21st – 23rd October 2020

Lower Primary Class

What a fantastic week! On our nature walk, we children, found lots of different tree leaves. There were so many interesting leaves that we decided to start a project all about leaves. We identified the tree that the leaf came from. To do this we looked at the shape of the leaves, which can vary considerably and then looked closely at the leaf pattern and its margin, which sometimes needed a magnifying glass. We also looked at the arrangement of leaves on the stem – this is the most common way to identify a tree in the field during the growing season. Some children thought that they may become a forester or a botanist. The children went on to make felt leaves – they used natural pigments from vegetables to dye the felt, added some lovely stitching then made a length of beautiful bunting. Each leaf was tied on with a wish or dream for the future. This was a very special group project!

Upper Primary Class

The children that had attended the nursery remembered that, on a child’s birthday, they would carry a model ‘earth’ around a candle (the ‘Sun’) for the same member of times as they had years to show their new age. Until 500 years ago, the earth was thought to be the centre of the universe, so this Montessori method of celebrating birthdays is a good way to prevent such misconceptions and embed the knowledge that it is the sun that sits in the centre of our solar system.

Today, Willow as the ‘sun’, holding a torch, whilst Silver spun ‘earth’ and walked around the sun so we could refresh what we knew about day , night, and years. When Silver tilted the earth, er saw how this causes seasons – and also how it can be mid-winter in the Northern hemisphere and mid-summer in the southern, simultaneously. We introduced a ‘moon’ orbiting the earth and discussed why we never see ‘the dark side of the moon’ since it rotates around the earth at the same rate as it rotates on its axis.

14th – 16th October 2020

Lower Primary Class

This week, the children worked together to explore the possibilities within the geometry stick material. This material is a tool that is used in the study of lines, angle and plane geometric shapes. Some of the children went on to work out the degrees of the angles of the fraction pieces whilst the other’s used the protractor to find the angles of the tessellated shapes used for designing the bees and the hive.

7th – 9th October 2020

Lower Primary Class

This week, the children made mandala’s. We collected leaves from the Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) and Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekgenki) which were added to the conkers harvested from the Horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum). We found a surprise in the flower press – some pressed rose petals that described as being “thinner than paper” and “as soft as white flour” led onto the Comparison of Adjectives work – thin, thinner, thinnest. The children set about adding some new adjectives to the Noun and Adjective box while the teacher collected all the phrases spoken by the children to use at a later date with sentence analysis work.

23rd – 25th September 2020

Upper Primary Class

Following on from the theme of healthy diet and exercise, this week the older class looked at the circulatory system, that carries all this healthy food and Oxygen (02) around our bodies; also removing waste and helping us to fight disease. The children guessed at how much blood circulates in our bodies, after looking at a 1 litre container. Beau correctly suggested 5 litres, which was then visualised with a 5ltr container of red water. But we knew blood wasn’t just coloured water so we made a model of it in a vase of straw-coloured liquid ‘plasma’ (cold tea!). Finally, we showed how mammals, including humans, have a double blood circulation (unlike fish). We colour-coded our diagrams and then we acted out the circulatory system in the playground. It was quite complicated, but everyone quickly learnt to come back to the heart with their oxygenated red blood cells (red balls) before venturing off to the body and to return back to the heart with deoxygenated blood (blue balls) before replenishing it with oxygen at the lungs.

Lower Primary Class

This week, the children have been super busy. The teachers have observed the children coming to the work with a curiosity that lends itself to being intrinsically motivated – driven by the internal reward one gets from doing something that is enjoyable. The children have been working collaboratively – giving lessons to peers, sharing their knowledge, reflecting on their work together too.

11th – 13th September 2020

This week in the younger class, the children have been studying volcanoes. This work sprung from a story about the Earth and its distinct layers – inner core, outer core, and mantle. The children came to understand that a volcano is simply an opening in the earths surface allowing gas, hot magma and ash to escape from beneath the crust. The children went on to make a model volcano – interesting conversations were had around the table – ‘what type of volcano will I make?’ The children shared their thought and ideas with each other and a lot of excitement was felt. They inspired each other and worked together fuelling their own learning. They learnt about the differences between a composite volcano, a shield volcano and a cone volcano. This work was then written up in their very own Volcano Book which they made and bound together using needle and thread. To top it off an ash cloud was added!

March at the Skylarks cabin

Book making…

Lots of children have been busy book-making recently.  We have a variety of interesting books in the environment which the children use to direct their own learning, asking more questions along the way, adding beauty through illustration and book-binding.  There are always more books to be made, new ways of binding them, and details to include…

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Reading…

After lunch play-time, the children will often read.  One day, I asked the children to find a book while I prepared something in the nursery.  I returned to the cabin to find them all reading one book together – each taking turns to read out the different voices.  A sweet surprise, reminding me how children are so capable of organising themselves, and are so clever with their word-play.

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Skip counting….

One of the beautiful qualities of a mixed aged setting is how the older children support the younger children.  Whether this is through the older ones inspiring the the youngers by working on something that looks challenging and exciting, or how compassion and patience are teachers all the same.  Skip counting games and exercises became interesting, and the older ones settled into their knowledge when they could show the youngers how to use the material to support their learning.  Here, the youngers work with the golden beads and coloured bead bars and the olders work more abstractly – with multiples of 6 on paper.

Geography and science – looking at rivers…

We have been exploring lots about the work of rivers – making river models, line graphs of the largest rivers, mapping rivers of the world, writing stories on how the water moves, doing experiments on water…  We were coming into looking more at the River Dart, and how to map it, so we started making our own maps based on the cabin.  We made some birds-eye-view maps, treasure maps in the garden (think x-marks-the-spot), and had lots of conversation about perspective.

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Fractions…

Fractions have also been a big theme recently.  We looked at fractions in the real world (time, cooking, baking, etc), equivalence, adding fractions and even made some fraction dominoes.

Dartington Gardens

On the last week of term, a small group of us set off to Dartington Gardens – just in time to see the pink blossom of the Magnolia trees.  We wondered through the gardens, noticing the patterns, naming and drawing the plants, and generally giggling our way through the land.

It was so wonderful to have so much room to explore, play and interact with each other and the land.  There is so much excitement around having more of this when we move to the new site.

11 – 13 March 2020

In mathematics, the older children have been enjoying working on addition sums.  They use a variety of Montessori materials to support their work. For example, the fraction frames introduce quantity and the names of fraction parts as well as giving a sensorial impression of equivalent fractions. The materials are also used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The children love Roman numerals – this material supports the child to go beyond the familiar 1-10 all the way to 100. The children often set out their own addition sums using Roman numerals. Once the child has built a solid foundation and is experienced with the golden beads they then move on to working with the bead frame (abacus) again this material can be used for all operations.

In English, the children have been working on prepositions and adverbs along with having some fun with fronted adverbials to enrich their storytelling.