7th May 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
In the Pre-Prep one of the core values we talk about is kindness. I remember as a child the saying, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words cannot harm me.’ What a load of codswallop! Especially in times of social media, when words are weapons! So, ‘kind words’ is a phrase I use often with the little ones. In the most part our little ones have no intention of hurting anybody’s feelings; they are frustrated and cannot find the words to explain to their friends how they are feeling. It is our job as grown-ups to help them navigate that.
If I could have had £10 every time a four to six-year-old in all the schools I have taught in said to a friend ‘I’m not going to invite you to my party’ I would be a major investor in Bitcoin!
As parents we are fiercely defensive of our children, especially if they are upset, but helping the wounded party think about why the other child may have said something is a good place to start.
I always talk to the children about having ‘kind hands, kind words and kind hearts’ – loaded words but easy for our little one to understand. Luckily here at Vinehall it seems that kindness runs through our little one’s veins!
Nursery and Kindergarten
A short but action-packed week in Reception. Jigsaw Jennie has been asking the children ‘What makes a good friend?’ We have had lots of discussions about friends and how we play kindly, looking out for each other without hurting our friends’ feelings but always being truthful. It is a difficult balance but Reception show kindness in abundance which is wonderful to see. We are continuing to think about showing kindness to the world in which we live. Our minibeast hotel is coming on and we are very good at rehoming insects that find their way into the classroom! We have become spider experts this week, finding out about spiderlings. We have needed the patience and concentration of Ollie Owl to spin a web which was very tricky. It is wriggly worms next week and we can’t wait!
The Pre-Prep pals have been in Year 1 this week as we think about how to care for animals. The children used commands to tell each other how to look after each pal, from giving Terry Tortoise sunlight to bask in to checking Maisie Monkey for fleas! In science this week we have been learning about parts of the body and what they are used for; the children worked as a team to label the different parts of the body. We then looked at how they may be different or similar to other types of animals such as a giraffe, elephant and meerkat. Multiplication has been the theme in maths this week. The children have been using groups and rows to solve missing numbers and word problems. To end the week the children explored their senses in class through our explore boxes. In each box there was a selection of items that appeal to the different senses. The lemon for taste was definitely a highlight for Mrs Bennett!
What an exciting week in Year 2! While enjoying a peaceful walk taking in the beautiful English countryside, we coincidentally stumbled upon Grey Owl! He taught us the importance of conservation and looking after the world in which we live. The children were very engaged with this important topic and had many questions to ask our special guest. On the way back to our classroom, we stopped and sat along the sunken fence admiring the landscape before us. The children had a good look at the different layers of the horizon and carefully sketched out what they observed. Our Bog Baby stories are getting very exciting as we began to plan out what each part of our story involves. We looked at the difference between kilograms and grams in Maths and conducted many practical experiments, deciding which unit of measure would be best to use when weighing out objects in the classroom. Well done to Year 2 for a super week 3 of the Summer term!
30th April 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
There are some things that I teach that make me want to throw my hands into the air each academic year. I think to myself how lucky I am dealing with the littlest ones in the school because even though they are razor sharp and readily question my knowledge, once I explain (often a tricky and not particularly convincing argument) they are accepting and forgiving! Thank you children!
Let me give you some examples: When we welcome the children back to the Summer Term, I am teaching them it is the season of Spring and it is not in fact Summer until the end of June. In phonics lessons, when I am teaching them the phoneme ‘ow’ as in blow and then as the weeks progress teach them ‘o-e’ as in home, ‘oa’ as in goat, ‘oe’ as in toe and then ‘ough’ as in though. By the time I explain that ‘o’ can also be just the letter o as in oval, I see their belief in me diminish! All street cred absolutely gone!
So you see, though I love my job dearly and would not swop teaching children for the world, there are days I wonder why on Earth the children continue to have faith in me!
Have a wonderful weekend – wellies on and ready for a weekend jumping in puddles?
Mrs McKnight’s Terrible Joke of the week:
Once upon a time, there was a snail, who was tired of being so slow. So, he went out and bought a really fast sports car and had the garage paint a big ‘S’ on each side of it.
Whenever someone saw him driving past in his new car, the would say, WOW! Look at that S-car-go!’
Nursery and Kindergarten
All in a Vinehall Day … we fit so much into a Reception Day that they must all be exhausted by the end of the week. This week we met the Double Crunching Crocodile. We loved feeding him numbers before he bit off our hands and we are super quick at our doubles now! We also tried Cricket for the first time, showing off our batting and fielding skills. We found out facts about ladybirds and had a ladybird fun-filled week, painting counting and doubling. We imagined we were the Bad Tempered Ladybird and what he would say to the Kind Ladybird which provoked great discussions about friendship and what we want our friends to be like. We are also busy learning songs for our Reception play, hopefully they might start singing some at home?
Year 1 have been guided by stars this week as we read ‘My Pet Star’ by Corrinne Averiss. The children planned to tell their own version of the book using text mapping to plan. Once the children had come up with images and actions for their story, they wrote wonderful adventures for them and their pet star. To help us think about what it would be like to have a pet star, the children made their own using felt. They used templates to mark the star shape and then used a running stitch to create a pocket which we then filled with stuffing. The children finished off their pet stars by adding a face. To match the children’s stories we then took our stars on an adventure around the school, from the gully to the swimming pool.
The children used compasses and worked together like Billy Bee to follow directional clues which led them to a magical pond; and it was here that the children discovered Bog Baby! We had a close look at some of the different habitats that are found in the Vinehall grounds and followed the map to their locations. We thought about making our own Bog Baby and wrote descriptive paragraphs to describe it to our friends. We used our descriptions and made 3D models out of air-drying clay focusing on the specific details of our writing. It will be fun for the children to match each other’s descriptions to their models when they have dried out next week.
23rd April 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
A very warm welcome back to all our families and welcome to our new families in Nursery.
It has been a wonderful week, watching all the children (with their teachers!) at various times of the day heading off across the grounds and out of sight on learning expeditions, later appearing, muddied, and full of delight! Research shows that pupils who get to experience an outdoor learning environment tend to be more attentive and, therefore, have a better recollection of shared information. As you are aware – evidenced by winter coats and splash bottoms that come home caked in mud – we don’t wait for the summer to arrive to get the children outside here at Vinehall but the sunshine does lure us all outside much more.
The summer term is an exciting time at Vinehall, full of outdoor adventures, shows, sports day, picnics and more. After such a different Lent Term, we have planned a term packed full of fun on-site, as well as an agenda filled to the brim to prepare our little ones socially, emotionally and academically ready for the transition of moving up!
Long may the sunshine last and I wish you all a wonderful weekend.
Nursery and Kindergarten
Welcome back to a sunny summer term!
I am so delighted to see that all our children have returned with such happy dispositions and a thirst to learn! Our new children, Immy and Jackson, have settled so happily and have been nurtured by their older friends who have welcomed them into our Little Vines community with such enthusiasm and warmth.
This week we have been learning the rhyme ‘Hickory Dickory dock’ and the children have really enjoyed creating their own clocks; in fact, we have created an enormous grandfather clock which the children named ‘Big Ben.’
We had a fantastic ‘drumming’ session on Tuesday in the woods. The children discovered that they did not have to have purpose-made instruments to make amazing sounds, but could make their own with sticks! The beat and rhythm patterns were brilliant. Watch this space for future drummers at up-and-coming music festivals!
On Thursday we celebrated ‘Happy Earth Day.’ We talked about where we live and what we could do to look after our planet Earth. We decided that we would have classroom monitors to remind the teachers to turn off lights and computers to save energy as well as recycling plastic and paper/cardboard. Our peelings from fruit will be added to the compost container and used on the vegetable/fruit patch.
Reception have got off to a flying start. On Wednesday we had a minibeast expert from Zoolab talk to us virtually and show us all of her ‘wee beasties’. She told us that for something to be a minibeast it has to be small and have its bones on the outside (an exoskeleton). It was very exciting to see so many exotic wee beasties and a great way to kick start our topic this term.
We have also come up with our Reception class pledge for Earth Day: ‘We pledge to compost our snack waste each day’.
We have been busy settling back into the daily routine and are very excited to be able to play with all our friends from Year 1 and 2 at playtimes. What a lot of difference a bit of sunshine makes!
As the sun shone brightly over Pre-Prep this week, Year 1 have come back to school full of energy and joy. We started our new self-chosen topic of ‘Pets’ by suggesting questions and areas we would like to know more about. In Art we looked at animal footprints that our pets might have; we then used our own feet to paint the footprints. The squishing and squelching of paint between the children’s toes filled the classroom with laughter. For Earth Day the children used blue and green objects from around the classroom to create our own version of the Earth. The children used different heights and textures to make the surface more interesting. We then talked about how we can look after our planet and why it is important.
It has been a lovely week reuniting with the children after our Easter holiday and I am so proud of them for coming back to school ready to learn and adapting to the new changes of the classroom. This year has built resilience in us all and it is something of which everyone should be very proud. Looking at and speaking with the children, they have all grown, not just physically, but in their mental attitudes and I very much look forward to spending this last term of their Pre-Prep life with them. Bog Baby made its appearance this week and the children became very involved in the story, creating amazing story maps depicting the story events. We began to think more deeply about habitats, especially the ones that are found in the grounds of our school, and how to look after them. This tied in perfectly with our main event of the week – celebrating our Earth for Earth Day. The children were surprised to learn about the dangers that our Earth faces and they were determined to think of ways to help it. We pledged our promises to the Earth in a small class assembly, thanking the Earth for all that it gives us. The week wouldn’t be complete without an experiment – new paper! Our cardboard egg boxes were made into a sticky-porridge like substance, straining the water out and rolling it into a shape suitable for a cover of our book we are writing. You can imagine the squealy excitement that this brought!
26th March 2021
It has been a very exciting last week for Year 2 before the start of our Easter holiday. Mrs Grinling needed our help to get Mr Grinling’s lunch delivered safely to him in the lighthouse. The children explored the forces of pushes and pulls by experimenting with different materials, observing and hypothesising which method would work the best and why. In Maths, we read word problems about The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch and used the language in the story to work out which operation was needed to solve the problem. Tallying and graphing Jellybeans brought much excitement to the topic of picture graphs, with the reward being a little treat. The children all concentrated like Ollie Owl designing their Easter card and working out how it moved and what was necessary for this to happen. The end of this term would not be complete without a visit from the Easter Bunny! Lots of excited squeals could be heard as the children enjoyed working together to search for their eggs.
As the Daffodils continue to bloom the children have embraced Spring this week in Year 1; from nature walks observing the seasonal changes to sharing the excitement as Easter draws near. The children worked together to create a giant Easter egg to celebrate this time of year and thought about patterns and colour with which to decorate it. The children used Easter to influence their writing and we had many Easter Bunny adventures. On Wednesday the children decided to explore some of the different languages we have in class; Mrs Bennett showed the children Duolingo as she is using it to refresh her French skills. We then tried the German and Swedish version and the children enjoyed hearing each other share the languages they know. The children have been incredibly excitable this week and we have taken every opportunity to get outdoors and explore new areas of the grounds. We ended the week with a marvellous Easter egg hunt that a sneaky Easter Bunny had set up for the children. What a fantastic way to finish the term!
This week in Reception all our activities have been based on the theme of Easter. We have made Easter cards, planned and designed Egg paintings and used (not eaten!) Jellybeans in our maths centres. We started the week with all our friends from Pre-Prep taking a mindful Monday morning walk looking for signs of Spring. We spotted lots of daffodils and buds and even found some rabbit droppings; the children all agreed that the Easter Bunny and his team must be nearby!
Nursery and Kindergarten
What a wonderful way to end our term with a celebration of Easter and the Easter bunny, who hid eggs all over the woods! The children have had a wonderful time hunting for eggs, decorating eggs and making Easter nests. The weather has been on our side as we have explored the school grounds still looking for signs of Spring and perhaps some missed eggs!
On Thursday we were all very excited as we headed off to the pond outside Mr Powis’ house. We were on a mission to help Dave and Keith, our amazing groundsmen, to clean out the pond. ‘How many fish?’ was the question being asked by Cassie Cat? Mr Powis was not sure, so we were very curious to count how many were in the pond. The answer was five!
Outside, we have been creating different obstacle courses to challenge the children’s gross physical skills. This is such an important part of their development – to be able to balance, jump, climb etc leads onto developing good core strength, as well as developing their muscles to hold a pen and use scissors.
The children have been trying their best in all areas of learning and development and been rewarded with lots of Pre-Prep pal postcards; well done everyone!
Happy Easter holidays to you all!
19th March 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
When all the children returned on the 8th March, our first port of call as teachers was to listen and spend time with each child, ensuring their social friendships resumed positively and allowing them to share any anxieties regarding their return to school. The children’s emotional and social well-being is the priority; it is only when that is the right place that we can resume the learning.
Our Zones of Regulation is a toolkit to help all our children understand how they feel and it offers ideas on how to self-regulate. The children in Years 1 and 2 have used this a great deal in the last two weeks while settling back into school. For Reception we needed something more ‘fictional’ to help them vocalise and understand their feelings. The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas was pulled off the shelf.
It all begins with the Colour Monster waking up one day feeling decidedly moody and a bit muddled (rainbow coloured). Luckily he meets a little girl who helps him to work out how to separate his emotions from one another by placing each colour in its appropriate jar, and he ends up feeling much better. Yellow being happiness, red – anger, black – fear, green – calm and pink being love.
Learning about feelings and emotions is part of developing positive self-esteem and better relationships with others. As a child’s emotional intelligence grows, they are increasingly able to use their emotional information to guide their own thinking and behaviour; in other words, to calm themselves down. Each morning I ask the children how they are feeling, and now they tell me a colour, and I know some are sharing this tactic with their families.
In what continues to be a very emotional time for young and old alike, it is important to work out what you’re really feeling inside and share it with those around you. Sharing how we feel with each other is a cathartic and powerful way to help improve mental health.
One of my favourite things to tell our little people in Pre-Prep is that feelings aren’t good or bad – they are just our body’s way of letting us know what is going on in the world around us! Once we can identify the feeling, we can employ our Zones of Regulation to help us work through them. Today, I am feeling positively yellow, as all the children have had a great week!
Terrible joke of the week: What does a bunny like to dance to? Hip-Hop!
Nursery and Kindergarten
The week started with a spring in our step as we went around our beautiful grounds to look for signs of spring. With clipboards and magnifiers in our hands, we found that we were surrounded by so much. The buds and the blossom are appearing, the birds are singing and the daffodils (or sun drops as Cassie Cat wanted to call them) are just a carpet of yellow sunshine!
The children listened to some classical music this week from Vivaldi and the Four Seasons and explored different ways of moving, paying close attention to the music and changing their movements accordingly. They had some great suggestions as to what the music was trying to tell us and how it made us feel. “I feel like a buzzy bee,” “This makes me feel like I am on holiday,” “Ooh the music is telling me to move very slowly.”
The wonderful scents which were coming from the classrooms were the delightful smells of herb potions! Our herbs are growing in the vegetable garden and the children cut them up, added water and the result was Vinehall’s own ‘Eau de parfum!’
All our outside space is just so exciting and inviting and this week the children have had great fun on the climbing equipment!
Reception was in the woods this week with Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf! We looked at different versions of the fairy tale and wondered why the story is not always the same. We made story baskets to help us retell the story. We used the balance scale to make some currant buns for Granny to help her feel better. We also painted pictures and made cards so Granny would be very pleased to see us and all our goodies on Friday afternoon. We went into the woods and found Red Riding Hood’s Granny before the Big Bad Wolf did. In phonics we have been learning new sounds and trying to use them in our writing. But the greatest excitement came when we discovered that our beans were starting to grow. We have spotted a shoot and some roots. Interestingly, it was the smallest seeds that have grown first. Perhaps a magic beanstalk will greet us on Monday morning!
Year 1 have had another fabulous week! The theme this week in English has been non-fiction texts and the children have been creating their own animal guides. The children started by researching the animal they wanted to write about using library books and then used features of non-fiction texts for their booklets. We watched a tour of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and spoke about its purpose and what you might find there. The children then created their own version of an African National Park and used natural features to create a bird’s eye view. In art the children focused on creating repeating patterns in layers based on some traditional African textile prints. Year 1 set up shop in maths this week as we explored money. The children found many different ways to make sure they had enough money to buy the items they wanted. Mrs Winn started a paper aeroplane workshop on Thursday morning and the children then decided to take these out at playtime; so much imaginative play from one piece of paper!
It has been a productive week in Year 2, with the children settling back into their routines. We caught a ray of sun and headed down to the woods and worked in teams to build miniature shelters that would provide the basic needs for survival. The children are looking forward to returning to the woods next week to see which ones survived. In maths, we explored the classroom and measured the length and height of items using tape measures and metre sticks ensuring accuracy. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch continues to be a favourite story for the children and this week they created a 3D model of a lighthouse, focusing on its specific parts and which materials would be most suitable. The lighthouses were complete when the children added their circuits, allowing them to light up just as real ones would. The week came to a close with celebrations of World Book Day where the children relived some of their favourite book,s as Year 2 joined Year 1 (socially distanced) to act out some of their favourite tales.
12th March 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
This week has been like Christmas … excitement in the air, children smiling from ear to ear and the energy that comes with the magic of being together! Welcome back everyone!
As it was Science Week, Pre-Prep children were given a problem to solve: How can you stop Humpty Dumpty from cracking, when he falls off the wall? Materials, much discussion and thinking caps were all in use in all the classrooms this week as children worked in small teams to find a solution. Once they had planned, designed and then constructed their solutions, their ideas were put to the test. Survival rates for poor Humpty Dumpty varied across the year groups, but as expected (and hoped!) the reasoning and problem solving skills were definitely more triumphant in Year 2 compared to a lot of scrambled egg in Early Years!
Much egg-citement! (I couldn’t resist a good old egg ‘yoke’ – they are always cracking!)
Nursery and Kindergarten
‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one!’ This was the focus of our week at Little Vines and what a fun-filled week we have had! The weather was so very kind to us on Tuesday and off we went with our ‘swishy, swashy’ grass in hand to follow the clues and find the bears. We had to go under and over obstacles and use our listening ears and bright eyes; low and behold we found not just one but lots of bears hiding in the woods and climbing up the trees! We made porridge and some of the children were just like Maisie Monkey and tried something new and discovered that they really did like porridge, especially if it was drizzled with honey!
We certainly have many green fingers amongst us and have been busy creating our gardening corner. The children are learning how to look after the potatoes we planted last week and take it in turns to water the containers; fingers crossed the sun now shines down upon us.
The letter of the week was ‘l’ which led us on to creating lemon and lime juice. The children were once again just like our Pre-Prep Pal, Maisie Monkey and tried something new; the faces of the children described their thoughts as you will see in the photographs!
To celebrate British Science Week Mrs Bennett set us a task: how could we protect Humpty Dumpty from cracking as he fell off the wall? We all worked together just like Billy Bee to build a wall and then talked about how we could protect Humpty. The children were given a variety of resources – cardboard boxes, cotton wool, paper, tape etc – to wrap up Humpty. The anticipation was just too much as each egg fell off the wall and was carefully unwrapped, a good percentage of the eggs did not crack, so a big well done to the children for protecting Humpty so well!
Finally we are all together again. Reception have enjoyed their new outdoor area and we have spent as much time as possible outside, blowing away the lockdown cobwebs. We are climbing the beanstalk this week and planting our own magic beans. Where will our beanstalks take us? First we need to make sure we look after our bean properly, thinking about what a plant needs to grow and thrive. A little bit like our children, we have spent time rekindling friendships and getting back into a routine which enables us all to grow and thrive as well! Swimming, music, PE and French have all been able to continue with our specialist teachers – so a rest will definitely be needed this weekend!
Year 1 have had the most fabulous return to the classroom this week! The children have all been incredibly excited and we have utilised this energy by getting outdoors. Billy Bee joined our class for the week; the children were encouraged to work as a team through a range of activities. From our giant domino chain to our Bee collage, the children all showed fantastic collaboration. To celebrate Science Week the whole of Pre-Prep took part in a Humpty Dumpty Challenge; the children had to think about how they could protect Humpty when he fell. Year 1’s armour was so successful that we had to make the wall even taller. This week the children returned to swimming and were surprised to find Mrs Bennett joining them in the water to support their lessons; there are definitely some real life Maisie Monkeys in Year 1. I am always so proud of Year 1 and this week has just highlighted their amazing resilience and adaptability.
Well, the children were back this week and giddy excitement filled the Year 2 classroom once again! We spent a lot of the week playing games to help us get to know each other again, our surroundings and the expectations of the classroom. 100 days of school was celebrated on Wednesday with the children wearing 100 glasses and working like Billy Bee to build a tower of 100 cups. A lot of experimenting was done testing what makes a circuit and how it is related to our everyday life. The children enjoyed practising adding totals of coins and working out the correct change in preparation for our Year 2 shop next week. I am so proud of everyone for coming back to school ready to learn and trying their best, despite it all being a little different to how it was before. Excellent job Year 2!
5th March 2021
Message from Amanda McKnight, Head of Pre-Prep
I cannot thank you all enough for your support over the last most challenging eight weeks. We do not underestimate how difficult it is for families to juggle work, run the home and support their children with their remote learning journey. Your children have been watching you and seeing how our Pre-Prep Pals dispositions can be put into action every day. Well done! Similarly, I know you will agree that the teachers have been extraordinary. Moving their entire timetables online has been an epic achievement; teaching live lessons to our 4 to 7-year-olds daily and juggling their own families to ensure their pupils have access to the highest quality teaching and learning has been no mean feat. Finally, and MOST importantly, all the teachers and I want to congratulate the children on the outstanding way in which they have engaged with their remote learning. From the very start of the term, they have demonstrated the ability to flip seamlessly back into a very different learning way and have done this with enthusiasm and open minds. I do not doubt that the skills they have honed this term will stand them in excellent stead for many years to come. Children, we are VERY PROUD of you all!
In the next three weeks up until the Easter holidays we will have a heavy focus on emotional health and wellbeing to enable a smooth return to the classroom and the wonderful reigniting of friendships! I know some families may feel anxious about returning to school, but please be reassured that our children and staff’s safety is of paramount importance. We have been prepping the classrooms and school excitedly, ready for the fun, laughter and learning to start again on Monday morning!
I wish you all a well-deserved weekend, where I am sure you will have a wonderful time with your little ones getting ready for school on Monday. See you ALL then! 🙂
Terrible Joke of the Week (but very true!)
Why do the teachers put on sunglasses? Because their students are so bright!
Nursery and Kindergarten
Billy Bee has been our Pre-Prep Pal focus this week. The children have listened to stories about being kind, our feelings and the importance of working collaboratively with our friends. As always the children have excelled in their natural ability to tune in to each other’s emotions and really try their best in developing wonderful relationships. To help us understand, we filled our ‘Friendship Pie’ colouring sheet with so much love; I wonder what words you put in your pie? Below are just a few words from the children:
“Share my chocolate.”
“Help my friends if they are hurt.”
“Listen to my friends.”
“Use kind words.”
This led us on to baking a pie. The children voted for which pie they would like to bake and the overall vote went to the ‘apple pie!’ We all helped to roll out the pastry and cut out shapes to go on the top and of course the best part was eating it all up at snack time!
On Wednesday the children planted some potatoes as part of an ongoing project with ‘Grow Your Own Potatoes.’ We learnt all about the chitting potatoes and how we will care and look after them. When we harvest them on 15th June we will be taking a vote on the best way to cook them; at the moment the good old roast potato is certainly the favourite choice! Next week we will be beginning to develop our vegetable garden in the hope of growing our own fruit and vegetables for our snack time.
Music Time with Mrs Fulford was very exciting as she huffed and puffed and played us some tunes on her trombone. The children really enjoyed listening to the sounds and requested that she brings more instruments to music time!
Our dinosaur theme continued with fossil creations, stories, creating our own bubbling volcanoes as well as wonderful use of shapes to create the most spectacular dinosaurs! Watch out for the children stomping around as they have thoroughly enjoyed learning the song of ‘The Prehistoric Animal Brigade!’
The Big Bad Wolf has had a very busy week! The Reception children have spent the week helping the Three Little Pigs make strong houses out of straw, twigs and Lego bricks. I don’t think the Big Bad Wolf managed to blow any of them down. We have also explored the properties of shapes, learning new vocabulary such as ‘sides and vertices’. We can now describe shapes to our friends. We explored with lollipop sticks and Playdough to make our own shapes before we made our own shape houses. Once again Mrs McKnight, Mrs Parkin and Miss Goodsell have enjoyed seeing all the lovely videos sent in of the children retelling the Three Little Pigs with their puppets. It’s just made us more excited to see all of Reception together next week for a new start.
Year 1 have had another wonderful week on Safari. The children started the week by exploring Africa and learning some interesting facts about the continent. In Science we continued our investigation into animals and used the technical vocabulary to describe their diet: omnivore, carnivore and herbivore. After watching Andy’s Adventures the children made Safari jeeps so that we would have a suitable vehicle to go out and complete observations. In English this week the children were inspired by ‘How to Hide a Lion’ by Helen Stephens and created their own versions of the book. They chose different animals and identified places where their animal could hide. There are no words to describe how proud I am of Year 1 (and their parents) for their amazing adaptability and positivity throughout remote learning. This experience has been a roller coaster for all of us and I am so glad that the children will be returning next week. The classroom has felt incredibly empty and needs to be filled with the laughter and joy of the children.
Well, we ALL made it to the LAST week of our remote Learning 2021! Although lockdown was something that we dreaded, it brought out lots of positives and made us stronger people in one way or another. It was lovely to hear how the children are looking forward to coming back to school, but that they will also miss being at home with their Mummies and Daddies; so well done to you ALL for making their experience so positive.
This week we continued exploring money and totalling sums of money in preparation for our Year 2 Shop when they return next week. A well-earned game of hangman was enjoyed by all in our final ‘Fun Friday’ session as we waved a Big Goodbye for the last time.
26th February 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
It was music to my ears when I heard that all the children will be returning to the classrooms on Monday 8th March! The staff are hugely excited and have a renewed vigour in preparing for their return. I have been busy working with the team over the past week to finalise the finer details and a letter about the return to school will be sent to you next week.
I hope you are all enjoying this Spring weather and I wish you all a wonderful weekend with your family.
Terrible joke of the week
What do you call a three legged donkey? A Wonkey
Nursery and Kindergarten
Welcome back to all our Little Vines! This week we were delighted to see some of the children who have not been in school since Christmas. Once again, our little ones astonish me; they have such resilience and adapt to changes, taking everything in their stride.
We started the week with an almighty ROAR as the classrooms were full of dinosaurs! We have been learning about how dinosaurs lived such a long, long, long time ago; and did you know some of them are even bigger than Mr Powis! The children have created their own dinosaurs using lots of different media and materials. Some of our little ones have even learnt dinosaurs names, which is very tricky!
Off we stomped on our woodland adventures to discover, yes that’s right, dinosaur bones which the children unearthed using tools to dig with and magnifiers; quite the little palaeontologists they were! We boogied to the songs of ‘The Dinosaur Dance’ and ‘The Prehistoric Animal Brigade’ (One of Mrs Wolford’s favourites!)
We celebrated Rose’s 4th Birthday and she sat on the very special birthday chair which was decorated with balloons!
Once upon a time there was a beautiful class of Reception children who, even though they were working from home and were not allowed to go to their magical school, began their topic of fairy tales. Starting in an enchanted wood where three bears live, the children learned all about Goldilocks’ shenanigans and began to develop their story telling skills. Story mapping, choosing their favourite character and designing and creating the backdrop for their own puppet show setting was an exciting and magical way to start this half term. The week most definitely ended happily ever after!
Year 1 have had a fantastic start to this term and dived straight in to our safari topic. The children started the week by learning about big cats and created their own magnificent manes in art. In science the children investigated the different types of animals and classified them into groups. Outside of the Year 1 classroom we have a regular visitor in the form of a small but rather plump, sneaky squirrel. We are pretty sure that Kindergarten’s lovely bird feeders have been the most recent source of excitement for the squirrel. The theme of woodland creatures continued into our outdoor learning this week, to spot the creatures that we see around our homes and in local areas. In English we have been exploring different types of poetry, such as acrostic, rhyming couplets and ‘What am I?’ poems. The highlight was Mrs B’s poetry workshop on Thursday, from dancing around like a monkey to speaking in your best alien voice, the children were all developing their poetry skills. The children then used these skills to perform their poems to each other using expression and actions to make their poem more interesting. We definitely have some young poets and drama enthusiasts in Year 1!
The children arrived back to their remote learning rested and ready to learn this week! I am so impressed with their continued resilience in adapting to our new way of learning and in continuing to always try their best, despite the challenges we face. We began the new half of term by reading The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch and we began to discover the main characters and setting in preparation for the activities that will surely bring a lot of excitement. We started to think about electricity and being safe around it and I am so glad that the children will be coming back to school to experience that in the hands-on lessons that will follow! We looked at the United Kingdom and discovered what countries make it up and it will be lovely for the children to bring the work that they are doing at home back to the classroom so we can take a closer look at the countries in small group learning. Our first Year 2 investigation of coins took place in maths this week, with the children exploring coins and notes up close while practising their adding up using their knowledge of counting in 5s and 10s. A superb week Year 2 – well done!
12th February 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
COVID-19 and the global pandemic has affected everyone, our world has changed and we are experiencing new norms almost every day. What has shone through this half term is how the whole school community has pulled together to face the challenge, adapting to and adopting new ways of working in next to no time.
It is at times like this, when people and systems are being put to the test, that you really find out what is important and the benefit of teamwork and grit.
In the words of Edgar Albert Guest:
It Couldn’t Be Done
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That ‘maybe it couldn’t,’ but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: ‘Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it; ‘
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That ‘cannot be done,’ and you’ll do it.
To all children, parents and staff, this half term you most definitely did it! Have a very much-needed and well-earned half term break.
Terrible joke of the week:
What do you call a dinosaur that is sleeping?
Nursery and Kindergarten
What a magical start to the week we had with snow all around us! The children and staff put on their layers and could not get out of the door fast enough! We built snowmen and went sledging; what a fabulous Monday!
Kung Hei Fat Choi to you all, meaning best wishes for a prosperous New Year! Our children have fully embraced celebrating Chinese New Year here at Little Vines. We have had dragons dancing down the corridor and danced with colourful ribbons; we have been just like Maisie Monkey, trying new things such as Chinese tea and using chopsticks to eat our noodles! So many new challenges and experiences which encourage our children to explore and understand different cultures around the world.
With Valentine’s day looming we decided to bake heart-shaped biscuits and the children spoke about who and why they love their family. Their use of kind words was a delight. I do hope you all have a very lovely Valentine’s Day with your families.
We all send our Birthday Wishes to Rex and Milo who are 4 today!
This half term we have been learning about community helpers in our topic ‘Everyday Superheroes’! We have thought about how our mummies and daddies help us and how we can help them! We then ‘virtually’ visited hospitals and found out all about healthcare assistants. Our special visitor that week was Sister Kate, our school nurse, and the children enjoyed asking lots of great questions.
Next, we headed to the fire station and found out why it is so important to know our address, what number to call in an emergency, how to ‘Stop Drop and Roll’ and the children made some fantastic fire engines. After that it was time to head to the vets. Our special visitor was Mr Patel, a vet and a Reception daddy. He answered all the children’s questions about how to become a vet and what kind of animals he makes better. The children then set up their own Veterinary Surgeries role play areas and put their new knowledge into practice.
This week we headed to the dentist and had a virtual visit from the dentist Dr Hussain, a partner in a Dental Practice and a consultant in Restorative Dentistry at King’s College NHS Trust. She told the children what a dentist does and took us on a virtual tour of her surgery. She also showed the children how to clean their teeth and keep their mouths and teeth healthy!
What a fantastic half term. After the break we will be leaving our non-fiction topic behind and heading into the world of fairy tales in our topic ‘Once upon a time’.
Ooo arghhh! In the final week of our Pirate topic, the children have been creating their own parrots and hats. We also had an incredibly messy investigation into whale warmth in Science, trying to find materials to replicate the blubber that keeps whales so warm. The highlight of the children’s week was Pirate Day on Wednesday. We started the day by playing Pirate themed phonics Bingo. This was followed by sea shanties with Mrs Fulford. I think the Year 1s would definitely make a hard-working pirate ship crew with their fabulous songs. The children then had to crack a pirate code to find the treasure which was hidden in secret envelopes. When the children opened the envelopes they were astonished to see shiny gold coins; a perfect reward for any pirate! To finish our morning of surprises, we had a visit from the children’s favourite pirate, Captain Jill Sparrow! Captain Jill told us about the ‘Secret of Black Rock’ and let Mrs B borrow the book to share with the children.
Towards the end of the week the children took part in activities to celebrate Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox! After the children heard Kindergarten’s fabulous Dragon Drumming down the corridor, they used their dragon face templates to make dragon masks. The children heard the traditional Chinese folk tale of ‘The Magic Paintbrush’; they then thought about what they would do if they had a magic paintbrush. In Story Time this week the children have been sharing their Pirate Adventures from last week’s English project; it has been fantastic to see the children so proud of their accomplishments.
We made it to the last week of half term and I am SO proud of the children for their continued positivity and resilience during this time of remote learning. The week was centred around the celebration of Chinese New Year and we enjoyed many activities to mark the occasion.
In science we looked at the phases of the moon which mark the new year and depicted each phase using Oreo biscuits, which of course made for a delightful treat afterwards. The children enjoyed participating in a whole class online play about the Great Race, where each child became a character in the story. Some fabulous Chinese dragons were made with junk modelling materials and the children completed the task by writing instructions using imperative verbs as to how they constructed their models.
After our term’s work on Traction Man, there was much enthusiasm from the children to film their own versions of their Traction Man adventures! It was lovely to watch how proud they were of their achievements as they shared their films with each other during small group time. FINALLY, the Year 2 Famous People assembly is complete! The children (and all who helped them) worked like Terry Tortoise, determined to complete their projects which made for some amusing entertainment. We hope you enjoy watching the film over the half term break!
5th February 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
Having lived and worked in Illinois USA for several years, the beginning of February is synonymous with Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog in my teaching calendar! Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are the largest animal in the squirrel family.
According to legend, groundhogs, which are a bit like large squirrels, can predict the beginning of spring. The North Americans named 2nd February as Groundhog Day. A famous groundhog named Phil will wake up and come out of his den; if he sees his shadow it means there will be six more weeks of winter, and if he does not see his shadow spring will come early.
So, what was the outcome on Tuesday? Yes, you guessed it, with Lady Luck still AWOL, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. I am heartened somewhat because his success rate is only about 40% and, although spring bulbs are appearing in their hundreds all over the school grounds, I am hedging my bets and not putting my winter coat away quite yet!
Terrible Joke of the week
Why can’t pirates say their alphabet? Because they get lost at C!
Nursery and Kindergarten
What a joy it has been this week learning all about what and where makes us feel happy. Each of the children and staff took it in turns to talk about and paint their happy places. We had pictures of beautiful beaches, parks and families. Below are some of the children’s words, which I’m sure will put a smile on your face:
“Battle park makes me happy and going to Robin Hood bay to see Granny and Grandpa.”
“I like going to the beach and seeing the colourful pebbles and the sunshine.”
“Everywhere makes me happy, seeing my friends at school is the best.”
“My favourite place is the city. My city is Hastings, I live there with mummy and daddy.”
How wonderful it is to share all these happy thoughts. I don’t know about you, but what I hear and see from our youngest little ones is that it is the simple things that make them feel happy!
This week we have been learning about how we move our bodies over and under objects, both inside and outside. During gym we used the arches to jump over and bend under without knocking them over; this was quite a challenge for some of our children.
We have had great fun creating stick puppets and retelling the story of The Three Little Pigs. Each child took it in turns to perform their story in our very own puppet theatre. The children really took on board the characters with their fierce wolf voices and squeaky little pigs; who needs to go to The West End when we have all this talent right here at Vinehall!
Happy Birthday to Edie-Rose who was four on Tuesday. We celebrated Elfie’s 4th Birthday on Thursday with the most delicious chocolate brownie, thanks to Matt our school chef, as well as banana cake which the children baked.
This week in Reception, we moved on from being firefighters and turned our talents to looking after animals. We have been learning all about Veterinarians – though, as you can imagine, we refer to them as Vets in Reception, as that is much easier to spell!
The children have been busy designing and building containers to carry animals safely, adding air holes and ensuring they have sturdy handles. Veterinary surgeries have been set up in homes across East Sussex, with our budding Vets practising their animal care skills. On days when the surgeries are closed, pet shops have sprung up and the children have been using their newly acquired knowledge of coins/money in their role play.
Year 1 have dived head first into our Ocean themed activities this week! The children were encouraged to research their favourite ocean creature in science and create a poster displaying the information they had found. We then created ocean boxes in art to make mini-aquariums at home using some of the creatures we have learnt about over the week. As all good pirates would know, map reading is an essential part of daily life, so in our topic we explored the continents and oceans. Year 1 is full of fabulous authors and this week they each wrote an independent pirate story; from space pirates to time travel, the children’s creativity was truly amazing.
There has been much excitement this week as the children gathered all of the resources they have worked on this half term and put them together to film their amazing productions of their famous people. Thank you to all who supported their efforts. It appears to have been an enjoyable experience for the entire family! Traction Man has done a lot of rescuing this week; he had many adventures with the children against various foes including ‘Evil Maths Book’, ‘Madame Tik Tok’ and ‘Evil Chopping Scissors’ just to name a few. We celebrated an end to the week with ‘crazy hair’ styles as we thought about looking after ourselves and doing all that we can to stay happy. Looking at the children from my computer definitely put a happy smile on my face! The children have continued to try their hardest and put their best efforts into their remote learning, even though we are now nearing the end of the term and everyone is getting tired. Well done!
29th January 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
We have completed our fourth full week of remote learning as part of this lockdown, and we are delighted with the levels of engagement and enthusiasm across the Pre-Prep. There is a wonderful range of work being submitted and shared- well done children (and parents!) This coming week our Pre-Prep Pal is Terry Tortoise; he is resilient and keeps trying and trying – and doesn’t give up! I think Terry is very proud of you all at the moment! We have been really pleased with the feedback we have received from the survey to date; this is allowing us to sense check our remote provision, celebrate the achievements of our pupils and staff and provide extra support where it is required. Please do take a little time to complete the survey this weekend if you have not done so – at the heart of it all we believe that getting better never stops! Fingers crossed for a snowy weekend; I think a change of scenery, or at least hiding the one we have all got used to, would be a nice change!
Terrible Joke of the Week:
What do cow’s like to drink? A smooooothie.
Nursery and Kindergarten
I am amazed how our little twitchers have embraced their outdoors and are now spotting all different breeds of birds independently. Whilst exploring the grounds this week the Nursery children spotted the chickens and even a heron who kept surprisingly still for such a long time!
The Kindergarten children have been learning how to record the number of different birds they have spotted on a graph and how to visually identify and write the numbers; the robins seem to be the most recorded birds and are certainly being well fed.
Everyday within our environment we learn about shapes that are all around us. The children have been learning about shapes using large frames and forming patterns to promote their core strength and balancing skills. Their confidence is growing during gym lessons where they are learning to jump off higher apparatus; they are taking risks just like a Pre-Prep Pal Maisie Monkey!
I am very proud to say that this week the children have been working collaboratively and really becoming aware of how we feel and what makes us happy. Through using our coloured Zones they are learning to express how and why they feel a certain way which is vital for each child’s wellbeing. Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week and we will be creating a display of the children’s ‘Happy Place’. Perhaps this is something we as adults should do as well; mine will definitely be a picture of the beach!
We wish a very happy birthday to Max who will be four on Saturday and to Sasha who will be three on Sunday.
This week in reception we have been learning all about the superheroes in a fire station and how to cross a road safely. We were learning that if there is a fire in your house or in a building that you are in, you must get out straight away! We also learnt all about Drop, Stop and Roll. The children found out that if your clothes catch fire (not the house), running around won’t help. You must always “Stop, drop (cover you face with your hands) and roll”. Make sure you roll over a few times, to ensure that you put the fire out. The children also learnt never to play with matches or candles! The children have written a Fire Safety poster and a Rules for Crossing the Road poster using their fantastic phonics knowledge. In maths we have been looking at capacity. We have had tea parties with our teddies and families, learning about what is meant when we use the terminology full, nearly full, half full/empty, nearly empty and empty. Water, water everywhere and tonnes of fun being had!
This week Year 1 were surprised with a virtual visit from Captain Jill Sparrow. The children asked her questions about her life and Captain Sparrow told us some fascinating information, such as her ship is called the Pink Pearl and she does not like to fight. Year 1 also taught Captain Jill about postcodes and discos. We then wrote Captain Jill a postcard to say thank you for her call and tell her the fact we found most interesting. The investigation into materials continued in science; this week the children looked at buoyancy. They tested different objects around their house to see if the object floated or not and recorded their results. The children took part in mini raft building this week to put their knowledge of waterproof and buoyant materials to the test.
Another week of adventure in Year 2’s remote learning! Well done to all the children for thinking of such creative ideas for making their famous person backdrop. A special Ollie Owl sticker goes to all of them who concentrated and finished the job on such an immense scroll of paper! We are looking forward to seeing their work in the Year 2 Assembly in a couple of weeks! Traction Man’s new adventures, thought up by the children, continue to be captivating to hear and it is so lovely to see the children so excited about their writing and what they have produced. Who knows what next week’s adventure will bring! Keep the fantastic ideas coming and a big well done to everyone who has been involved to support the children at home!
22nd January 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
This week, in between my live lesson teaching, it has been wonderful to pop my head around the classroom doors and listen to Year 1 and 2 live lessons being streamed. We are halfway through this first half Lent Term and we have seen another successful week of online learning for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, as well as a fabulous week in school for Nursery and Kindergarten.
The national lockdown is now beginning to have an even more significant impact upon us all, with many parents telling me that children are enjoying their learning but are ‘just finding things tough.’ Many of us teachers have children at home trying to navigate their academic and emotional way around this unnatural way of learning, so we have first-hand knowledge of how hard this is and like you would rather we had them all in school. However, we are in this together and together we will get through this!
The balance of supporting our children and keeping our workloads moving forwards is impossible. This is where the most challenging piece of the puzzle comes to mind – maintaining our families’ wellbeing. We understand there will be times when the family may need a break from technology for a day. If this is the case, please email your child’s teacher and let them know. Our children are little and their resilience is big, so once they get back into the classroom, we will ensure gaps are plugged and their learning journeys are resumed. Please remember every child learns differently and what some families may be doing has no bearing on what is right for your own child/ren.
Here in school, we are incredibly proud of all the children and families for their online learning approach. We are so grateful to continue in our roles and support our pupils and families during these challenging times. Thank you for all your kind emails and messages; it refuels our enthusiasm and determination at this time. Thank you!
Each week I am going to share a terrible joke, as laughter is one of my antidotes to stress. If you have a terrible joke, you would like to share, please email me and the most terrible may feature in future copy!
Terrible joke of the week.
I’d like to thank my legs for supporting me, my arms for always being by my side, and my fingers because I could always count on them!
Nursery and Kindergarten
This week our Little Vines had a wonderful surprise all the way from Hundred Acre Wood. That’s right, Winnie The Pooh himself came to visit us! He read us a delightful story and took us on an ‘expotition’ all the way to the North Pole! Luckily he didn’t eat all the honey and we were able to make honey sandwiches for our snacks on our return.
We have been learning all about Winter and Arctic animals. The children had to investigate how the animals could break out of the ice. It took all day for the ice to melt, “It has to be warmer for ice to melt” one child informed us; and “Do you know ice is made from the rain drops” said another.
The birds are having a feast outside the classrooms as this week the children have made some bird feeders. Thank you to all our parents who are accessing the remote learning for sending in the wonderful pictures of the bird feeders you have been making at home; our community birds will certainly be well looked after during this cold winter days!
Our children are always outside whatever the weather and this week they discovered the fish pond as well as having great fun in the big swing. Who needs to arrange any trips outside of Vinehall when we have all this on our doorstep!
In Reception we are learning all about the people that help us in our community. Last week we focused on superheroes at home and this week we headed to the hospital – virtually of course! We were learning all about the different parts of the body and the jobs that people carry out in hospitals, from porters and paramedics to doctors and nurses. The children were just like Cassie Cat and were very curious to find out about what Sister Kate does in her job as a nurse. The children thought of a question for Mrs Parkin to ask when she interviewed Sister Kate later in the week. Using their wonderful growing knowledge of phonics, they even wrote their own questions down. Making their own doctors kits they set up surgeries at home, fixing mummy and daddy as well as teddies and dolls! In maths we started our journey learning about money and setting up our shops to learn about coins and their value.
Although the weather has been rather miserable this week the children continue to stay in high spirits. Year 1 have been continuing to explore pirates and became a Captain this week in English as they thought about what they would do during the week if they were a pirate. In art the children used their flag designs to create fabulous individual pirate flags out of different fabrics. The children continued their investigations into materials and looked at the term ‘waterproof’; they were keen to test a range of different materials and record their results. Story time is always one of the children’s favourite times of day and on Monday the children were hooked on Winnie the Pooh’s video in the woods. Mrs Bennett was so impressed with the maps she had received from the children in Year 1; all of them were carefully thought out with interesting details. We are looking forward to continue our adventure next week!
It was lovely to see so many children dressed up at home in their ‘red and yellow’ to celebrate ‘Winnie the Pooh Day’. Mrs Alderson (I mean, Winnie the Pooh!) got us all into the spirit of the day by reading one of Pooh’s memorable adventures in our Vinehall woods.
It has been another week of working hard in Year 2 and the children began the week with a ‘Terry Tortoise’ sticker on their charts – for always trying their best in whatever they do, even when things get a little difficult. The children have all become very confident in using their computers to ‘raise their hands’ and ‘mute’ their microphones when needed. I have really enjoyed listening to their Traction Man Adventures that they built upon during our English lessons in the last couple of weeks. It is almost as though I am sitting in front of the children as I would in the classroom with all ‘hands-up’ and everyone eager to participate! Lots of multiplication games were played to help us get to grips with our 2, 5 and 10 times tables and the rain didn’t stop children from getting outside and participating in ‘100 things to do before the age of 8!’ As Traction Man would say, “Our Mission for Week 3 in Year 2 is complete!”
15th January 2021
Head of Pre-Prep
What a start to 2021! Not one any of us would have dreamt of a year ago nor have wished for following last year. But in the spirit of Vinehall, we put others first and will do our very best to keep the show on the road and ensure the children’s progress continues and that the Early Years Provision gives our smallest children some sense of normality.
The staff and I are continually reviewing the timetables to ensure that we get a healthy balance for our youngest learners. We want them to be able to join in live lessons and interact with their teachers and friends but we also want them to be able to have time to go for a run around or a walk outside and play! Therefore, please do take advantage of the fact that although we are delivering live lessons each morning, they are being recorded; so if your child needs a screen-free morning, you can catch up! All our teaching assistants have joined in with the learning, supporting the key worker children in school as well as supporting their teachers. Some are doing dough disco and others phonics lessons and it is a wonderful whole school team effort!
The feedback I have received so far from parents has been overwhelmingly positive and I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community. Thank you and please do keep feeding back to your child’s teacher or directly to me, so we ensure we continue to give Vinehall children the best possible education.
Nursery and Kindergarten
The word I use to describe your children is just WONDERFUL! They have all settled into our new term so happily.
We welcome Edward and George into our Nursery class. I have to say, it is like they have been with us for ever as they have embraced their new environment with great curiosity and, above all, with beaming smiles!
We have many ‘twitchers’ amongst us and during our first week back. These inquisitive ‘twitchers’ have spotted so many different birds flying around our beautiful grounds.
The children have been busy creating their own robins which they proudly displayed in the classroom, together with paintings of their Christmas Holidays. It is a joy hearing all about their time at home with their families.
Some of our children have moved into a new classroom and we would all like to say a big thank you to Keith and Dave, our school groundsmen, for creating a new outside play area which is just fantastic!
I am so very proud of how our littlest remote learners at school are rising to the challenge of engaging in live lessons. Watching them with their white boards in phonics and shouting back the phonemes to me is a sight to behold! In maths the children are continuing to build their number sense in numbers within ten and focused on one more and one less.
We introduced the topic of ‘Everyday Superheroes’ this week, thinking about all the things our mummies and daddies do for us at home, and indeed how the children themselves can become superheroes by being helpful too, for example by making their beds, feeding their dog or washing up. Well done Reception for a brilliant start to the very different term and your first experience of home learning- you are most definitely superheroes in my eyes!
Year 1 have been like Ollie Owl in our remote learning sessions; they have shown such fabulous concentration and should all be very proud of themselves. On Monday the children heard a message from the mysterious pirate ‘Captain Jill Sparrow’; she read the children a story and told them they could ask her questions about being a pirate. Therefore in English Year 1 decided to write Captain Jill a letter to ask her some questions and I am sure they will hear back from Captain Jill soon. For PSHE the children have been using ‘100 things to do before you are 6 or 7’ to create new memories and explore like Maisie Monkey. The children in class decided to choose one of the painting tasks, but instead of a paintbrush we used hands and feet. The squelching of paint between toes was particularly hilarious to the children!
As Traction Man would say, ‘Our Mission is complete!’ We made it to Friday in our first full week of teaching remotely. What extraordinary times, and something I will surely look forward to telling my grandchildren about! Well done to the children in Year 2 for being just like ‘Maisie Monkey’ – for trying new things and not being scared to do so. I am very impressed with how well the children have adapted to their new routine of being taught on the computer and how their confidence to participate remotely is growing daily. Thank you to everyone who is giving the children input at home, whether it be Mummy, Daddy, siblings, or Nanny – well done to you too! This week in Maths, we introduced the topic of multiplication and used playdough to recognise that multiplication is repeated addition. Our topic of ‘Famous People’ was introduced and children have begun to research a historical person in the past in preparation for our Year 2 assembly. The children helped Traction Man in Science by experimenting to find out which material would make a new waterproof suit for him. I have enjoyed looking at the photos of children and it has been so lovely to see the children have been fully engaged in the activities. Stay tuned next week to see what our next mission will be!
11th December 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
We have had a busy, fun-filled Michaelmas Term in Pre-Prep. The children arrived in September with huge smiles, ready to make new friends and settle into their new classrooms. They have embraced all aspects of life at Vinehall this term and have made excellent progress. This final week has been filled with glitter, singing, crafts and all sorts of Christmas-sprinkled fun. Nativity previews today for the children was a magical way to end the term. They have worked so hard on learning their lines, dance moves and songs – but had not seen the full show, as it was all recorded in small chunks. Watching their faces as they watched the green screen production was a sight to behold. Popcorn in hand, they were open-mouthed watching the angels dancing in the clouds, Mary and Joseph standing in a stable and the Year 1 Morris dancers dancing on rolling hills. It was a moment all the staff will never forget! COVID may dampen some things, but it is making us all think creatively outside the bubble so that the children at Vinehall can still have happy memories. The staff and I in Pre-Prep wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year!
Nursery and Kindergarten
I cannot believe the last day of our Michaelmas Term has arrived and what a super fun-filled week we have enjoyed!
Firstly, we must say a big thank you to Florence who suggested we all bake reindeer cakes. Florence was, of course, our chief baker and what a sticky time we had creating them. The best bit was eating them all up!
We all headed out on Tuesday for our woodland learning and we collected lots of sticks to create a giant Stickman. The children worked together just like Billy Bee to drag the biggest branch from the woods all the way back to our garden; what fantastic teamwork!
Chef Bear was very busy this week and the children created Christmas Puffs. There were thumbs up from all the children who said that they were the best they had ever tasted!
Our ‘Dress As An Elf Day’ was such fun; the children and staff looked amazing! We had the most delicious Christmas lunch and some of the children even asked for seconds of sprouts! Our Christmas party went off with a BANG as we began the celebrations with pin the nose on Rudolph, followed by musical reindeers and Christmas bingo. We had the biggest surprise ever when Father Christmas appeared outside in the garden. The children could not believe their eyes! He knew all their names and told us that he was in such a hurry as Rudolph needed his afternoon snack!
We wish Florence a very Happy Birthday; she will be four on Saturday!
Happy Christmas from all the Little Vines Team.
We have enjoyed spending the last few weeks getting stuck into Christmas, scattering glitter and making beautiful creations to take home.
The Reception children are incredibly imaginative and hard-working; they love to learn, and they also love to play in equal measures! They have all tried incredibly hard to learn their Set 1 Read Write Inc sounds this term; most children know all of them and they are developing their letter formation alongside. I was really delighted this week to see how many of them are becoming emergent writers, being able to put their thoughts in writing using their phonics knowledge. Their confidence in their abilities grows daily and they are enormously proud (as am I) of all they achieve. We have had a lot of fun together this term and cannot wait to see what next term holds!
Have a wonderful Christmas!
Year 1 have had the most amazing final week full of Christmas cheer. We started the week by exploring the trees through the seasons and used this as inspiration for our 2021 calendars to show the leaves changing. We followed in Year 2’s footsteps by creating masks to remember the strange and unforgettable year we have had. The highlight of our week was Christmas jumper and elf day; the children were all so jolly and it was the perfect way to end a fantastic term. The morning consisted of gingerbread decorating which the children thoroughly enjoyed. Christmas lunch was fabulous and the whole of Pre-Prep tried to pull their Christmas crackers at the same time. In the afternoon we had our annual Christmas Party; unlike other years where we would normally come together with the rest of Pre-Prep, we decided to host a virtual Christmas Party! Some of our activities were pin the carrot on the snowman, musical statues, Christmas bingo and, to end the virtual portion of our party, each year group sang one of their songs from the Christmas play. Year 1 were just settling down to eat their gingerbread and who appeared at the door? SANTA!
The last week of our autumn term came this week and the squeal of excited children could be heard everywhere! Looking back to our first day of term in September to now makes me feel so proud! The children have grown and worked hard, not only academically but also in developing themselves to be better people in trying to think about others as well. We learnt about the Jewish festival of Hannukah and how children their age celebrate it. They had great fun making 3D dreidels and playing it with their friends. It was quite an occasion when the entire Pre-Prep had their remote Christmas party, full of musical statues, pin the nose on the snowman, bingo and a Christmas sing-a-long. As you can imagine, this was a different kind of party, but the children participated eagerly and had a fabulous time!
4th December 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
During this term, we have maintained as much as possible a sense of normality for the children despite masks and red tape. We have managed to have a week of nativity filming, costume changes, singing and dancing. There is nothing I love more than seeing all the children dressed up in all sorts of wonderful Christmas nativity costumes and looking proud of being part of something special! Not long ago we were learning all about the Hindu festival of light, Diwali, and today, bubble by bubble with cleaning and airing in-between all the children visited the chapel with their Christingles that they made earlier in the day. Christingle means ‘Christ’s Light’ and the candle in the centre of the orange represents ‘hope’, a feeling that in current COVID times transcends different faiths and cultures.
Nursery and Kindergarten
Our Little Vines children always rise to a challenge and this week it was to finish our Nativity filming. They all received a Maisie Monkey postcard for being courageous! We cannot wait to share this with you next week.
On Tuesday, we made the most of the Autumn sunshine and wrapped ourselves up for a woodland pinecone hunt. The grounds of Vinehall school is such a beautiful place to explore; the children have the opportunity to run, skip and roll down the fields as well as taking a few risks when climbing the trees and this is such a joy to see!
The children have enjoyed learning how to draw themselves and it is so wonderful to see how their drawing skills have developed over the term! We can now see added features, such as arms, legs and even bushy eyebrows – fantastic!
We send birthday wishes to Venetia who is three today!
With cards, calendars, singing and performing it is amazing that the children in Reception have also had time to demonstrate their fantastic writing of CVC words and measuring in maths. The children have been learning about Christmas around the world, talking about how we celebrate Christmas and discussing how not all people do so. They have been busy in the new Santa’s workshop role-play area, printing their own wrapping paper, wrapping many 3-D shapes and generally discussing the importance of getting everything ready for Father Christmas in time! What an exciting week!
The children have had a fantastic penultimate week of term in Year 1! The majority of the week was taken up with filming our Christmas play, which we hope you will enjoy next week. The costumes and songs put us all into the Christmas mood, so on Tuesday we took some time to decorate our classroom with a tree, lights and snowmen. We could not have decorated the classroom without some festive songs and seeing Mrs Winn’s amazing dancing. We combined art and science to explore how light is affected by a coloured filter and discovered that mixing the filters produces even more colours. As the light shines through our classroom windows, colour covers every wall as it shines through the stain glass window replicas we made using cellophane.
It was a week of ‘Lights, Camel, Action’ when all the children patiently worked together like Billy Bee to record our virtual Christmas nativity. The collaborative star award was definitely well earned this week and I am sure that you are all on edge waiting for the recording to go live! We opened the first few numbers of our Year 2 Advent calendars and the children were all surprised to find a calendar of mini books and acts of kindness to do for each other. We discussed the true meaning of Christmas and at the end of each day it is lovely to hear all the kind things that the children are doing for each other. We are nearing the end of our learning journey on cold places and it wouldn’t be complete without sugar cube igloos! Well, this proved to be a messy and fun learning experience and we can really appreciate how Inuit people build their ice houses.
27th November 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
This week in Pre-Prep, the children enjoyed listening to a lovely Thanksgiving assembly from Mrs Garwood, live-streamed into their classrooms. Then all the children talked about things for which they were grateful during circle time. From family to friends, curries and naan bread to Major Croft; we had it all!
I am very thankful for the excellent staff I have here in Pre-Prep. Watching the teachers and teaching assistants shepherding fluffy white sheep, bejewelled wise men, angelic angels and camels to and from the hall is a joy to behold. Listening to all the Christmas songs that the wonderful Mrs Fulford has been teaching the children spilling from the Pre-Prep hall has also blown away the COVID cloud, and the magic of Christmas has most certainly arrived at Vinehall.
On Monday, all the children will be coming home with a Christmas advent chain they have made in school. Each night before they go to sleep, they will tear off one link of their paper chain and when only the star is left – one more sleep and it will be Christmas day!
Nursery and Kindergarten
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The countdown has begun! I know what you are thinking, it’s still November, but let’s embrace this festive time and spend as much time as we can celebrating with a festive cheer or two; the children are certainly very excited! The classrooms are full of glitter and sparkle as we begin to decorate and create Christmas crafts.
This week we began recording our virtual Nativity. This is a first for us and what fun we have had even without an audience! The children have enjoyed dressing up, singing and learning their lines and we are nearly there! We cannot wait to share this with you at the end of the term.
We were very excited as we have been having ‘cinema afternoons’. Oh yes, it all happens at Little Vines! We were treated to a few stories on the ‘Big Screen’ read by some of our parents. It was such a surprise and we even had popcorn to nibble on! Thank you parents!
We have two birthdays to celebrate over the weekend. Jesse will be four on Saturday 28th November and Xander will also be four on Sunday 29th November; we wish you both a very Happy Day!
Reception have completed their set 1 in RWI phonics! They have learnt all the sounds and the letter formation for all the letters in the alphabet and some diagraphs. This means they are now writing! Nearly all the children are blending these sounds together and now the reading and writing learning journey truly begins! This week we have been talking about hibernation and reading the story ‘The Bear Snores On’ by Karma Wilson; a sweet rhyming story of a hibernating bear whose lair fills up with other animals as he sleeps. He wakes up to find them having party and is bit distraught until a mouse invites him to join the fun. We were learning about the difference between the terms ‘Nocturnal’ and ‘Hibernation’ – some children decided they would rather be like an owl and sleep in the day so they could eat at night, and others wanted to be like bear and have a big long sleep.
A huge round of applause to Year 1 this week; they have been writing and filming their fantastic shadow puppet shows! Over the last couple of weeks the children have been adapting the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ to perform it as a shadow puppet play. They used expression and movement to bring their characters to life and have created interesting and exciting stories. We shared our stories with the rest of Pre-Prep and Year 3 and we have received shining reviews! For homework the children created their own shadow puppets and used them through creative play to explore the shadows the would create.
At the beginning of the week I gave the children the choice of what they would like to do with the overgrown chrysanthemums on our vegetable patch and they chose to create bunches made up of flowers and foliage to take home. This week we read ‘Orion and the Dark’ by Emma Yarlett to start off our next project; we started by drawing our own versions of the Dark who would help us explore the universe and face our fears.
It was another busy week for Year 2 as they continued their nativity play practices in preparation for our recording next week! In between all the hustle and bustle, the children proudly completed the editing process producing a final book about their ‘Magical school class trip.’ Some of the children even read their stories on a live Teams chat to the Year 3 children when the two classes got together ‘virtually.’ The children went ‘live’ on Teams for a special assembly to the rest of the Pre-Prep learning all about ‘Thanksgiving’ and how to be thankful for all that they have in their lives. The week wouldn’t be complete without a messy science experiment testing to see how polar animals keep warm in freezing temperatures. There were certainly a few buttered bodies to be giggled at!
20th November 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
Terry the Tortoise has been our star Pre-Prep pal this week as we have all talked about the strategies we need to solve problems. In Pre-Prep, our children’s problem can feel unsurmountable because our little ones do not yet have the tools at hand to solve them. Each day in every class across the school, teachers find opportunities in which to help children develop strategies to tackle all sorts of problems; friendship, mind-set, an academic challenge, self-care and, the most tricky of them all, the emotional facet.
Our objective in Pre-Prep is to evolve the children’s creative thinking, so they develop the ability to look at a problem in many different ways. This might involve seeing a different way to do something, generating new ideas, or using materials in unique ways. Basic to being a creative thinker is a willingness to take risks, to experiment, and even to make mistakes. We also want to develop their Critical Thinking, so they can start to break down a problem or an idea into parts and analyse these parts. In EYFS this may be in sorting, classifying, and comparing similarities and differences of objects. In Years 1 and 2 this may be posing a question to the children; for example, how can we keep ice from melting inside the classroom when we don’t have a fridge?
As the children’s teachers there are times we can model how to do things; but many times the best way to teach is to take a step back and watch their independent problem-solving. Keep in mind that children’s problem-solving does not always look like a thinking activity. In fact, it can look like an argument, an experiment, or an unusual and messy way to use materials. As one child said to me, ‘Problems do not get solved without thinking hard Mrs McKnight – and I mean really hard!’
Nursery and Kindergarten
10.9.8.7.126.96.36.199.2.1 BLAST OFF! Our very own Vinehall rocket was launched. What fun we have had creating our rocket; the children helped to assemble and paint it and then we had a vote to decide on a name. The majority went for ‘Rainbow Rocket,’ which was a suggestion from one of the Nursery children. This rocket took us to many planets and beyond; the children’s minds are just so creative. Did you know, we flew to Ice Planet, Rainbow Planet, Gym Planet and Bedtime Planet, to name but a few.
Our younger Little Vines have been learning all about colours and have really enjoyed reading lots of stories about Elmer The Elephant. This led on to getting really sticky as they created some very colourful Elmer elephants.
We have all been trying new things just like Maisie Monkey, from tasting different fruits and vegetables to ‘performing’ in front of our friends when we practise our Nativity. What a big step for some of our children who are just beginning to find their self-confidence. We are very proud of them all!
Kindergarten have been learning all about the sound P, learning to write it by following the Pirate’s plait and going around his face. We used potatoes and paint to print the letter P. Well done Kindergarten.
Though we are still in November, we are already in Nazareth! This week in Reception one day we have been dancing as angels and the next as line-dancing Town Folk … shh I have said too much already!
Mastering numbers up to five and introducing some addition this week was very exciting for the children. One morning when we were talking about an addition equation in circle time, one child declared ‘Wow, this is real maths!’ and all the children cheered and felt very grown up!
All the children have been full of energy this week. We have continued to explore light and shadow. The children worked in groups to write their scripts for our adapted version of ‘The Three Little Pigs’; we then created shadow puppets to act out the story. We will be sharing our shadow puppet show with you all next week. We looked at Thomas Edison and how he helped develop the light bulb we know today.
We also discussed John Logie Baird who invented the world’s first known working television system; he resided in Bexhill. In Science we investigated materials to find the type of paper we could use for our shadow puppets. The children learnt some new and interesting vocabulary to describe the different materials, such as opaque. Mrs Bennett showed Year 1 ‘Asterix and Obelix’, which is one of her favourite French cartoons; we watched it first in French and then in English. During Anti-Bullying week, Jigsaw Jack helped us to explore the word ‘bullying’ and what we could do if it ever happened to us, or we saw it happening to someone else. The children enjoyed wearing odd socks to show that we are all different!
Sir Ernest Shackleton made a special visit to Year 2 this week as the children continued their learning journey into the polar regions. The children listened intently to the story of Shackleton’s extraordinary journey as he and his crew ventured into the depths of the South Pole. They decided that he needed to be added to the list of famous people that we have been studying this year. In Art, the children looked at ‘regular and irregular’ shapes, completing their collage mosaic of icebergs. We are beginning to get the classroom ready for a ‘cosy winter’ and snuggled up by the fire with our favourite Julia Donaldson book, thinking about it deeply and writing a book review expressing our opinions. We finished the week with ‘odd sock day’, thinking about the special gifts we have and how they make us unique individuals. We have to be proud of these gifts.
13th November 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
This week has been yet another busy week in the classrooms, fields and gardens of Pre-Prep.
Following our Monday morning assembly about Remembrance Day, the children across Pre-Prep all made beautiful poppies and spoke about grandparents and great grandparents who had fought in the war. It is amazing how our little ones can comprehend just enough to know Remembrance Day as a sombre day but no more; it is important we share but equally important we remember how much their little minds can process.
This week we have also been learning about Diwali, a religious festival originating in India. People often think of Diwali as a Hindu festival, but this week we were learning that Sikhs and Jains also celebrate it. The children listened to traditional stories and music, made Rangolis and heard all about how fireworks, lights and wonderful food make Diwali a fun family celebration.
As if this week had not been busy enough, we also wanted to support Children in Need. So, staff and children arrived at school today with their donations and wearing PJs, spots and smiles! The Year 2s thought it would be a good idea to come in PJs every day!
Nursery and Kindergarten
This week our Little Vines learnt all about the artist Andy Goldsworthy who is famous for his land art. We created a twig tower and the children worked together just like Billy Bee.
There was a real buzz in the classroom as the Little Vines Post office was created. The children have been writing letters to their friends and family, learning their addresses and operating the till and scales. It is so wonderful seeing the children so involved and ‘writing.’ We are preparing ourselves for the Christmas rush, which will mean all hands on deck!
Our youngest members have been exploring colours and the texture of red spaghetti. We baked a rainbow cake with Chef Bear and enjoyed eating it whilst listening to ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow.’ Some of the children joined in with the song which was just delightful!
This week in Reception we have been busy and productive! We have been learning more about nocturnal animals and have set up a ‘bat cave’; this is really a science and writing centre in the corner of the classroom, in which children can study animals and look at non-fiction books, play with a small world nocturnal tray with badgers and foxes and, most importantly, play with torches! In maths, we have been looking at one more and one less than a given number up to 5 and then up to 10 for some children. In the craft centre, the children enjoyed making an owl and creating their own illustration just like in the Owl Babies book.
Year 1 started the week by exploring Diwali as part of our ‘Light in the Dark’ topic. We watched the story of Rama and Sita and the children discussed why they thought it was named the Festival of Light. We then created lanterns depicting the story of Rama and Sita. The children noticed beautiful Rangoli patterns that were on the walls and floor in the story and asked to create one, so we used Hama beads to create a symmetrical Rangoli pattern. The children used brilliant patterns and colours to create their own designs.
We finished the week by exploring shadows; we used our hands and various objects to see what the shadow would look like and we experimented with how to make the shadow different sizes. In our English project this term, we are writing our own shadow puppet show based on ‘The Three Little Pigs’. The children adapted the story by creating their own good and bad characters, and then designed houses based on the animals’ environments.
It was ‘Lights , Camera, Action’ for Year 2 this week as we began preparations for our Nativity. We were lucky that Mrs Alderson visited to help us learn some new dance moves to get us into the swing of things. We tried on our costumes to ensure that we are fit for our parts. We are so proud of the children for their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn their lines and actions!
The children learnt all about the reasons for celebrating Remembrance Day and bravely shared stories of people they knew who were involved in wars. They participated maturely in the two minutes of silence on the edge of the swimming pool. We didn’t let a little rain stop us from planting our autumn bulbs in our Year 2 garden and we look forward to the spring and can picture how beautiful it will be. The children have been thinking about the importance of helping, not just people that we know but people in our world that are in need of support as they celebrated BBC Children in Need day dressed in their onesies. Well done Year 2 for another hard-working week.
6th November 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
Arriving back at Vinehall after half term to see all the beautiful autumn colours was a wonderful way to be welcomed back to school. The children were looking rested and full of beans – just how we like them! New topics were introduced in the classrooms and, as we could not enjoy the FOV’s wonderful Vinehall Fireworks display this year, the children enjoyed using their art and craft skills to bring fireworks alive in their classrooms!
Lockdown has begun and I know this will have a knock-on effect; children will not be able to have playdates out of school, or attend parties, see grandparents for a while or get out and about. However, they can come to school! We are so delighted that we can continue to provide a sociable and exciting learning environment in these times. So, we have been putting our thinking caps on to think of as many fun activities as possible in the run up to Christmas. A letter will be sent to you today with further details highlighting some of the things we will be getting up to here in the Pre-Prep this half term.
Nursery and Kindergarten
We were welcomed back to Little Vines with a BANG as we celebrated Bonfire week!
The children have created some colourful rockets and had a wonderful time with paint brushes splatting paint onto the big screens. I think there was more paint on the children than the screens and there was so much laughter! We created fruit rocket kebabs and had to count backwards from 10 before the launch and blast off into their tummies!
We all created singing props to help us sing ‘Five Fat Sausages’, as lots of us eat sausages on Bonfire Night! The children demonstrated fantastic cutting skills and concentrated well, ending in us all having a sing along and a special treat of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Our Woodland Adventures took us off to collect the autumn leaves which are just so beautiful. The children then used their brilliant fine motor skills to create the longest leaf snake you have ever seen – watch out for it, it may be slithering around the Vinehall grounds each day!
As the children ran into the classroom on Monday morning, they looked so happy and confident arriving at school. They have settled back into the routine seamlessly. This week we have been celebrating! We have been learning about Diwali, the Hindu celebration, which happens next week, and we have been creating amazing fireworks in the classroom in lieu of the usual wonderful Friends Of Vinehall display.
Year 1 have had a fantastic week back at school! To start off our Learning Journey we explored different light sources and the difference between natural and human-made sources. We then learnt about the Gunpowder Plot; the children watched a cartoon that showed us the story and they were keen to sing the ‘Bonfire Boys’ rhyme. The children then used chalk to draw their own fireworks above the Houses of Parliament.
On Thursday we went for a walk and found the fallen tree that Mrs Wolford had told us about; the children affectionately named it the dragon tree, as they thought it looked like they were riding a dragon when sitting on the main branch.
It was lovely to be back together in Year 2 after our half term holiday. The children were eager to share their half term adventures and settled back into their school routines ready to learn!
Even though it was disappointing to learn that our first trip to Temper Temper Chocolate had to be cancelled due to the new government guidelines, the children remained positive and brainstormed other things we could do instead. The most popular ones being: dressing up like chocolate bars, art projects using liquid chocolate and performing a play all about … chocolate! We were very lucky to be invited for a ‘secret adventure’ in the Melon Garden, where we enjoyed a hot chocolate and brownie while thinking about how the cocoa bean travelled so far and how it became the chocolate that we were enjoying. Our adventure wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate coin treasure hunt on a beautiful Autumn day! Thank you Mrs Powis for our magical adventure!
16th October 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
What a fabulous first half of term! The children in Pre-Prep have been incredibly busy learning and having some serious fun whilst doing so! In Year 2 they have been researching all about the rainforest and I have been delighted by the 3D sculpture displaying all the layers of the rainforest that they have all been working on in their classroom. In Year 1 ‘food glorious food’ has been the focus, with Kitchen Disco being the inspiration for this term’s topic – culminating in a groovy disco yesterday! In Reception they have been looking at colour and seasons, with scarecrow making being a highlight. In Kindergarten and Nursery, seasons and harvest have driven the curriculum; but I think my lasting memory will be the smell of chocolate bread wafting from their classroom down the corridors! The Halloween celebration today was the icing on the cake, with all the children wearing all sorts of incredible costumes and, most importantly, smiles from one ear to the other!
Nursery and Kindergarten
What a wonderful week we have had celebrating Harvest time. The children have been singing our Harvest song about the ‘Big, Red, Combine Harvester’ every day in the class and on our way over to lunch as they marched along.
We painted pictures of the combine harvesters and the children were able to recall the sequence of events that occurs on the farms, from ‘chop, chop, chop of the blades to ‘rotating round and round’ just like a windmill!
This week, the aroma in the classroom was just so delightful as the children used a different method to bake chocolate bread – they programmed a bread maker! They were all very patient as the process took one hour!
As Halloween celebrations approach we all joined in with activities, including scooping out the flesh of the pumpkins, carving faces and toasting the seeds. We even made pumpkin muffins which tasted AMAZING, though I say so myself! The children and staff looked fantastic and had gone to so much effort to dress up and celebrate.
This week in Reception we have had a fun time out and about making patterns in maths. The children were very excited to make all sorts of different repeating patterns out of the things they found on their autumn nature treasure hunt. In English we have written about our favourite leaf that we found and made a leaf man or animal inspired by the book ‘Leaf Man’ by Lois Ehlert. To continue strengthening our fingers to help our letter formation writing, children enjoyed weaving a spider web this week and were cutting out autumn leaves to pin to their autumn poem.
Year 1 have had such a fantastic week! There were so many memorable moments, and I could not think of a better way to finish off the first half of term. On Wednesday the children were encouraged to explore on our walk down the gully; it was lovely to see them jump, climb and laugh as we discovered new areas along the route. We then spent the afternoon dancing to complete our Kitchen Disco topic; we saw some brilliant dance moves from all the children. The children were all very excited to have a Halloween experience at school this year, so we decided scary pumpkins would be a great way to decorate the Year 1 windows! It was a spooky scene in Year 1 with the children in costumes; quite frightening really!
Well done to all the children in Year 2 for expressing why they wanted to be a part of the Vinehall School Committees in order to make our school a wonderful place to be.
The children have cast their vote and we have accepted the following children onto each committee:
School Council: Alice, Indira and Esme
Food Committee: Be, Lyla, Harry
Charity Committee: Betsy and Alexandra
Eco Committee: George, Arthur, Teddy, Lucas, Rex
Year 2 have all enjoyed some well-earned celebrations this week to bring the first half of our autumn term to a close. We celebrated ‘No Pens Day’ by having an adventure down to our school gully, soaking up and taking in all the wonderful smells that autumn brings to us.
We had an afternoon of rainforest experiments trying to find out what makes leaves green and how rain is produced in the clouds. Spooky costumes, carved pumpkins, games and music brought much excitement to our end of the half term festivities!
9th October 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
Harvest festival was one of my favourite times at school. I remember collecting a small cardboard basket from the village green grocers and spending the next few days decorating it with crepe paper. Once my masterpiece was complete, I would then fill it will fruit and vegetables. All the girls from my prep school would then carry their baskets proudly into church and the altar would be filled with hundreds of colourful baskets, which were taken to families in the area that we supported.
In Pre-Prep to celebrate the arrival of harvest, we have been filling the music lessons with harvest songs. In our classrooms at Mindfulness Monday assembly this week we were learning about gratitude and for who and what in our lives we are grateful. You will be pleased to hear mummies and daddies were high on the list! As we are unable to share a harvest festival celebration with parents this year, we will be recording the songs and sending them to you to enjoy with your child at home at the end of this half term!
Nursery and Kindergarten
The weather was perfect for flying our kites this week; the wind howled and the children took flight with their colourful creations.
We read the story of ‘The Little Red Hen’ and then we decided that we wouldn’t behave like the animals in the story who didn’t want to help the hen, we would be just like Billy Bee and work together to bake some bread. The children mixed and kneaded the dough and of course the best part was eating it!
Our Woodland Adventures this week led to some children showing great resilience when climbing trees. They didn’t give up and were just like Terry Tortoise – trying and trying until they had achieved what they wanted to do, demonstrating amazing strong physical strength. Well done!
Over the past few weeks, I have observed lots of the children displaying such nurturing behaviour; we are so very proud of all the children who are always looking out for each other, using kind hands and kind words. This is what makes our Vinehall community!
Reception pupils have been busy this week making scarecrows and solving all the characters’ problems in the book, ‘The Scarecrow’s Hat.’ Great teamwork produced some incredible creations and the children very much enjoyed naming their new ‘classmates.’ Role-play helped comprehension as well as language skills as they each stated the problem their character had, and then the children found a solution to all their problems with help from the story.
The children had a fantastic start to the week by creating kites and flying them outside; all enjoyed themselves and it was lovely to see the joy on their faces as the wind lifted their kites. In English this week we have been reading ‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne. The children started by pairing the animal with the fruit they stole. The children then wrote sentences to recall the sequence. This week the children enjoyed playing chess during free choice; although it was tricky we had some fantastic teachers in the other children. We went looking for the corn field on Wednesday to discuss the Harvest Festival, as we have been learning harvest songs in music and discussing why it is celebrated. Building Year 1’s secret Tepee finished the week off; all the children helped to put up the posts and then the cover. A collection of sticks and blocks were added to makes seats and a ‘fire’.
Well done to our Poetry by Heart Competition winners: Harry, Arthur, Rex, Teddy and Alice! Thank you for representing Year 2 in the Final competition! The weather didn’t stop the children from having amazing outdoor adventures in Year 2 this week and a lot of lasting memories were made enjoying the wet, gooey mud that autumn often brings to us. The children all worked together to create a superb 3-dimensional box model of the layers of the rainforest. They enjoyed researching and sketching rainforest animals that lived in their specific layer. We began the exciting process of learning all about the British Value of democracy. We discussed the committee jobs that we will be a part of, in representing the Pre-Prep in making Vinehall the best it can be. There is a photo of Mrs Alderson visiting Year 2 for their weekly drama lesson, currently acting out the Great Fire of London.
2nd October 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
Earlier this week, as I walked along the corridor heading from my office to my Reception classroom, I suddenly realised that I was not wearing my face shield but my glasses! I have quickly become conditioned to looking through a transparent ‘window’ and ran back to my office to don the correct piece of Perspex headgear! This led me to think about the perspectives of the Pre-Prep children and how quickly they have adapted to seeing their teachers wearing funny things on their faces. It is incredible how resilient our little ones have become during this last year. Resilience is a skill we help our children to build. It gives them the confidence to solve problems, overcome challenges, never give up and pick themselves up from failure and emerge stronger, braver and more optimistic than ever. The Vinehall community are doing an incredible job of teaching their children resilience as they adapt to change with complete ease. To that end, I am giving our Pre-Prep pal Terry the Tortoise the hero of this year award, as he has been instrumental in helping us all.
Nursery and Kindergarten
Vinehall is the best place to be at any time of the year but especially in the autumn, as the school grounds are just so beautiful and filled with colour.
This week our woodland adventures took us to the big old oak tree where the children discovered acorns, pine cones and lots of fallen leaves. They used the leaves to create their own autumn trees and were so creative, not only with their pictures but also through their amazing descriptive language – ”Crunchy leaves”, “Look the tree is so tall, it goes up, up, up” and “Look the squirrels eat these acorns.” So much learning and development occurring whilst embracing the wonderful environment on our doorstep!
We made healthy fruit smoothies with Chef Bear and the children were just like Terry Tortoise, trying new fruits and experiencing different tastes and textures when the fruit was blended together.
To celebrate Vinehall’s first Rainbow Day, a tribute to the incredible key workers, the children have been creating colourful kites to fly in the autumn winds. Be sure to look out for these flying around the school grounds!
This week we celebrated Ted, Oliver and Flynn’s 4th birthdays.
This week we have been reading and thinking about the story of the Little Red Hen, which focuses on a hen who finds some wheat and wants to make some delicious bread. The Reception children enjoyed retelling the story using story stones and loved visiting Mrs Powis’ chickens here at school. However, the highlight was following a recipe, making bread rolls, and then of course eating them!
Year 1 made the most of the beautiful autumn leaves by creating nature crowns. They heard a story about a little girl who cared for the plants and wildlife in the woods; the animals were so grateful they made her a crown to say thank you. The children made their own crowns while they thought of ways they could look after the woodland. Mrs Bennett took the children on a trip around the world in Geography by exploring traditional foods from different countries. Year 1 are lucky enough to include children with family origins from many different countries, so it was lovely to discuss their various culinary experiences. The children were exploring colour in art and discovering which colours we could mix to make others; by the end the paper looked like a galaxy filled with swirling solar-systems.
Year 2 managed to escape the stormy weather this week and catch some autumn sunshine. The children took a journey around the school grounds pretending to be naturalists like Charles Darwin curiously searching for the different types of trees, leaves and seeds that are found in our Vinehall habitat. They looked carefully with magnifying glasses to make observations before using charcoal to sketch out and label their findings. Friday brought the fun of hat and kite making, as we celebrated and thanked the NHS for all that they do to help everyone during the Coronavirus pandemic.
25th September 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
Well another week has zoomed by and I can’t believe the leaves are turning yellow and the rain has finally arrived. What a fantastic extended summer we have had, so I can’t complain! The children donned their waterproofs this week and the jumping in puddles and floating of leaves began. With each season comes a new adventure for our little ones who have seen so very few season changes in their lives. This week I think my highlight has been watching the Year 2 children prepare for the Poetry by Heart competition. They have been rehearsing and learning their lines tirelessly. Whoever gets through to the next round, a very big ‘Well Done’ from Mrs McKnight, but a massive congratulations to all the children who have put in so much hard work; I am extremely proud of each and every one of you!
Nursery and Kindergarten
Little Vines have had a full week experiencing the language and culture of Spain!
The children have learnt about the colours in the Spanish flag, used castanets to dance to Flamenco music and the highlight of the week was cooking gazpacho with Chef Bear, which the children said was ‘delicious … deliciosa!’ What a shame we didn’t have the sunshine too!
This week, in the woods the children created their own musical instruments. They hunted on the ground for sticks and, with adult support, tied them together to make their own woodland chimes.
The letter of the week was ‘s.’ With this in mind we made sandwiches; the children learnt how to spread the butter, jam or honey and cut them into squares and triangles. The best bit was eating them up!
We send our birthday wishes to Persie who will be 4 on Saturday; have a fun filled day Persie!
Mrs McKnight does not have time to sort out her laundry, so the children in Reception have been matching up all the socks whilst unknowingly learning about matching and pairs in their maths lesson. They have also been sorting out all her buttons, learning about how we can sort things into different types of groupings (categories), and how to sort by shape, size and colour. In English we have been reading the ‘Mixed-Up Chameleon’ by Eric Carle and thinking about what makes us each special; we had everything from ‘I am very good at jumping in puddles’ to ‘I like my skeleton because it helps me stand up properly!’
Year 1 have been exploring self-portraits this week. They learnt about Guiseppi Arcimboldo, who was a famous Italian artist who made portraits out of food. The children tried using 3D food to make their own inspired portraits. In English we have been listening to stories and thinking of who, when, where and what to help us re-tell and remember the story. We finished the week by using pastels to recreate our portraits. We made the most of the sunshine at the beginning of the week by finding some new areas to explore; we have some real life Maisie Monkeys in Year 1.
Year 2 had an exciting week exploring poetry! We started the topic by sitting outside and using all of our senses to describe Autumn. Chirping birds, crunchy leaves and gooey marshmallows were ideas that came to mind as the children welcomed in the new season. The children really enjoyed choosing poems about ‘Light and Dark’ and participating in the Prep School event of Poetry by Heart. I was really impressed by the effort and enthusiasm of the children as they stood up in front of the Pre-Prep children and judges to recite their poems. Amazing work Year 2! Congratulations for earning a Maisie Monkey certificate for being so brave to try something new!
18th September 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
This week all the classes have taken advantage of the glorious sunshine and have spent many lessons outside in the school grounds. Our pupils are all starting to settle and are delighted to share with me some of the things they are doing in their classrooms. Year 2 are learning the incredibly important stages of writing, and understanding the value of self-reflection and editing. Year 1 have been cooking and the smells coming from their classroom of freshly baked cupcakes have been hard to resist; in the time before bubbles I would have had to perform some quality control testing! Reception have started their exciting journey of learning how to write letters, and went on a nature hunt to decorate a card with the initials of their names. Kindergarten have been busy making herb potions in the gardens and all the Nursery and Kindergarten children built a bug hotel, thanks to Florence, with natural resources they found in the garden. It’s been a hive of activity down in Pre-Prep.
Nursery and Kindergarten
The weather has been so kind to us this week and we made the most of it!
Outside, the children have been dancing to classical music and creating wonderful shapes with ribbons. We have had the bubble machine blowing, which meant we all had to jump and stretch to catch them; and we had our weekly adventure to the woods.
This week’s Woodland Adventure sparked off great creativity. We used sticks to create picture frames and the children used their beady eyes to hunt for lots of natural materials. Their imaginations were just amazing; we had pictures of ‘homes for the woodland creatures’, along with ‘a spider’s web with 100 flies in it!’
On Wednesday we continued our theme of healthy eating with Chef Bear. The children used their brilliant cutting skills and used ‘real knives’ to cut up a selection of fruit and created all sorts of ‘happy faces.’ Of course the best part was eating it all up when we had finished!
Our Pre-Prep Pal of the week has been Billy Bee. We have been so proud of our little ones who are using their ‘kind voices’ to work collaboratively together just like Billy Bee.
We send our Birthday wishes to Margot who will be four on Sunday!
We have been discussing Autumn and learning the letter ‘A’. We chose apples to make Autumnal prints. The children chose the colours they had seen on their forest walks and used them to make pictures. Some of the children explored the way the colours mixed together and made an Autumnal brown.
The children loved listening to the book ‘Mouse Paint’ by Ellen Walsh this week. It is the story of three white mice who decide to climb into some paint jars and have some fun while the cat is napping. This book helps the children think about mixing colours, which they have had a great deal of fun doing this week. They also enjoyed ‘reading’ sentences from the book with me. A great foundation step in learning to read is helping the children understand that each set of letters on a page is a word; so when we say each word when we read, we point to the word as reference. When we finished reading the story we spoke about our favourite colours and used Unifix cubes to represent these. We then made a 3D bar chart so the children could identify easily which colour was the most popular.
Before we start learning our numbers we have to spend some time learning to count using one to one correspondence, which is the skill of counting one object as you say one number. For example, if you are counting objects, you point at the first item and say ‘1’, then point to the second and say ‘2’ and so on. This is something you can practise with them at home, counting Lego, buttons, Cheerios – anything works! This sounds simple, but 4 year olds find this pretty tricky as they like to rush. In maths we have also been learning about patterns. The children were delighted when they understood and enjoyed making all sorts of ABAB patterns on the peg boards, Unifix and elephants! We have also played a mice making dice game, where they have to ‘win’ parts of the mice and put them together to make a mouse.
Blackberries have been the theme in Year 1 this week. We started the week by going blackberry picking around the school grounds. The children became experts when picking the ripest blackberries, whilst keeping safe from the prickles. Although it was difficult not to eat them all, we managed to save enough to bake delicious blackberry cupcakes. The children followed instructions very well and the delicious smell of freshly baked cakes filled the air. We then used vines to create art work surrounding a blackberry cupcake; the children chose colours they could see outside on the vines.
Zog, the dragon, sent Year 2 a letter this week and we thought of many interesting questions to ask in order to find out more about him. We concentrated like Ollie Owl and used question marks at the end of our sentences. Will Zog be writing back to the children to answer their little human questions? We continued to learn more about the seven continents through researching them on the ipads and going to the Pre-Prep library to gather useful information. The children huffed and puffed with all their might and blew up their own balloon worlds to make a 3-dimensional globe, carefully plotting the continents in the northern and southern hemispheres. We finished the week with a hunt for things that were living, dead and never alive and we were so proud of how gentle and caring the children were in looking after our new friends.
11th September 2020
Head of Pre-Prep
As I head up and down the corridor in Pre-Prep peeping into the classrooms countless times during a school day, I feel extremely fortunate to have arrived at a school where the staff are so incredibly professional and thoughtful, and the children an absolute delight. When I walk the Reception children to ‘big school’ school for lunch each day, I am bowled over by all the Prep children I meet – smart and articulate, enthusiastically opening doors, politely greeting me and the younger children with smiles on their faces. My only regret is that my own children are too old to join the Vinehall family and benefit from its education. It is funny when you take on a new job, you are never quite sure what you are signing up for until you arrive and start the job in hand. So far … so very good!
Have a wonderful week ahead and enjoy reading about what a fantastic week has been had by all.
Nursery and Kindergarten
What an amazing start to Little Vines! It has been so wonderful having our classrooms full of children’s voices and laughter!
The children have settled very well and it is just as though we have never been away! Our little ones always amaze me with how they demonstrate such resilience and adapt to changes, just like our Pre-Prep Pal Terry Tortoise.
This week the children had their first gym lesson with Mrs Towner; WOW, we couldn’t quite believe how well the children joined in with all the fun activities. Mrs Towner said it was as though the children had been at Vinehall for ever!
On Tuesday we went on our Woodland Adventures and explored the “BIG BIG woods”, as one of the children called it. The children were full of curiosity as they explored exciting camps made from wood and we even found lots of enormous holes which apparently the ‘Gruffalo’ lives in!
Long may the happy faces, laughter and fun continue!
We send Birthday wishes to Axel who will be 4 on Saturday, have a super day!
What a wonderful week we have had in Reception. The children are already walking to the classroom on their own and have mastered their new routines. Washing their hands, popping their water bottles on the table, finding their trays and putting in their book bags – all in a week’s work! Next week A levels!
Our new children to Vinehall have made some lovely friendships very quickly and our existing pupils have been super little buddies. This week we have been getting to know each other and the new environment in Reception. French was an exciting new adventure and dry land swimming lessons were a vision to behold as the children synchronised their arms and legs on mats in the hall. The children had great fun in their ball skills lesson in this week’s glorious sunshine. However, I think the crowning glory was when I announced one morning that, as they were now in Reception and incredibly grown up, it was time to do some work – they gasped in delight and then all cheered! Now that’s a great place to start the school year.
Year 1 have had a fantastic start to Term! Over the first week the children have been exploring the school grounds and leading Mrs Bennett and Mrs Winn on new adventures. We started our topic by reading ‘Kitchen Disco’ and had our own little disco in the classroom, the children even created their own giant fruit and vegetables to DJ the party. Year 1’s energy and enthusiasm for learning is very apparent and I am looking forward to getting to know them all much better over the year!
Year 2 enjoyed the summer sun and spent some quality time out in the Vinehall woods this week. We thought about what might make a good ‘time capsule’ in which to bury our beginning of Year 2 work. Thank you to Dave (one of our Groundsmen) for coming to the rescue to help Mrs Garwood and Mrs Ruddle dig a hole deep enough to bury our treasure! It will be very interesting when we dig it up on 1st July 2021 to discover how much the children have changed. We talked about the importance of fire safety and all concentrated, like Ollie Owl, to create a spark with our flint and steel. Toasting and eating our piece of bread on the fire was definitely a highlight and enjoyed by us all.