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The Polar Express

Mini Agents have been working on a Polar Bear that will take residence in one of our huts, hopefully just in time for the snow!  It is a recycled bear made from used plastic bags which have been knotted and glued to a wire mesh


Mini Agent Club

This year I have continued to run a Mini Agent Club. Our focus is to help develop our outside learning environment. We have recently purchased a trim trail, several huts and a huge pirate ship.  The children have been tasked with creating areas for each of the huts. The first one has been turned into a weaving hut.

We have been fortunate enough to have a resident artist working with us every week. Rebecca has a year with us before leaving these shores and taking up residency in Buenos Aires for 6 months.

The children have used ribbon, netting and bells to create wind chimes that will sway with the changing weather enabling the bells to chime.

Time To Have a Go

This session at the totem pole allowed us to have a real hands on session.  Mary and Barbara cleverly set up their inspiring setting with clearly identified areas that children can relate to, such as, My World, Grandma’s Kitchen, Art Attack, Construction Site and others.  We began with the planning session where we chose an area we would like to explore and then began our learning session.  For me I created a world using carefully selected resources by Mary and Barbara and then started to move to other areas as I was inqusitive to see what others were doing, much like a child.  Everyone engaged in the process and learnt so much which will influence their practise back in the classroom.

Lucy and Claire engaged in creating their own master piece. The outcome is not only Claire’s thought process and concentration but Mary’s carefully selected materials which are organised and displayed in a way that stimulates and encourages a child’s imagination and selection process.

Karen settled well into the story cave and created a knitters paradise!! She also engaged in meaningful discussion with all members of the team through her comfort blanket.

These learning areas covered all aspects of the foundation stage curriculum and we used a tool to discuss how this was done through careful planning, presenting and selection of materials.

Back in the classroom I was inspired to have a go and turned Lucy’s story cave into The 3 Little Pigs.

From this session it is clear that resourcing an early years setting is crucial to a child’s development and learning.  The teacher must engage throughout with meaningful dialogue and support guide or just respond to a child’s learning during this time.

Claire and Lucy have been inspired to now look at their outside area and have devised a plan and a wish list to begin to create areas similar to the ones that we explored today.

Awe and Wonder

The start of term has been incredibly exciting for our reception children. They all have story caves in their classrooms and are using them to a create puppet theatre, little red riding hood’s forest or as cosy areas for reading. 

We have had visits from all of our artists and a training session at the totem pole.

Rosie had a magnificant time exploring light and shadow with her pupils, they created an area using sheets, then used torches to manipulate movement and create shadows.  I was particularly captured by how the children were at ease with the equipment and how they were able to move with control and understanding of how to make shadows larger and smaller. This is definitely an impact of a long term relationship with Rosie and the pupils rather than a one off activity.

Ian spent the day with children teaching them how to use tools and wood to create their own master pieces.  He encouraged the children to take ownership of their planning and creating and worked together in a team and shared ideas and vision for their own pieces.

Gizella “The creative woman” as a child has named her imagined a winter wonderland set in the reception playground for the children to explore and enjoy. The outcome is stunning and the children are able to explore and design using their own tools and material.  Claire and Gizella have developed and encouraged  the children’s interests through careful observations and interaction.

A day at the TOTEM POLE completed our month of January, again Margaret and Mary were able to inspire us through parts of the high scope approach and develop our knowledge of the plan, do and review process.

Our learning environments

Another great day at THE TOTEM POLE in December!!  We all braved the snow and embarked on an interesting workshop where we researched environments in our own life and in school.  We discussed the senses and the impact they have on our learning, comfort and motivation. We explored artefacts that were bland and plastic, then compared them to unusual objects that stimulate and inspire.

Back at school our story caves were delivered and our day at the totem pole was having an impact in the classroom.  Claire Scott has created a wonderful cafe for the children with real objects to use and items to pretend cook.  She has included several writing materials to encourage independant writing in her rolepaly area.  She has also created a building construction area for the children to use.  She commented on how the boys in particular were using the notepads and pencils to write lists whilst in roleplay.


Karen Burton has decided to redesign her whole classroom to make way for her story cave.  She has recreated a resturant in the centre of her room to make it a focal point on entry to the classroom to encourage the children to role play in the area.

Lucy Cawthorne is about to welcome Ian etheridge as her creative practitioner.  He is currenlty working in St Mary’s in Grantham so has attended all the TOTEM POLE training and is keen to be on board.

Christmas baubles

As christmas draws nearer it was wounderful to watch the children explore the magical area they had created with Rosie. The children spent all day creating the scene to explore in the afternoon. Equipt with a torch, we entered the dark cloakroom which had been transformed by the children into an aladdins cave!! Together we explored shadow, sparkles, manipulation of light and dark and touched and felt the baubles hanging from the decorative ceiling. The children in the classroom were filled with excitement and anticipation waiting for their turn, while inside the explorers were filled with awe and wonder. It provoked my thinking into transforming the outside areas during the next two terms to enable the children to explore and develop thier imagination using outside space.


   Baubles that shimmer and sparkle with light

Creating exciting areas

Today Gizella is working in reception with our children, they are developing areas for their outside spaces.  This has been inspred by our trip to the woods, the children have used texiles, materials, paint and junk model to create these places.  As part of active learning they will develop these spaces using their own ideas and enthusiam. 

Claire Scott the class teacher talked about how the children were really excited by the presentation Gizella gave them, they were discussing what they could make and how.  They chose their own equipment and material and got stuck in.  Active learning at it’s best.

A reception child enjoying getting her hands dirty!!

Children working collaboratively.

A group piece of ART!

I am interested in how the children will use them during their free and play time.

Read Gizella and Rosen class blogs for further information.

Addresses found in the bigger picture page.

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