Our world is where we live – our home, our family, our school. It is the places that we go, the people that we meet, the things that we can see, smell, hear, taste and touch. Our world is important because we share it with lots of other living things. We need to treat our world with respect – to ensure that it is well looked after – so that every person, animal and plant can live healthily and enjoy it.
This IPC unit gave the children a chance to learn about our world. In the first part of term, during the lockdown, children have been learning online from home. It has been a very challenging time for them but they really showed how resilient and hard working they can be!
Speaking and listening
The theme was introduced during a zoom conference, in the last week of the Easter Holidays, the 22nd of April when we celebrate Earth Day. Children learnt about this holiday and the ways people around the world celebrate it. We discussed why it is important to care about our environment and what we can do to help the Earth every day (recycling/reuse/conserve). We have been marking this day by planting seeds (vegetables and flowers).
Following the online classroom from Dubai
Reading and Writing
The national curriculum objectives for this term (to regard reading as a pleasure activity, to show understanding of that has been read and to read with fluency applying the phonics knowledge) have been met through various read aloud sessions and shared reading, where we discussed, for example, what we can do to help reduce our waste. The story of the Magpie became very popular and the children learnt the importance of recycling and sorting out the various litter into the right bin/container (by the material it’s made of). Birch children demonstrated they can listen to what has been read, contribute to discussions and make links to their own experience.
To encourage children’s writing, but also to focus on keeping positive throughout the lockdown, we started posting our thought in our Quarantine Scrapbook.
During this term we also had many 1:1 sessions and small group zoom lessons to practice reading aloud and becoming fluent readers. All children in Birch made excellent progress in reading!
But our most favourite book for this term has been Here comes the Garbage Barge, by Jonah Winter. The children enjoyed listening to the true story of the garbage barge that set off from Islip, in NY, hauling nearly thirty-two hundred tons of garbage! We followed the route of the infamous barge, through its six-thousands mile journey. It was not difficult to embed geography, science and maths within our core subjects. The children learnt to name and find the countries on the world map where the barge stopped. In small groups we also found out what those countries and towns are famous for, and the children made a presentation to the class.
The children in Birch have also been busy creating comics! Inspired by the barge story, they set up different groups responsible for drafting the story, creating the characters and drawing the pictures! It was their own initiative and they really showed fantastic team work and high standard presentation skills.
Maths and Science
One of the main objectives for science in term 5 , was to learn about the life cycle of plants. We planted some lentil seeds, we watched the seeds germinate and gradually grow into little plants. We followed the plant’s phases and recorded what we saw. We identified what the plants need to grow (light, water, clean soil) and we estimated how much taller the plant would be a week later.
During term 5, children learnt how to create art work using natural materials from the forest/garden and also how to make toys using recycled materials. The pictures below show a game made with recycled materials that the children created and used to learn the roman numerals and to practice the 4 maths operations.
The link below takes you to a video clip sent by a student to the online classroom, showing the game he made and explaining what he learnt from it.
Birch class has been very busy
doing a lot of exciting activities around this theme! During this term, the
children in Birch have been looking at how people, every day all over the world,
make different types of journey, on land, on sea and in the air. We have been
exploring all types of transport in different countries and we also looked at
the different ways of transport in the past and in the present.
Speaking, Listening and Drama
Speaking, listening and drama, are skills normally taught and applied both socially and across the curriculum. During our circle time and discussion sessions, the children have been given the chance to speak and listen to each other. Book talks have been exciting opportunities for our class for exploring new language, encouraging critical thinking, predicting, retelling and creating characters and setting for new stories. Ultimately, at IFS, comprehension is developed through talks and exchanging of ideas rather than through textbook comprehension exercises.
Without any doubts, reading for the Birch pupils, is not a chore but a true joy! The children have been enjoying many shared, guided and read- aloud sessions. We have been reading various books on types of transport, real and magic. We started with The Boy who could Fly, a fiction book with an element of fun and magic. To ensure learning was kept lively and interactive, we have been using many drama activities in the classroom. For this purpose, we usually keep a dress up box in class with fancy dresses, props and accessory that the children can use every day to get into different characters and act out their favourite scene from the book. Throughout various drama techniques such as paired improvisation, hot seating, meetings and freeze frames the children got the chance to explore issues and dilemmas, to develop vocabulary, sequencing and story language. It was a rewarding pleasure to watch the once shy and quiet children, literally running to the dress up box, eagerly dressing up and acting out one of their chosen characters from the book! They were certainly having fun!
Creative writing, phonics and
We also read the 3 books about
Bob (Bob the Man on the Moon; Bob and his best, ever, friend; Bob and the Moon
tree Mystery) which have had a huge success!
The children have been following Bob in all his adventures on the Moon and they have had many opportunities to show and practice their writing skills especially in the Class Journal, which has been filled in with many little stories, comments and drawings! Grammar, punctuation and spelling (phase 3 and 4) have been taught and practiced through engaging activities around the main theme. All the children have been encouraged to make contributions to the journal. Following the teacher’s model, the children have been taught how to plan, edit and proofread their work. In addition, pupils, have had the opportunities to be creative writing nonsense sentences/poems, diary entries and shopping lists. Last, but not the least, handwriting has been practicing every day and children can show now their huge improvement!
During this term, the Birch students have been busy learning all about money. They have been taught how to recognise and know the value of different denominations of coins and notes (Euros), how to order the coins from the smallest to the largest and how to add euros and give change. The classroom quickly turned into a market square! We placed stalls selling food and vegetables and a bank where we could go and get some money (using our debit cards!). Everybody was busily engaged in various activities! It is always a pleasure for the teacher to watch the students getting excited and actively involved in so many activities at the same time, but still, keeping very well organised within the groups.
The children have been
practicing counting the money in multiples of 2, 5 and 10 which has helped
recognise number bonds and practice timetables. They also have been taught to
identify and represent numbers using objects and pictorial representations
including the number line and how to read, write and interpret mathematical
statements involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and equal symbols
(also: more than, less than, most, least and fewer).
In the last week of the term the children have been taught how to recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week and months of the year.
In science we have been exploring the solar system and finding out facts about our planet Earth and other planets. This topic proved to be very popular and exciting! We have been following the ISS (International Space Station) orbiting around the world, identifying the continents and countries on his pathway!
On the last day of the term we had, as our exit point for IPC, a TV show where Bob was invited! Kids came on zoom video conference dressed up as alien and asked Bob various questions. After the interview Bob dashed into his spaceship and off, he went back to the Moon!
The children also had science sessions about action and reaction, how objects move from A to B. They have been taught about mass and gravity and they enjoyed making their own mode of transport, in class and at home.
Our Let’s get cooking club has never been busier! We decided to move the coking station into the classroom as it was easier and smoother to move from one working station to another one during our carousel morning activities. We made lentil soup, red kidney beans soup, chicken and vegetable stew, apple cakes, chocolate cakes, courgette roll and pasta with tomato sauce. It was all so yummy and healthy, and the children took great proud of their meals!
For our PE lesson, in addition to our warm up/obstacle course sessions and football on a Wednesday, we also played volleyball in school. We completed a couple of basic lessons on how to serve (throw) and how to hit (respond) the ball.
The children in Birch also enjoyed cycling in the forest! All wearing their helmets and following the health and safety rules, they took turn in small groups going on a cycling adventure in the forest! That was fabulastic!
Although a couple of art sessions had to be cancelled, the children in Birch still managed to learn how to make a decoupage piece of work.
They also learned how to make a picture of a Greek vase using wax crayons.
And they learned how to make a silhouette landscape using cards.
Over all a huge well done to all the students in Birch! I am ever so proud of the achievements you all came so far! See you after Easter!
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
Once upon a time there was a school in a forest…
Term 3 was the fairy tales term that has seen kids and teachers busily engaged in exciting activities and adventures!
On the very first day back to school, after the Christmas holiday, we had an unexpected visit from far, far away: the Old Befana from Italy! The good witch flying on her broom stick who, all of a sudden, knocked at our door. She had decided to stop at our school to deliver sweets and presents to the kids in Birch class. What a big surprise! The kids were overwhelmed with excitment. We received 2 footballs, a basketball, 2 dodgeballs, books and sweets! Most of all we learnt about the legend connected to the 6th January (the Epiphany day) in Italy.
Speaking, Listening and drama
The IPC theme for this term was: Stories people tell. Children have been learning about fairy tales, myths, legends and fables from different countries and cultures around the world. They have also been learning about the lessons and the morals behind the stories. Through discussions and little debates, pupils have been practising making inferences, and describing the characters of the story (using interesting adjectives). We read the Greek myth ‘Theseus and the Minotaur’ and had a little debate on Theseus’ dilemma: “How fair was it for Theseus to leave Ariadne on Naxos island instead of taking her with him to Athens?”. We had interesting answers and all the children were eager to take part in the discussion.
We had many read-aloud sessions which the pupils loved! We read The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Gruffalo Child, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and we acted out some of the stories in the forest! It was interesting to see how the children got engaged in speaking independently, listening and responding to various settings, and developing their creativity. Through drama, children have the chance to explore characters, situations, issues and dilemmas and develop interpretation, sequencing/ structure, vocabulary and story language. It’s so rewarding and amazing to see children who speak English as a second language, make such a huge improvement in listening and responding!
In addition to the read-aloud sessions, in class and in the library, the children have been doing independent silent reading every morning, shared reading and guided reading at least once a week. This is also an opportunity for the teacher to check the progress of the pupils. The beginner readers are taught to use their phonics knowledge to recognise phonemes and blend them together to read words. As this process becomes automatic, children are then able to focus on comprehension. During guided reading, Birch class is splits in groups of 2 maximum 3 pupils and the reading is followed by a comprehension activity (in writing for some groups) which is also developed through lots of talks and the exchange of ideas.
All the children in Birch seem to make very good progress in reading, they are enthusiastic about any book and they also love reading the homework book (from the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme) that is sent home one a week (on a Friday).
Creative writing, phonics and spelling
This term we had many guided writing sessions, where children had the opportunity to develop their independent writing skills. Specifically, the children have been taught how to apply grammar, punctuation and spelling skills in ways which are interesting. Grammar points taught are verbs, nouns and adjectives.
For creative writing the children have been encouraged to change the end of some fairy tales, making up their own happy ending. They came up with a new Gingerbread Man story with a twist at the very end: the lucky escape of the main character who got grabbed by an eagle (a bald one!) and then dropped sound and safe on the other side of the river!
Last but not the least, presentation and handwriting have been important, for this reason children have been practising hand writing at least twice a week.
Spelling practice has been one of the main focus in literacy. The children are working at their own pace, as a consequence we have different spelling level in the class, although most of the children are working on the next 200 first sight words (read and write).
Most of the phonemes (ie: -igh, -ea, -ee, a-e) and digraph in phonics part 3, have been taught, included short and long vowels.
Who is up for a spelling competition?!
In this term the big focus for numeracy was mental maths, the ability to work out calculations quickly in you head. The children have been taught strategies to add, subtract and multiply small and bigger number without using the number line. Breaking numbers in chunks, grouping by 5 and 10 and practising timetables, has been a daily activity for all the class. This allows the children to answer mathematical facts faster which is useful in school and in everyday life.
Working out mental maths requires strong memory skills. Maths facts and other number concepts have to be retrieved from long-term memory. For this purpose, we also practised number bonds and the 2/5/10 timetables.
Children develop mental maths at their own pace. When they struggle with mental maths it could be that they need more time to practice every day.
More complex number patterns and sequences have been practised, in addition to words problems involving addition, subtraction and multiplication (also division for some lower KS2 pupils.)
Another important numeracy topic for this term has been measuring height, length and weight (mass). The children enjoyed measuring each other using the measuring tape, and making estimate (guessing) about teachers’ height and trees in the forest! They also learned how to compare eights and record the findings in their books.
Measuring weight has been a lot of fun! Starting with making a balance scales to compare the weight of different objects in the classroom…
…to using scale to measure the ingredients for the recipes at the Let’s get cooking club!
You see kids cooking. I see…reading, measuring, estimating, maths, following directions, collaborating, listening, problem solving and tasting food! Someone has been caught on camera trying out the macaroni cheese! 🙂 The last but not the least, even the fussier eater ate all the soups which we cooked together and said they were yummy! Healthy eating at the Forest International School!
We also made a giant gingerbread man biscuit for our play, it was so yummy!
PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education)
PSHE is an
important part of your child’s national curriculum learning. It is a school
subject to help pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need
to keep themselves healthy and safe, in order to be prepared for life and work.
of study aims to develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem,
risk management, critical thinking and teamwork.
During Term 3, we have been learning about resilience, how important is to be flexible and adaptable when going through challenges and changes in life. Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences, it helps overcome anxiety and build self-esteem. We listened to the story of the Swallow bird, Savannah, who faces so many challenges during her very long and difficult flight from Africa back to Scotland for the nesting season.
During the follow up discussion, children could relate to Savannah, when they’ve experienced difficult times in their lives. It was interesting to listen to the children talking about their first day at their new schools, how nervous and anxious they were. We shared our own worries and explored many ways to deal with anxiety and feeling alone. It was good to listen to the song Sky Fall by Adele, children could pick out the lyrics: “Let the sky fall , when it crumbles, we will stand tall, face it all together !” It is important that children feel they can ask for help when going through difficult times in life, it makes them feel safer.
Children enjoyed watching Savannah have a drink whilst flying!
We all came to the conclusion that resilience is about trying hard and not giving up at the first hurdle. We agreed that we all learn by making mistakes, and made an acrostic poem (linked to literacy): Fail = First Attempt In Learning.
Float or sink?
In science this term we have been learning about investigations. The children had many practical science sessions, in class and in the forest. Throughout experiments, we learned the steps for investigations: questions (does the pencil float?), hypothesis (I think the pencil will sink/float) and findings (the pencil actually floats because it is made of wood). The children also learned which objects sink and which float and why. We had to use the previous knowledge learned in the last term, the proprieties of materials. ( Revise and retrieve previous knowledge to master new skills).
How to separate pepper powder from salt?
Watching the particles of pepper “flying” from the plate to the surface of the balloon, was just amazing! We are planning to do many more experiments next term!
During this term we have been studying the ancient Greeks and their culture. We explored the atlas to see where ancient Greece was compared to modern Greece (geography, climate, etc). We learned who the ancient Greeks were and how they changed the world (mathematics, science, medicine, pottery, the Olympics, philosophy and politics). We also compared the life of women in ancient Greece to modern society.
In art, the children have been learning how to make a pot with clay. They have been inspired by the ancient Greeks, and they practised painting Greek patterns on their clay pots! They had to plan their design first on paper, colour in pencils, then discuss how they were going to use the clay (mix with water, flat it down with a rolling pin, then mould the final shape with wet hands). The children have been actively involved in each part of the pot making process, using their skills, intelligence and creativity! Indeed, they had fun, I believe as Albert Einstein said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun!”
The children in Birch had an assembly with the Maples about body percussion. It was interesting and the children had a lot of fun experimenting with body sounds and noises. We made the sound of rainstorms, wind and thunderstorms using only our bodies.
We also learned about musical instruments, their names and their sounds. The children have been listening to the music from Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the wolf’. They enjoyed to listen to the story, make inferences, identify the different animals’ instruments and act out the different characters in the story. Finally, with the melodica we practised the basic notes and beats.
Birch class has been enjoying a variety of engaging and fun activities throughout these last 7 weeks! In literacy and numeracy, we have been using the carousel technique to work simultaneously with different topic and level groups. This works well in class and keeps everybody busy and focused on their task. Here are some examples of our work.
Speaking, Listening and Drama
For speaking, listening and drama, we have been playing games such as the “Hot Seating” (to express the character’s feelings), the “Conscience Alley” (to practise persuasive speech) and “Pair Improvisation”. Children enjoyed discussing and reflecting on various books: The Day The Crayons Quit (their favourite), The Lion who wants to Love, Giraffes Don’t dance, Up and Down, The Lion Inside, How to catch a Star and also some stories from the Mr Man and Little Miss book.
gradually, has been gaining confidence in talking and making a positive
contribution to the discussion while listening attentively to the other’s point
of view. Also, so many new and interesting words have been learnt!
Our read aloud sessions got more and more engaging with book talks that helped children to understand the text, the characters, the facts and the authors. We also made links to other books and/or our own experiences. It was interesting to see how many pupils linked the fear that the little mouse experienced at the beginning of the story (The Lion Inside) to their own fear when they started school and did not have any friends.
Also, children spent at least 15 minutes every day reading to another person. They are becoming indeed enthusiastic reader!
Creative writing, phonics and spelling
Creative writing has been encouraged throughout various activities in class. We started three weeks ago using our Story Books for re-telling the story that we previously read in class but also for writing our own stories. Children love writing new stories! In The Day the Crayons Quit, they have learnt how to use adjectives to describe the book characters and how they can make our story more interesting and less boring!
Kids also had guided writing session where they practiced spelling, tricky words, punctuation (full stop, capital letter, question mark and exclamation mark) and letter formation. We have been spending 15 minutes every morning with phonics multisensorial activity. We explored short and long vowel sounds, consonant blends (L family bl-cl-fl-gl-pl-sl, R family cr-br-dr-fr-gr) and diagraphs (ch-sh). To add an element of fun we have also read together short phonics stories, poems and rhymes.
have been working on count, recognise and write numbers 1-10 (20 and above for
the more advanced); practice using correct language, symbols and vocabulary;
order a set of one and two-digit number. They enjoyed working on one more/one
less, addition and subtraction facts and words problem with hand on activities
in the forest, collecting and sorting acorn, leaves and sticks!
Children have been enjoying multisensory activities to practice greater/fewer, number bonds, number patterns and sequences, also Singapore Math Method has been applied to solve words problems with addition.
We had lot of fun baking apple
cakes! We practiced measuring and comparing quantities and we also sold them
and raised £14 for the homeless!
following week, kids made their very own hand made Italian pizza, so yummy, they
made enough for all the school’s children and staff! What a teamwork that was,
well done Birch!! We also had lot of fun making a volcano-shape focaccia with
the leftover pizza dough. That was one of the many spontaneous cross curriculum
Following the IPC theme “Who I
am?”, children have been learning about the 7 continents of our world. They
enjoyed making the floor puzzle of the world map (again good teamwork!),
finding the country where their families come from and playing multisensorial
activities to practice cardinal direction and compass points in the class and
in the forest!
During the climate change
strike week, we also had an assembly on weather and climate, to introduce the
global warming and learn about recycling and all we can do to help the
environment. Children also made very powerful and colourful signs and posters
with clear messages on climate change and we walked outside school to manifest
our intention to act on the matter.
In the last 2 week of this
term children have been learning about landforms and waterbodies. They made a
poster and a final quiz competition to check the learning.
Most of the time, learning has occurred spontaneously: children have also been walking into the forest observing the colour change on the tree and collecting leaves and sticks to make a lovely 4 season poster for our class display.
During the last week in
school, Elm and Oak class held a very interesting science museum tour. It was
very exciting to see mad science in action! Kids had the chance to experiment
how the hydraulic mechanism work, how the water function and so on. They really
enjoyed listening to the older kids explaining all the aspect of the machines.
Kids had a lot of fun in the swimming pool! They gradually gained confidence in the water and improved their technique!
We had fun also playing Capoeira which involves coordination, strength and flexibility.
We just started learning how to play melodica! Kids in this class are very musical and love singing and playing music together.