This term Cedar and Birch classes travelled back in time by visiting a very special home in Stratford Upon Avon: Williams Shakespeare's birthplace. As part of their Famous People topic, the children attended a varied workshop in which they experienced first hand what William's life would have been like. They created a beautifully crafted version of a horn book which Shakespeare would have used to learn Latin in school. They practised Elizabethan handwriting by using ink made with egg and used a quill to create their own names in the style of Queen Elizabeth's I signature. You could not hear a pin drop such was the level of concentration! They explored the social class divide of the era by sorting objects used by the poor and rich. Finally they all dressed up in the characters of Shakespeare's plays and fantastic looking donkeys were galloping around the large room alongside Cleopatra and Macbeth. The children thoroughly enjoyed the first hand historical experience these activities provided.
In the afternoon a tour of Shakespeare's house took place and as our children moved from room to room a general feeling of excitement began to emerge as in the words of one of our children..." I'm walking on the same stone floor as William did!" The house has been restored to its original characteristics and it was an incredible experience to view the authenticity of some of the furniture and objects replicas. The tour naturally took us into the garden where we joined a group of actors and took part in one of the plays they were performing. It truly was an amazing experience and all of our children were part of the cast from being a ferocious lion to representing a wall!
The day came to an end in the late part of an unusually warm afternoon with the children talking about this amazing historical trip all the way back home.
On Tuesday 3rd October, Juniper travelled to London to visit the Natural History Museum. They were accompanied by Mr Pendry and Mrs Howes and had the opportunity to build on information learned in both Science and Geography.
When we arrived we took the opportunity to admire the new display in the main hall of a blue whale skeleton, which has replaced the touring diplodocus that has stood there for so long. We followed this with a visit to the human biology section where the children were able to review topics such as muscles and bones, cells, eyes and how the senses work.
The children then had the opportunity to choose their next two locations and so we went to the earthquakes and volcanoes centre, where they experienced what it was like to be in a supermarket during the Kobe earthquake. We followed this with a visit to the giant sequoia tree on the top floor. Whilst it was only a slice of the giant tree, we were all stunned by the size and age of this colossal plant!
We then enjoyed lunch before visiting the hall of mammals and finally a trip through the dinosaur exhibit, highlighted by a face to face encounter with a full size, animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex.
The children enjoyed the day out and were great ambassadors for the school.
Upon our arrival at the Living Rainforest we were greeted by, very experienced and friendly, staff who escorted us to the glass houses. Inside, we saw a wonderful variety of animals, fishes, reptiles and birds who are native to the worlds’ rainforest areas. The interior space was very warm and was filled with fantastic plants, trees and flowering bushes. Larch and Rowan children were so excited, their cries of delight were lovely to hear; especially when they saw toucans, monkeys, snakes, lizards and lots of other beautiful animals. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and made our visit lively and exciting with all children engaged in their activities. The staff were very impressed with our year one’s knowledge and understanding of rainforest species and praised them on the depth of their knowledge and understanding of the rainforest and its animal and plant species! We all felt that the highlight of the day was when the sloth decided to wake up (they sleep for 18 hours per day!) and head down from their canopy to look at us watching her. The children we amazed at her hanging upside down and look at us with equal curiosity. We all had a super day, it was so interesting to see such a vast assortment of rainforest animals first-hand and to hear the children’s excited talk about their day out.
We have had a brilliant first day in Rome! We arrived a little later than scheduled but it didn’t deter us. After checking in at the hotel our collective excitement gave us the energy we needed to get straight into the warm fresh air. We stepped out of the hotel and immediately begin to soak up the sights in Rome. After a walk to the park we treated the pupils and staff to a train ride, though strictly speaking, train is not an accurate description (see photos below!). We have uploaded a selection of photos from our day below, we are looking forward to tomorrow and will update you throughout our week.
We started our day with a continental breakfast at the hotel. We then walked to ‘Archbasilica of St. John Lateran’, the Lateran Basilica is the cathedral church of Rome and therefore houses the cathedra, or ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope). It is the oldest of and has precedence among the four papal major basilicas all of which are in Rome. Because it is the oldest church in the West and houses the cathedra of the Roman Pontiff it has the title of ecumenical mother church of the Roman Catholic faithful. We then walked to the church of the Santissimo nome di Gesu, the mother church of the Jesuit order. Our visit to the Trevi Fountain followed. This was a popular area but not too busy for us to soak up the atmosphere and noise of the fountain. Fontana di Trevi is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world. We also visited the Pantheon today, at more than 1,800 years old it is a phenomenal site to see. Our last visit of the day was to Piazza Navona, the children had a great time here to finish the day off. We walked back to the hotel and settled in a local restaurant before heading to bed.
The day began with a walk to Piazza Barberini to see the Triton Fountain. The heraldic symbols of Pope Urban VIII are clearly visible on Bernini’s sculpture. From here we walked to Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the very top of the Spanish Steps (Scalinata). Scalinata is the widest staircase in Europe, it connects Piazza Trinita dei Monti with Piazza di Spagna at the base. When we reached the bottom the view back up the steps to the church of Trinita dei Monti was amazing. We paused for smoothies in a small shaded café overlooking Roman ruins before walking on to Barracco Museum where we saw some very old artefacts. We stopped for our lunch in Campo De Fiori before our visit to see La Bocca della Verita (the mouth of truth). We managed to pause for gelato overlooking The Colosseum of Rome before our last visit of the day to Basilica San Clemente, photos were limited in here but the ceiling was an incredible sight. We took a refreshing walk back towards our hotel for dinner before bed.
The Colosseum, what a sight! We timed our visit perfectly and were able to gain access without too much of a wait. Outside alone it is an awe inspiring building, inside it is spectacular. We went up to the upper level first to experience the view before working our way down to the lower levels. After we left The Colosseum, we went to see the Arch of Constantine on route to The Forum where we walked through the incredible ruins. The children are now packing their bags and enjoying some downtime at the hotel before their dinner.
Hawthorn and Poplar enjoyed their first trip of the year, to the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. Learning about our current reading book for the year group, The Wind in the Willows, they were immersed in illustrations and props from the story from the first minute we arrived. They began the day with a smidgeon of acting, pretending to be the proud (and rather loud) Toad of Toad Hall. They were then given a series of tasks to explore: Handling real Victorian artefacts that would have been present in the scenes of the book; deciding which adjectives best described the habitats of the four main characters; discussing and finding examples of the running theme of friendship, in the story and finally, dressing up!
The children walked down to the river and looked at the habitats in which the characters would have dwelled: A meadow for Moley, ‘Cold bath stream’, for the water-vole and Mr Toad and the woodland, for Badger and the dastardly stoats and weasels. They were even introduced to the ‘Willows’ themselves and we all observed a slight wind blowing in them. After lunch, the children were treated to a small gift from the shop and looked around the exhibition area. They were most impressed by the interactive exhibits – especially the scary, wild wood!
All in all, they enjoyed a day of varied activities and learning which kept them well-engaged. Hopefully, this will have enriched their experience of the book and brought it to life, more vividly, in their imaginations.
Walnut & Maple had a wonderful trip to Waddesdon. When we arrived we had a tour of the beautiful gardens and we were lucky enough to be the only visitors so had the whole grounds to ourselves. We had our workshop all about the life cycles of minibeasts and visited the beautiful rose gardens to smell the roses and see which bugs they attracted. We then went to see the amazing birds that live at the manor and we were enthralled by the different types. After lunch we went on an adventure in the woods and followed Alice’s path to the best bug hotel we had ever seen. We had magnifying glasses and looked in all the nooks and crannies to see who was living inside. We then got into groups and designed our own bug habitats. One group added a swimming pool to their bug home with a leaf slide to make sure their residents had lots of fun. In the afternoon we let off some steam in the adventure playground and had a great time on the slides and swings. It was then time to come home. We had a wonderful day exploring the grounds of the manor. I was incredibly proud of how well behaved the children were and said we were a credit to the school.
This term Beech and Holly enjoyed an adventurous trip to Woburn Safari Park. A very shy porcupine and several very hungry otters provided great entertainment and sparked much curiosity in all of our children at the start of the day. It was soon time to meet a few mini beasts in the form of a friendly cockroach, a giant African land snail who seemed a little shy and finally an enormous boa constrictor who looked strangely gentle. The mini beast keeper was most impressed with our children as they could name the parts of an insect.
In the afternoon the children enjoyed a stroll through the Australian enclosure populated by a large colony of wallabies, who appeared very friendly and approached us all with a few effortless hops.
It was soon time for the daily bird show provided by two colourful and graceful macaws from the rainforest, who were very intelligent and performed a 'rubbish race' by collecting small items and placing them in buckets. They were joined by a beautiful white parrot who flew on the restaurant roof and returned after the show had ended!
After a delicious ice cream break, it was time to join a train ride which took us all around the safari park and allowed us to admire beautiful zebras and giraffes.
Finally the minibus safari allowed us all to take a closer look at more wild creatures such as tigers, monkeys and lions. The most entertaining were the black bears, who made us laugh by attempting to climb trees, fall asleep and scratching their backs on the tree trunks.
It was wonderful to see the children's faces when admiring these beautiful creatures and above all the connection they made between the classroom learning and their visit to the Safari Park.
On Tuesday the 27th of June Yew & Aspen made a visit to the Chiltern Open Air Museum, near Amersham. The propose of the trip was to support the learning from this academic year, but also introduce new topics for the 2017/18 year.
We arrived in good time and were met by our Guide’ Sarah’ who talked us through the events for the day and also gave us some valuable background into how /why the museum had ended up on this site.
As a group we then went into our ‘Iron Age’ workshop which was taken by ‘Heidi’ of the Catuvellauni tribe in England.
tribe! The children then spent the next ninety minutes exploring and trialling different aspects of iron age life. This included ‘warrior face painting’, pottery, bread making and building an animal shelter.
After the group session and lunch the children and staff broke up into smaller groups to explore the other displays within the museum. The variety of equipment and information was fantastic and the children were most definitely fully engaged throughout.
We finished off the visit with a bush trail walk and the children made use of the medieval playground and got rid of some excess energy prior to the bus ride back to school. The trip was a great success, the demonstrations and displays were superb and the children represented the school extremely well.
A huge ‘Thankyou’ to Mrs Skillings, Mr McGregor and Mr Thompson who accompanied us on the trip and I know the children really enjoyed the day.
On Tuesday 6th June, Larch and Rowan visited the Linford Lakes Nature Reserve. It was very peaceful! All around us was Cow Parsley, busy bees, vibrant flowers, still lakes and no cars, trains or loud noises. When we arrived, we were introduced to our knowledgeable tour guides. Our first activity was pond dipping. We waved nets in the water and collected lots of wiggly, floating, swimming creatures. Some of our favourite finds were a dragonfly nymph, Ramshorn snails, Lesser Water Boatman and snail eggs. Inside in the laboratory, we used microscopes and species guides to identify the insects. In the afternoon, we ventured on a bird and bug hunt. We learnt about natural and man-made habitats and were excited to discover rabbit holes and deer clearings. Up high in a tree, we saw an enormous Heron’s nest. An interesting fact was that female ducks are brown so that they are camouflaged and not seen by hungry foxes who may want duck eggs for dinner. The Year Ones greatly impressed our tour guides with their existing wealth of knowledge about plants and animals and made us feel very proud! What an exciting day being nature explorers!
Hawthorn & Poplar went to both the Coventry Transport Museum & the Herbert Gallery. There was an excellent workshop at the transport museum about Victorian cycles including the `Bone Shaker!`, the famous Penny Farthing- with its own distinctive common head injury the `Crown Imperial`! as well as a tricycle( more `becoming` for a Victorian ladies modesty! before the emergence of the more modern diamond framed Safety cycle. The children were very engaged asking questions & responding to the questioning the workshop leader posed. After a short spell looking at various vehicles we wen t across central Coventry to the Herbert Gallery & took part in an a very good whistle stop tour of some sculptures and how they were made followed by a head sculpting exercise, with assorted heads brought back to school (all children had their own head!), an exciting & worthwhile day was had by all.
2nd May 2017, Chestnut & Sycamore and Acacia & Pine visit Stowe School to compete for the Winton Cup. The Winton Cup is a competition focusing on the humanities in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton. Winton saved 669 lives of Jewish children in Czechoslovakia during the holocaust in WWII Sir Nicholas was knighted in 2003 by the Queen before he died in 2015 at the age of 106.
The day consisted of 5 activities, History, History of Art, Geography, Politics & Religion. All the activities were really interactive and fun.
During History, we focused on deciding who the most compassionate person was using information sheets before transferring the information to top trump cards, giving each famous person from History a score out of 40.
In History of Art, we looked at 18th century British ‘worthies’ and tried to find 4 new 21st century worthies. Answers ranged from Bill Gates to Queen Elizabeth to Barak Obama.
Then we took on Religion, were we looked at Agape or Love. We had to decide who was to die and who was to survive. 3 patients needed a new kidney and all had valid reasons to receive it but only 1 could do so. We had to decide who would be most worthy of the new kidney and would do the greatest good from having it.
After, an amazing Stowe, lunch we had Geography. We had to plot out all the places of natural disasters around the world and donate funds to one place that needed it the most to recover. We had to show compassion in our decision because some countries couldn’t afford to rebuild themselves whilst others could.
In Politics, we were to have our own election, we had to decide on what policies were important to use and how we would show compassion to the people voting for us but also how we would raise money to run the country.
Altogether, we had a wonderful day and achieve so much that we came 3rd in the Winton Cup out of 10 teams. I knew he 2nd of May would be a good day.
Emily Ying Clifton
The children from Spruce and Juniper visited the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury, on Thursday 27th April, to see the National Theatre’s Production of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
We arrived at the theatre and the children settled into their seats quickly; intrigued by a set decked-out with platforms, ladders and even a jazz band. The performance was suitably engaging for the group, entwining modern music and the ‘climbing-frame’ style set, with earthy Yorkshire accents and authentic Victorian costumes.
The children enjoyed the rousing ‘coach’ scene, in which the characters grouped together and mimicked the appearance and sound of a coach and horses, a motif visited several times during the performance. The volatile Mr Rochester and his feisty young employee, Jane Eyre took the group on an emotional roller-coaster with their equally emphatic performances. The issues we had taken from the book, for class discussion were approached with clarity and precision: The ‘madness’ of Edward Rochester’s wife; the difference in social-standing between Eyre and Rochester and Eyre’s sense of injustice and loss, at the beginning of her life.
Moving forward, the children can now review this production, analysing the decisions made by the director in terms of the performance and think about how effective these were in creating a Jane Eyre that Charlotte Bronte would have approved of.
The two teams of mini-vehicle designers from Chestnut and Sycamore competed in the Kimbolton school design challenge involving designing and making a vehicle to ride a ramp and jump across a shark infested river carrying Batman! (or egg with a remarkably `Batty` look!).
The teams spent all day designing and building their marvellous creations using the workshop facilities at the school. In the final test the Sycamore team came a well deserved 2nd place against several other schools (also beating the Kimbolton Home team!) whilst the Chestnut Batman was feeling a bit shattered! (A bit more work needed on seat belts!) An “eggsciting” day was had by all with lots of enthusiasm from everyone!
Well done to all involved.
Larch and Rowan had a super visit to Milton Keynes Museum. We went to the Museum to support the work that we have been doing in History- Houses and Victorians. Guided by members of staff from The Grove and MK Museum, Larch and Rowan explored a Victorian classroom, a Victorian street, rooms in a Victorian house and Victorian toys.
The children thoroughly enjoyed the Victorian classroom. Our guide from the museum took on the role of a Victorian teacher and the children a Victorian class. The children were required to sit in silence and only speak when spoken to, recite a verse from the chalk board and write sums on a slate board.
We were very proud of the children, as usual, as they represented the school extremely well and were polite and well-behaved for the duration. What a lovely day!