3

Post a Day Weekly Photo Challenge Satisfaction

The theme for the  Weekly Photo Challenge is Satisfaction.

What a lovely prompt this week.   There are so many photos I could choose as I really find many things in my life satisfying. I’ve chosen a few that I think reflect the meaning of the word.

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My grandson – satisfied with his catch at Sani Valley Lodge, KZN

Me and My Girls

Surrounded by my last class of Grade Ones at the last day of school in my last year of teaching. Most satisfied that it was a good career.

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My Hubby – Content with his four grandchildren

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Satisfied with the retired lifestyle – caravanning at Ebb and Flow – Garden Route National Park Western Cape

2

Back in the Classroom – Awards Ceremony, Teddy Picnic and so we say Farewell

And so my last year of full time teaching has come to an end.  I admit to having become just a tad emotional on a few occasions this week! But I live just two minutes from my school and they’re not getting rid of me that easily and even though Hubby and I have plans to seldom be at home, I am sure I will be popping in to help from time to time.

On Monday I had the honour of presenting the special awards to the Grade Threes at our Foundation Phase Awards Ceremony.  What a thrill to see some of my past girls doing especially well.

Awards

Board of Governor’s Award

 

The winner of The Speaker Reader Trophy is the grandson of a very special person in my life and I also knew his late father who was at school with my daughter.  Muriel, he is just so very much like his daddy and you can be as proud of Noah as you were of your special boy, Reagon.

Noah

After this, one of my past Grade Ones presented me with a bouquet of flowers, a gift voucher and a gold medal inscribed with MASTER EDUCATOR!   Well I guess if you’ve been teaching on and off for 4 decades you do deserve a medal 🙂

Gemma and Me

Our Awards Ceremonies are lovely.  Each teacher pre-records a message and as her children come up onto the stage, it is broadcast over the sound system.   I love listening to everybody’s speeches and it is specially good to hear what they have to say about the ones you’ve taught in the past or got to know at sport or just from seeing them around. Here are my precious class proudly standing on stage with their certificates.

My Class with awards

My class were last to be presented with their awards and at the end of my voice-over I continued with a brief thank you.  What a lovely response I had to that – thank you everybody.  I have posted my voice over at the end of this blog.

The girls didn’t come to school on Tuesday as it was the turn of the Intermediate phase to have their awards ceremony. It was my pleasure to take care of a Grade 4 class while they waited excitedly to be called.

Today we ended the term with Teddy Bear’s Picnic!   The girls arrived in a great state of excitement armed with their amazing bears and also some gifts for me!   I said, “You are all very naughty. You’re not supposed to spoil your teacher.”

“Oh yes, we are!” they chorused back.

Thank you moms and dads. Your gifts, cards and letters wishing me well in my retirement are much appreciated.  I am posting just a few of the many photographs kindly taken by Teacher Assistant Carol.

Me and My Girls

The Girls, The Bears, Paddington and Me

 

Caitlin

What a lovely elephant!

Amber G and Teddy

Totally relaxed with my bear

Amber T

One very spoilt teacher

Tatum and Sierra

We love our bears – we love each other!

Lucie

A person’s a person no matter how small! The same goes for bears!

Faith

What a gorgeous cuddly leopard telling me how special I am!

Masintle with Bear

 

Earlier in the day I was banished from the classroom so that the girls could create something special for me – A Card – I suspect has been put into my pigeon hole and I shall collect it tomorrow, last day for the teachers.   While I was in the staffroom waiting to be allowed back in – I smelled an amazing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Can’t be, I thought, as our machine is not working – but there was Danielle carrying a tray for one towards me – “Ek wil iets nice vir Ms Fenwick doen – want ek sal jou miss!”  Nice – Danielle – that’s the nicest thing you could ever have done to this coffee starved teacher at 9 in the morning!  I am hugely touched!

Danielle doing something nice for me

Danielle doing something nice for me

And that is what is so special about my school.  Everybody from the top down cares and will go the extra mile for a child or a colleague.

Thank you  to all the parents of all the children I have taught, for your support as teacher assistants, transporters to outings, providers of cakes for cake sales and for helping with homework and supporting me in every way.   It has been a pleasure and privilege to be part of your children’s lives.

Voice-Over 2014

Precious girls– This year has been very special for me. From Day 1 I have savoured every moment knowing that it would be my last as a class teacher. Thank you for making it a special one.

You have been a class of diverse little characters and you will each, along with all the other little girls I have taught at Sun Valley, for ever hold a special place in my heart.

  1. Jenna Cothill – Your persistence and positive risk taking has helped you overcome so much – well done my girl.
  2. Jenna Cumming. Your display of wonderment and awe at everything new is inspiring. Keep enjoying every fresh moment of your life.
  3. Montana – I will miss your quiet determination to succeed. Keep it up my clever girl.
  4. Zoe – You may be small but you are full of character and everybody’s favourite. You go girl.
  5. Olivia – clever, outgoing, spunky and full of fun – Hold on to that positive attitude.
  6. Caitlin – You ask good questions and insist I teach you till you understand. You’ve kept me on my toes.
  7. Amber G – beautiful girl well done for coming out tops. You are very special
  8. Rachel – my creative dreamer – you have amazed me with your progress.
  9. Feisty and determined Aphila – you have jumped hurdles and I am so proud of you.
  10. Little Sam – persisting and taking positive risks – Never give up.
  11. Tatum – so creative and full of energy – keep striving to do your best.
  12. Tahila my quietly confident angel, I will miss your beautiful work. You go girl.
  13. Precious Scarlet – full of inner strength – keep up the good work.
  14. Linet – you have a strong character which will take you far – I am super proud of you.
  15. Tenacious Tino – you have surpassed yourself – You have filled me with admiration.
  16. Sierra breezing in daily with a positive attitude – you rock.
  17. Leah – my deep thinking, smart girl – keep up the good work
  18. Shaqayeq – beautiful, exotic and quietly brilliant – you have impressed me.
  19. Mbali – my precious, feisty girl who has worked so very hard, you are an inspiration.
  20. Sienna – my flexible thinker, you do not miss a beat and if I do, you are quick to set me right. Keep it up my girl.
  21. Indyana – you think and communicate with clarity and precision while showing compassion for others – you are a very special girl.
  22. Jennissa – your batteries are constantly charged and you are always ready for action. You go girl.
  23. Sweet, talented Aniqah – keep reaching for your dreams – you have so much potential
  24. Cassie you seem so often to be in your own world but you always come up with the right answers – well done my angel.
  25. Gentle but determined Michaela – you have made strides this year. Keep it up special girl.
  26. Amber T – you have strived for accuracy and produced beautiful work. You have made me proud.
  27. Masintle my sweet, gentle girl, your calmness inspires sanity in me.
  28. Julia you have worked well and impressed me with your independent thinking – I will miss your shy smile.
  29. Faith what strides you have made this year. You blasted off slowly but at the end raced to the target.  Well done sweet girl.
  30. Zjonte you bounce into class with zest every day – I will miss your enthusiasm and energy.
  31. Lucie – my creative, innovative and imaginative thinker – You have your own unique approach to your work – Keep on that path, girl.

 

And so girls, you have come to the end of your very first year of big school.  Remember, if you dream it you can do it. YOU ARE FABULOUS.  GIRL POWER TO YOU ALL.

And this is where I’m meant to stop but as this is my last Awards Ceremony I would like to take this opportunity to express my farewells. It has been my privilege to have had an 11 year association with Sun Valley School.  First it was in the capacity of room parent, class rep and/or supply teacher.  In 2011 I came for four months but stayed for almost four years!

I have had a chequered career in education for 4 decades and loved every minute and I am privileged to go out on a high note from this amazing school.

My colleagues in every grade have been awesome but the bond I have with my Grade colleagues now is beyond amazing. Lisa, you were there quietly supporting me as a gap when I arrived in 2011 and you’ve been an inspiring colleague. I really do want to be like you when I grow up.  Bridgette you totally get me and help me keep my sense of humour, I will miss your wonderful laugh. Monique thank you for being my memory and relentlessly driving me to get things done weeks before deadline. Somehow you failed to see my advancing years and kept me young.

You guys rock and I can see that I will be drawn back to assist in the Grade One passage between trips across the planet.

Thank you to my amazing boss, Gavin for having me crew on this ship of exploration into the world of innovative education. The journey has been exciting, stimulating and adventurous. It has been the best trip of my life.

To everybody at the Sun Valley Group – children, parents, Estate staff, Admin, Exco and teaching staff.  What a privilege it has been to be on this A team.  I will miss you all. Farewell but not Goodbye

 

 

 

 

 

1

Back in the Classroom – They’re on their way!

It only really hit me on Friday that the end had come.  I have been taking it one day at a time, sticking to routine, enjoying the specialness of each precious little girl and not thinking about the fact that I would soon be sending them on to the next teacher!

Of course we had spoken about how they felt about  moving on in a care circle.  This is what they said:  “I am a little bit nervous but I’m also excited”  “I am looking forward to learning new things”  “I know in Grade 2 I will learn about birds and bats and that’s exciting” “We’re going to build things and I like that” “I will miss you and I hope my new teacher will be kind” “I want you to be our new Grade 2 teacher!”

Who the new teacher would be was a closely kept secret.  They’re all going up together so their was a great deal of speculation as to who it could be – was it the teacher who took last year’s girls?  I told them it could be anybody – Maybe Coach K (Grade 7 male teacher) would come down to teach Grade 2 – anything is possible. They shrieked in delight and at home time one reported to her dad – Coach K might be my new teacher!

Friday finally dawned. The girls arrived full of excitement and expectation.  They were noisy, fidgety, over-the-top and I had to calm them down before we could do anything constructive.  The choir girls (half my class) had to go off to practice so normal routine could not be followed. The remaining girls did some fun worksheets until the others returned.  I just managed to complete handwriting when we all had to go to our Award Ceremony Practice.   And that was that.  We returned to pack up, tidy the classroom, have our snack and go out to break.

At 11 o’clock, armed with their stationery I took them to the meeting place.  Mrs K announced who the Grade 2 teachers would be.  My class were first and they cheered when they heard the great news that they were to be with pretty, young Miss Mey!

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Waiting in anticipation

Where is Mrs Fenwick's Class?

Where is Mrs Fenwick’s Class?

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In the new classroom on a much bigger mat!

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This is not the teacher were we were expecting!

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She helps us too!

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Do you like it?

While my girls were wrenched from my care I was left feeling rather bereft – I had no new little ones to welcome to soften the blow but I know I’ll get over it – there are new horizons for me too.

At the end of the day the girls returned content with the knowledge that they had landed on Planet Second Grade without mishap and the continuing journey is going to be just as exciting.

But it’s not quite over in Grade One yet!  We have our Awards Ceremony on Monday, Tuesday – no school for you, girls.   And on Wednesday we bid a final farewell to each other with a Teddy Bears’ Picnic – So remember to bring you favourite cuddly toy, a healthy snack, juice and a treat!

 

 

1

Back in the Classroom – Proud of My Cool School.

What a privilege it is to teach at a school where things are done properly and learning really happens.   I got to know the school well when my grandsons started here in 2004 and 2005 respectively.  Even back then I was hugely impressed and soon got involved in the room parent programme – something I’d never heard of in this country before.   I had just resigned from full time teaching and so it was great to have the opportunity to sometimes come if for relief teaching too and I always enjoyed it. This is a school where every little person is made to feel special and where everything is done to make sure he or she is happy.  There are systems in the school that work and there is always something happening.  The children are well catered for and the teachers are kept on their toes – there is never a moment to become complacent – there is always something new to learn.

Last week our special school underwent a gruelling full assessment by a panel of experts who were there to dig deep, to find our strong and weak points and to give help and advice on how we could improve.   Everybody from to executive team to the estate staff to parents to children were questioned and inspected to a greater or lesser degree. No stone was left unturned.  So when we had our feedback on Thursday afternoon and received the amazing news that we had a perfect score you can imagine the enormous boost to our morale.  We have a really wonderful leader and it was great to have him validated by the Department of Education.  Thanks to my colleagues who were randomly chosen to have the investigators in their classrooms – you guys are awesome!

The Principal with The Whole School Evaluation Team

 

1

Back in the Classroom – Term 2 Winding Down – Preparing for Term 3

Grade One as I have said many times in these blogs, is the most rewarding class to teach.  Watching the little ones grow and absorb knowledge like a sponge absorbs water is a daily thrill. At term’s end there is no letting up – they do not want to stop – they need to be in a routine and want to continue the learning!   So every activity we present must have a purpose – there is no doing anything just for the sake of it or to keep them occupied!

So while we continue with the normal daily routine we are also trying to get things ready for Term 3.

We learn all about space and shape in Mathematics and we see shapes in everyday things.  A great exercise for our Maths Book Cover for Term 3 therefore was to create our own colourful pictures by cutting and pasting shapes from bright sheets of paper.  What creative designs we came up with!

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Lots of colours to choose from

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Careful design work here

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My teacher loves my gorgeous giraffe

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This is so much fun

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Lovely work, Birthday Girl

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I’m done with my Space Scene!

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I am proud of my work

Paper tearing is an excellent activity for little fingers.  It gets those tiny fine motor muscles in their three little pencil holding fingers fit for writing.  They were absorbed and quiet for ages as they tore and pasted scales on their fish for their Term 3 Literacy Book Cover.

What a lot of colours to choose from

What a lot of colours to choose from

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Very interesting fish!

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Does this remind you of Nemo?

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My fingers are working hard here!

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How am I doing?

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Sticky fingers – lovely fish

Next week there will be NO HOMEWORK – but please continue to read to and with your girls.  Encourage Reading during the holidays too – shared reading I mean – it must be a pleasurable experience.

On Wednesday we have Parentline and I am looking forward to sharing with you how your daughters are progressing.   Please be punctual so we can make the most of our 10 minute slots!

 

 

4

Back in the Classroom – Bonds and Skeletons

Another late post but I have a good excuse!  The past week has been intensely devoted to second term assessment and I spent the weekend downloading marks and writing reports which are due on my HOD’s desk on Friday.  Save the tweaking they are done and dusted and it will be back to regular teaching this week!   Not that anything was neglected during the assessing time. In Grade One individual oral interaction is the main way of assessing and this does also allow for teaching moments while testing which I just love.

The little girls are well on their way now that we are almost through the second term.  They are busy learning their bonds which we call ‘partners’. What better way there is to learn than through play.   Each girl is given a number and she has to find her partner to make a certain number.

Two plus three equals five!

Two plus three equals five!

So of course two plus three must also equal five!

So of course three plus two must also equal five!

Zero plus Five - Why that has to be five!

Zero plus Five – Why that has to be five!

Three and two are partners of five!

Four and one are partners of five!

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Four and One are partners too!

We had more fun when we cut out and pasted skeletons on black paper to show how our bodies move.  Our skeletons were really flexible the way they got into the oddest postures!

Oh my - what lovely positions

Oh my – what lovely positions

Dancing and prancing

Dancing and prancing

Clever gymnasts

Clever gymnasts

On Friday we are presenting our Assembly – I am special.  Those with lines to say are practising madly – please help them at home, Moms.   We look forward to seeing you all there at 8:00 a.m.

 

6

Back in the Classroom – Helping with Homework

All the holidays play havoc with normal routine but we had no interruptions these past four days and so I can report that we have had a pretty good week. At this time of the year Grade Ones really start taking off. The settling in process is over and they become big Grade One Girls ready to take on any challenge.

Parents often ask how to help their girls at home.  The secret is not to make an issue of homework.  Do a little every day.  Follow the routine set out on the homework sheet sent home each week and go at your child’s pace.
We have recently issued each child with a set of alphabet cards. At school we work with them in many ways – naming the graphemes, repeating the phonemes and building three letter words. At home you can help your child at her level.

Start by getting her to get to set the tiles out in alphabetical order. She can then rap the alphabet as she has been taught in class. Then randomly ask her to name the graphemes. She may be able to rap in order but when asked to point to m or o or q she may still be hesitant.  Ask her to point to graphemes as you name them for her. See if she also knows the phoneme (sound) of each of the letters too.   When you are sure she can do that ask her give the name and sound of the letter as you point to them.

The next step is to help her to ‘hear’ initial, final and medial sounds in three letter words. Say a word like mat – ask her what she hears at the beginning. You could also give her three words – mat man and rat and ask which one has a different beginning sound.   Start with sounds that are continuous – s, m, n, r, f, l, v, z .  Once she can do those easily go onto other letters.  When she is able to do initial sounds go on to listening for final sounds before trying to get her to listen for medial sounds.  Most of the girls can already do this but if your child can’t this is the way in which to help her.

The third step is decoding and encoding. Decoding means sounding out the word to work out what it says.  Encoding means putting the sounds together to spell the word. Use the alphabet tiles to build three letter words and see if your child can sound them out before asking her to build a word that you give her.  Have fun with these tiles.   Make a word e.g. cat  change one letter to make a new word.  e.g. cat to rat.  Keep changing one letter and have her sound out the word each time to get what it is.  If she’s good at this let her choose which letter to change to make a new word.

Daily reading of the ‘box’ book sent home – a new one is issued twice weekly – is essential.  Also use the little printed booklets – Two Little Birds and Bake a Cake – some children will soon be receiving Paws and Claws.   All the reading words are in these books and there are stories to read too.

The Counting Booklet has everything in it to help your child build number concepts.  Practising the exercises really helps your child to stay on top of her Mathematical game.

We have been discussing our families in class and have made a booklet all about the people in our houses. We drew our siblings and our parents and wrote sentences about what we like doing together.

Some of the things they wrote – I like to bake with Mom, I like to shop with Mom.  I like to drive to ‘accidents’ with Dad. (Her dad has a break-down truck)  I like to fight with my brother!  I like to ride bikes with my sister.  I like to watch TV with Dad.   I like to swim with Dad.  I like work in the garden with Dad. I like to talk to Mom.

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After the break we will be making our Family Trees.  I am sure you are all having fun gathering the bits and pieces necessary for this. May you all have a fabulous break with your kids. See you soon!

1

Back in the Classroom – The Second Term Begins

Our whistle stop trip to KZN became a beautiful  memory as I hit the ground running straight into the new term.   Returning to a classful of eager faces is always rewarding and after listening to all the holiday stories and catching up with all the lost teeth, and outings to Ratanga Junction, the circus and the beach we settled down into our ‘normal’ routine.

The first term is the hardest in Grade One as everything is so very new.  Each term becomes easier although the pace of learning increases.   The rewards of teaching fresh, new learners is great.  I get to watch them grasp new Mathematical concepts with awe and wonder.   I experience a special kind of thrill when I see them catch on to how a word can be decoded by using those funny phonemes the teacher has been drilling into them. Even in the first week of term their progress is impressive.

Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to get little ones to do just what you want them to do?  Sometimes I wonder what goes through their heads.  Is my teacher crazy asking me to do these funny finger exercises?   Oh well, that’s what she wants we’ll go ahead and do it!  It seems to make her happy.   What do you mean sound out this word?   Isn’t it a sound already?  Hey – this is magic – I can read!

I was feeling very pleased with myself when one of my bright sparks read beautifully to me the other day. “Who taught you to read like that?” I asked.  Without a missing a beat she replied “I taught myself!”

No credit to the teacher. No credit to the parents.  Because children ‘catch’ reading and no matter how good a teacher you are that child will not learn to read until he is ready to ‘catch’ it.  That’s why they believe they teach themselves.  So parents, expose your child to the written word.   Read to her and read with her.  Let her catch this amazing thing called Literacy!

Eye exercises

Eye exercises

 

Concentrating of finger exercises

Concentrating of on focussing those eyes

Een twee drie vier vyf, Vingertjies staan styf

Pointer, Middle, Ring, Baby

Watch the thumb to train the eye

Watch the thumb to train the eye

Look at our sentences

Look at our sentences

Really smart, creative sentences

May we read ours please?

Come on this is so easy

Come on this is so easy

Now we can even write them ourselves

Now we can even write them by ourselves

It's a lot of fun

It’s a lot of fun

 

We are working hard at this

We are working hard at this

 

 

2

Back in the classroom – A really fun week

The only ‘normal’ day we had this week was Monday!  I put ‘normal’ in parenthesis as no day at my school is ever what I would consider normal – there is always something happening and if you teach here you need to be flexible, on your toes and have a good sense of humour.  I am not complaining – I would’t have it any other way.  There is never a dull moment. So with a little bit of attitude adjustment I managed to get through Hilarious Heads on Athletics Day and two exhausting days of FUNSCAPES.

So back to the beginning – Monday the ‘normal’ day went off pretty well if you don’t count the chair that fell on my foot first thing in the morning.  It was sore for a brief moment but then I forgot about it.  But at 1 p.m. it really started to hurt and I couldn’t walk comfortably on it.   I sat in on two parent interviews with a colleague and then checked my phone messages only to discover that my dental appointment had been changed and I had 15 minutes to get there!  My mouth felt fine but my foot was sore. The dentist apologised that he couldn’t fix that part of my anatomy!  By this time I really found hobbling quite painful and as the doctor was just next door to the dentist I decided to have it checked out. She prodded and pulled and it hurt like hell. She told me to ice it, take a Myprodol and go for an x-ray first thing the next morning.   I had visions of myself in plaster to my knee for the next six weeks – but a miracle occurred.  Fifteen minutes after taking medication, all pain disappeared and I haven’t looked back! Walking normally and not even a bruise.

Enough about me – back to the fun week at SVPS.   On Tuesday we celebrated our school’s birthday!   37 years ago my two older daughters started there in Grade One and Grade Three!   We even have a member of staff who started there in Grade One too.  We celebrated by having a hilarious head day and everyone came in the most elaborate hair styles, hats and face make-up.   I wore a wig of red streamers which my amused my little girls no end.  But I was so busy taking photographs I forgot to get one of myself!

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Such imaginative ideas

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Hilarious – these made me laugh

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Happy hats and hair

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Elaborate hair, hats and make up

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Really rather cute

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These girls have fun hats

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Very smart and cute girls

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Love the hair – love the hat

Wow girls you all looked so great

All ready to go down to the field for Athletics Day – Note the big shoes!

The Foundation Phase also had their athletics day which began after the parade of the best hats and singing the birthday song to ourselves.  The staff hats were hilarious too.

Winning Staff

Winning Staff

The Principal leading a Movement Song

The Principal leading a Movement Song

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Two of my ‘room grans’ grooving to the movement song.

It was a glorious day and the races went well

It was a glorious day and the races went well

Racing to the finish line

Racing to the finish line

FUNSCAPES have taken on a new format.  I didn’t get to do what I usually like to do – bird watching but maybe next time.  This year instead of the whole school being mixed up into different clubs each grade offered four to choose from.  The good part of this was that we got kids in our grade.   My Funscape was GAMES.   It was well attended by mostly boys!   I have to admit it.  I missed my girls!   But Boys are Fun too – challenging  – but Fun.   I learned very quickly to change the activity often and to have lots of outdoor breaks too.  We played cards games, board games, dominoes, pick-up-sticks, tricky fingers, lego and other construction games.  These were wonderful experiences for digikids some of whom had never even heard of snakes and ladders or ludo.  It helped with their counting, matching, adding and thinking strategically.   Pick up sticks – wow – so good for fine motor coordination.   The kids were demanding – I had to split myself in many pieces to help with game instructions, sort out disputes and calm the losers.   And it was oh so noisy!   At the end of the first day I was wrung out and exhausted and had to brace myself for Day 2 which went way better now that they understood the rules!   I asked the kids how they’d enjoyed it. To my surprise the feedback was good.  They wanted to do it every day!  Well they can as each one received a gift pack of games and a large lollipop to take home.

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You go down the snake and up the ladder

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Carefully now – don’t let the others move

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Construction went down a treat

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Now remember which direction to move

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Girls are good at this

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Now let me think

 

 

 

4

Back in the Classroom – School Ready?

I have to confess that this week I have neglected to take photographs of the angels doing their thing.  It has been a crazy week of teaching and assessing, Speaker-Reader Round One and Athletics trials to interrupt the normal routine.   I am super proud to announce that one of my girls has been chosen to go the the Foundation Phase Final with her poem.  This will take place next week – more on that then.

In addition to the daytime chaos – organised chaos of course – my evenings have been pretty hectic too.   It is my own fault for having a life outside of school!  Isn’t it weird how everything always falls in the same week!  There was Book Club and Bird Club and a meeting at school on consecutive nights.   In spite of it all I still managed to get all my assessing done and my reports in to my Grade Head by 8:00 a.m. this morning!  No I did not do an all nighter  – I am an early riser and was determined to get them done before the obligatory trip to the mall!

Instead of writing about the angels today I have decided to tell you about the Wednesday evening meeting I attended at school.  At our school we are big on teaching in a brain-based way.   We believe strongly in gearing our day to suit the child.  We move frequently, we vary our activities, we consider the learning style of each individual child and make our classrooms as child friendly as possible.  Much of our movement activities are based on what we have learned from the speaker who spoke on Wednesday night.  She is highly qualified in her field and is listening to her is truly inspirational.

She reminded us of how early development is so essential to the school readiness of a child.  If they have not suckled correctly, rolled and crawled, their later development will be delayed. The good news is that it is correctable but ideally it should be done before entering Grade R.   All too many of our children still have developmental delays which is why they cannot sit still, listen attentively or hold a pencil correctly.

Of course we don’t always have the ideal so we have to help our children bridge that gap.   Parents can help in so many ways too.  Give your child plenty of opportunity to play outdoors.  Let them build their own obstacle courses, swing in a tyre, roll down hills, crawl through pipes or tunnels, climb on jungle gyms or trees.  Teach them to listen first time. Make sure there is routine in the home.  Have your child do things for herself even it it takes longer.  Can she do up her own buttons, put her toys away help with simple household chores?   Do you read to her every day?

If you have a baby or toddler, now is the time to get them school ready.  Do not make the hole in the feeding bottle too big – working hard to get the milk is essential for the development of the small muscles in the mouth and will ensure that the child is able to talk correctly later on.   Do not even think of purchasing a walking ring.  Rolling, creeping and crawling are essential.  Occupational Therapists have their work cut out to correct the damage that these contraptions cause.

A simple rule of thumb is to do things as naturally as possible.  Let your child develop the way nature intended and you will avoid problems later on.   Some delays are unavoidable due to premature birth, cesarean sections etc.  But there are things that you can do to make up the lag in development.

I am now looking at my girls with fresh eyes and I insist that our mind moves, movement songs and other physical activities are done properly.   Together we can make a huge difference to our girls.

3

Back in the Classroom – Expo Day, a Fabulous Project and Family Campout

Another busy week is over.  The girls are striding ahead with their Reading, Writing and Mathematics and surprising me with how quickly they are grasping new concepts.   We are working at developing good habits of mind and this week our focus was on thinking with clarity and Gathering Data through using all our senses.   Well after talking about what all this means the girls amazed me how they could get into these habits at their own level.  Listening to all the Speaker Reader recitals I was impressed how the little ones were able to speak out well and capture their audience’s interest.

Some of the girls are good at gathering information using their ears while others prefer a visual approach.  All the senses though help us to learn.  After giving just a verbal explanation of a task to the girls I found that only half of them understood what to do – the auditory learners – As soon as I repeated the instructions bringing in visual examples on the board and getting them to point to pictures on their worksheet there were no more problems!  Playing a game of blind man’s bluff taught the girls how their other senses were sharpened when they could not see.  They all decided that they did not want to do without any of their senses thank you!

As always there was a lot of excitement at school this week.  On Thursday we had an Expo Day.   The Grade Ones showed what learning in the 21st Century was like when they got stuck into their project – Me, From Birth till Now.  Their brief was to research the meaning of their names, ask their parents why they had chosen it, find out why they were special to their parents and collect photographs of themselves reaching their milestones.   Mom and Dad could type and print out their bits of pieces of information and send materials to school so that they could scrapbook it into an A3 project for display in the classroom.  Wow – did they just love this.  I was super impressed at the enthusiasm and effort that went into both the preparation and presentation of their work.  We had many visitors to the classroom and I hope they enjoyed the morning as much as we did.

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Do you know what this says?

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My parents think I’m great!

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Look at mine!

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A little help from the Room Mom

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I’m ready to start

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Careful thought going into the design

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Now let me think

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Help me read this please.

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I need some help

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I know just what I’m doing

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Do you like it so far?

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You can arrange it any way you like

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What do you think of this?

To end the week we had a camp out on the school sports field this weekend!   The weather looked a little threatening – the wind was blowing and dark clouds were gathering but the turnout was amazing.  What a vibe there was with music playing and the rugby showing on the big screen outside our tuck shop – Birdie Num Nums!  I was on duty early on Saturday morning. As I wandered around the field to chat to some of my little ones, it was clear that everyone had spent a very enjoyable night in spite of a bit of rain in the early hours of the morning.  It cleared into a beautiful day though, and everyone was rising sleepily, parents getting their caffeine fix while the youngsters bonded with their friends.

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One of mine with her big sister (also one of mine once upon a time)

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Dad was on duty this weekend!

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Another one of mine. (Dad was also on camp out duty!)

At 7:00 a.m. my duty began with  serving breakfast at Birdie Num Nums.  Wow – new respect for the catering staff – but what fun my colleagues and I had helping them.  There was such an amazing vibe with music playing and Mrs J shouting out the orders which we rushed to fill.  At first we were nervous about taking money and giving change – after all we only do Grade 1 Math – but when it got busy we had no choice but to help with that too!

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Should we change our careers? My colleague and I hard at work!

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Getting those hot chocolates and coffees to the expectant clients

All to soon it was over and the field was cleared by all but the hardened campers who did not want to leave.   One dad asked us to please make this a quarterly event as it was so much fun!  Well – we’ll think about that one!

2

Back in the Classroom – Group Teaching

Because this week ended today at 12:00 noon for a weekend of staff training, I am doing the BLOG early this week.   It has been a short week yet we have packed in so much.  We have reached the time of term when the girls are really settled and into the routine of school.  They are learning so quickly and I am enormously proud of them.  I know I say this every year but I am always amazed at the rate at which Grade Ones learn.   It is the most rewarding part of this job.

In the first few weeks our focus in on getting into good routines, learning to follow instructions, to work quietly at our tables and to consider others. Once this is established and the teacher has begun to know her learners she can begin with group teaching.   This has now started in my class although I am still teaching in small mixed-ability groups.  Later in the term I will group the children into ability groups and allow the girls to progress at their own pace.   Teaching in groups has so many advantages.  It allows the teacher to focus on individuals and to give more individual attention to learners who need it. I also allows her to extend the fast workers.

Working with concrete apparatus at this age is vital

Working with concrete apparatus at this age is vital

Can you see three with your eyes before you grab in in one go?

How do you change three into four?  Just one more!

We are so smart!

We are so smart!

While a group is busy working with the teacher on the mat the others have tasks to do on their own at their desks.  These tasks are well within their ability and the girls do not need help from the teacher. The girls have to be able to work independently and quietly and with just the odd reminder from me the cope very well indeed.

These girls are working on a THRASS activity while a group of learners is having a group Reading lesson.

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I am practising my known THRASS skills

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I am colouring the words that begin with the dog phoneme ‘d’ Aren’t I clever!

We do all kinds of activities to learn our phonemes and graphemes.   We have made the flying birds for ‘b’ a rabbit for ‘bb’ and yesterday we made a crown for our queen.  Don’t forget the queen, queen. Her majesty the queen, queen. Queen begins with ‘q’ queen. And of course she needs a crown!

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That is all  I have for this short week, folks. It was a long afternoon of staff training where we performed many fun tasks focussing on the Habits of Mind.  It’s all very exciting and promises to make us better prepared for teaching your children.

Parents we have already started listening to Speaker Reader presentations so if your child hasn’t anything prepared yet please make sure she has something by Monday.   Projects begin next week too.  Make sure your child has all her bits and pieces to compile her “Me from Birth to Now” poster.

Have an awesome Long Weekend!