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Message from Mrs McIntosh

‘Morning is an important time of day because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.’ 

Lemony Snicket. 

Welcome back and a Happy New Year to all our Junior Department families. I hope you had a peaceful and joyful time over the holidays. 

The children have come back raring to go and have settled back into their learning as if they had never been away. We are all excited about our new topics this term which I am sure you will hear more about as the weeks go by. 

It was a privilege to spend the day with Reception on their first ever school trip yesterday. We had such a wonderful day learning all about buildings and materials and the children were a credit to Beechwood and to you. Thank you to Mrs. Shillinglaw and the Reception team for planning and running this exciting learning opportunity.  

As we start a new year, I thought I would say a little about the importance of routines in our daily lives. There are many studies proving that routines help us all to get the most out of each day. The website ImmunifyMe gives five reasons why routines help our children:

  1. They create structure in their lives;
  2. They create good habits;
  3. They help them get used to new things in a safe way;
  4. They enable the children to be independent;
  5. They teach time management and self-discipline. 

They might not understand it till later, but children, like all adults, take comfort in this sense of structure. Even though they love their version of chaos and fun, children like it when certain activities are familiar to them and easy to do. If every day is too unpredictable, and the child keeps failing to complete tasks because of their unfamiliarity with them, they might grow up to suffer from confidence issues and low self-esteem, not to mention causing anxiety and stress. 

So why not set your intentions as a family for 2023 to include: 

  • Having a snack and a drink or tea when you get home and encourage your child to do their reading straight away; 
  • Getting your child to pack their school bag/book bag after tea so it is ready for the morning and putting it by the door. Even Reception children can learn to check that their reading book and school diary is in the bag;
  • Talking about which activities are going to be coming up the next day at the dinner table, including ASC and ASAs (what day is it tomorrow? Oh, you have swimming then. What do we need to get ready for swimming?) A visual timetable in the kitchen/playroom/bedroom is great too; 
  • A bedtime routine at the same time each evening (I recommend between 1830 and 1930 for children in the Junior Department);
  • Getting dressed and ready in school uniform before breakfast;  
  • Setting off for school 5 or 10 minutes earlier than needed to ensure a calmer start to the day.

Have a lovely weekend.

Mrs McIntosh

Head of Junior Department

This week in Reception

Marvellous materials and terrific tiles – Reception @ St. Albans’ Abbey

40 very excited Reception children (and eight nervous teachers…) boarded the coach for their very first school trip just after 0900 on Thursday and immediately declared “oh look there is a tray just like on an aeroplane!” quickly followed by “is it lunchtime yet?”

After a short journey, we arrived at the Abbey and were met by the experienced Education Officers. Having divided into three classes we set off to either go on a materials trail or headed upstairs to create a clay tile. During the trail the children were led around the cathedral (as it should be known) and they were encouraged to discover and describe the different materials they could see and feel. They used words to describe the materials as they touched them or looked at them from near and afar. Vocabulary such as strong, hard, cold, waterproof, smooth, fluffy and flexible were explored and explained. Perhaps one of the most interesting things the children found out was that the lime in the walls was mixed with horse hair to make it the right consistency and stickiness so it would set and not run!

Next, we moved to look at and listen to the organ in all its glory. In the choir stalls nearby the wood was intricately carved with flowers, leaves and animals which the children went on a hunt for and squealed with delight when they found the different elements.

Our final stop on our hunt was near the altar. Here the children began to look more closely at the ceiling and the tiles on the floor. They noticed that some were 3D whilst others were flat. To explore this further they took turns to use wax crayons to make rubbings of the textured tiles. Another first for many of them!

Finally, it was time for lunch, probably the highlight of the day for most, sandwiches and crisps are such a novelty for Beechwoodians! Meanwhile, the clay tile workshop allowed Reception to have a go at using some of the religious symbols that they had encountered on the trail and re-creating this on a square tile which they had rolled out themselves with much perseverance. Clay is pretty tough at first for little hands and arms. They used a range of tools to add details and markings to their design and these will dry at school over the weekend and then be painted in bright colours next week.

The coach journey home was quieter than the outbound one as weary 4- and 5-year-old heads began to nod. All in all, a very successful first outing. Well done, Reception!

Take a look at a few photos from the day below:

Reception's first trip - St Albans Cathedral

The Reception Team

This Week in Year 1

Year 1 have made a fantastic start to the Lent Term and have relished all challenges this week.

In Maths, our focus has been on Shape.  The children began the week by looking at 3-D shapes, as these are tangible shapes that they could touch and feel it helped them to understand their identifying features. They then had the opportunity to explore similarities and differences between shapes and sorted them according to what they noticed. Some were sorted into curved edges, others into flat edges or number of vertices. We couldn’t pass up the chance to use the 3D shapes to build some extremely creative models.

They also used lolly-pop sticks to make their own 2D shapes. To conclude their learning, they used both 2-D and 3-D shapes to complete and make simple patterns, focusing on different shapes, sizes and colours.

Year 1 Learning about 3D shapes

Have a lovely weekend!

Mr Outson

Year 1 Teacher

This Week in Year 2

This week Year 2 have immersed themselves in the world of money. In our contactless world, the teachers have been amazed by how well the children have handled the coins and notes and quickly developed an understanding of their values. The children were delighted to find out there was at least £1000 on each of their tables ( in pretend money of course!). Such is their confidence that next week they will be moving onto finding change and two step problem solving. We have encouraged the children to keep using money in everyday life. When visiting the shops with your child do ask them the price of items and which coins or notes they could use to buy them.

Keep up the good work Year 2!

Yr 2 immersing themselves in the world of money

Have a lovely weekend

The Year 2 Team

From the Junior Library

There’s a Beast in the Basement by Pamela Butchart

There’s a Beast in the Basement is Pamela Butchart’s latest instalment in her Baby Aliens mega series. This series is very popular for a simple reason; it combines bold illustrations, funny storylines and light text to create super engaging chapter books for newly confident readers. This series often provides the spark needed to embed a love of reading – even older readers return for the new releases as a quick fun read.  This latest edition continues to follow Izzy and her friends as they navigate the perils of an unusual school life – this time they’re looking for treasure in the basement but the ‘evidence’ suggests it might not be treasure and in fact it might be a ‘beast’!

The Library Team