they had never tasted before. Maisie Monkey, our Pre-Prep Pal, was very proud of them for trying something new.
The children amazed us all in our Woodland Learning activity, where we learnt how to tie a simple knot to create woodland chimes. Their faces were a picture of pure determination and concentration – do listen out for the woodland beats!
After our week of learning about our bodies and bones, the children initiated some amazing chalk drawings on the playground. They remembered lots of the body parts and bones. Do come and take a look in the Nursery playground, I think there may be a few osteologists amongst them!
Each week, we encourage the children to explore and investigate different media and materials. This week we filled the tuff tray with shaving foam to create a sensory experience. The children loved using their hands to feel the foam and this led onto exploring different ways to mark make, which is the first stage of developing writing skills.
In Kindergarten we have been exploring our families. We drew our families thinking about who is the tallest and the shortest. We added an entry to our Journals this week too. After introducing the sound “m” we drew our favourite meals and had a go at writing. At the moment, our writing is a combination of mark making, letter like symbols and having a go at listening to the sounds in the words we wish to write. To help with our writing we have been working on the muscles in our hands. This week we had the pleasure of using our fingers or tweezers to pull out the seeds from sunflowers!
Gigantic vegetables have taken over Reception this week to follow on from our book ‘The Gigantic Turnip’ by Aleksei Tolstoy. The children sequenced the animals that came to help the old man and woman, ending with the tiny mouse. They then created their own versions of the story, choosing a giant vegetable and animals to help pull it out of the ground; from elephants to butterflies every animal played their part. ‘One big brown cow, two pot-bellied pigs and three black cats’, the story even linked to our exploration of the numbers 1, 2 and 3 this week. The children have become number detectives and have covered our Number circles in amounts and items that correspond with the number.
The children were very excited when they discovered that the Tiger came for tea in their classroom! They enjoyed the Autumn sun on the patio, with him writing a shopping list of things they could bring to the tea party. Let’s hope that we get enough food for the tiger so that he doesn’t get too hungry! It was exciting to experiment with number combinations! The children chose objects around the classroom and discovered the different ways they could split their objects into two groups. Everyone is fully settled now and they enjoy participating fully in swimming, computing, music and French lessons! Well done to all the children for being curious like Cassie Cat and eager to try new things like Maisie Monkey!
The children were very excited to learn that they would be taking part in the Poetry by Heart competition with the Prep School; they spent some time looking at poems and selecting one they would like to learn. Some have chosen to work in a pair or small group and some have made the brave decision to perform solo. The first round of the competition is on Friday 1st October, when they will perform in front of Pre-Prep.
Everyone has worked so hard this week in English and all the children have produced their own brilliant versions of ‘The Dragon Machine’. These will be on display in the corridor in the near future, so please do come and have a read. In Maths we have worked on addition, either by counting on, by using the part whole method to add tens and ones, or by using simple column addition. They couldn’t believe their eyes when I let them use a whiteboard pen to write on the tables, practising these methods with a partner!
We learned all about Mount Everest in our Learning Journey this week. Did you know it is over 60 million years old and continues to grow each year? We were surprised to discover that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit in 1953 and were shocked to see the impact humans are having on the mountain today. We also found out about the Wright brothers, before designing our own planes. We then made paper aeroplanes, testing them to see which one would fly furthest, as well as thinking about how we could improve them. What a busy week we have had!
17th September 2021
Nursery and Kindergarten
This week at little Vines we welcomed a new friend to the class – his name is Fred the skeleton! We looked at all his bones and were surprised at how many bones he had which led us on to some amazing counting skills. The children broadened their vocabulary by learning the names for some of the bones such as ‘spine’ and ‘skull.’ We listened to the tunes of ‘Dem Bones, Dem Bones’ and the children showed us their amazing body movements.
We continue to talk about our feelings each day during circle time and the children’s understanding is really developing. The children are encouraged to place a photograph of themselves in the coloured zones and more often than not they are all ending up in the green zone, which is where we aim for everyone to be.
We have used resources like dried lentils to support fine motor skills and mathematical development. The children were supported by staff to scoop the lentils into containers and use language such as ‘more,’ ‘full’ and ‘empty’ as well as modelling and encouraging counting skills.
In Kindergarten we have been busy exploring number and measurement. We have been counting and using mathematical language of measurement; vocabulary such as long, longer, longest, full, empty, heavy and light. We found sticks in our wooded garden and compared them to find the longest and the shortest. We counted the number of letters in our names and worked collaboratively to order them by length. We informally measured our feet and hand spans using cubes. Independently we played with water; pouring, filling and emptying a variety of containers. This combination of focused adult led activity, combined with child initiated play, provides the balance that supports all our learning in Kindergarten.
In Reception, the children have continued to explore our classroom and definitely feel at home. Unfortunately the blackberries are not as fruitful as we would have hoped; so although we did eat some, we were unable to cook using them. Instead we looked for fresh herbs to infuse our bread; we picked rosemary and thyme from the garden and kneaded the herbs into the dough. Reception took to two wheels on Friday afternoon with their first bike ability session outside. The children have been exploring matching and sorting in maths this week, from matching pyjamas to comparing bear twins. After reading ‘The Gigantic Turnip’, we talked about how we can work as a team to cook and look after the herb garden. We are going to continue this next week and decide on our own giant vegetables!
Not only could we hear lots of animals squealing, but Year 1 children as well as they experienced their first ever school outing to the Rare Breeds Centre! The children had an exceptional time learning about different animals and how to care for them, walking through the butterfly tunnel, petting the friendly rabbits and playing in the adventure playground, to name but a few of our favourite things! This week we wrote a recount of our special trip and sewed a memory book so that we could remember the day forever! The children have been practising their ‘Continents Song’ as they learn more about the animals that live there. Be sure to ask them to sing it to you! The week would not be complete without designing and making an animal mask which the children used for role play. What a super week Year 1!
We have continued our work on ‘The Dragon Machine’ in English, focusing on using expanded noun phrases, a range of verbs and interesting vocabulary. We have also enjoyed planning our own versions of the story, ready for next week.
Our runner beans have begun to grow so we have continued to record our observations; however, some children have been a little too generous with the water and have yet to see any signs of germination … fingers crossed they will pull through!
10th September 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Nursery and Kindergarten
May I begin by saying, what a wonderful start we have all had here at Little Vines. It is so refreshing to be back and to be able to welcome our families through our doors. All the children have settled so well and the joy of happy voices and laughter can be heard all around us! We also welcome Kerry Ely and Mary-Jane Meekham who have joined the team and bring with them a wealth of Early Years experience.
Our first week has been mainly concentrated on getting to know all your wonderful children, their interests/likes/dislikes in order for us to create a picture of their individual personalities. It always surprises me at how quickly their true personalities start to shine out!
The Nursery children have been exploring different parts of the school and meeting all the teachers. In gym, the children had great fun jumping, throwing and learning how to balance and throw beanbags. Nicky Whittaker took the children for their first music lesson and we were all in awe when she played her flute! We have explored the wonderful grounds of Vinehall and found the last of the blackberries, which we used to bake blackberry flapjack. We read the story ‘Peace at Last’ and the children made listening ears to encourage them to appreciate all the sounds that surround them both inside and outside.
The Kindergarten children are beginning to remember their new routines and responsibilities. They are playing a lovely leadership role with the nursery children by holding hands and helping as we move around the school. This week we enjoyed our first assembly, gym and music sessions. In our theme “Me, My Family and Friends” we read ‘The Important Book’ and made a list about ourselves, choosing one thing that was the MOST important. The children’s responses are delightful and range from having leaf blowers to eating apples. We will be sharing these important things with parents soon.
The children in Reception have made a wonderful start to the Year; they have been like Maisie Monkey this week and should be very proud of themselves. I am sure we will have some future explorers in our class as the children have been keen to discover the environment around them and open every box in the Reception classroom! The beginning of a school year can raise many emotions for children; through our Learning Journey this week we have been reading ‘Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School’ which has encouraged the children to discuss their feelings. The children created their own buckets of dinosaurs to put on our wall and received a Harry and the Dinosaurs book to keep and share at home. Reception had their very first gym, ball skills, swimming, bikeability and music lessons this week which were brilliant!
Over the week, the children have been completing their statutory baseline assessments. These are completed through games and activities which we observe. This enable us to plan individually for the children to ensure they enjoy and engage with their learning.
What a super start to Year 1! It is almost as though they have been back to school for a whole term, rather than a week. The children have settled into their new classroom and routines with great ease! We worked like Billy Bee building a ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree’ together, thinking about the order of the alphabet and how many letters are in our names. The children celebrated with song and instruments, beating out the ‘Chicka’ song. It was lovely to hear them share their ‘All About Me Bags’, confidently explaining what made them unique to each other.
“What is the weather today?” The children became meteorologists thinking about different types of weather and how it makes them feel in Science. We couldn’t have had a better week and Jackie Garwood is so proud of everyone and all their efforts.
In Year 2 we began our exciting topic ‘Trailblazers’. First we learned about former Vine Sir Tim Smit and the Eden Project, before going on a nature hunt around the school to look for plants in our local environment. The children were able to name many common flowers and enjoyed eating the mangetout, apples and plums that we found; thanks to Rachel Borrows for coming along to help us.
In English, we began reading our class text ‘The Dragon Machine’ and decided to search for signs of dragons around Pre-Prep. We were amazed to find dragon tails all over the school and were inspired to write a guide on how to spot dragons, as well as write a letter of advice about how to keep them out of trouble … they can be rather pesky! We have worked on using a range of adjectives and have designed and labelled our own amazing dragon machines; perhaps we have some future trailblazers in the making!