Friday, 15 December 2017

Ancient Egyptians at the Fitzwilliam Museum

We had a successful trip to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge this week. It helped round the term off nicely and the class really did the school proud with the way they behaved and approached their learning.

We saw some amazing artefacts and plenty of mummified remains to get excited about. The class can tell you the different animals that were preserved in bandages and on display.

Here a few photos to give you a flavour of the time we spent in the Ancient Egyptian galleries.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Science Week

We have had a week full of science investigations and exploration. The week kicked off with an exciting assembly led by Mrs. Hardie who performed a range of 'wow!' experiments at the front of the hall. Year 4 have carried out some tree classification, an egg experiment and then a materials investigation to find which one made the best tea bag. We are finishing the week by making rockets.

Thank you to all the children who had a go at the science activities at home.

Friday, 6 October 2017

W/C October 2nd 2017

Our learning in Year 4 continues apace this term. We have had a particularly interesting week, with French day on Monday (where the children mixed with different year groups to carry out a range of fun French activities) and preparation for the Church Flower Festival. We used our knowledge of Greek myths to tell a journey/ quest story which we illustrated using Aboriginal dot paintings which consisted of symbols chosen to represent the different parts of the tale.

Friday, 14 July 2017

This will be my last blog post for Year 4 and Sandridge School. As you all know by now, I will be moving on to another school in September. I have really enjoyed this school and the people in it, and it is going to be difficult for me to say goodbye. I hope to see people around, however, and be able to say hi.

Next week your children will be bringing lots of things home with them. They will be sending you their books from Year 3 that we have been keeping safe in the Year 4 cupboard. They will also be cleaning out their trays and lockers and bringing home their PE kits. I certainly hope there are no swimming kits left in here, but if so we will find them and send them home (assuming they aren't able to get up and run off under their own power).

They will also need to bring in all of the school property that they have at home, namely their library books. These MUST be in by Monday. We will be taking inventory on Monday and assessing replacement costs for lost books.

We've been doing a lot of end of year assessments in class this week. The children have been taking practise SATs tests for the last few weeks and we have been going over the responses together. It has been useful for them to get used to taking the types of tests that governments and higher institutions give out regularly, and to give them a taste of life in Year 6.

We have also done assessing in the major areas of maths that we've covered this year. We did an assessment test in place value, fractions and multiplication/division. Next week we will finish with geometry, statistics and addition/subtraction. These assessments will go to Miss Pratchett to help her plan for next year.

We are finishing up our topic on the Romans, our Science on habitats and food chains, and our RE on Hindu stories and moral lessons. We have an end-of-year party planned for our half-day on Friday, so if anyone has any U rated DVD films to loan for the day, it would be much obliged.

I hope to see you all during the next week to say goodbye and to celebrate the successful end of another school year.

Best wishes to all,

Mr Thompson

Friday, 30 June 2017

Of course, the big and most tragic news this week is that Years 3 and 4 have lost their swimming lesson privileges. Despite the work that has been done to encourage good and productive behaviour, there are still too many children in both years who seem to think of outings as an excuse to play around and be disruptive and rude. Most of them could not even line up in a straight line. There were a very small number of well-behaved, attentive children, but too few to warrant another trip on a coach to a public facility. There was only one lesson remaining anyway, but it was a fun lesson that would have involved a lot of play and floats, so it is a shame that those years have not been able to prove themselves.

On a more positive note regarding behaviour, I think that many of the children are beginning to mature and improve. In class, many of them are learning to ignore distractions and take greater pride in their work. I hope this positive step continues next year with their new teacher.

But there are still three weeks left as Class 4, and we still have plenty of work to do.

This week the children really got into the idea of telling and solving riddles. We worked this week on creating effective riddles around animals, figuring out which aspects of a given animal were easier to guess and which were harder. We then worked on putting the harder clues first and the easier ones at the end. And then we figured out how to talk about body parts without actually naming them. So "eyes" might be described as "orbs" or "emerald pools." The children were encouraged to use similes (the lion is like a big brown toilet brush) and metaphors (the cheetah is a streak of fire across the savannah). Next week we will finish up the unit on riddles and hopefully every child will have a few riddles of their own to show off to friends and family.

We've done problem solving in class all week, and flexing our mental muscles that work systematically. We've had a few different maths challenges with more than one right answer, and the challenge has been to fight most or all of them. Most of the children have risen to the challenge and figured out how to work it out.

With all of the music assemblies and Sports Day (where I got to see and talk to many of you), we didn't manage to spend enough time on science, history or RE this week, so we will make up for that next week.

As mentioned in the last blog, we have finished with new spelling words and we will now be testing the children on their long-term memory and usage of the words they have already had. As this is a test of spelling retention, it is not something that needs to be studied. The children will have tests on those words over the next few weeks, but they are nothing to worry about as they are being given so that we can see how much emphasis will need to be spent on those words in the coming school year.

Finally, I have spent the last few weekends writing up the end-of-year reports on each child. They are currently being reviewed and commented upon by the Head Teacher, and will be ready to go out to you soon.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, 23 June 2017

I was impressed by the children in many ways this week. First of all, they did brilliantly well making bar charts and coming up with good questions for each other based on them. Today they did a wonderful problem solving lesson that will prepare them for algebra. Second of all, they have really taken to our new English Topic on riddles. We read the famous scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo and Gollum have a riddle contest, and the children did very well guessing the answers to the riddles before the characters did. It also gave me a chance to practise my Gollum impression. Since Monday I've had several children come up to me with riddles they've looked up or riddles they've made up. Some of them are very clever.

We spent some time discussing Boudicca's rebellion and her sad fate in History this week, and looking at how she has been portrayed in art over the centuries. The children then had a go at what she looks like themselves. Many of them even drew her on a noble steed.

We tried to beat the heat as we learned a few times this week, going outside to search for micro-habitats on the school grounds. Today we spent a much cooler afternoon catching mini-beasts to draw pictures of.

We have been listening to Hindu stories in RE, and learning about all of the gods of Hinduism. We are exploring the moral tales of different religions, and the many ways that they are similar in their lessons or messages.

As I can't remember whether or not I have already mentioned this, I will share it now (again?). We have one week of regular spellings left, which will be next week. After that, we will be doing review tests on the words they've learned throughout the school year to see how well they have retained their information. As far as I'm aware, the other homework will continue until the end of term, but I will confirm that when I can.

So, this week's words serve the function of having the children practise many often-missed words as well as their apostrophes. Here is the list:

can’t (cannot)
shouldn’t (should not)
they’d (they would)
she’s (she is)
you’ve (you have)
girl’s (belonging to a girl)
children’s (belonging to children)
Thomas’s (belonging to Thomas)
friends’(belonging to more than one friend)
women’s (belonging to more than one woman)

Each word demonstrates a different use of the apostrophe, so the most effective way to practise is by putting them into sentences. We will be doing that in class, of course, but if you want to practise early, that would be a helpful way to do help them learn.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, 16 June 2017

This week we finished up our English topic on non-chronological reports. I was generally happy with the hard work they did. The spent a great deal of time looking up information on different animals and reporting on their diet, description, habitats and other interesting information. In addition to honing their note-taking skills, they did a lot of self-editing, filling in gaps in their knowledge, and then wrote a final draft in extended writing yesterday. I am looking forward to reading their reports in greater detail over the weekend.

We've started our topic on Habitats and Food Chains in science, and spent some time in the sun this week looking for mini-beasts on the school grounds. Each child was able to find several micro-environments (cracks in the walls, spaces between flag stones, branches of trees, etc.) and even found some of the animals living there. The topic will require more work out in the English sunshine so let's hope the weather continues to cooperate.

In History, we've been investigating Boudicca's Rebellion, a moment in history made all the more interesting because Boudicca sacked the Roman city of Verulamium (St Albans) and was ultimately defeated just north of here on Watling Street. The children have been weighing the good and bad aspects of Roman rule and today they wrote a rallying cry to the Iceni warriors before going into battle with the legionaries.

In RE we are looking now at Hinduism and some of the stories and teachings from some of their holy texts. Wednesday we looked at Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed god of luck and protection, and explored a bit what it meant to be lucky.

We are about to go into a lot of data handling in maths, which will involve lots of charts and graphs. This is an interesting part of the maths curriculum because some children who are very quick and accurate at arithmetic can become confused by graphs and charts, and some children who are less adept with arithmetic suddenly find they can read charts confidently.

Next week will be a normal week, with no school events or other interferences to the schedule, other than a brief music assembly on Thursday morning. There will be homework and spelling words as usual. I am happy to see the list of children forgetting or neglecting their homework is decreasing over time. Most children are taking it seriously and doing well at it.

Here are next week's spelling words:






We are looking at the prefixes sub- and auto- and the suffix -ly.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Welcome back for the home stretch of the academic year. We have only six short weeks to finish everything up, and then our children will be moving on to Year 5!

First, let me apologise for the lack of newsletter over the week-long holiday. I had a blog written and there was a problem sending it right after I finished, and then it was forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the week and I never tried to upload it again. By now it's completely irrelevant, of course.

Hopefully everyone went home with positive things to say about the field trip on Wednesday. We had a fortuitous reprieve in the otherwise rainy weather for the week. It was cool, sunny and moisture-free. And what else can one hope for on such a day?

We toured the museum from 10 to 11, and the children all had facts to find in each section. Especially interesting was the part where they could build their own Roman arch and the area with a tile that had a little dog print impressed into the clay.

We then spent another hour with a knowledgeable lady who gave us real Roman artefacts to look at and touch, and we spent the time going from station to station and trying to guess which artefacts matched up with modern household implements. Four of our children got to dress up in Roman and Celtic costumes as well.

The children then had about an hour to eat, another hour to play, use the toilet, and gather together, and then we went on a special tour of the Roman theatre and archaeological finds surrounding it. We were split into two groups for that and every child was given a role to play in the historical drama. Then it was time to head home. I think we tired a few of the children out. It was great to see actual Roman objects up close and see and hear about the history of our own backyard by knowledgeable staff.

I would like to send a special thanks out to my parent volunteers for helping to keep everyone safe and happy. Also, look for a special report from Jamal and Matty in the Newsletter as well as a blog on the school website.

We've just started our new Science topic on habitats, and will be exploring plant and animal homes, food sources and predators. We'll be looking at sacred stories of Hinduism in RE. In English, we've been practising taking notes from reliable sources and writing reports. We wrote rough drafts this week and will write the final drafts on Thursday. Then we'll switch to a unit on free verse poetry. And of course we are continuing to do the Romans in history. In Maths we'll be moving into a block of statistics and interpreting different types of charts.

Here are next week's spelling words. We are looking at the prefix inter- and the suffix -ation.










There will be homework as usual so don't let your child convince you that Mr Thompson didn't hand any out.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Before I get into anything else, the Year 4 field trip has managed to sneak up on me somehow. I still need five parent helpers who would be available from about 9 am to around 3:30pm on Wednesday, 7th of June. Please check your diaries and if you are able to go, please let me know ASAP. Thank you.

With one more week left in this half-term, we are finishing up several topics. We are nearing the conclusion of our science topic on electricity, and will move after the half term onto animals and habitats. In RE we are about to finish up Sacred Books and Texts and will move on to Sacred stories and ideas.

We're having a really good time writing non-chronological reports about the school. Everyone knows something about it, so there isn't much to look up. We've also had some guest speakers in to explain some of the specialties of the school, including Mrs Teakle, Mr Sherwood and Mrs Brewis to explain various clubs and safety procedures.

The children are doing so well that I am going to arrange to have them type their reports up on a computer and add some digital images that a few of them will take. I think they will make great pieces of work for them to show off and to illustrate to them how far they've come as writers.

On to homework: this class has, for whatever reason, always got more children on the list for Homework Club--the Thursday-at-lunch-time club supervised by the head teacher, than any other class. In many cases this is because the children have just not bothered to do the work at home. Others have done the work but left it at home. It may seem harsh that we treat those children as if they haven't done the work at all, but we are trying to prepare them for secondary school and the hard deadlines of day-to-day life. If you would like to gently remind the children to check their bags on Thursday mornings for an orange book, I'm sure it would help shorten that weekly list.

Here are the spelling words for the coming week:

As you can see, we are finishing up our list of frequently-missed words and moving back into prefixes and suffixes, this week's being 'anti-', which is Greek for 'against' or 'opposed to.'
Have a good weekend.

Friday, 12 May 2017

This week we finished our unit on traditional tales in English, which culminated in writing a vivid description of a Roman god. The children came up with some wonderful similes, including "Mars was as muscular as three Renaldos and a Messi." As a non-football fan, I'll have to take that one on faith as being true.

We have two weeks left in our science topic on electricity and circuits. We will begin to explore what a circuit is and how and why electricity works the way it does. We'll be introducing everyone to electrons and other parts of the atom.

We've begun looking at why Rome decided to invade Britain, and how many times it took to finally succeed. In the next week we'll look at the invasion under Emperor Claudius and what that meant for British people.

We've been looking at sacred books in RE, and we've finished the bible and have moved on to the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh faith. We'll look at Hindu books just before the half term.

Here are the spelling words for next week:











Have a good weekend!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Week three of the summer term. They seem to be going so fast! We're now halfway through our science topic on electricity. The children have just finished looking up safety rules for using electricity and making up colourful posters for handling electrical items, some of which have been displayed on the Science wall. Coming up next week we'll be working with batteries, light bulbs and various wires to complete a circuit and explore more of how electricity works and what it even is.

In history we've started looking at the conflict between the Celts and the Romans, and at why the Romans were able to take over so much of the known world at the time. Part of that involved having the children make their own Celtic shield. Next we'll be looking at Roman soldiers and what made it so difficult for them to be defeated.

In RE we've looked at the sacred text of the Christians and will soon be looking at the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs. In a couple of weeks we'll look at Hindu sacred texts as well.

We will be finishing up our topic on traditional tales in English next week. We spent time looking at several myths, legends and just-so stories and have now had a try at rewriting the Romulus and Remus story and at writing our own just-so story. Next week we'll finish up by looking at some of the famous heroes of mythology and creating a story around the hero.

Next week is SATs week, of course, which will affect the Year 4 class in the following ways: The Hall will be out of commission for much of the week, and that will limit access to things like the toilet. I will be warning everyone Monday morning about the limited access to the facilities, but you might want to remind your children at home that they will need to be extra vigilant about using the toilet during their breaks, even if it isn't urgent yet.

On to homework: Our second week seems to have gone well, even with the shift in days. It is a shame to see so many of the class in the Homework Club at lunchtime, and I hope that the new routine at home will set in and we will have far fewer unfinished pages.

Here are next week's spelling words:









Have a great weekend.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Our first full week back (and now we have another short one coming up--not that I'm complaining) and we've had our first try at the new homework scheme. As a recap of last week, there will now be a maths and English activity in the homework every Monday along with the weekly spelling words. The children will have three nights to work on those activities. I will also give them time during the average day to practise their spellings. On Thursday morning, first thing, I will collect all homework books and if someone does not have one or has not completed everything, I will record that data and they will attend the "Homework Club" in Year 3 with the head teacher during lunch. Please understand that a large aspect of the point of homework is to get the children used to hard deadlines and being responsible for their work, so if they have done the work at home but forgotten to bring it in, we will still have them attend Homework Club. Hopefully it will get them to start remembering their work. We are just over two years away from Secondary School, after all.

I have also learned a bit from the first go at homework and will try to make sure that the instructions for each part of it are clear in terms of expectations and accurate. One of the maths activities turned out to have a mistake in it that I didn't notice until I made up the answer sheets. So if I can have the answer sheets made up before I hand out the homework, I can clarify/correct any misconceptions early. At least, that's the theory. We'll see what happens in practise.

As next week is short, homework will go out on Tuesday and we'll have it due on Friday, so Homework Club will be Friday lunchtime. That way there will still be the same three nights to work on everything.

Since we're on the subject, here are next week's spelling words, still from the list of top misspelled words:










I think that's about it for major news. I laid out the structure of the half-term last week, so please see that if there are any questions. Also please remember to have PE kits and swimsuits on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Several children have been forgetting them quite regularly and this is not acceptable. They are missing out on an important aspect of their education, and potentially getting their uniforms soiled.
Thank you for your understanding through the first week of the homework. Hopefully we have most of the kinks ironed out now, but there's always something new to gum up the works, isn't there?
Have a happy and healthy holiday weekend!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Welcome back, everyone, from what I hope was a fun and relaxing break. We're pushing through to the end, which is only 13 weeks away now!

We are starting a new English topic around traditional tales and mythology, which will tie nicely into the geography topic of Spring term, which was India, as well as our history topic this term, which will be the Roman Invasion of Britain. Along the way we will hear traditional stories from Africa, North America, and Asia, and study some important myths along the way.

After that we'll read and write some reports, which will match up partially with our science topic of Animal Habitats and Food Chains in the second half of the term. We will be writing up a report on an animal in its native habitat at the end of the unit.

In science we will be studying electricity and circuits. We will spend the entire first half term on this topic, which will tie in with magnetism, electrical power production and culminate in constructing complex circuits with switches.

Our topic in History, as mentioned above, in the Romans, and for that I have already booked our Summer field trip. We will be spending the day at Verulam Park. In the morning we will have a self-guided tour of the Verulamium Museum and then an artefact-handling lesson, followed by lunch. In the afternoon we will be taking tours of the Roman city, theatre and hypocaust in around the park. The trip should take all day and I will need some parent volunteers. The day will be Wednesday 7th of June, which is some way off so there is no urgency to my request. But if you could have a look at your diary and see if you might be free to help manage a small group of 6 or 7 children during the day, I would appreciate it.

Our art and design technology will have Indian and Roman themes, for the most part, and will be scattered amongst the other topics. We will be making some art reminiscent of traditional Indian designs as well as making Roman mosaics and possibly some sculpture.

As you already know, our PE time will be taken up with swimming every Tuesday afternoon and Invasion Games with Mr Clarke on Thursdays. Please remember to have swimsuits, towels and caps for anyone with long hair for Tuesday, and the normal PE kit every Thursday. Several children have been forgetting their kits habitually, which means they miss out on PE or end up running around in their uniforms, which is not good either way.

As was discussed in the weekly newsletter, there have been changes to the homework policy, so there will be no large project due this term. Instead, the children will receive a maths task and an English task each week, which will tie into the week's work in some way. These will be given out each Monday along with the Spellings and will be due in on that Thursday. To help streamline this process and keep parents informed, all tests will be taken in the Homework books from now on (the orange book). Obviously, if children forget to bring their Homework books in, they will have to do the test in a different book and parents might not see the results. Please try to help your child remember to bring the Homework book in every morning just as we work to make sure the books go home every night.

As we are just starting this, we may have kinks to work out and may change things around. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email or call the office, or catch me after school.

As this will be week one of the new homework policy, we'll start with the coming week's words. We start up where we left off last term, working on the 200 most frequently used words. Here's this week's selection:


Have a good weekend.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Before I go into anything else, I have to say what a wonderful couple of days the class has had with managing its behaviour on Thursday and Friday. With only a couple of exceptions, everyone focussed, followed directions and worked well together. As a result, we managed to have a lot of fun in our lessons and got a lot done. Really looking forward to the same thing next week, and that it wasn't just a "one-off."

Of course, the biggest news is that projects are due on Monday, as that is the day we will start giving the presentations and assessing them. I have already had a couple of them turned in and have had a few children breathlessly tell me about their A2 posters or their colourful brochures. I am really looking forward to seeing what creativity they have put into it.

We have started a new English topic on narrative poetry and the class really got into the idea of memorising a poem. We studied the "Willow Pattern" by Tony Mitton and rewrote our own version of it on Thursday. I've had a few children even shine by showing me their ability to self-edit and redraft their pieces.

In science we studied pitch and echolocation, which was a great way to explore how sound travels through air and water. The children generated a lot of their own questions and did their own investigating. Next week we will perform a test that they have designed themselves.

We're nearing the end of our gym course in PE, and still have so many children to sign off on abilities so that we can hand out skill award badges. I hope we can get to them all, but we were delayed early on by behaviour problems and we now only have two lessons to go.

We've also been studying Easter in RE and how important it is the people of a Christian faith. It has spawned a lot of questions that I hope to be able to address in the next couple of weeks.

As with last week, here is next week's promised spelling list so that you don't have to go hunting around in backpacks and crumpled piles of paper:








Have a great weekend!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Happy Friday everyone. With only three weeks to go until the end of term we're gearing up to do our assessments of the children's learning and finishing up several units. Speaking of which, it's only one more week of working before the Geography project is completed and turned in on the week of the 20th of March. We have just finished our English unit on persuasion, and yesterday's Extended Writing was all about writing ad copy to convince someone to travel to either New Delhi or Mumbai. So at this point everyone should have the tools they need to give a truly persuasive presentation.

We've been looking at the Christian holiday of Easter in RE and more specifically the concept of the Eucharist. In Geography we spent time on laptops looking at India using the powerful Google Maps software that comes free with the popular browser. We were able to walk some of the Mumbai and New Delhi streets and virtually tour some of the hot spots.

In science we are continuing our exploration of sound, what it is and how it works. We looked at waves, frequency and how sound needs a medium to vibrate in. Most recently we've been looking at decibels and how they measure sound volume.

In maths we've been working on identifying key words in word problems that tell us whether to add or subtract, and then doing two-step problems to find solutions. We also went over factor pairs again and used them to make mental calculations easier. Next week we will look at our geometric shapes again, including identifying shapes by name and finding symmetry in different 2-D objects.

As many of the children have been forgetting/hiding their homework books and spelling lists on Mondays, I will print next week's here for you all to see. Hopefully this will eliminate the hassle of finding a family whose student did bring them home.

This week we are on week two of looking at the list of most often misspelled words for Years 3 and 4. I have seen many of these spelled wrong in children's books, so don't let their apparent easiness fool you. They all contain letters that are either hidden in pronunciation or are pronounced differently from what children may think.

Here they are:








I hope this makes your Monday evenings a little less stressful.
Have a good weekend and I will see the children bright and early Monday morning.

Friday, 3 March 2017

It was National Book Week and the school had some special things planned. We had the special book exchange on Tuesday and every child in the class was able to exchange for at least one book. The books were all donations from other students throughout the school, and the generosity was apparent as the selection was very good.

On Wednesday the class was introduced to Alexander Martin, author of the Stanley Smartpants series. Martin read to us from some of his books and gave a tutorial on how to create and describe characters. He then led a workshop where he had the children try to describe his titular character. He sweetened the pot by suggesting that anyone with a particularly good description might have it put into his next book.

The class then began telling a story with a character they had made up. We will be submitting these to Martin, who will pick a "winner" and give that child a free book. We changed our extended write for this week so that the children could write theirs in class. I will be looking through these over the weekend and am quite looking forward to the imaginations of Year 4.

Today, of course, was dress as your favourite character from a story day. It was wonderful to see so many ingenious costumes in the class.

Next week will be back to "normal," with a full week of maths, English, science, geography, art and RE.

Friday, 24 February 2017

With a new half term comes a new group of units. Having finished our science unit on solids, liquids and gases, we are now starting a new topic on sound. In it we will be dealing with what sounds are made of, what their properties are, and how vibration works.

As we do not have music with Ms. Kelly this half term, I have instead planned an art unit on Indian Art to go along with our Geography.

Speaking of which, we have just started two topics that should help the children complete their end-of-term homework projects: We are looking at some cities in India in depth in our Geography class, and we've started a unit on persuasive writing in English that will help the children put on their best sales pitch. Our first task was to come up with something that Ms Roberts (head teacher) might consider doing (such as a day without uniforms or, as was very popular with the class, an "electronics day" once a week). They have been practising their very best strategies, but they are still new at this, so we will try a second draft next week and see if Ms Roberts is any more convinced.

We will begin checking children off on the gymnastics they can do over the next five weeks so that those who have earned them can get their various coloured badges. We've only got this half term to get as many as we can, so we'll be encouraging the children to practise their moves.

We've started a unit on East in RE leading up to the actual holiday. And in Maths next week we'll be reviewing our place value again through rounding, multiplying and dividing mentally using our knowledge of the times tables, and remembering what happens when we divide by 1 and 0.

So, have a restful weekend and I will see the children for a week of fun work!

Friday, 10 February 2017

As of this afternoon we are officially halfway through the school year (but who's counting?). We've passed some big milestones and are now preparing for others. After a welcome week off we need to return ready to work!

We just finished our topic on states of matter, looking at different substances and their properties as solids, liquids and gases, ending with a look at the water cycle and how important it is to our planet. When we start back we'll be going to a new science topic: habitats and food chains. We'll be looking at the relationships between predator and prey and the complex connections all plants and animals have to one another.

In Geography we have looked at a variety of different earth sciences such as mountain and river formations and how landscapes form over thousands and millions of years. We have then been looking at the features of India and how they are used by the people who live there. One fun fact that amazed the children: the Ganges River has over 300 million people settled along it, and Great Britain has only about 75 million people altogether! In the next term we will continue to look at the physical and social landscape of India and prepare the children for their projects by showing them some of the cities of that ancient country.

In English, we just finished a unit on story settings, looking at mood and atmosphere and how to show that with good positive and negative descriptive words. Many of the children really had a try at writing some good similes, metaphors and personification. After the break we will do three weeks on persuasive writing, which again will help them with their homework project.

In RE we will focus on the holiday of Easter and what that means for Christians, as well the importance of sharing food in different communities.

We will also continue our gymnastics unit in PE. I would like to remind everyone that we do PE on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we require a complete PE kit. Quite a few children have been missing shirts or shorts and have had to wear their uniform.

In Maths we are beginning our cycle of teaching again, so we will revisit many of the concepts we did before, this time combining some together or delving more deeply into them.

It was lovely to see so many of you again in the parent conferences. My voice was starting to sound like Chewbacca near the end due to the cold I'm getting over, but it was great to update all of you.

Enjoy the week of respite, and I will see the class again in a week and a half.

Friday, 27 January 2017

In an amazing reversal of fortunes from last week, we are now three weeks into the term with two weeks left to go. Of particular note for next week is the Year 4 sharing assembly, which will be on Friday, for parents. Come in and see what we've been up to for the last 17 weeks. We may ask that some of the children bring some of their Egyptian projects back in to show off.

We started our English unit on story settings, and I've started them out describing a fantasy location they are mostly familiar with and using as many adjectives, adverbs and figurative language as they could to paint the picture with words. Next week we will begin to use settings to develop a mood or atmosphere.

In science we explored solids that act as liquids, and then did an observation of melting some chocolate, butter and wax in a microwave to see how fast each one melted. Unfortunately, when we melted the butter we also melted the plastic container that was holding it, so that ruined the experiment a bit. But we soldiered on anyway.

We took a good look at India in Geography this week, exploring where it is in the world and looking at its various climate zones. The children are becoming much more expert at reading a map and several of them figured out what population and elevation maps look like.

We're dealing with the excuses we give ourselves and others for not trying our hardest in PSHE. In PE, we're continuing to learn different gymnastics moves and combining them into sequences. They are also learning hockey with Mr Clark. We're continuing to learn about Sikhism in RE and comparing it to the more familiar traditions (for many of us) in Christianity.

We've got a lot of practising to do for the assembly next week, so hopefully we'll be all polished and ready by Friday. Hope to see many of you there.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Two weeks in and only three more until half term! Where does the time go?

First and most importantly, we welcomed a new student from abroad into class on Monday. It's a girl, which helps redress our large boy-heavy classroom. She is a native French speaker with little English knowledge, which has been a challenge for me, whose High School French was far too long ago and far too limited to carry on any meaningful conversation. But just as I am working on more French phrases, she is immersing herself in an English environment, which will be what makes her learn our rich but often difficult tongue. It's great practise for the other children, too, as they are learning French with Mme Allin.

This week we did lots of work with fractions in maths, learning how to add and subtract them, turn them into decimal fractions. We also learned how to count up and down in tenths and hundredths, and are starting to explore the 24 hour clock.

Next week we'll focus much more on column method addition and subtraction and look at one- and two-step problems. We'll then look at multiplying and dividing larger numbers, and then decimals.

In English we just finished up our unit on writing and performing plays. The children adapted the fairy tale of Goldilocks and wrote a play about the bears entering their ransacked home. We hope to perform one at the Year 4 sharing assembly in a couple of weeks.

We'll be starting a unit on story settings that will probably take us to half term. We'll be stretching our descriptive muscles to see how vivid we can be.

In science we are looking at solids, liquids and gases. This week we explored solids that can act like liquids and the gases that comprise the air. We also looked at the space left between particles and how that allows us to compress things, especially gases.

In geography we spent a lot of time looking at maps and how they work, how to read them and how to find the cardinal directions. Next week we'll be looking at our target country in detail: India. I expect we'll have a lot of fun with it.

In RE we began looking at Sikhism and their beliefs and symbols. After a long discussion about what a symbol is and what it can mean, the children designed their own symbols for things that were important to them: pets, family, X-Boxes and football teams, mostly. Some of them were quite clever and would make good corporate logos somewhere.

We are continuing on with gymnastics, and Mr Clark has introduced them to touch rugby now that it's not snowing.

Also, I believe the letters with this term's curricula have gone out, including the long-range homework assignment. The results from the Egyptian project were so amazing, I'm quite excited to see what they come up with this time.

Friday, 13 January 2017

With another term underway we are starting several new topics. We are working on playwriting in English, which will include formatting the story properly, writing with the proper audience in mind, and then performing the piece. In Science we have just started a new unit on States of Matter, in which we will explore the different properties of solids, liquids and gases. We've started gymnastics in PE, and belonging and Sikhism in RE.

In Geography we are starting a unit on the sub-continent of India, pointing out where it is, who lives there and what the various cultures and peoples are like. We will also be looking at identifying the different features of maps and how to read them, and we may even do a bit of orienteering if time and weather permit.

This is a shorter term than the last one, which means that it will be more intense and tightly packed. So the children will be stretched in their abilities and attention spans.

As A quick heads-up, spelling tests will resume next week, and the letter with the term's long-range project will be finished and sent out in the next week or so.