Birch Class 2019/2020 Term 3

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.

Albert Einstein

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.

Literacy

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!

Reading

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?!

Numeracy

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.

The programme 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. 

Savannah, the Swallow works hard and never gives up!

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.

Practising the French song

Science

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!

Geography/History/Art

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!”

Music

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.

Have a great holidays!

Cristina and the Birch class

Birch Class 2019/2020 Term 1

The Day the Crayons Quit Term

By teacher Cristina Mirabile

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.

Literacy

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.

Everybody, 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!

Reading

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 love making silly sentences!

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. 

Numeracy

Kids 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 ÂŁ14 for the homeless!

The 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 learning opportunities!

Geography/History/Science

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.

Sport/Swimming

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.

Palying Bandiera in the Orchard
Picking grapes in the Orchard

Music

We just started learning how to play melodica! Kids in this class are very musical and love singing and playing music together.

Primary School Classes Update – Winter 2018

Primary Classes Winter 2018

Our Primary School section, for children from 6 to 11 years old, are divided into three classes namely Walnut, Birch and Oak.

IPC at Birch

Birch class topic work for term 2 under the IPC International Primary Curriculum, was focused on history. We looked at ways through which we can learn about the past. More specifically, we learned about the work of archaeologists and the clues that can bring information about the past into the light. The children examined a number of old and new items and described their characteristics (material, date, purpose).

In order to extend our learning on the way of life of Stone Age people and especially their expression through art, Birch and Walnut class visited the National Archaeological Museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The museum guide showed us selected artefacts and the children tried hard to draw them on their notebooks. They were all very attentive and asked many questions.

At the Museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Arts

During our last week of the term, we dedicated ourselves to an art project of creating scented candles. The children learned how to do this themselves while having heaps of fun! Birches took all precautions and used the necessary equipment; wax flakes, electric stove, wicks, glass jars, wax colourants, essential oils, pipettes and wooden skewers. They were responsible for all tasks, from melting wax to adding scent and decorating the jars.

Birch class decided to sell the candles to raise money for charity. During the candle sale, the children did all transactions and gave change themselves.

Candle making at Birch class, Primary School

Oak Class, Primary School

In addition to their busy schedule and team challenges with Elm Class (Middle School), Oak were busy in the kitchen once again.

Just before Christmas, we have learnt a traditional Spanish recipe: “Tortilla”! We wrote down instructions, ingredients, measurements and we cooked it.

Oak class preparing the Tortilla
Oak Class (Primary School) preparing the Tortilla

Maths

We have worked a lot with fractions using visual aids or learning about different strategies for calculations. We have seen and solved various real-life problems involving them. A large variety of activities has helped us to understand the use of comparing and order fractions, identify and write equivalent fractions, recognize them and relate them with decimals.

We have also worked with geometry and with the calculation of different areas, involving real- life problems too. We have learnt properties of different shapes. We have seen and understand the use of them by tackling real life problems.

We have also learnt about the importance of measuring, not only length, area or volume but also turns/angles.

Oak geography and literacy class.
From our geography and literacy activities, Oak class

Meanwhile, at Walnut Class (Primary School)

We had the opportunity to develop our literacy skills through a range of literacy activities:

The Christmas show has allowed us to build our vocabulary, to practice speaking audibly and fluently through our respective roles, to work on gaining and maintaining the interest of the listeners and to acquire a better understanding of the use the appropriate register for effective communication.

We consolidated the use of correct punctuation and sentence organisation through daily writing activities. Furthermore, we practised alternative and phonic word spelling by using the words learnt in context.

We made a tricky words list to order to improve spelling and to note unusual correspondences spelling and sound.

We also reviewed some grammar concepts such as suffixes (-full, -less) and have learnt using some new ones in context. Studying an inspirational moral story and creating our own one was enjoyable! It helped us to illustrate the learning that took place and to familiarize ourselves with this type of narrative. Debating and exchanging ideas about meaningful values such as generosity, determination and kindness was a great way to reinforce these values on an everyday basis in our classroom.

We took pleasure in presenting of our chosen country (based on our personal preferences) and sharing some cultural, historical and culinary elements related to our country to the rest of the class.. The culinary experience will remain our favorite one!

At last, we have been very lucky to spend library time with Monica who helped us to read at loud some of our favourite books and to listen to some great stories with on Fridays! We love reading that way !

Walnut class term 2 year 2018-2019
Walnut Class (Primary School) term 2 updates