News and Photos from The Willows
For information about our curriculum, please visit our Reception class's Termly Curriculum Information page here. Click here for examples of the seven areas of learning in our school.
Making boats 12th May 2023
The children looked at boats as a form of transport. We all learned together how to make paper boats and we put them in the water to see if they will float. They did float, but the paper very quickly got wet which made the boats start to sink or fall apart. The next day we tried again, but this time we used wax crayons to see if this stopped the paper getting soaked. It did help a little bit, but we decided that boats that float for a longer time would be better made out of materials which we have already discovered do not sink. The class decided that wood, plastic and tin foil seemed the most effective, so they worked very hard to create their own boat and tested it on the water. We then tested them on the pond in our back garden and had a little race to see which design was best.
Watch this Space..... 24th April 2023
A spaceship has landed in the Willows classroom! The children have been inside, flying off to the moon and other distant planets, plotting their journey and trying out all the important equipment that is essential for space travel. They have also being getting creative, making their own rockets and aliens as well as painting and drawing planets and spaceships.
Jack and the Beanstalk 3rd March 2023
The Willows children have enjoyed working on the story Jack and the Beanstalk over the past couple of weeks. This is a traditional tale that has been told for hundreds of years and not only have the children heard a few different versions, they have been using their own story maps to tell the tale using their own words. They have constructed their own castle outside as well as discovering and exploring their very own small world castle in the classroom.
They were very excited to start growing their own beanstalks after planting bean seeds in class and will be making careful observations to see how these change and grow over the next few weeks. With their writing, they are working very hard to segment words using their phonics skills and are gaining confidence to do this independently.
Walking with Molly 10th February
We are so lucky that we live in such a nice area. We had a lovely walk with Molly, and despite the early morning frost, the sun came out and reminded us that spring is on its way. We had looked at Google Earth before we set off so that we could see the route we were going to take. On our journey we spotted the tracks of horses and a tractor, a map, a helicoptor and a couple of aeroplanes in the sky. We heard the older children in the distant playground, and we enjoyed a biscuit when we stopped and sat on the fallen log.
Learning how to care for a dog 3rd February
Rosie's Walk 20th January
The Willows class have enjoyed reading the book Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins. When the story was read initially, they were not shown the pictures and the children agreed that it did not sound a very exciting story. Next they got to see what was really going on as they saw that Rosie the hen was being stalked by a sneaky fox, but every attempt to catch her did not end up too well for him. They loved re-enacting out the story using the spoon puppets and props and started using prepositions such as 'under', over' 'through' etc as they used the classroom as a farmyard. Lots of brilliant paintings and other pieces of artwork were produced by careful observations and the children were able to sound out key words to describe the book.
Getting ready for Christmas 9th December 2022
We have been very busy getting ready for Christmas in the past couple of weeks. The children enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree and looking through the Nativity and other festive books. They have been wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards and taking them to our post office role play, and we all walked down to the real post office in the village to post Christmas cards to their families.
Handa's Surprise 4th November 2022
The Willows have been reading Handa's Surprise by Eileen Browne this week, and discovered how the different animals took the fruits from the basket without Handa noticing. Throughout the week they have been using their phonics knowledge to sound out the name 'Handa' and have also used word mats to help write out animal and fruit words. They have each made an animal mask which was used to perform the story at the end of the week, using real fruits as props. They were then given the opportunity to experience some of the fruits that the animals took from Handa's basket. There were some excellent observations and comments as they investigated the textures, smells and taste of each fruit.
Describing the banana inside: "Slippery" - Max. ""Yummy!" -Mihail. "It smells a bit funny" -Abigail.
Describing the shape of a pear (I couldn't find a guava!) : "It's straight with a big bump at the end.... like a parachute going down" - Jack
"It's slimy inside and dry outside" - Isobel. "It feels cold" - Petar. "Soft on the inside and hard on the outside" - Isla
Describing an orange: "It feels like there's a hole in the middle....where the stalk goes" - Max "...on the tree" - Petar
Inside the orange: "It's where the juice comes out" - Isla. "J for juice!" - Benji. "When you squeeze it, it makes juice". - Aoife
"There's a skin" - Hunie. "Hands feel sticky" - Petar. "Sour" - Aoife.
We compared our green mango to the one in the book: "Not red" - Petar. Aoife knew it was not "ripe" so we will wait until next week to eat the mango.
Describing the pineapple: We cannot eat the skin because "It's spiky and your mouth will go hurty" - Isobel. "It won't taste nice" - Isla. "We need cut it" - Mihail. "Light green and dark green" - Petar. "Yellow's inside" Abigail. "C is for core!" - Benji.
Describing an avocado: "A little stone" - Aoife. "It feels slimy" - Isobel. "It's disgusting!" - Skip. "It taste yukky!" - Max.
Describing a passion fruit: "Brown" - Skip. "My mummy eats them...they're delicious!" - Petar. "It's got orange juice" - Isobel.
Describing a tangerine: "There's orange juice. I like orange juice in my cup" - Abigail. (How do you get the juice?) "You squeeze". "I've got orange juice on my hands...it's sticky. " Petar.
Baking Bread 20th October 2022
After reading the story The Little Red Hen, the children were able to see that bread comes from wheat that has been ground into flour. They were very excited to then actually make their own bread in the classroom. They sieved flour, mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough by 'smashing' and 'stretching' it. It was interesting to see how the yeast made the dough rise after leaving it on a radiator. Of course, the best bit was eating the bread rolls once they had been cooked, and, unlike the little red hen, the children did share theirs with their families.
Mud and water 14th October
The children have been investigating how to transport water from the top of the garden to the bottom by using pipes and plastic guttering. There has been some brilliant team working and problem solving as they fixed leaks and extended the water tunnel to fill up the hole they had dug. Mixing water with soil proved to be a fun experiment as not only did they produce great puddles to jump in, but it was discovered they could create thier own artistic creations.
Outdoor Opportunities 7th October
Willows class have been enjoying spending time outside, exploring the different environments and resources available to them. There have been some lovely manners as they learn to take turns on the bicycles, and they have been demonstrating their strength and spatial awareness as they steer around each other.
Pass the Parcel 23rd September
The children talked about their favourite games and were then introduced to the book Pass the Parcel by Annie Kubler and Sue Baker. The story showed animals passing along different shapes with a variety of animal print on the wrapping paper so the children were given similar paper so they could have a go at wrapping their own parcels. They were reminded how to use the cellotape dispenser safely and they all worked hard sticking the paper neatly around their objects.
Welcome to the New Willows 16th September 2022
We have had a busy start to the new term and the new Willows children are already settling into school life. They have started exploring the toys and resources within the setting and are getting to know one another.
They had a great deal of fun as they recreated 'Going on a Bear Hunt' in the Willows garden. First they had to go through the grass...then wade through river....then through the oozy mud....through the forest...through the howling snowstorm....and through the gloomy cave. What's that - a bear!! Quick, they had to go back the way they came then up the stairs (and back down again as they forgot to shut the door!) then safe under the covers. They won't be going on a bear hunt again!
Kitchen Garden 15th July
The children enjoyed the responsibility of watering the kitchen garden today. As the weather has been very hot, the plants were parched and needed a good long soak. The class worked together to fill up the watering cans and made sure they tended to the carrots, beetroot, beans, tomatoes, rhubarb and mint.
Recycling 1st July
The children read the brilliant book 'Someone Swallowed Stanley' by Sarah Roberts which follows the journey of a plastic bag in the ocean. The children discussed the importance of putting litter (especially plastic) in the correct bin and not letting it drop on the floor, where it could end up being washed up in the sea causing a danger to sea animals. They all made a kite by reusing a plastic bag, and despite it not being very windy, had a go at flying them. They also made posters to warn people of the dangers of dropping litter.
Cool children 17th June
On the hottest day in June, Mrs Foster introduced a 'rainbow arch sprinkler' to keep the children cool. They had lots of fun as they braved the squirting jets and ran through the arch. Before long, they started introducing new aspects to their play, and suddenly there was so much (secret!) learning going on. They were estimating volume and capacity, trying and testing their ideas as they filled up buckets and other receptacles. They were balancing in the cone-shaped spinner, supporting each other to ensure they did not tip over. and working together to see how much water it can hold along with a person. Gross motor skills were hard at work as they lifted and carried heavy buckets across the garden and some even managed to tip the cold water over their own heads. What a great afternoon!
Celebrating the Jubilee 27th May
Willows class enjoyed the Jubilee celebrations by playing some games and having a little party out in the garden. They worked together to recreate the Union Jack flag out of different fruit which they promptly ate afterwards, along with their cakes which they had previously decorated. What a lovely end to the half term!
Forest School at the Bury 20th May
We had a fantastic morning at the Bury in Whitwell. The children all made careful observations of all the plants and flowers in the grounds and matched them to coloured cards which made a beautiful rainbow of a display. They identified animals and birds and then made dens for them in the woods, as well as balancing and walking along the logs and bridges. We loved being in the beautiful grounds and look forward to going back again.
A day at Tring Museum 4th May
The children had a brilliant day out with Rowans class visiting Tring Museum. They explored the galleries of animals, seeing those they recognised and lots that they had never seen before. They got the opportunity to be Prehistoric Detectives, investigating fossils and matching them to pictures of various creatures from long ago.
Going on a bus to Paddington 30th March
We had a brilliant time as we rode the bus from the village into Hitchin town. The children were very excited, as some of them had never been on a bus before, and they had to hold on tight as we went around the roundabout. When we arrived, we walked up to the museum to see the exhibition of Paddington Bear which is there currently. There were some lovely objects and drawings to look at, and we tried on Paddington's hat and coat. The staff at the museum were all very kind and they had invited us to use a special room at the museum to eat our lunch, as it was quite chilly outside. We had a look at some of the other exhibits in the museum, and saw a skeleton that was two thousand years old. Before we got on the bus to go home, we went to the shop to buy some special ingredients so that we could make our very own marmalade sandwiches, just like Paddington!
Planting 24th March
The class have been enthusiastically planting out a variety of seeds and bulbs over this past couple of weeks. They will practise being patient now as they let nature take its course, although they will be responsible for watering regularly to help the flowers and vegetables grow over the next couple of months. They are looking forward in particular for the potatoes to finish flowering to see how many new potatoes are hidden beneath the soil. .
Spring has sprung 14th March
We have started to welcome Spring to the Willows classroom. The children have planted seeds to make their own 'cress heads' in emptied out egg shells. In only a few days, the cress has already started shooting up and it smells lovely.
We have been painting daffodils that have been brought in for display and have been closely observing the colours, shapes and positions of the flowers. We were introduced to the famous painter Van Gogh and saw his own paintings of daffodils.
We went on a walk in the village and the children all took a Nature Hunt sheet. They each found lots of the different natural objects listed as they also enjoyed playing on the equipment in the park. We are all looking forward to spending more time outdoors as the weather continues to improve.
Pancake Fun! 1st March
The children in Willows had great fun today getting involved in pancake activities. From a sensory/messy (very messy by the end!!) table, to flipping 'phonics pancakes', pancake races with the rest of the school, and of course making and eating their own delicious pancakes.
Furry Visitors 7th February
We were lucky enough to have a visit from the wonderful Luna Animal Rescue, based in Baldock. They brought in Sammy the dog and Cucumber the rabbit, so we were able to find out all about them and what is needed to look after these animals. The children were very well behaved and remained quiet so as not to frighten the animals, and they got the chance to stroke little Sammy who was very patient with them. Luna Animal Rescue relies on donations and loving homes to make sure each animal that they rescue can have a happy life, so please consider them if you are thinking of getting a new pet in the near future. Our children did learn that there is a lot of responsibility in owning a pet, but if you take great care of them you will get a lot of love in return.
Chinese New Year 2nd February
As an acknowledgement to Chinese New Year, the children were challenged to eat Chinese noodles using chopsticks. There were some excellent efforts made, but more impressively every child enjoyed the noodles and asked for second helpings. They all got to take their chopsticks home so they can practise eating their dinner without knives and forks and become chopstick experts instead!
Artists 28th January
Although we very much encourage individuality when it comes to painting and drawing, this week the children made a picture in the style of the famous artist Monet. They learnt how to mix and blend watercolour paint by dabbing the different colours on their special paper. They read the story 'Philippe in Monet's Garden', where a frog escaped being eaten by going to live in Monet's famous garden, so the children then added their own frog into their paintings.
Busy outdoors 14th January
The children were very happy to be together again after the Christmas holidays and have been busy indoors and outdoors in our setting, guiding their own play. They have created their own construction site with a foreman, site inspector and other construction workers and have been building some interesting structures together as a team. Meanwhile other children have been investigating the ice: how it is created and how quickly it melts. Using syringes the children have been squirting water to see if they can hit their targets which has been a lot of fun.
Post Office 5th December
The children were excited to see a post office role-play area appear in the classroom. They have been buying stamps, addressing envelopes and weighing parcels to send off in the post sacks. They are learning how to wrap parcels and Christmas gifts for the postman to deliver. Father Christmas has also made an appearance with his own sack of presents to put under the tree!
Pudsey Bear Cookies 18th November
The Willows children demonstrated their excellent baking skills once again this week as they made a batch of Pudsey Bear shaped cookies for Children in Need. Once the biscuits had baked, they were able to decorate them with some delicious raisins and chocolate drops.
Baking bread 5th November
This week the Willows class have been looking at the book The Little Red Hen. They found out how much hard work goes into making bread and so they had a go at making their own rolls. They had to weigh out and mix the ingredients before kneading the dough. Once the dough had risen, they were able to shape the rolls. After they were baked the children cut the rolls and spread them with butter and jam. Delicious
Singing together 13th October
The children have enjoyed learning and singing the Rainbow song in their music lessons.
Collaborative Working 7th October
The Willows children have been very busy inside and outside, and something that is becoming evident is their ability to work together. Whether they have been making castles and car ramps, or sorting and matching numbers and even playing musical instruments together, there seems to be a real sense of sharing and listening to each other's opinions and ideas.
There has been a flurry of activity on the creative table, too, with children learning how to use split pins to make their own bear (and other character) puppets. They all drew and cut out their unique designs and concentrated hard as they pierced holes and inserted the pins.
Maths in Willows 24th September
The children have been learning maths in the past couple of weeks. They have been counting a range of objects from around the setting, making sure they count accurately using one to one correspondence (for example, touching each object as they count). They have also learnt about subitising, meaning they can see the amount of a group or pattern without even having to count it; the children are enthusiastic about being Super Subitisers!
Welcome to Willows 10th September 2021
We have had such a great start to the new school year. Our new Willows children have already learnt their way around their classroom and outdoor area, showing their enthusiasm for exploring all the toys and resources. There have been some lovely conversations with Choco, our toucan, with whom they have been chatting daily, and they have all been involved in a variety of exciting activities, such as going on a bear hunt, constructing with wooden blocks, playing games and taking turns, painting and role play in our kitchen.
Visit from Fred 15th July
Miss Sweatman and her sister, Miss Sweatman, brought their tortoise, Fred for a visit. The children were fascinated with him as he explored the garden and tried to prise his way out of his pen. Watch the video below to see how he reacts to Miss Sweatman's shoe which he suspects may be another tortoise in his way!
People Who Help Us 9th July
Willows class have enjoyed a couple of visits recently. Two police officers brought their police car into the playground and showed the children lots of the equipment that they use, explaining the uniform that they wear. The children were very excited to hear the siren and watch the blue flashing lights. Finn's daddy is a fireman and he brought in his uniform and breathing equipment to show to the children too.
The children have also enjoyed practising their first aid skills with their very own hospital. There has also been some rather expert bandaging going on, quick responses to incidents and injuries, x-rays being taken and remembering to record each patient's notes on the computer system.
Summer has arrived 18th June
Willows class have been enjoying the recent sunshine. They found an ice cream van in the role-play area and have been scooping up ice into the cones and paying for them. They did some den building in the back garden and were delighted to be given an ice cream or an ice lolly to eat in the sunshine. An outdoor maths lesson about estimating capacity not only resulted in a delicious cold glass of squash but also turned into an impromptu science investigation with coloured shadows being created through coloured cups .
Walking to the post office 28th May
The children put their road safety knowledge into practice today when they walked into the village. They crossed each road carefully in pairs until they reached the post office. There they sent a postcard home that they written about a journey they taken on the bus.
Transport 21st May
Willows class has been investigating different forms of transport in the past two weeks. They have been writing their own books based on The Naughty Bus, taking their own photographs of a red bus doing a range of funny things in the classroom. They then wrote the captions to say what is happening on each page.
Woodland Crowns 5th May
Today in our outdoor session, the children made their own woodland crowns by finding flowers, leaves and other natural objects. They declared themselves rulers of the forest - among which there was King of Flowers, King of Sticks, Queen of Everything and King of Spring.
Forest School 21st April 2021
Willows class have started new Forest School style sessions which will take place every other week. For the first session, they collected sticks and other natural objects with their partners, then created stick people or animals, binding them together with pipe cleaners. Some were brought inside to display, but some were not meant to be permanent and were left out in the garden. Amongst the stick people made, there was a monster alien with a dorsal fin, a fairy, a fly with leaf wings and a man so big that the children could lay in his tummy.
Scientists all week 12th March 2021
Willows have been dipping into science this week, and have been planting beans, inventing monster recipes and purifying water. That's a lot for the first week back!! Along with their investigations, they have also been observing how the frog-spawn in the classroom has been growing and changing before our very eyes all week!
Book Covers 4th March 2021
For World Book Day this year, Willows children had a go at recreating some popular book covers. Have a look below to see if you can recognise them all.
Willows have Bean Busy 20th January 2021
At home, the Willows children have been thinking about the traditional tale Jack and the Beanstalk. They have focused on the giant's rhyme and picked out all the high frequency (or 'red' or 'tricky' words) in the rhyme itself. They also thought up more ways to deal with Jack instead of grinding his bones to make their bread and came up with some very interesting ideas.
They were invited to choose an activity to either paint or make something related to the story. Below you can see pictures of Cameron's castle that his Daddy helped him make, following Cameron's own plans. There's also a fabulous painting by Konrad showing the beanstalk and the castle, and you can also see the proud designer/maker of a rather grand Duplo version of the story.
Whilst in Lockdown...
Bella and Finn have been busy building themselves a new house.
One Snowy Night - Winter Play 15th December
Willows children have been working so hard for these past couple of weeks for their end of term play. They performed an adaptation of 'One Snowy Night' by Nick Butterworth. The final production was recorded with a link sent to the parents, as of course it was not possible to invite families into the school this year. Each child learnt their lines and all the words to the four songs, and we are extremely proud of them all. Their costumes looked fabulous, thanks to all the parents, and the children's enthusiasm and enjoyment were evident as they watched the final film and sang along all the way through.
Christingles in the Classroom 14th December
The children learnt all about Christingles and what each part represented before having a go at making their own. They had to follow instructions to thread the sweets onto the sticks before inserting them into the orange and wrapping the red tape around the middle. Once they had finished, they impressed all the staff by taking great care as they held their candles absolutely still as they were lit. It was a very moving moment and I think they were very proud to have been a part of it.
Watch this space 29th November
The excited Willows children were delighted to find a spaceship in their classroom this week, complete with moon rock that Mrs Foster had recently collected from the moon. Using this spacecraft as well as constructing their own, they have been flying to the moon and exploring other planets, learning facts about our solar system, such as how the eight planets travel around the sun. They have also learnt about how there is less gravity on the moon which means you could jump a lot higher, and have seen that no gravity at all in space means that everything just floats around. They watched a clip of the original moon landing from 1969, and found out that Mrs Constable watched the whole thing when she was a little girl, in our very own school hall! Amazing!
Children In Need 13th November
Despite those sleepy Willows children turning up in their pyjamas to school on Friday, they were energised as they joined in Joe Wicks' 24 hour PE challenge, which he was doing to raise money for Children in Need.
The Journey by Aaron Becker 8th November
This term we have started looking at a book which is also being studied by the other classes. It's called 'Journey' and it is a picture book with no written words. The children have looked through it and watched it with a musical soundtrack and have really got to know the story about the girl going on a magical journey. They each chose a favourite feature from the book and have written it down with their own illustration, carefully observing the correct shapes and colours needed.
Outdoor Learning 8th November
We are so lucky to have our Willows garden, and the children have been making good use of this recently. We are continuing to develop this space and have recently added a new mud kitchen for the children to explore a range of textures to mix and measure, estimate and compare as well as demonstrate some excellent cleaning techniques (Mrs Foster is very happy about that!) ... and so much more. Collaborative working means that water can be transported down the garden through a series of pipes and guttering, reinforcing the weak spots and resolving problems together through discussion and compromise. A little bit of den building, digging, mini-beast spotting, running, tree-climbing, stirring, potion making, friendship-making... the children do not even realise that this is a huge part of their learning; as far as they are concerned they are just having fun! This is definitely a great way to learn.
Handa's Surprise 12th October
The children have been recreating a favourite book recently - Handa's Surpise. They each know the story very well, so were able to make their own version of the book, after choosing what shape they want the actual book to be. A selection of fruit and animal-shaped books were swiftly made so the children could then recite each page to be scribed, finishing off with their own unique drawings. The books are on display, but can easily be taken down when someone wants to read through their own, along with some animal masks that have also been made and displayed.
The class found two baskets of fruit which were the same fruits from the book. They investigated the texture and shape of these fruits, then sampled them during snack time, but not before they acted out the entire book with the fruit as props.
Super Subitisers! 2nd October
The children from Willows class have become Super Subitisers this week. This means that they are starting to recognise numbers of objects without having to count them each time. They have been practising with dice games, dominos, cards and other objects which they are lining up or rearranging into different patterns yet realising that the amounts haven't changed.
The classroom has also been buzzing with paper construction - so many children have been making hats, masks, kites and other items with handles, with the most impressive structure being a paper house complete with roof, door, window and a little paper occupant. The children have free access to the paper, string and sticky tape and all seem to be inspiring each other to keep creating new items. They have also taken to independently displaying their own work on the wall and writing area arch, so there is plenty to see in the classroom.
Music, PE and other activities 18th September
Willows class have started both their music and PE lessons this week. They met Mr Street, the music teacher, who took their lesson in the Willows garden, and they impressed him as they listened carefully and responded to the different speeds and rhythms of the drum as he played. PE with Mr Fox encouraged them to think about the differences between throwing and rolling, and working in pairs, they improved their accuracy as they rolled the balls to their specific targets.
Alongside their investigative and independent play and learning, they have all started their phonics sessions, and not only can they recognise the letters 'a' and 'm', but they have been practising writing their first sentence. (see photos).
The children have enjoyed water based play, including making some rather delicious-looking soups in the mud garden, and worms, interesting stones and chalk have been discovered whilst digging outside in the sunshine.
Settling In 8th September
The new Willows children have already settled into their life at St Paul's Walden School. They have been busy exploring their new classroom and outdoor areas, investigating the range of resources and equipment available. The new outdoor Writing Shed has proved very popular, and already there have been some impressive pictures and writing produced. There have been some interesting constructions with the large wooden blocks and planks, and evidence of children working together not only on making their creations, but working out how to fit them back together when tidying them away. New friendships are already forming, as well as the children becoming more confident when chatting to each other and their new teachers.