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.


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.


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



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!


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


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







Back in the Classroom – Grade Seven Market Day

The term is fast drawing to a close – just one full week to go and then three days of Awards Ceremonies and Breaking Up.   It is a time when the children begin to realise that their time in Grade One is coming to an end and they need to prepare themselves change yet again.  Therefore they are restless and a little emotional so the best thing to do is stick to routine as much as possible – not easy when there is so much out of the ordinary happening.

I am so proud of my girls, though, as they are still working very hard to that next level in Reading and to master their sums in the higher number ranges.   How far they have come since that first tentative step into “big school”

One of our big interruptions this week was the Grade Seven Market Day.   Everything was beautifully set up in the hall and the courtyard outside.   The girls could buy books of 10 tickets for R10 and then go and spend to their hearts content.  And what a lot there was to buy!  Our money lessons were put to practical use as they carefully counted their R1 vouchers and considered about how best to spend them.

I got my face painted

I got my face painted

A sugar high was the order of the day

A sugar high was the order of the day

The Grade Sevens were super attentive

The Grade Sevens were super attentive

We promise we won't be hyper!

We promise we won’t be hyper!



Look what we got!

Look what we got with money to spare!

I think I'll try this hat

I think I’ll try this hat

Everything looked so exciting

Everything looked so exciting

But in spite of regular interruptions for all things exciting we still had a good week of work and next week  we will be making booklets for our Grade 2 teachers.   They need to know how very smart we are!


Back in the Classroom Blasting into the Third Term

Dear Parents – After three weeks in the foreign land of The Kruger National Park I had just one day to readjust into Teacher Mode before returning to the teaching of my little geniuses.   In order to prevent the wonderful memories of the wild time rI had in The Park regressing to my forgetterie, I relived the experience through blogging and neglected to post in Back in the Classroom in the first week of term. I am therefore making that up to you with a mega blog today.

What a pleasure to be greeted by on the first day by 30 eager little faces and the warmest and most affectionate of hugs.  It was great to be back!

Welcome  Back sweet girls

Welcome Back sweet girls

We settled down to serious work very quickly and I was super impressed and relieved to see that my girls had not forgotten their reading words, how to write between line and were up and ready with their calculations to 10.   They wrote wonderful sentences about their holiday and I was delighted to find that one or two had been to game parks too.  Julia and I, though, had been to the best of them all – KNP!  I knew Julia was to be there for a few days with her family and I alerted them to look out for the cheetahs on the Open Road.  I was delighted that they spotted them too!

It wasn’t long before our hyper-active school had us on our toes with events and outings to keep us on our toes.  On Wednesday we visited the South African Naval Museum in Simonstown and what an adventure we had there.  Our guides were experienced SWANS and they taught us about the Navy then and now, what it was like to be on the Bridge of a Ship, what to do if the ship caught fire and all the functions of the Navy during wartime.  We went with our brother class and of course the boys were in their element.  However, the girls found it quite fascinating too. One of our girls discovered that being the Captain was not all fun – she had to get the crew to obey her instructions and she had to stay with the sinking ship till everyone else was safe!  I will let the photographs show how fascinated they all were.

Trying an oxygen mask for size

Trying an oxygen mask for size


Wow all this inside a ship

See that?

See that?


A torpedo - omigosh

A torpedo – omigosh

Old fashioned weapons  - used for ceremonial occasions only nowadays

Old fashioned weapons – used for ceremonial occasions only nowadays

On the bridge - we felt quite sea-sick

On the bridge – we felt quite sea-sick

Onto the lifeboats girls

The ship is sinking – into the lifeboats girls

She got the answer right and won a navy cap!

She got the answer right and won a sailor’s cap!

The navy divers waved to us while we snacked on their beach

The navy divers waved to us while we snacked on their beach

Next on our busy agenda was Creative Expo Day.  We have been learning about our community, its buildings and the people who help us.   So on Thursday we got busy with boxes of all shapes and sizes and designed and built our own town.  It was great fun using the boxes, brightly coloured paper, chalk and toys and putting our ideas together to make a wonderful creation.  We had many visitors come to see what we were doing and we hope they were sufficiently impressed to want to send their little ones to our fabulous school.



Box 9

Box 8











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!


Lots of colours to choose from


Careful design work here


My teacher loves my gorgeous giraffe


This is so much fun


Lovely work, Birthday Girl


I’m done with my Space Scene!


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


Very interesting fish!


Does this remind you of Nemo?


My fingers are working hard here!


How am I doing?


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!




Back in the Classroom – Reading with and to your child

What is the most important thing a child learns when she goes to school?   READING.   We can’t get very far in the world without being literate and no matter how far we progress digitally – reading will always be a skill we require.  The rate at which a child learns to read differs greatly and in a Grade One class it is possible to have children on six or seven different levels.  The challenge for the teacher is to keep them all interested and keen to read with enjoyment.

At school we concentrate on teaching reading skills – decoding, encoding, sight words, using contextual cues, phonic cues, picture cuest etc.  We use a graded Reading Scheme. Each level has one ‘Primer’  and three shorter supplementary readers with the same vocabulary plus a few new words thrown in.   We keep the children at a particular level until they know the vocabulary out of context before moving them on to the next level. In addition to the books in the Reading Scheme we allow them to take other children’s books home. These have been roughly graded to fit in with the scheme book level but of course they too will have unseen vocabulary in them.  Sometimes a long story can be very easy. Sometimes a short story can be quite challenging.   The thickness of the book doesn’t necessarily determine how difficult the words are to read.   The aim is simply to expose the children to the written word  and for them to enjoy books.

How did the pioneers of old teach their children to read?   They usually had only one book – The Holy Bible.   Quite a daunting book to use as a primer!   Yet they did.  How did they manage?  They read it to their children.  The stories became familiar.   Eventually the children started to recognise words as their parents read to them.  They read together until the child could read on her own.   So don’t be afraid to expose your child to a book that might be too difficult for her to read on her own. Share the reading with her.  Introduce her to different authors.   Talk about the cover, the title and the pictures.   Get her to anticipate what will happen next.  Discuss the message or moral of the story.   Ask questions like What does this story teach us?  How else could it have ended?   Which was your favourite part?   What did you like about the story? What didn’t you like about the story?  It will depend on your child how much you discuss the story. Keep it simple and fun.

Often a parent might say – My child is reading her book – but she doesn’t really know the words – she reads off by heart.   Don’t worry – this is part of the process.   Let your child read the same book as often as she wants to but insist that she points to the words as she reads.  Eventually those words will become so familiar that she will recognise them in other contexts.   Remember too that reading to your child is more important than your child reading to you.  You should be reading to her every single day. It should become a ritual – before bed is a good time – a wonderful way to get her settled for the night.   Sit with you child in such a way that she can see the words as your read.  Point to the words as you read and even allow her to read the easy ones if she wants to.   Getting her to guess what the last word in the sentence is, is also excellent.   Part of reading is inferring what the word could be.   I never correct a child is she reads a word that is different but means the same as the one in the sentences.  E.g. if she reads boy for lad – it’s okay – she has the sense of the sentence correct.

Some parents are worried that their children are reading books that are too easy or not challenging enough.  Your child might bring home a book that is very short or easy.  Remember that books sent home are to be enjoyed with your child.  Sometimes they might be easy – sometimes a bit more challenging.  If they’re too difficult let her read what she can and you read the difficult words with her.  Once again – point to the words as you read.  Discuss the story and help her anticipate what might happen next.   If it is too easy and she reads it effortlessly in five minutes and then doesn’t bring another one home for a few days – don’t hesitate to read from your own book shelves or from the library.  What is important is that your child is not only reading but being read to as well, the latter being the most important.

Here is a link to an earlier post regarding Reading to Children


Reading is not of course the only thing we learn at school.  Number work is also important.  We have been having fun with Mathematics and Money has been on our minds.   It is amazing how money helps to teach number concepts. In the good old days I used to bring real money into the classroom but there is little you can buy with coins these days and credit cards have taken over so I don’t usually have denominations of R100 and R200 lying around in my wallet!  But there is some very realistic pretend money which works just as well!  So we have been playing with that.  A good chart also helped and the girls were pretty good at pointing out the different coins and note.  Great fun was had making a ‘coin’ die although there was some frustration when some of the little fingers couldn’t quite manage to glue it together. Luckily the more adept ones were willing to help!

Coins are less than notes

What can we buy for R1,00?


Not even the tooth fairy brings 5c coins anymore!


R5 is a bit more valuable.


R50 in my birthday card would be okay!


A R200 note is the biggest amount – Just the right amount for a clever girl!


Two like this will be okay for this amazing lass.

Making the die cube

Making the die cube


I’m ready to cut it out.

Today we had our Grade One cake sale.  It was lovely to see that the girls were very aware of how much their money could buy!  They spent their coins wisely and came back to class on a phenomenal sugar high!  Who was the parent that sent those toffee apples!   I’m not sure how much we made – but everything went!   Thanks to the moms who baked, those who sent donations and the three fabulous ladies who did the selling!   You were awesome and I didn’t even have to miss my break!


My R10 can get me quite a bit

My R10 can get me quite a bit


Now what shall I buy


What lovely treats


I am going on a sugar high!


Yummy Toffee Apple

They were a hit!

They were a hit!






Back in the Classroom – Beach Outing

My post is a little late this week as my husband and I decided at the last minute to take off for the weekend. (There will be another blog post on that too, soon!)  Usually I blog when away but there was not internet connection at this particular venue

Children’s development is shaped through the experiences they have.  The five senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch are important to help in all their learning.  In the classroom and on outings teachers draw their attention to the five senses and encourage the children to use them to explore the world around them.  We had a wonderful time on Thursday when went with one of the boy classes to the Fish Hoek Beach – a perfect place to use all our senses.

The forecast was grim – rain and cold was predicted – but I put in a special order for the rain to be held off till later and my prayers were positively answered.  We had a spit and a spot at 8:15 but the hours on the beach were perfect and the rain only came down later in the afternoon!



Writing in the sand feels so good


Cloudy, still and warm enough to go for a swim


Building with wet sand


Building with dry sand


We found shells to decorate our designs


The sea was cold


Splashing in the cool sea is fun


We got wet


It was a still, calm day

Fun on the rocks

Fun on the rocks


Snack Time


Tasty Snacks and Cool Drinks


More fun in the sand


Look at my construction


Mud, glorious mud

Thank you all the parents who helped with lifts.   It was a delightful outing which I hope you all enjoyed as much as we did.


Back in the Classroom – Family Trees and Pyjama Party

It felt like coming back to a new term after a week’s break from school and then after two days we were off for Voting Day again!  From now on though we will be back to five day weeks and lots of uninterrupted school work.

We have been learning all about families this term and since returning to school on Monday I have been continuously nagged – “When are we going to do our project?”  The dry twigs and coke bottles filled with sand and pebbles arrived and cluttered the classroom for two days. Photographs of family members were ready and the little fingers couldn’t wait to start compiling and decorating their family trees!   Finally Thursday arrived. It was an expo day so visitors popped in during the morning to see what we were doing and there were many lovely compliments about what clever little Grade Ones we have at our school!

A lot of work and planning went into our family trees

A lot of work and planning went into our family trees

The older generation are our roots and are at the bottom of the tree

The older generation are our roots and are at the bottom of the tree

We are the young leaves at the top

We are the young leaves at the top

I wonder which side I should put Dad?

I wonder which side I should put Dad?

Placing on the photos is delicate work

Placing on the photos is delicate work

I have an elaborate family

I have an elaborate family


A forest of family trees grew in our classroom

Don't you love my leaves

Don’t you love my leaves

It was such a fun project

It was such a fun project


I need to get up to these high branches

On Friday there was more excitement.   Everybody came back to school for a fun evening while Mom and Dad had Date Night!   As they arrived I heard over and over again from the parents – She’s been ready to come since 3 this afternoon! Well of course – what fun to come to school at night and in your pyjamas too!   We all started in our own classrooms then had 20 minutes sessions with another teacher before returning to our  teachers at the end.   Each teacher did a different activity and it was all great fun.   There was much eating of popcorn, chips and sweets. Fizzy cooldrinks helped keep the kiddies awake and active although some were very sleepy when Mum and Dad collected them at 10 o’clock – way past their normal bed-time.

Even the teacher wore pyjamas

Even the teacher wore pyjamas

We have the same slippers!

We have the same slippers!

We brought our blankets

We brought our blankets

And our teddies

And our teddies


At one of our stations we got to make a Mothers’ Day Card

A Cup of Tea with a tea bag!

A Cup of filled with love for Mom

At one of our stations we got to make a Mother's Day Card

We took care to do our best for Mommy

Aren't they great!

Aren’t they great!

A Happy Mothers’ Day to all moms and grandmothers reading this blog.  May your lovely kids spoil you completely.







Back in the classroom – Speaker Reader and Grade 1 Assembly

How often do I begin a blog with, “Oh wow, another exciting week at school is over!” or words to that effect.  Yes – there is always something happening at SVPS.  There is no time to get into a rut although we do make sure we get into good habits! On Wednesday, four of our Grade Ones competed in the finals of our Foundation Phase Speaker Reader Competition.

The week before that, they all said a poem or told a story to their teachers who chose the most promising to perform before the rest of the Grade Ones and from there we chose four to compete against the best in Grade 2 and 3.   You have to have a special kind of confidence to stand up on a stage in a big hall and say your piece before so many children, teachers and parents.  Your voice needed to be loud too as no microphones were used.   Our little Grade Ones made us so proud but I was the proudest of all when one of my girls came in Second Place when she recited the poem about a castle that needed painting!

My little star saying he piece

My little star saying he piece

Receiving her Certificate

Receiving her Certificate

The Four Winners

The Four Winners

The standard was high and we were all wonderfully entertained by these talented young people.  But of course sitting still for so long gets us fidgety and so we had to have a break for a movement song.

The Robot Song

The Robot Song

Today the girls arrived at school in a high state of excitement.  They were all dressed in their clean white shirts ready to present their very first assembly!   Everything in Grade One is new and we have been learning routines and habits this was the theme of our presentation.  Congratulations girls, you made me proud. You recited your poem beautifully, moved wonderfully well to the Healthy Habits song and said your words loudly and clearly.  I know your moms and dads were thrilled to see you up on the stage this morning.


Our First Assembly for 2014 – Routine and Habits


Take Positive Risks

Our teacher are helping us this journey

Our teacher are helping us on this journey

Moving is important - The Healthy Habit Song

Moving is important – The Healthy Habit Song

Believe it or not Moms and Dads, in spite of all the practising for assembly we still managed to fit in a lot of work this week.  Our reading is improving by leaps and bounds, we are getting to grips with doubling and halving and having fun learning big numbers with dot to dot and other counting activities.

We are also playing hard on the sports field and some of us went to an athletics meeting in Kommetjie this week.   We have some very talented runners in our class!

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Remember our Foundation Phase Athletics Day on Tuesday.  The fun race requires mom or dad’s shoes!   We are having a hilarious head day – so I am looking forward to seeing some funky hairstyles and hats.




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.


Do you know what this says?


My parents think I’m great!


Look at mine!


A little help from the Room Mom


I’m ready to start


Careful thought going into the design


Now let me think


Help me read this please.


I need some help


I know just what I’m doing


Do you like it so far?


You can arrange it any way you like


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.


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


Dad was on duty this weekend!


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!


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


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!


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.


I am practising my known THRASS skills


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!



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!


Back in the Classroom – Our Senses, Animals, Butter and Valentine’s Day

Teachers travelling to the future from a bygone age may not recognise the schools they visit in the 21st Century – well our school certainly is one they might think was created from creatures from another planet!   It appears that no work is ever done – it’s just fun, fun, fun.  Songs and movement, dressing up, outings to exotic places – well I never – is this what the world of the future has come to –  I am sure they would wonder.

Yes – it is fun at our school but wow – do our children learn – and they don’t even know it!  On Thursday we went to Higgledy Piggledy Petting Farm at Imhoff’s Gift and used our senses to learn all about farm animals and also how to make butter.   What is butter?   asked one little girl.   mmmm – I guess some people only use margarine on their bread in these heart safe days!    The jury is still out on the truth of this one though. Personally I like to think a little bit of butter is better for Betty.

The girls smelled the stinky farm smells, listened to the cocks crow and other animal noises, touched the furry creatures and they were beside themselves with joy to be able to feed them first hand.  Even the pigs were adorable.

The goats got loose and I got a photograph!

The goats got loose and I got a photograph!


If we hold our food up high we won’t be stormed by hungry birds

I'm not too sure about this piggy

I’m not too sure about this piggy

The goat is back in his pen

The goat is safely back in his pen

Cuddling a furry creature is just the best

Cuddling a furry creature is just the best

We're trying to tempt the guinea pigs out of their safe place

We’re trying to tempt the guinea pigs out of their safe place

He is so soft

He is so soft

Love is holding a pet

Love is holding a pet

The bunnies were the best

The bunnies were the best

After washing our hands carefully we went on to make butter while brother class connected with the animals.  What a fun thing that was.  We learned that milk actually comes from a cow and that we could shake the cream from the top of the milk to change it into a solid that is called butter. And boy does it taste lovely and creamy on the biscuits our teacher gave us the next day.

Ready to learn about making butter!

Ready to learn about making butter!

Churn it up , Churn it down, Churn it all around

Churn it up , Churn it down, Churn it all around

And what do you get - creamy butter!

And what do you get – creamy butter!

This so amazing

This so amazing

It tasted delicious

It tasted delicious

We also learned how to milk a goat – yes we did – but it was not a real one!

It feels weird

It feels weird

Is this really where milk comes from?

Is this really where milk comes from?

What a crazy thing to do!

What a crazy thing to do!

I'm getting the hang of this

I’m getting the hang of this

What is my mother going to say!

What is my mother going to say!


We ate our homemade butter on biscuits on Valentine’s Day


mmm Creamy and delicious


Well – I’m not so sure about this


I think its okay


Yum Yum


Oh – yes – this is good!

On Friday there was more fun at school – we all dressed up in pink or red and white and celebrated Valentine’s Day.  I was so spoiled by my little girls who brought me flowers and chocolates – Thank you girls and parents – I felt very pampered.  Everybody looked amazing but we chose four specially lovely outfits and then the girls voted for a winner who was quite overcome with joy.  The others made her feel very special when she was presented with a heart-shaped eraser and a lollipop!

The princesses all dressed up

The princesses all dressed up

Aren't they gorgeous

Aren’t they gorgeous

Cuteness in pink red and white

Cuteness in pink red and white

But the kids weren’t the only ones dressing up – the teachers joined in the fun too.   We also decorated the teachers’ lounge and had some romantic music playing.   We were treated to a cupcake and a cutesy poem telling us how fab we are!

Don't you love the tie!

Don’t you love the tie!

Full of fun she is!

Full of fun she is!

Love you daaarling

Love you daaarling

The gorgeous girls

The gorgeous girls

Ladies in Red

Ladies in Red

Love you my friend!

Love you my friend!

Nothing like sharing Valentinés with a handsome young man!

We all love each other at SVPS

The girls were fascinated by the story of Valentine – ask them about it parents – I hope they remember it and can repeat it to you.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.   Happy Valentine’s Day!


Back in the Classroom – Awards Ceremony and Last Day of Term

Monday dawned and the count down to the end of term began.   I was to spend less than an hour with my girls before an intermediate phase colleague took over while I went to the hall to attend the Foundation Phase Awards Ceremony.   My angels would be called in at the appropriate time to receive their awards.   It is an emotional time.   As the children file up onto the stage the pre-recorded voices of their teachers plays over the system.  She/he tells of the years events and experiences and it can be quite tear jerking.   This year I had a sentence or two to say about each child in the class.  It is quite weird to hear your own voice as you present your learners with their pack of certificates.  We are all dressed in our best bib and tucker, exposed to the scrutiny of the entire Foundation Phase Parent Body!  Hopefully they like what the hear and see!

Presenting the awards to one of the angels

Presenting the awards to one of the angels

The proud angels

The proud angels

Here is a copy of my voice over.

My precious girls – can you remember that first exciting day of Big School?  Some of you came in with great confidence and enthusiasm – school was irresistible from the start.

A few were a little more suspecting – I could see in your little eyes that you were wondering what you were letting yourselves in for but you were going to give it a go.

One or two were just terrified and didn’t want to let go of Mom or Dad’s hand.   We even had a few tears and a couple of rather loud screams.   But look at you now.  All grown up and ready for Grade 2.

What a diverse class of characters you have been.  You have all crept into my heart and it is with great difficulty that I am letting you go to your Grade 2 teacher.

Zayaan my quietly confident angel, who presents such beautiful work. You go girl

Kendra who seems to be dreaming but always has the right answer. I will miss you.

Sienna full of impatient curiosity making sure I don’t forget anything.  What will I do without you.

Meaka your indomitable spirit is an inspiration to me.  I am proud of you.

Rachel I will miss you bouncing into the classroom and keeping me on my toes.

Martha my precious, gentle girl who has worked so very hard, you are irresistible,

Iris my articulate and creative girl I will miss those beautifully intricate drawings of yours.

Pippa your sparkle and determination to succeed is awesome.

Delightful Lia articulate in two languages, you make me proud.

Gabriella my Nature Girl – we are kindred spirits.

Phillipa your determination and perseverance have helped you overcome so much – well done my girl.

Maya breezing in daily with your incredible ideas –  you amaze me.

Hayley, fit and fast and full of potential I will miss you.

Leah with your infectious laugh and zest for fun – you always make me smile.

Caroline, my deep thinking, philanthropic girl, thank you for being a kind friend to the others girls.

Gentle Kiana as good as gold, you have worked so beautifully;  go well my girl.

Beautiful Terima, so thoughtful and creative, with your own special approach to life, you have delighted me.

Feisty Kayla – you  may be small but you have a mighty spirit and I am so proud of the strides you have made in your personal growth this year.

Gentle Jade with the sparkling eyes, your calmness inspires sanity in me.

Fedeilis, you are a special girl.  Your determination to succeed has made me proud.

Dynamic Desire – you have a strong character which will take you far – I am super proud of you.

Charley – everybody’s friend – hardly a day went by without you greeting me with a four. You are truly inspirational.

Gentle Jocelyn you have crept right out of your shell and I will miss those special moments with you.

Tarryn my special girl – Thank you for helping me teach the girls their Afrikaans gediggies – you are a treasure.

Madison my clever girl, I will miss your beautiful work, your quiet smile and gentle spirit.  You make me proud.

Isabella – wow – so full of energy and lightening on the race track –  but controlled and determined in the classroom – you’you’ve come so far my girl.

Gina your batteries are constantly charged, you are full of good ideas and you have are always ready for action.  Keep it up my angel.

Morgan you do not miss a beat and if I do, I have to contend with that awesome stare – You are a loyal friend and determined worker.  Keep it up my girl.

Dynamite comes in small packages, Gemma your energy is infectious, you have all the answers and I would not even try to keep you down.  I am super proud of you.

And last but by no means least – Precious Emma – you are tiny and still but full of inner strength.  What strides you have made this year.  You blasted off slowly but have raced to the target.  Well done beautiful girl.

And so you have come to the end of your very first year in Big School. You have bonded and blended in.  You have added your mark to the SVPS family and I know you will continue to find school irresistible.

Remember you are fabulous.    Girl Power to you all.

The girls had a day off on Tuesday when the Intermediate Phase has their awards ceremony and the Foundation Phase teachers took care of the older children – Quite a different experience. I had Grade  4 and they were great, if a little impatient to get up on that stage.   They were the last to be called and were super excited when they came out and then it was time to go home.

On Tuesday evening we had our Grade 7 valedictory.   How beautiful all our young leaders looked as they were allowed to come in smart clothes instead of uniform.  It was an emotionally charged ceremony as we watched a pre-recorded interview with a past pupil who had risen up from dire circumstances, come to our school from a war torn African country, worked hard and excelled and finally emigrated to the USA with his adopted family and is now highly successful in the Military.   His message was heart-warming and inspiring.

On Wednesday it was the last day and the final farewell to our classes.  My girls are all going up to the same Grade 2 teacher and they are thrilled about that.  Once again the teacher was spoilt when the girls presented her with the most charming end of year gifts.  But what touched me the most were the messages both from the girls and the parents.   Those little accolades of appreciation mean so much.  Parents it has been a privilege and pleasure teaching your girls.  Thank you for your support throughout the year.


Cup cakes for the picnic


Just love this message


They know I like pretty things!


To pamper and spoil


Thanks Gina for the party packs!


And for spoiling the teacher


My girls really know what I like!


mmm Chocolate is an essential food group for teachers

Our final excitement was a teddy bear’s picnic.  I brought paddington bear to school and showed them the story on Youtube.  We played the music of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic and we feasted, danced and shared stories about our own bears.


A bear as big as me


I love my bears


An armful to cuddle


There was long story to this one


See them gaily gad about


As the picnic on their holiday


Room assistant Carol brough her bear too!


Mine hangs out with me


Birthday girl enjoys two bears


They’re my friends


Enjoying a story with our cuddly friends


So many bears so much fun




Bush Baby


I couldn’t leave one behind


I had to choose just one

And when the sugar high kicked in the parents arrived to collect the girls.  Not my favourite day of the year – but we must all move on.  I shall miss you my precious girls. Go well in Grade 2.

Thanks to my wonderful Grade 1 colleagues for a fabulous year.  You all keep me inspired – I love you guys!

My Fabulous Colleagues Bridgette, Lisa, Monique and Me

My Fabulous Colleagues Bridgette, Lisa, Monique and Me