Dear parents and Kestrels,
We've completed two weeks of home learning - it has been challenging for a lot of us in different ways. I'm sure that we all understand more than ever the feeling of wanting what we can't have!
I'd like to thank all the parents and carers at home who've been supporting Kestrels class with their learning, even if it's ensuring that the work's been emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or the office. I've really enjoyed seeing what the children have got up to and how they've interpreted some of the tasks! I appreciate how difficult it is to juggle being a bread-winner, a parent AND a teacher in one day and I am so grateful to all of you for trying your best.
Thank you also for the feedback from both adults and children, letting me know how they've got on with a task, if they found it tricky - and in particular, whether they've enjoyed doing it. It's been lovely to receive so many kind messages. I've also enjoyed getting emails from the children themselves (via their parents' email address) to let me know what they've been getting up to.
For many of us, Easter is going to feel a bit different this year - I'm sure I'm not the only one with plans that have been cancelled - and the idea of spending two weeks not quite knowing what to do might be daunting for many.
Miss Snelling has devised some optional activities for you to fall back on over the next two weeks, I've uploaded them below. The aim is to complete a row or a column of the activities - but doing more is definitely ok! For many of you, it's not a real "holiday", so don't feel any pressure to get them done.
I've finished recording our class book, Heidi, and will start the next one after Easter. Over Easter, I will continue to do a Poem A Day and to read some picture books for those looking for something a bit different. Just check our class playlist for new videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb0pFDI7KBtIBmxNRfmZlURe25Zf-HN01
Stay safe, look after each other and keep smiling!
I have really enjoyed some of the creative writing you've done around your chosen Zoo animal this week! Some of them have been so entertainingly written, so thank you for that!
I'll upload a selection of the work so we can see all the ideas you've had of what it must be like in a day in the life of a tiger/penguin/koala/panda.
My SD reader has arrived! So Heidi chapters are being edited and uploaded today to catch us up - I might even throw in some bonus ones so that we finish by Monday.
"Production" will slow down slightly over the holidays as I'll be helping those of you who are still coming into school next week.
Tomorrow I'll be uploading some optional activities for you to do over the Easter holidays - two bingo boards. There'll be more information on that with them tomorrow.
At Home Learning
Dear Parents and Kestrels,
We've come to the end of our first week of at-home learning and I have been amazed by the quality of your work and resilience.
I'd like to say a big thank you to all the adults at home who have been supporting the children with their work - even while juggling your own jobs! I know how hard it has been.
I shall try upload some of the great stories you wrote on Thursday over the weekend (I'll transcribe some of them as the photos are hard to read) - I was so pleased to see so many of you try to include all the grammatical elements we've been practising since Christmas.
Please do not hesitate to email me if you need help with any of the tasks - it can be so difficult to get ideas across without being there in person! I will try to upload videos and audio files as necessary to help.
Kestrels, please please keep reading!
Send me reviews of books you've particularly enjoyed at home and I will publish them on the website to inspire other readers. I will keep reading books to you as well, as you've asked! I have already decided which adventure we will go on once we're finished with Heidi.
Kestrel Class's playlist is mainly viewable by clicking this link:
So far we have:
*These are picture books which I think you'll all enjoy.
To come will also be some more picture books I think you'll like and when we've finished Heidi, I'll begin the next class book! (but you'll have to watch to find out what it is!)
To view other class's playlists, you'll need to visit their class page.
Stay safe and healthy, Kestrels! Please keep in touch. I look forward to us all being together again - I'll miss you all very much!
*Today's chapter of Heidi has been filmed but my SD card reader is kaput! I've another on its way so until then, I apologise!*
Your class teacher is Mrs Parks-Connolly* and your TAs are Mrs Denton, Mrs Wilkinson and Mrs Cox.
*The children call me Mrs Parks still
Our topic this term is the Shang Dynasty!
This period is really interesting - despite the dynasty spanning 1600BC - 1046BC (The Bronze Age!), the children have already exclaimed at just how advanced the civilisation was just by comparing their technological and cultural achievements to other parts of the world at the same time.
Useful things to know
We are encouraging children to take responsibility for their own organisation and learning behaviour through metacognition. The children are being encouraged to practice their spellings and times tables independently at various times in the week as well as at home.
On Thursdays the children will be working with Premier Sport. On Wednesday, they will be doing PE with me.
Please ensure your child's PE kits are in school every day. Sometimes time tables change or need to be moved around and your children need to be prepared for any eventuality!
Here is a reminder of the expectations, when learning multiplication tables:
By the end of year 2, they should know their 2x, 5x and 10x table.
By the end of year 3, they should know their 3x, 4x, 6x and 11x table
By the end of year 4, they should know their 7x, 8x, 9x, and 12x table.
Please, please help your child to learn their times tables. Knowing these by heart and being able to recall them quickly is invaluable to their learning. It helps them to progress more quickly with problem solving and multiplying and dividing larger numbers.
In 2020 a national times tables test will be introduced to year 4, to ensure that these expectations are being met.
Knowing their times tables means being able to answer an out-of-order multiplication question without thinking very long, such as: 5 x 5 = 25. 9 x 10 = 90. If your child is only able to count up in jumps of 2 or 10, make sure that they begin to apply each jump to a finger, and that they are aware that they are counting multiples.
It also means that they are able to solve the inverse, such as: 90 divided by 10 is 9. There are five 5s in twenty-five.
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The children have powered their way through perimeter and area this term and are embarking on Fractions! We have used bar models, physical objects and used varied pictures of fractions through bars (chocolate of course!), circles (cakes, of course!) and numberlines. The children have a great foundation understanding the concept of a fraction so we have moved quickly onto counting in fractions (y3), marking fractions on an empty numberline (y3/4) and converting improper fractions to mixed number fractions (y4) and finding equivalent fractions either using diagrams or mathematically. We will be swiftly moving onto finding fractions of amounts!
When you are diviying up items or food at home, try to talk about what fraction is being shared and what would an equivalent fraction be? Would I have more or less if I had a third or a quarter? It helps to put fractions into a real-world context.
December: We have been focusing on multiplication and division using models and images to aid our understanding of 4 x 5 being 4 lots or groups of 5. We use arrays, cubes, beadstrings and bar model diagrams to help us consider what we've been asked to do - though the children are aware of the commutability of multiplications.
They have started to solve some problems using their knowledge of products and factors and are becoming more adept at calculating multiplication and division problems, even if they don't necessarily know that times table by heart yet.
November: We have covered a lot of our calculation unit! We have been adding and subtracting mentally, using a written columnar method and using more than one operation to solve multi-step word problems. The children have enjoyed playing "Countdown" on Thursdays - particularly when the goal was to make 750 and the cards they'd chosen included 7, 100 and 50! Far too easy! In all the other games, though, I have been very impressed by the confidence the children are beginning to show manipulating larger numbers.
September: We are starting the year with work on place value and mental strategies. Ask your child to round numbers to the nearest 10, 100 and 1000. Ask them how they know whether to round up or down. Practice number bonds to 10 and 100. Discuss the patterns. Discuss the value of digits within 4 and 5 digit numbers. Ask them to add/subtract multiples of 10, 100 and 1000. A little bit every day will help to consolidate their learning.
Our class book is currently The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Kestrels have had a fantastic start in their writing this half term - it's the best half term because suddenly you can see how much progress children have made since September. Comparing their diary writing from September to this half term's shows how much more varied the vocabulary and sentence structures are now.
We have so far enjoyed discussing the style and descriptions of The Iron Man and role-playing a Farmers' Committee to discuss what to do about the problem. A lot of children were pleased to learn that their ideas were similar to what happened in the book. We have thought about Hogarth's emotions and how his feelings have moved from "proud" to "devastated" within one scene, linking the discussion to our PSHE topic around feelings.
Today the children have used the imaginative expanded noun phrases they came up with about scrapyards to create a poem which includes a repeated phrase and a sense of rhythm. A lot of the class got out thesauruses and helped to edit the poem and suggest alternative syntax choices to help keep the rhythm regular.
They will use this shared writing experience to write their own poems about the Iron Man itself.
I hope to record the children performing "Scrumptious Scrapyard" orally, so that we can share the poem to its full effect online.
Spring 2: Insects
Moving on from classifying animals we are looking more indepth at insects: what makes a "mini beast" an insect; the metamorphic and incomplete metamorphic life cycles and whether they are pests or helpers in both the human and natural world.
Spring 1: Classifying Animals and Plants
The children have been learning about the 7 life processes (MRS NERG) that all living things do and how scientists have grouped living things into The Plant Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. So far we have been exploring groups of invertebrates and are beginning to work out how to classify vertebrate animals into fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals.
They are getting rather good at using classification keys now and are able to describe the differences and similarities between fish and amphibians.
Autumn 2: The children are going to begin their investigations into 'light'. They will conduct experiments to discover in ways light travels, what light is, which surfaces are reflective and how shadows work. Thank you very much for all the box donations! We shall have a lot of fun with it!
The children have so far discovered that: "Darkness is the absence of light"; light travels in straight lines; with just enough light, one can begin to make out bright colours as these reflect light well while dark colours do not; that some materials, such as glitter or even clear glass, can reflect light.
All this while aiding DI Harris with a low-profile jewellry heist at The Grand Theatre in Harrowgate - during a dress rehearsal, no less! The children are coming up with loads of theories as to how and 'who dunnit' and have been communicating these with DI Harris, though me.
Autumn 1: The children are focusing on "Cycles" in nature; weather cycles, seasonal cycles, life cycles and the water cycle. So far we have discussed how nature is affected by the seasons, how seasons are caused and why the equator does not have seasons in the same way we do; the life cycle of a plant from seed to seed and the life cycle of a chicken with a focus on the development of the chick inside of an egg. The children ended the cycles unit with the life cycle of a frog - looking into how exactly a tadpole morphs into a froglet, then a frog - and the water cycle.
Don't worry, parents, we have established that the eggs bought in shops are unfertilized!
Art and Design & Technology
The children will have an opportunity to improve their already amazing sculpting skills. They will be using the terracotta army of the first Emperor of China as their stimulus, creating our own mini army of figurines out of clay.
There will also be an opportunity to design, prepare and make a Chinese style soup.
This term, Kestrels have been studying the work and style of Georgia O'Keeffe, focusing in particular on her macro paintings of flowers. We discussed the bold colours she used and how she focused one a small detail of the plant and then painted it "blown up" so that it was huge, making viewers consider flowers differently.
We have tried using pencils, pastels and watercolours - which was a bit tricky to get right as we had to consider how much was "too much" water! Today the children had their first go at both sketching and painting their own "blown up" flowers. They were given a viewing window to help them focus on a small section of a flower and then drew larger rectangles in their books to help them size up proportionately. It's a very tricky thing to do, especially when your impulse to draw small details is to draw tiny intricate details!
They have done very well with their first attempt - I've taken some photographs of some of the work as it stands. I hope to graduate them onto some lovely thick watercolour paper, where they can do a series of smaller, but no less bold and beautiful, pictures.
Past English Work
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The children have adored studying this book, so far. We have been reading one to three chapters at a time and responding to the story through discussion, writing in-role, poetry and lyric writing. I highly recommend buying this book for children to revisit (and you parents to enjoy!) at home - but please wait until we have finished the unit, so that the story is not spoiled for them!
I strongly suspect that this book will be heavily featured in our class assembly.
Edward - and the children - has now experienced love and loss! He is a changed rabbit. As the story reaches its conclusion, the children have written 1st Person Narratives from the perspective of one of those that loved Edward and they have explored the concept of imagery and symbolism in Edward's first-ever dream. They have produced their own impression of the dream, using colour to convey mixed feelings of freedom, despair and heartbreak in the dream.
I have been very impressed by how well the children have not only engaged with this complex book but also the way they have managed to keep track of everything that has happened including small details that are tricky to recall without pictures.
Kestrels and I will feel quite bereft when we finish this book!
The children have explored the first two pages. They have responded to the initial image, making connections and predictions based on what they know of other stories. I've photographed their thoughts for you to see. They then heard the narrative that matched to the picture.
They have also responded to the second page by painting their own pictures and then annotating them with gold / silver pens, in the style of the illustrations in the books. We have discussed how the author has chosen to write a paragraph full of descriptions, using similes and metaphor to build a picture of Jub's world in the readers' heads.
The children have written poetry and discussed the common settings of fairytales and why woodlands are so prevalent.
This week they have broadened their subject knowledge about two woodland nocturnal creatures that seep into pop culture and literature: owls and bats before exploring traditional non-fiction writing styles and the child-friendly 'narrative non-fiction' as expertly used by author Nicola Davies.
The children were extremely excited to find out the title of our book! After some very good suggestions as to what the title could be - "Jub and the Happy Endings", "Jub's Adventure" - they were none-the-less enthusiastic and in agreement with Carol-Ann Duffy over "The Lost Happy Endings".
This came after having read a page describing a new character in great detail, focusing on her physical traits as well as outlining her despicable behaviour. The children explored the idea of tropes and "Goodies" and "Baddies" in books. They then had a go at creating what they imagined the "old woman" looked like using clay. I was so very impressed by their focus, imagination and modelling skills. It's hard to know whether to let the children paint them or to simply glaze them!
The children have written diamante poems, diary entries and their own version of a fairy tale, with an Unhappy ending! It was lovely to hear the children's ideas as to what could happen that not result in a Happily Ever After. Some were simple and effective, others were creative in circumventing the otherwise happy ending - including the Evil Queen infiltrating Snow and Charming's castle and replacing the fruit in the fruitbowl with poisoned apples!
Kestrels have been working with 'Fly, Eagle, Fly!' an African tale with a powerful message. This book has wonderful descriptions of the countryside in Africa and is the story of an eagle that has been raised as a chicken by a farmer. A friend of the farmer tries to prove the bird is an eagle by encouraging it to fly with his mantra: "You belong not to the earth but to the sky".
We have written letters as the friend, to his wife, explaining how we feel about keeping the "King of birds" being kept as a lowly chicken. This week, as a our last piece of work with the book the children have retold the story from the point of view of the friend.
Come into the classroom to see our eagle wing display. Everybody wrote what they thought the message of the story was on a feather and then, responding to Desmond Tutu's foreward in the book, what they'd like to do when they're older to "reach sublime heights".
Kestrels have read and explored the themes around 'Storm', a ghost story set in a place similar to the fenlands. We have thought about everyone's point of view - including the ghost!
Come and read their accounts of travelling through the stormy night, delivering Annie to the doctor's in the village.