Thursday, 21 June 2012

just because

Just because I felt in need of a bit of a clear-out.

Just because I happened to find some long-forgotten treasures.

Just because.

Sometimes no excuse is needed for just having fun.

And that’s what we did in art on Wednesday. 

A sheet of colourful card.  A smaller sheet of corrugated card in a contrasting colour.  Some scissors.  And some glue.

A nod to the odd geometric shape … and we were off.













And adding finishing touches.


Then finally…..

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we have…..

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a parade…..

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to be proud of.


Just because.


With special thanks to a mummy and a grandma, who just happened to be passing as we were at our most sticky.

such sweet sweet peas

Remember our special (eek - expensive!) watercolour paper?  On which we painted those bee-autiful watercolour butterflies that we were so very proud of?


Well, it just so happens that we have some left.  We also have some bee-autiful red and pink and purple sweet peas.


Aren’t they lovely?

What more relaxing way to spend half an hour on a hot sticky day than with a sheet of special (eek - expensive!) watercolour paper, a jam jar of water, some watercolour paints and a paintbrush.

Remember how it works?   How we paint the paper first with water…..


and then, using wet watercolour paint, we allow the paints to mix themselves (on the paper - rather than in the palette).


See how a drop of white…..


transforms the centre bloom.


See how a dab of red…..


or purple…..


or maybe a touch of white…..


swirls into the most bee-autiful patterns…..


as they mix with the colours already there.

well, they were definitely NOT water lilies!

Remember these tiny seedlings?

The ones that Ella brought in to the (supposed) safety of our classroom?

The ones where she was not quite sure what kind of plants they were?

Something’s for sure; they are definitely NOT going to be water lilies.

How do I know this?

Well, it’s a bit of a long story.  And (I’m sorry to say) one that doesn’t have a very happy ending!

It begins here with our thoughts on what plants need to grow well.  How much did we remember of what we had learned?

‘Light,’ someone starts us off.  

‘Sun,’ is simultaneous offering. 


And yes, plants need light to grow well.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the light from the sun because plants can grow well indoors, like this healthy strawberry plant…..


that we are helping Yanis to take care of.

We can tell the plant is healthy because, as Joseph pointed out, ‘The strawberry is trying to grow; the petals are coming off.’  Which to the uninitiated might sound a little odd; but we know that once a plant has no more need for its flowers, the petals do indeed fall off.

‘An insect has come,’ Ella told us.  And yes, an insect has pollinated the flower so that the fruit is beginning to form.

‘Air,’ continues Maddie, on our earlier theme, and yes, plants do need air (or specifically some of the things in air, like oxygen) to grow well.


‘Soil,’ Ayesha tells us, and yes, most plants need soil to grow well.  (Not all of them do though, but that’s a story for another time perhaps.)


‘Water,’ adds Takomerwa.  And yes, plants also need water to grow well.


Ah yes, water.


Oh dear.  We have a bit of a problem with Ella’s plants.  Sorry.  Did I say plants?  More accurate to say no plants.  The plants that Ella grew are no more.  Nothing is left in the flowerpot.  What on earth can have gone wrong?

Nico has a suggestion.  Maybe it’s ‘too hot,’ he offers.

Nope.  Not sure it’s that (although some plants do wither and die if they get too hot).

Maybe there’s ‘not enough shade,’ Bianca wonders.

But no, even though some plants need quite a lot of shade, it’s not that either.

Joseph has an idea. Maybe ‘it’s a special flower that needs special stuff we didn’t know,’ he suggests.  After all, there were no instructions with Ella’s seedlings.  Good thinking - but not that either.

Bianca thinks some more.  ‘We didn’t give them enough water,’ she tells us.

Ella is more specific. ‘There’s not enough rainwater,’ she says.

And even though it is something to do with water, it’s not that.  Quite definitely not that!

Time I think for something radical.  Let’s (gasp!) tip all the soil out of the flowerpot.

And now, I’ll give it a squeeze.  Watch.

Ah.  Maddie knows what the problem is.

‘We gave it too MUCH water,’ she tells us as water squeezes out and pours into the bucket I rather fortuitously placed on the floor.

And can you smell that stinky smell?  That’s the roots that are beginning to rot.  Phew! 

So.  Plants need water to grow well.  Too little water and they will go all crisp and die.  But, unless they are water lilies…..


too much water will make them rot and eventually die.

Too late, I am afraid, to save Ella’s seedlings.  But hopefully an important lesson for the next batch of plants.

a closer look at some of the plants we eat

You know what?  Our school vegetable plot is doing marvellously well.  Warmed by the June sun and weeded to within an inch of their lives, the raised beds and now bursting with plants-that-are-meant-to-be-there (as opposed to weeds-which-are-not).

We have hard-to-walk-past-without-sneaking-one-into-our-mouths raspberries…..


and equally irresistible redcurrants…..


that gleam like jewels on a summery June afternoon.

Taste one of these and you get the juicy fruit - plus a mouthful of seeds.  Because of course that’s what fruits are - special containers for seeds.  And some of these special containers for seeds are good to eat along with their seeds (and some containers we can eat but we leave the seeds behind in a core, as when we eat an apple).

Now then - what about these?


At the moment the fruits (with their seeds inside) are green, but when they are red and ripe and ready to eat we pop the whole lot into our mouths, just like we do with raspberries and redcurrants.  Tomatoes (for that is what these are) are another type of fruit we eat along with their seeds.

And now look at this strange plant.  See the yellow flower, already with its petals about to fall off?


See that prickly fat green bit behind the flower?  Yes, that is also a fruit, because as we know, once a flower has been visited by a bee and pollinated, the seed container (fruit) behind the flower gets fat as the seeds inside develop.  This one will be a cornichon when it grows up.  When we eat cornichons (or cucumbers) we are eating the juicy fruit - along with their seeds.

How about these?  Do you recognise what they are?


Also seed containers.  But this time, we usually throw away the containers (here they are called pods) and eat just the seeds inside.  You might be able to see them, just starting to grow.  Peas they are of course.  When we eat peas we are eating the seeds of a plant. 

Here are some plants where the part we eat is not visible at the moment.


Yes, they have flowers.  And yes, of course the flowers will grow fruits after they have been visited by an insect and pollinated.  But these fruits are NOT the part we eat (and be careful because even though they look a bit like tomatoes, these fruits would give you a nasty tummy ache if you tried to eat them!)  No.  These are potatoes - and the part we eat is hidden under the ground.  When we eat potatoes, we are eating what’s known as a tuber, which is the special name for something fat that grows on and in the roots of a plant.  In fact this part is so special that new potato plants can grow from old potatoes, rather than from the seeds that you’d find inside those tummy-ache fruits.

Can you think of another plant where the part we eat is hidden under the ground?  Rabbits like these too!

Finally (for it is almost lunchtime and we need to get back inside and wash our hands) take a quick look at this plant.


Give one of those pretty purple flowers a bit of a squeeze and sniff your fingers.  Mmmm!  It’s lavender.  Yes, your mummy may sometimes smell like this, because lavender is used to make perfume.  But you can also eat lavender flowers.

What do you mean you can’t eat flowers?  Of course you can (well, some flowers at any rate)! 


Who wants to try?  Just be careful - bees also love lavender - and you wouldn’t want to bite on a bee…..


they are very sharp!

moving along with all sorts of seeds

Seeds come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  And they can travel to their new growing place in all sorts of ways.

As we have already found out, there are seeds that have wings attached to help them twirl around and around as they fly away to their new growing place.

There are BIG hard heavy seeds that drop off coconut palm trees…..


and can float away on the sea until they reach another spot in which to send down roots, and there are teeny tiny fluffy seeds that drift away on the merest breeze to find their new home.

fly away

There are plants that have seeds (that are itchy…..

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but don’t tell anyone I told you so) which are carried to their new growing place by birds who feast on the ripe fruits they are hidden inside.

And there are seedpods from a columbine flower…..


that b-u-r-s-t open on warm sunny days and fire out hundreds of tiny black seeds…..


which can then grow in a suitable spot a short distance away from the parent plant.

There are seeds that have cunning hooks on them…..


which attach themselves to the fur of animals, your socks - or even your hair…..


(thank you Mélina for carrying it back to the classroom for us!) and so find their way to a far away growing place.

Why not see how many different kinds of seeds you can spot when you are next out and about?  Look at them carefully and ask yourself how they get to their new places to grow.  Do they just fall from the plant to the ground below?  Or are they cleverer than that?  I wonder; can you find some with hooks like the ones we found?  Or just maybe, if you listen carefully enough, you might hear some popping in the garden on a warm sunny afternoon.

PS Remember never to pick up seeds unless an adult you know has told you it is safe to do so.  Some seeds can give you a nasty tummy ache.