The opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of my employer or anyone else and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. They are simply "my thoughts".

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Creative Choices

This term the children have been choosing an activity to get involved in every Monday afternoon. Now that we are reaching the end of phase 1 of this project it's great to see how each group has developed as the weeks have gone by.
The weaving group has learned how to weave with a variety of materials; pipe cleaners, straws, card, wool and plastic.
The group has made great progress with their weaving skills and it has been very interesting to observe their efforts as the age range goes from 4yrs to 11yrs. The children love when they get a chance to be in a mixed age group and the teachers find that it brings out the best in everybody; children help each other, talk to kids they maybe haven't spoken to before, and have fun together without feeling that they have to look cool in front of their mates.
At Kilmartin, we all love to use recycled materials in our creative ventures as much as possible and so for the final 2 weaving sessions the children are using strips of cut up plastic carrier bags to decorate our horrible, ugly security fence.
The children loved this activity and even though it was a freezing cold and wet day, they persevered. Now they are proud of their coloured weaving fence and have a new activity that they can do at playtime. The children also realised that there are other ugly fences around the school and can't wait to get weaving on those as well!

Forest Schools

At Kilmartin P.S. the children are incredibly fortunate living in such a beautiful rural setting. We try to make sure that we make the very best use of out surroundings and regularly take the children outside to experience their environment.

We are also very fortunate to a have a trained Forest School leader on the staff. The children only have to walk a short way along a country road to get to a small forest where they have the most wonderful time exploring and being creative with nature.

No matter the time of year, they go out to explore and the children always find something interesting to do! Jumping up high to catch leaves is great fun when you are 3.

Before Hallowe'en the kids went along to the wood and made besoms out of twigs!

There's always something interesting to find, observe and find out about.
At other times, we bring the outdoors indoors. Here the children are creating a bug habitat in compost. Great for little fingers!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Creative Choices: A Tiny Video

Just trying to see if I can put some little video clips on the blog! This is the Fitness group in action during Monday's Creative Choices project.

Renewable Energy Interdisciplinary Study

This term the older kids have been involved in an interdisciplinary project about renewable energy. We were lucky enough to have AliEnergy come into school to run a workshop for the children and give then some hands-on, active learning experiences with a variety of renewable energy sources. 

At our school we think that it is very important to invite other adults who have a particular specialism to come in and work with the children. We also think that it is vital that it is not just the younger children who get opportunities to have an active and creative learning experience.

It is vital that children, because they are still children, get opportunities to be challenged through a problem solving approach. It is my experience that when children are given proper equipment and allowed to experiment, they will be fully involved in their learning, ask more questions and retain/apply their learning  more effectively.
Get rid of those worksheets and textbooks, get away from that computer screen and go outside and have some real learning fun!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Creating a Sound Wall .... or Percussion Fence?

This week the early years children have started to create their sound wall. I think they want to call it a percussion fence... so that's OK!! They have sorted through all of the school's percussion instruments and saved all the broken bits and bobs. 

Mostly they found triangles and bits of xylophones. They tied these (they had to learn how to do knots!) to a bare metal fence in the playground that surrounds the area they call 'the bouncy tarmac.' One part of the fence is for tingling sounds. They discovered that the metal fence enhances the sound and this got them very excited! The other part of the fence is for banging sounds. Already they have drum kits rescued from the garden department at Homebase that was giving them away free and a metal shelf out of the staffroom fence. 

The children have now been challenged to think up and bring in more materials to fill up the fence. It will be exciting to see how this project develops.

Creative Choices: Implementing A Curriculum for Excellence

                      The fitness group got to grips with circuit training.

Monday brought the beginning of an exciting new project at school which we have called 'Creative Choices.' It is hoped that this project will encourage the children to have a say in their own learning whilst also encouraging creativity. 

                 The cookery group made cupcakes in the school kitchen.

As a school we are trying to create opportunities for other adults in our community to come in and share their skills with the children. Creative Choices is one way that allows us to do this.

The project will last for 6 weeks, running every Monday afternoon. The children were given the choice of 4 different groups that they could join; eco, craft, fitness and cooking.

The craft group are going to concentrate on learning to weave. This week the wove with pipe-cleaners and plastic straws.

 It's hoped that eventually the children will be able to suggest the groups and we will be able to find the experts to come into school to deliver a suitable programme. 

The eco group took charge of planting daffodil bulbs in the planters at the entrance to the school.

Feeback from the first session has been very positive. The children were very motivated by being able to choose their activity and also enjoyed working in mixed age groups across the school. 

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Being Creative with Positive Behaviour

I want to share some great ideas from around the school for Positive Behaviour Charts. Although the charts are all different, the common factor that they have is that the children were all very involved in their construction and the rules that go with them. Some children need more help with motivation and keeping on the straight and narrow than others but all children love to get positive feedback for doing well in class.

I love this chart. The teacher designed it for her class of 7-9 year olds. I think its simplicity really appeals to me. The idea is so easy; each child has a clothes peg with their name written on it. Each morning the pegs are clipped onto the 'Start' section of the chart. As the day progresses their peg can move up...or down. This is so easy for the teacher to do, after all, who has time in a busy class to fiddle around with a complicated system!
The class made up their own vision statement at the beginning of term.

They children also made up their own classroom rules.
To help the children understand these rules, their teacher made a display of photographs showing them what good practice looks like and what wrong practice would look like. This helps children who need visual explanations.
These pictures show what a group should look like when they are ready to listen to the teacher.
She also made a display to help the children understand the various noise levels asked for in class at different times and for different activities.
These photos show the children how they are supposed to line up to leave class.

The two different stages within the class also collect class points and keep track of them in their sweetie jars. This gives a little competition and provides some peer pressure.

In the older class, the children designed and made their own class points chart. The chart shows a journey around our local area.
A highland cow has to progress around the chart. The children gain class points for working on tasks, being polite and remembering to bring in their homework on specific days. Of course they can also lose points and it is very important that the teacher does take points off, no matter how bad he/she feels, otherwise the children won't value the chart at all and it therefore becomes redundant in class.
The children in the older class also made up their own class rules.
They also have a chart for individual behaviour / effort. 
If an individual child reaches the gold level by a Friday afternoon they receive a reward that has been previously decided by the class. This could be a certificate, a sticker, a note home, a small item from the prize bag or 10 minutes of golden time.

So that's some of the positive reinforcement that goes on around school. There are some other great ideas. In one class children can choose a token from a special box. The teacher has prepared these tokens with a wide range of small rewards offered. This allows the child to choose the reward that suits them.

Another class uses raffle tickets to reward good behaviour. These are given out during the week and posted into the raffle box. The more tickets you earn, the greater your chance of winning at the end of the week.

Another idea that works very well with younger children is 'Marbles in a Jar'. The children love to hear the clink of the marble on the glass. After a given time, the group with the most marbles in their jar get the reward that they decided on earlier.

Some rewards that the children have thought up are:

1. Being allowed to read a story to the children in nursery
2. Having a 'no uniform' day
3. Having a film on the ISB at lunchtime
4. Having a baking activity in class
5. Having 10 mins extra playtime
6. Making kites
7. Bringing a toy to school
8. Wearing your slippers to school

We encourage the children to be creative with their ideas. Creativity = fun!!

Hope I've inspired you!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Mark Rothko: The Finished Project

Today the children in my class finished their Mark Rothko inspired pictures. 

Last week they used paint and thought about colour to create an emotion. Today they used oil pastels and chalk to add texture and continued to think about the effect of colour.
I think the end results are brilliant. The kids were all delighted with their efforts and also enjoyed looking at each other's work. 
It was brilliant that everybody felt successful and now they want to know which artist we are going to learn about next. YAHOOO!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mark Rothko Paintings

In my attempt to introduce the children to a range of artists to show that there are endless ways to be creative I have now showed them the paintings of Mark Rothko.

As we were looking at the paintings on the Smartboard one child said, 'I don't understand what's good about these paintings.' EXCELLENT!

I love the honesty of children. Slowly others in the class started to agree. They could all understand the fun of Jackson Pollock but Rothko's work is much more challenging.

Coloured rectangles? What's that all about? We then talked about how colour and mood are related and how by using rectangles Rothko takes away any chance of us relating to any literal representation and forces the observer to respond to the colours.

Of course there is more to Rothko's work than this but children need ideas in a nugget. Enough to just give them a hook to make them take a second glance and not to dismiss what they don't understand totally out of hand.

The children then chose an emotion and made their own Rothko paintings. They greatly enjoyed the feel of applying thick layers of paint and had fun choosing colours. Nobody said, 'But I can't paint!' SUCCESS!!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Vegetable Sale

Today the children in nursery held their vegetable sale.

All of the produce from the school garden was displayed beautifully in the hall.

 Lots of parents came along and brought their own garden produce to sell as well.

 Home made raspberry jam was very popular.

 Some people made scones and cakes.

 As well as all of the vegetables grown at school there was plums, tomatoes, courgettes, chanterelle mushrooms, brambles, cabbages, more potatoes and parsley.

Altogether the sale raised over £200 for the Pakistan disaster fund.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Vegetable Harvest

Today the children in our nursery pulled and dug up all of the vegetables that have been growing in the school garden.

 Each class planted a wide range of veg back in May/June in their own square raised bed. 

This was a new venture for us and most certainly there are no gardening experts in the staff, although some maybe a bit better than others!!

Some classes planted small plants while others planted everything from seed. The vegetable we grew are:
potatoes, broccoli, celery, leaks, spring onions, radishes, mixed salad leaves, broad beans and carrots.

Today our early years teacher made a huge pot of soup with the vegetables. The children helped with the chopping and grating. The children were all very keen to try the soup in the afternoon.

Tomorrow the nursery children are having a vegetable sale.

 They are  going to make up £5 vegetable boxes and sell them to parents and friends.

 All of the proceeds from the sale are going to the Pakistan disaster appeal.