Friday, 16 December 2016

With one and a half days remaining in the term, we've done all but one of the History Project presentations. So many children clearly put s lot of good work into the work, and they should be proud of what they've done and what they've learnt during the term.

We've done a lot of finishing up of things like science, watched both the EYFS and the Key Stage 1 concerts and took a trip to the local church. We did an art project based on symmetry in Maths and even managed to get one last extended writing in.

We now have Monday and part of Tuesday remaining. We're going to do a turnout of the classroom among other things, so be prepared to see things like PE kits and maybe all of those jumpers your child has not been taking home. For the weekend, get some rest amidst the last minute shopping and we will see the children on Monday.

Friday, 9 December 2016

We have one week and one point five days to go until Christmas break and it is obvious at this point that everyone has sugar plums dancing through their heads. We have quite a few things to finish up next week and I have some fun activities planned. No spoilers!

One of the big things to finish up, of course, is our Egyptians topic, and that means homework projects. I was happy to see many of you at the homework project display on Wednesday, where we got to see lots of amazing work about the Ancient Egyptians and their exotic and ancient artefacts. Over the course of this week and next week, the children will be giving their project presentations and showing off their hard work. So far we have seen Nick's, Max's, Oscar's, Izzy's and Harry's and they have all been of high quality with plenty of information and clever artefacts. I look forward to seeing the rest of them over the course of the week.

We are also finishing up our science topic on digestion and will be doing some work on the digestive organs next week for a wall display. It will be the first big research project the children will undertake, so we'll see how that works during Christmas season.

We will finish up our PE unit on dance and the children will show me what skills they have acquired during the course of the term.

In English, the children have worked hard to retell a story based on a video we watched together called the Dream Giver. Next week, they will be rewriting it with their own characters and dreams placed into the story. It will be their last extended writing of the term, and I am delighted to see how far so many of the children have come in their writing.

We are continuing to work on issues of friendship, honesty and sportsmanship as a class, and have been especially working on giving each other genuine compliments. These are skills every child needs reinforced throughout their childhood years. The Christmas season is a wonderful time to remind us all of the ideal of good will towards all people.

So, to finish up this penultimate blog of the Autumn Term (where does the time go?), we will be doing a mix of some hard work and fun activities to end the calendar year together. Have a good weekend, and try not to think about how many shopping days are left until Christmas.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Apologies that it has been a few weeks. As you are doubtless aware, the end of the year brings all sorts of new reasons to feel hectic. With the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching as well as the end of term, we are both gearing up and winding down at the same time, preparing to finish several things off whilst also looking to the Spring term approaching.

In English, the children have had a few challenges. We had anti-bullying week last week, and the national theme this year was "Power for Good" and the first thing it made me think of was the famous line from Spider-man comics, "With great power comes great responsibility." It was only a short logical jump from that to the idea of having the children create their own super heroes who would fight bullying. We had quite a few imaginative hero designs, including a hero with a magical moustache and one with special laser vision that could make a bully into a friend.

From there we designed comic strips of out hero fighting the bully, and used that as a template for writing dialogue using all the proper punctuation and formatting. The children were so proud of their comics that Ms Roberts (the head teacher) agreed to let them show them off in the assembly the next Monday.

After that we spent a week on two of the most famous people associated with Ancient Egypt: Howard Carter and King Tut. We spent a week exploring Tut's tomb and the story behind it, and at the end of the week the children wrote some brilliant diary entries as if they were the famous Egyptologist himself.

In Science, we spent a couple of days experimenting with egg shells and different liquids as part of our topic on Digestion. This was an experiment they had done last year, but this time we were more rigorous in our science and more thorough in our results. We also got to practise lab safety around unknown liquids by using tweezers to touch everything and wearing goggles to protect our eyes. In reality, the most volatile substance they had to deal with was orange juice, but it was good practice for future experiments.

Our History topic on Ancient Egypt is coming to an end, as you are all no doubt aware by helping your children put the finishing touches on their end of term projects. As a gentle reminder, they are due in on Monday (the fifth) and the children will be presenting their projects starting Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday they will be putting their projects on display for parents to see from 3:15 to 3:45. I can say that the projects I've had in already have been imaginative and well-made and I think the children have a lot to be proud of, so I encourage you all to come in and see what the class has produced.

I think that brings us up to date, for the most part. We have a two-week push to the end of the term!

Friday, 11 November 2016

It's Remembrance Day and we observed it with an extra-long assembly this morning where each class got to show off its work from the last two weeks. Class 4 had produced a large number of brilliant haikus and tankas, and it was very difficult to choose four speakers from the class of 29. Hopefully I'll be able to give everyone a chance to show off their skills in future assemblies, but in the meantime, almost everyone managed to produce at least one good, proper haiku on a Remembrance theme, so they should be proud.

We finally finished our two week unit on explanations (with a small interruption for Remembrance Day) by writing about the some of the theories about how the pyramids were built. I think that pyramid construction is especially good at capturing childhood imaginations, especially for boys, and I got some really good work from them as a result.

We delved into bar charts and fractions in maths this week. In science we are continuing our study of teeth and digestion, and we compared everyday foods for their sugar content to see how damaging they are to our teeth. The results were not what was predicted, which is always fun to find. In history we examined the Ancient Egyptian method of barter used instead of money.

Next week is Anti-Bullying Week, and we will have several writing and creative lessons built around being a good friend and recognising bullying as opposed to being rude or mean.

After that, we really only have a little more than three weeks left to the Autumn term. We will be collecting and presenting the long-term homework project at the start of week 12, just as a gentle reminder. I expect to be able to listen to and assess all of the homework projects in the last two weeks of term.

Friday, 4 November 2016

With half a term under our belts we are charging ahead full until Christmas. I've had the privilege of meeting most of you and having a chat about your student, and apologies again to those of you who caught me close to seven last night--my brain had stopped working.

We've spent a week looking at converting different units of measurement including metres, litres, grams, time and money. In English we had a look at Remembrance Day and wrote some amazing haikus for our Remembrance Day assembly next week.

We started looking at a new song to create a dance around in PE. Over the next six weeks or so we will be inventing and performing that dance. We also started a new topic in science--Digestion and Teeth--and will be looking at how we process foods and why nutrition is important.

We've started a unit on the Nativity Story in RE and are working as a class on what it takes to be a good friend. And in history we spent time looking at the Nile as a system of transport and built boats out of straw.

Now for a much-needed weekend as we head towards winter.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Apologies for forgetting the Class 4 blog last week. Certain events took me away from my desk on Friday afternoon and by the time I was finished it was time to go home and the blog passed out of my mind until about four o'clock on Sunday afternoon. So I now have two weeks to catch up on.

Last week we looked at black sports figures as part of Black History Month (which is in October over here). After doing some research on all sorts of sporting 'pioneers', we settled on studying Jackie Robinson, the first black man of the 20th Century to join a Major League baseball team. We discussed the idea of segregation in the American south and the idea of "separate but equal" that was entrenched in US law at the time. We researched how Robinson was treated by fans, other teams, and even his fellow players in the first few years. We then wrote a formal letter to Robinson asking him about how he managed to persevere and even help the Dodgers win several championships.

We carried the baseball theme over to art last week when Mrs Pearcy helped us cut out silhouettes of baseball players and painted them to look like they were moving.

The whole thing culminated in assemblies yesterday when they whole school got together and showed off the work they were doing. Class 4 re-enacted a famous scene where Robinson was helped during one moment when the fans were being especially abusive and a fellow player, Pee Wee Reese, came over and put his arms around Robinson, hushing the crowd. We read out one of our letters and showed off some of our art. The work that the school did will be compiled into a portfolio so that people can see the work that Sandridge produced.

We finished up our science topic on classification of living things over the last two weeks, the children becoming quite adept at making branching databases for finding similarities and differences between life forms. Then they did their own research on the different classes of animals and presented the information to the other students.

We explored mummification and pyramids in our Egypt topic, looking at the ways they changed over hundreds of years. We learned the proper procedure for creating a mummy and what a canopic jar is for, and then we looked at the history of their tombs, angled buildings called "mastabas" that became the pyramids we all know today.

We also finished up our work on the Haka dance and improvising moves to go along with it. We will switch to a new type of dancing after the half term that should allow us a bit more freedom to try out some interesting moves. With Mr Clark, they just finished of playing football, and the class really came together in the last game and started working well as teams! Here's to hoping that trend continues in all other endeavours.

So, we will meet up again after a much-needed week off. As a quick reminder, there will be no spelling words until we come back, but the kids can always practice their maths, and the week-long break may be a great time to catch up on the big project, which is due in five weeks!

Have a good half term break!

Friday, 7 October 2016

This is the first week when it has really felt like autumn outside. We can't say the same thing for the classroom!

This week the children delved into the up sides and down sides of Ramesses II's long and glorious reign in a cross-curricular unit overlapping with History. They were learning how to discuss both sides of an idea as part of the Discussion unit. They are learning how to form opinions and back them up with evidence--one of the first steps towards critical thinking skills.

We explored more pharaohs and their symbols this week in History, and the children gave themselves pharaoh names like "Foremost son of Ra, noble lord of the sky." This we translated into Egyptian, so the name would be "Hat Sa Ra Neb Pet," and this would be put into a cartouche.

In science we began to look at decision trees and how they can help us to distinguish amongst many types of life forms that might be very similar to each other. A decision tree only allows a 'yes' or 'no' answer, so it allows small differences in things to distinguish them. We also looked a little bit at Carl Linnaeus and his system of classifying life forms by giving them descriptive Latin names.

We worked on dancing at different levels in PE, refining our version of the Haka war dance to include steps near the ground, kneeling over and standing up straight. The children especially love to make intimidating faces and shouts.

Next week we will be looking at Black sports figures in English as part of Black History Month, so if you get a chance to tell your child, perhaps they can think about who they might like to research and bring it with them on Monday.

Also, just another reminder that each child should be getting a new list of ten spellings every Monday in their homework books. They have until Thursday to study for it, when they will have a test. If your child arrives home on a Monday without spellings, it is not because they weren't given any.

We will probably not give out any spelling works in the last two weeks before Christmas break due to the hectic nature of that time. Other than that, expect a new list of words every Monday.

See you all next week!

Friday, 30 September 2016

It is the end of September, which means Class 4 has been together for an entire month now. Where does the time go?

We've started a new unit in English on Discussions, which has led to an exploration of what a discussion is, especially the idea of taking a side of an argument. So we had a conversation about what an argument is (it's not a fight) and how a person would take a position on an argument. Then I had each child make an argument to the Intergalactic Council telling them why they would make the best superhero in the class.

We looked at different vertebrates and invertebrates in science, exploring the differences between different birds and how their feathers work, and then having a go at drawing some creepy-crawlies like worms and beetles.

This week was all about Ancient Egyptian creation myths and gods in History. We had a look at two competing myths from Upper and Lower Egypt and compared them. Then we looked at some of the most important Egyptian gods of the pantheon and why they were important.

We finished up our Esio Trot artwork for St Leonard's church (please drop by and have a look, but we only had room for some of the artwork in the display). We then started on blending colours together and looking at different types of shading.

Please remember that Spelling and times tables tests are every Thursday, and the children should practise every night. Also please remember to fill in the reading logs. Let's give the children credit for the reading they are doing.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Week three and it is officially autumn as of yesterday. It has helped a tiny bit with our sweltering room.

Our science and English merged this week when we used our knowledge of the natural world to write about the changing seasons and the different strategies plants and animals use to manage changes in weather. We then imagined ourselves shrunk down to the size of an ant and figured out what we would want to eat, where we would sleep, and how we would deal with encounters with mini-beasts like wood lice and worms. We even interviewed Miss Roberts (the TA), who spent much of her summer shrunk to the size of an ant, and we found out how she coped with it. We then used all of that knowledge and imagination to write a story about our adventures when we were ant-sized.

In PE we made up our own Haka moves with a partner, working especially on doing work in unison and action/reaction moves. They also went out to work with Mr Clark playing football, although we are behind because many of our class are having trouble following directions sometimes.

In art we are finishing some lovely tortoises for the harvest festival based on the Roald Dahl story 'Esio Trot'. The children are enjoying the story and making some good tortoise parts using paint and textures. We will put them together next week when everything is dry.

And finally, this week we explored how Ancient Egyptian people lived their lives, investigating the roles of women in that society, and looking at how the rich and poor live. We compared the Ancient Egyptians to the people of modern day Britain and saw that many things were probably quite similar.

Next week will be half way to half term already! Where does the time go?

Friday, 16 September 2016

Week 2 is over and we've plunged headfirst into the curriculum.

We spent the week looking at time in maths this week, both in reading the clock in terms of 'minutes past' and 'minutes to' the hour, and it translating that into digital time (e.g. 3:45). Whilst a lot of the children were pretty good with the digital time, saying it in words has proven harder for them. We spent the last two days working on word problems involving different measurements of time to round off the week.

In English, we're continuing with our unit on 'stories with a theme.' For the last two weeks the children have been using an exciting story about a young boy saving a girl from a kidnapper to explore using emotional language, telling stories in order, and most recently learning how to write a story at the most exciting place and then filling in the start of the story using 'flashbacks.'

In science we're looking at the scientific classification of living things, and we've spent time now on different types of plants and fungi. We're exploring the different ways that life forms work, how they produce seeds or spores, how and where they live. We've also been developing our 'scientist's eye,' learning to describe and draw what we actually see, rather than what we expect to see.

We've been exploring Ancient Egypt in our Topic work. Last week we looked at Egyptian artefacts and pictures of daily life and used the clues to tell us about Ancient Egyptian civilisation. This week we looked at timelines and why they are important and useful in keeping historical ideas sorted in our heads.

In PE we've been learning the Haka with Mr Thompson and football with Mr Clark.

In Art we celebrated Roald Dahl's 100th birthday by reading Esio Trot and working on some artwork related to tortoises and their special language.

So it was an eventful week, and the kids were real troupers during the very hot weather.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Week 1 - Welcome back!

Welcome all new Year 4 children to Mr Thompson's class! I am excited to begin a new academic year with a fresh set of faces. We have already spent a week together and I am getting to know all of the individual personalities.

A letter should have gone home on Friday giving details of the class schedule, but here they are again as another reference. We will have PE on Tuesdays and Thursdays: dance on Tuesdays with Mr Thompson and Football with Mr Clark on Thursdays. Please remember to have PE kits washed and ready to go for Tuesday afternoons. As it is especially hot right now, the kits may need to be washed more than once a week.

Spellings: The children will go over a list of words for a week, then be given that list the following Monday. They will then have a test on those words on the following Thursday, so they will have four days and three evenings to study their words. They will copy the words into their orange homework books and I will send a printed-out copy for the parents in case any words got transcribed wrong. They will be given opportunities to study during the daily routine, so make sure they have their homework books in school every day and at home every night. On Thursday I will collect the books to mark the tests and return them on the next Monday when they will get a new set of words. We may have a week or two near the end of the term when there are no spelling words because of the chaos that is the Christmas season, but otherwise expect words every week and expect to see the homework book every night.

Children who get more than three words wrong will be sent home with a note in their books to that effect so that they can take a make-up test the next week. It can be difficult to study for that many words in one week, so the best able you are to stay on top of it, the better.

Times Tables Practice: The children will also get tested every Thursday on the times tables they are currently working on. They will have three minutes to fill in a sheet of times tables problems and will be considered to have passed if they get most of them done in that time. They will keep testing on that group of times tables until they pass, then they will move on. The goal is to get all children in the class to have memorised all tables up to 12 and simple division of those same numbers. When they pass that point, they will be given a weekly maths puzzle to complete by Thursday.

On Monday I will have put the maths and spelling scores from the test into the homework books for parents to monitor. I may send other notes/concerns as well so that parents and teacher can remain in touch about the homework.

Project: At the end of December the big research project will be due. If you have not seen the details on the Class 4 letter please check your email or a printed copy can be provided to you.

Another potentially confusing thing is the door leading into the classroom. In the mornings, for various reasons, we will have that door closed and the children will need to enter around the other side of the building to enter the classroom. At the end of the day, however, I will open the class door and look for parents to dismiss the children.

We are learning about classification of living things in our science lessons for this half-term, and then we'll move on to digestion and teeth. We will spend a lot of time looking at living things whilst the weather is still cooperating.

Our history topic for this term is Ancient Egypt, which is always popular and captures children's imaginations.

One other quick note: This year we will do show-and-tell only about our topics or science subjects. We have a lot to do and can't spare a lot of time for show-and-tell, so if it is related to science or history right now, don't hesitate to bring it into class, but otherwise, please keep it at home.

I look forward to meeting all parents/guardians over the next few weeks. I have high ambitions for the upcoming year, so we are hitting the ground running.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Another term over already!

It's difficult to believe that Spring Term is already done and dusted. We spent the term looking at geography, studying the equator, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. We then focussed in on the European countries of Italy and Russia, and played the role of travel agent to convince the rest of the class to visit one or the other.

In English we spent the first part of the term reading performing and writing plays. Our last part of that topic was to write a short play about a familiar story and then perform it to the rest of the class. We have a good group of actors in our midst. After that, we spent a few weeks exploring story settings and how to write them effectively. We looked at fantastical settings from Harry Potter as well as calming, scary, dangerous and idyllic ones. After that we put on our best ad agent's cap and looked at persuasive writing, a unit we crossed over with Geography to help us research and compare/contrast two cities in Russia or Italy and persuade tourists to visit. Our last unit has been looking at narrative poetry, including a poem about the story in the famous willow patterned china plate and writing a nursery rhyme from another character's point of view.

We continued to learn new things in maths and reinforce what we already know. Among the new things we've learned in the last term: Roman numerals, 24 hour clock, and the symmetry of regular and irregular shapes.

In science we explored all sorts of ideas about the natural world. We looked at the human digestive system and how it works, and then explored what other animals eat. That led us on to food chains, habitats and finally how we classify so many types of plants, animals and other life forms. Along the way we did an investigation into what types of ordinary rubbish might be a good home for a mini-beast, and that took us outside into wilds of the school grounds.

We spent a term on gymnastics and tennis in PE this term, practising our hand-eye coordination and our balancing skills. The children came a long way in being able to, for instance, balance on one leg, dribble a tennis ball across the courtyard without losing control of it, and learning to climb ropes to the ceiling.

We are learning different types of programming in computer science and studying the colour wheel in art, among other things! The whole school took part in an exploration of Monet, the French Impressionist, and Class 4 had a go at one of his famous landscapes. The pictures were then framed and put on display in the Hall. I was very proud of my artistic class!

A few weeks ago we had a very busy week indeed! It was National Science Week, and we did our part by spending Monday and Tuesday on eight different science experiments that could be done in any normal kitchen. The children found out how a microwave works, made gooey candy and explored how static electricity affects puffy cereal. Perhaps most interesting was the experiment into what happens when you don't wash your hands. We put our fingers into a petri dish full of gelatine and waited several days to see what would happen.

The children boiled red cabbage to learn about bases and acids.


Experimenting with different types of soaps to find out which is better at killing germs.

All in all, it's been a busy term! Next term we'll be looking at the world through an Ancient Egyptian lens. It should be very exciting.