Monday, 24 October 2011

who helps us in our school - part 2

If you had a problem in your school, where or who would you go to to get it solved? 

Well of course it depends on the problem.  In our school, you would probably not go to the principal if you fell over and grazed your knee.  Nor would you go to someone in service technique if you wanted to borrow a book.  But if you wanted to ring the bell at the end of break…..


you would almost certainly ask one of the assistants on duty outside.  And if you were still a little peckish after lunch, then Robert the chef…..


is your man.

On Wednesday, we worked in a small group with a couple of friends to solve a problem that had been set for us.  Once we had decided what we would do, we acted it out for the rest of the class.  We got to use one key ‘prop’ or ‘tool of the trade’ to help us.

Lakeisha, Yanis and Bianca have a tricky problem to think about.  Something that has happened to more than one of us before.  Imagine.  You go to the bathroom, flick on the light switch and - nothing!  What to do?  It’s pretty scary in the dark with the door closed.  Well of course they chose to report their problem to Momo.  Who with the help of a screwdriver (?!) would be able to change the light bulb.


Meanwhile, Emily and Hiromi and Tanisha have the painful problem of children running round outside until – whoops – one of them tumbles over.  Emily it was who acted the fallen, tearful one; Hiromi her caring friend who helped her hobble inside to the nurse.  And Tanisha, equally caring as the nurse who mopped up tears and blood (!) and applied a virtual band aid (from her real first aid kit)…..


to the the (thankfully pretend) wound.  Problem solved.

Ayesha, Nicholas and Tim have a lost playtime ball.  Has this ever happened to you?  An exciting game of football, an erratic kick – and the ball goes flying up and away, onto the roof and out of sight.  Game over?  No, because never fear, Momo is a whizz at getting up there and retrieving them.  You just have to find him (he’s quite possibly busy with his screwdriver changing light bulbs!) and then, when he has a moment, he’ll throw it (and all the other balls that have ended up there) back down to you.  Thank you Momo (or Tim, as it was this time).

Well, as if we actually need to keep Momo busy, here is another little problem for him to help us with.  Yousouf, Joseph and Mélina worked together on this scenario.  Downstairs in the gym they are.  Wanting to play with the koosh balls.  Only someone has locked the cupboard and the key is nowhere to be found.  So Joseph trots off purposefully, with Mélina at his side, to find Momo, played this time by Yousouf.  Who parts with his spare key rather reluctantly and not without this stern warning; ‘Take care of it and bring it back.’  Joseph duly vows to do so – and once he has opened the door, the key is returned as promised.

Ella, Alexis and Anusha have a messy problem to deal with.  A lunchtime spill. 


Who would you go to to help with this one?  They opted to find Fatoush, the cleaner, ably played by  Anousha.  An efficient swirl round with her brush and the floor is as good as new.  Off she goes, with a smile and Alexis’ thanks ringing in her ears.

Finally something a little bit different for Youssef, Melchior and Luna.  A prospective year 1 parent calls the school, wanting to be shown around.  Luna, acting the secretary, answers her phone and agrees a time to give them her famous tour of the school.  Dad Melchior, along with his son Youssef arrive on time and are shown round. 


The highlight of this particular tour is naturally 1b’s classroom.

tools of the trade

One of the things that Béatrix does as part of her job involves her wearing an orange fluorescent jacket. 


Momo also wears one for some of the jobs he does around the school.  The jobs each wears it for are slightly different; Momo directs our mummies and daddies to available parking spaces whereas Béatrix, according to Anusha, wears the jacket ‘in the morning when she helps people get out of the bus.’  So two different jobs but one common ‘tool of the trade’.

Our task on Monday was to decide for ourselves, knowing what we already do about the different jobs of some of the people who work in our school, who might use what ‘tool of the trade’ and for what task.  As we have already seen, in our school a fluorescent jacket is used by two different people, an assistant and a service technique - for two different tasks.

So - take a telephone.  Who might use that in our school – and why?


Melina remembered that Momo uses a telephone to call someone for help if (perish the thought) he ‘has got something he can’t fix’.  Joseph remembered this too.  ‘He might call some people for help,’ he said.

Tim told me that the nurse also uses a phone.  ‘When your tummy is not good; she calls your mum and dad.’  Yanis also remembered this.  The nurse phones ‘to tell your mum and dad if you are good or not good,’ he said.

Melchior remembered that a chef also uses the phone in our school.  He uses it to ‘call about the food.’  A little vague about what exactly that means, but just as long as we don’t run out; right Nicholas?

Both Luna and Alexis remembered that the librarian in our school needs to use a phone although neither was quite sure what for.  Ella though, having been one of the people who interviewed her earlier, was certain.  She phones ‘to order new books,’ she told me.

How about one of these?  Who in our school might need to use a computer?


This too is used in the library.  Emily was clear about this.  Our librarian uses it ‘to check books,’ she told me. 

Along the way we also thought about story books and pencils; about mops and scissors; and about glue sticks and plasters and whole trays of food.  And we thought about ride-on mowers.  A lot.

tools of the trade

Some of these ‘tools of the trade’ are used by just one person for just one job (however much fun it might be to ride around the field atop a mini-tractor!) whereas some, like scissors, are used by all sorts of people for all kinds of different things.

I wonder; which of these ‘tools of the trade’ might you use?  And no; a ride-on mower is NOT one of them!  No no no!

fall-ing leaves

Have you ever looked up on a breezy autumn day?  Seen fall-ing leaves swirling down and down against a background of clear blue sky? 

It was quite literally back to the drawing board for us in art this week.  Back to sketching autumn leaves.  But this time it was to be with oil pastel crayons rather than the sketching pencils of last week’s lesson.

A quick reminder of all the different sizes and shapes that leaves can be…..


was all that was needed before we started to sketch the outlines of three or four leaves onto our piece of paper.

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Next, holding the paintbrush like we had been shown…..


we painted a sky-blue watercolour background, around all the leaves.  Not too much blue and lots of water was the order of the day.


Finally, with the blue background completed, the leaves themselves needed some colour.  Reds and oranges, greens and browns.  The colours of autumn.

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Next time you are out on a breezy autumn day, why not look up…..

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and watch the fall-ing leaves swirling down and down against a background of clear blue sky.

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more bulbs to plant - but where?

We have another problem.  Not a BIG problem, but a problem all the same.  You see, these packs of spring bulbs…..


arrived the other day.  And they will need to be planted.  The question is, where?  Where should we plant them?

‘‘We could plant them in the garden,’ suggests Nicholas, ‘where we planted the bulbs last time.’  What a great idea!

But how do we know exactly where we planted those other bulbs?  If we try and dig a hole for a new bulb, we might accidentally stab one of the old ones.  And that wouldn’t do, would it!

Melchior thinks he has the answer.  ‘We could wait until the other bulbs grow and then we would know where they are.’

And yes, we could – but in fact I think these bulbs need to be planted pretty soon; we can’t really wait all that time for the other ones to grow.

Yanis has a suggestion.  ‘We could ask Momo and Tafi to help,’ he suggests.  He remembers, you see, that the job description of a Service Technique includes ‘gardening’.  But would they know whereabouts all of those bulbs everyone planted are? 

Ella is quick to offer her idea. ‘We could get some cups and put soil in them and we could plant them in there.’ Well that too sounds like a great idea doesn’t it!  And do you know?  I think we might just do that!  All we need is a few flower pots…..

And a bit of a wait for spring.


how many letters are there in your name?

How many letters do you have in your name?  Do you have more letters in your name that I have in mine?  Let’s see shall we? 

To begin with you will need to write your name carefully on squared paper, with one letter in each square.  And then if you count the squares you will know how many letters you have.  

And if you lay your name carefully alongside someone else’s name, you can compare to see whose name is the longest and whose the shortest.


You can count to see how many people have 5 letters in their name and how many have six.

In fact we found out all kinds of things.  We found out that Tim has the shortest name (but as he pointed out, if we called him by his proper name of Timofei, then his would be one of the longer ones).  We found out that there are two people with 4 letters in their name but three people with 8 letters, Nicholas, Melchior and Lakeisha.  An eight-letter name is the longest name in our class.  And funnily enough eight people have 6 letters in their name.

And yes, of course we counted all of the letters in all of the names.  And if you pop into the classroom and take a look at our letters-in-your-name graph, you too will be able to do so!

getting rid of the plants we don’t want to grow - in order to help the ones we do!

‘What are those yellow things for?’ asks Ella during break one day.


‘I think I know,’ offers Bianca.  ‘Maybe they are for where plants are waiting to grow.’ she suggests.

Time, of course, will tell.

But back to a more pressing problem.  You see, today we have to do some ‘tidying up’ in the garden.   We need to pull out the weeds.  Easy you might think.  But just to make sure, what is a weed?

Emily is the first to speak.  ‘They are plants not good for the soil,’ she tells us.

Ella confirms this.  They ‘don’t help our plants,’ she says.

Tim is certain.  ‘Plants we don’t want to grow; not good plants.’

And he is right.  A weed is just a plant that that we don’t want to grow.  Now, can anyone spot one of these plants that we don’t want to grow?

And fast as a flash, fingers are pointing at a bed-full of tiny green seedlings.


But are these weeds?  Think back to two weeks ago when we scattered oh-so-liberally those mustard seeds.  Are these ‘weeds’ growing in the same place?  And if so, then can these be weeds?  Plants that we don’t want to grow?  Hmm.  Better look some more!

These are more like it.


And look here, between the paving slabs.  We wouldn’t want plants to grow there now would we.


Remember how to use the prongs of your fork to loosen the soil round the roots? 


Remember how to shake off the soil? 


And how to throw the weeds into a bucket…..


and then carry them over to the compost heap so we can turn them into ‘good stuff’?

Good job everyone!

And before I go – Anusha has a question.  What, she wants to know are these shiny red things?


Does anyone know?  Maybe taking a closer look at this (found on the same plant)…..


might help.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

a few minutes with a soft sketching pencil, some cream cartridge paper - and a handful of stolen leaves

Back to our composting adventures.  And I have something to admit.  We didn’t put all the leaves onto the compost heap.  We kept a few!


You see, not all of them were brown and crisp and - well - dead.  Some of them were vibrant greens and vivid yellows.  And such beautiful pointy shapes.  Perfect, in fact, for sketching.

We only had a few quiet minutes, but just look at what we managed with a soft sketching pencil and some cream cartridge paper.

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Not bad, eh?

sailing the high seas

Remember those waves we made last week?  Those soapy, salty, wavy waves?  Well, I reckon such a splendid sea needs a few bob-about sailing boats.  A few scudding clouds in the sky.  Don’t you?

Bowls of drippy glue…..


were placed on tables.  Along with pads of cotton wool, which needed to be teased apart and fluffed up…..


dabbed with glue…..


and stuck fast as clouds in the brooding sky.


More drippy glue needed to be spread ( c a r e f u l l y )…..

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onto patterned sails…..

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and curved wooden hulls. 

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And stuck onto the wild and stormy seas.


Or the still calm waters. 


Why not pop to the classroom and sail the high seas with us.  Don’t forget to pack your sou’wester and your oilskins though.  Just in case!