This week in Pre-Prep

W/E 16th November

In Reception this week we have been looking at non-fiction books and we learned all about owls.  We read all about owls, then tried to remember the facts we had read and write them down.  We also made tasty and healthy owl snacks for our snack time and we made owls out of brown paper bags as well.

Year 2 had a brilliant time out at Nature Detectives this week. We had a competition to build the biggest leaf pile and then everyone did their best superhero impressions and leapt into the middle of the hugest pile! We were also very excited to welcome Year 5 to the Pre-Prep. They came over to teach us all about the history of trains as part of our Learning Journey. They delivered a very interesting lesson with great confidence, and then spent time with us designing a ‘kindness train’ as part of Anti-Bullying Week. Thank you to Year 5 and Miss Bridges!


W/E 9th November

The children returned in good spirits with lots of stories about what they had got up to in half term. Miss Bidwell’s half term was spent transforming the corridors with new displays and restructuring the library area and we are sure you will agree that it all looks fantastic.

Pre-Prep have been really enjoying Book Week! The theme this year is ‘Feel the Rhythm’ and each class has been busy learning and listening to lots of lovely poems.

In Year 2 the children have been learning poems with steam trains hidden inside them, linking to their Learning Journey topic. It was almost like having a steam train in the classroom when we started to learn and recite From A Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson! On Thursday Mrs Alderson visited to lead a drama workshop based on the poem Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat. What fun we all had! The children worked with great focus and excitement and Miss B and Ms Sander joined in as well!

The children all enjoyed testing balloon rockets in STEM club this week.  We had to predict which balloon would travel the furthest based on the amount of breaths it took to blow it up.  We tried from 2 breaths up to 14, but we found that 10 was the most successful as it crossed the breadth of the Pre-Prep hall!  We measured it each time and recorded it three separate times to give us more accurate results.

Year 1 have been learning As I Walked Out One Morning by Colin McNaughton which is full of nonsense and funny words! They chose it themselves and have been having great fun with lots of drama activities and silly voices. They chose different characters and costumes to help their performance and are really looking forward to reciting it in front of an audience.

Kindergarten have enjoyed learning Humpty Dumpty…they have been changing the words and putting themselves into the rhyme! In Nursery the children have been planting Mary’s garden from the nursery rhyme Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. Lots of beautiful little gardens with silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids have been springing up in the Early Years! We can’t wait to hear their performance!


W/E 19th October

In Reception we have been looking at the life cycle of pumpkins and we carved Halloween pumpkins and we used the seeds as counters to help with our Maths.  We also roasted the seeds to see what they tasted like.  Then we made delicious chocolate witches hats, inspired by our reading of the book ‘Room on the Broom’ which we acted out after reading it through.

Of course our main topic this week has been Mrs Richardson!  This half of term has flown by and the time to say goodbye to Mrs Richardson  has come all too quickly.  Friday’s assembly was an emotional affair and the Year 2 children did brilliantly with their presentation of Mrs Richardson’s time here at Vinehall and it was so lovely to see so many parents in attendance, especially those who had themselves been taught by Mrs Richardson.

Throughout the day many children and staff tried to find the words to say goodbye and thank you, but it is almost impossible to express the immense gratitude we all feel for the dedication and hard work that Mrs Richardson has put into Vinehall in her 34 years of service.  She has inspired and nurtured so many children (and staff!) and it is testament to her great work that so many of her former pupils have in turn entrusted their own children to her care here in Pre-Prep.

Vinehall will not be the same without her, but Mrs Richardson has always embraced change and so we will do the same and we know that Miss Bidwell will take over the reins with energy and enthusiasm, backed by the passion and commitment of the whole team in Pre-Prep.  We also have no doubt that Mrs Richardson will be a frequent visitor to Pre-Prep and we hope she calls in regularly (with her puppy!) when she has time to take a break from her house renovation, gardening, golf and all the other exciting projects we know she has planned!


W/E 12th October

As summer changes to autumn we have been exploring the movement of different animals at this time of year. This week in Woodland Learning our focus was on birds; the children started by discussing what they know about birds. We focussed on what birds eat and then we used seeds to create pictures of birds.  When we returned to the classroom we created bird feeders using some of the foods we had talked about and we decorated the feeders with autumn themed covers.

In Reception we have been learning about vegetables and we started by reading the book “Oliver’s Vegetables”.  Inspired by this we planted peas in our Pre-Prep garden and then we used beetroot to dye some cloth.  Back in the classroom we wrote about what we might choose to put in a soup, but the children did not restrict their list to vegetables; some interesting choices of ingredients included donuts and hot dogs!  However, once in the cookery class we made our vegetable soup with more traditional ingredients!

In Year 1 we have also been gardening this week and we decided to add some colour to our raised bed. First of all, we had to pick the weeds out and then turn the ground over in order in order to be able to plant the flowers. We lined the middle of our bed with bright yellow chrysanthemums and the children watered them in well to give them a good start.

This week Year 2 were visited by a Thing! After reading all about an anxious yet fairly demanding Thing in Cressida Cowell’s wonderful Emily Brown and the Thing, we ordered and followed instructions for how to stop a Thing’s tummy rumbling (it turns out you make him a jam sandwich). Imagine our surprise when on our return from break a Thing had invaded our classroom! He was feeling ‘rather peckish’ and took big nibbles out of all the sandwiches and spilt milk everywhere! This led to lots of lovely writing and huge excitement. Watch out!


W/E 5th October

Year 1 Trip to Pizza Express

We all had a brilliant morning becoming pizza chefs at Pizza Express. First we were given aprons and hats ready to begin cooking. We were shown a traditional method of rolling the sauce around the pizza base without touching it. The children all enjoyed this even though we had a few spills! We then added mozzarella and put it in the special ovens that could cook 36 pizzas at one time. We all took home our delicious margherita pizzas to enjoy.

This week in STEM club we looked at the different shapes involved when building tall and long structures. Two teams looked at building a tower and a bridge using art straws and masking tape. Both teams had to meet different criteria. The tower team reached their two-meter height requirement before a tricky rectangle collapsed their tower. The bridge team had a tricky task ahead creating a bridge the length of the Pre-Prep hall. The children almost reached their target with a small gap in between. All of the children showed brilliant team work and problem solving skills!

No Pens Day was wonderful this year and the children got so much from a less traditional day. Year 2 had so much fun in their Maths lesson where we were joined by Mr Borrows. The children became human Dienes (Base 10) and practised making 2-digit and then 3-digit numbers. They decided that Mr Borrows would make a good ‘100’! Having made 105 (a Mr Borrows plus 5 crouching children!) they were challenged to find and make ‘10 less’. By working together, they swapped Mr Borrows for 10 upright children and then sent one packing – it was very impressive teamwork!

In Reception we have been looking at the story of The Little Red Hen. We investigated wheat and turned it into flour!  We all enjoyed taking turns and acting out the different characters in the story.


W/E 28th September

On Wednesday Year 2 visited the Brighton Toy Museum. We looked at a variety of toys from the Victorian era to the modern day. We explored the different mechanisms that enabled the toys to move and which forces were needed to play with them. Everyone had a chance to handle some very interesting toys and to have a go at making the model trains move round the track. We had a great time!

In Reception we have been learning about all the people in our school community who help us and we went to visit Sister Kate.  We saw the San where boarders stay when they are unwell and we saw the Dispensary where all the medicines, plasters and bandages are kept.

The leaves changing colour was the theme of our Woodland Learning where we found many different colours and types of leaves and we talked about why they might change colour. We then chose four leaves each and used acrylic paint to print them onto clear plastic. As the leaves dried we cut them out and hung them in the trees to make sun catchers.

Marble Mania

In STEM club this week Year 2 created homemade marble runs out of cardboard and old tubes. We made a template and then used three techniques to guide the marble: channels, tunnels and steps.  All of the children managed to include these within their designs. After we had tested them we had time to adjust landing zones, as some of the marbles built up so much speed they missed the drop.

Balance Biking in Pre-Prep After School Club

We are now bringing our school balance bikes out for After School Club and in Friday lunch time playtime.  Balance bikes build confidence, spatial-awareness and dynamic balance skills, enabling young children to cycle without ever needing stabilisers. The children are enjoying exploring this opportunity.


W/E 21st September

We had so much fun at Nature Detectives, collecting lots of conkers and huge pine cones. We made a house for Eeyore and collected lots of ‘haycorns’ for Piglet to enjoy! On the way home we found an owl pellet and took it apart to find all the tiny bones inside!

In Reception and Year 1 we have been learning all about hedgehogs for our woodland learning. We thought about building special homes for the hedgehogs to hibernate in. We also made our own hedgehogs using clay and sticks and this encouraged the children to think about the shape and features of a hedgehog, including all 5000 of their spines. We finished by learning a song about hedgehogs which the children created actions to.

Reception have also been enjoying their gym sessions this week and have been trying to master the art of balance!

In Year 1 we have continued with our Italian theme by making calzones.  We started by comparing calzones to pizza and we found many similarities. The children then suggested ingredients we could use to fill our calzones. From these ideas the children created a shopping list of the ingredients they would need.

We started by making the dough base and then we filled it with lovely ingredients. The children had the opportunity to try some of the ingredients that they may not have eaten before such as olives. All of Year 1’s hard work paid off when we heard the buzzer go off for the oven and we were able to pull out our hot, tasty calzones.


W/E 14th September

In Reception we have been learning about our bodies and we made life-size cut outs of our own bodies.  We also have had great fun making pizza faces with healthy ingredients.

Reception and Year 1 found out about the Forest King while woodland learning and how he was given his crown. We then used natural materials from the woodland to make nature crowns.

Year 2 have been learning how to explain things clearly to each other this week. We went through the steps of teeth brushing, revising time connectives and learning what a comma is along the way. We hope our written explanations will help other children in Pre-Prep to know exactly how to look after their teeth!

This week also saw the start of clubs, including our very popular STEM club where we had to design an escape capsule for an egg.  The children had to choose the materials they thought would be best to absorb the most impact. They worked in pairs to create the capsules, we then dropped the eggs in two stages off of the Prep School staircase. We had only one crack in the first round and only one survivor in the second. The children were able to suggest how to make their eggs better if we did the experiment again.


W/E 7th September

It was lovely to welcome the children this week and they have all settled very well into the new term.  We have been having lots of fun outside in the sunshine and 2B went on a walk to explore our beautiful grounds. They gathered fir cones and there was great excitement that the conker season has arrived!

Our Year 1 children have been learning about keeping their teeth clean and healthy and playing at being dentists and we have all enjoyed the delicious, healthy lunches that Chef Ian has prepared for us.

Finally, our Reception children thoroughly enjoyed their first swimming session.