A buzz for writing

Bearing in mind our topic for this term is mini-beasts, can you guess which little creature we have been learning about this week? Yes it is indeed the small but mighty bee! The children have been fascinated with the wonderful variety of bee’s, how to tell them apart and learning all the different jobs they do within a hive. I am sure we have a few budding entomologists in Reception! Not only have they loved trying to spot them in our outside area they have also bee, crafting, counting, sorting and reading about our striped little friends.


This ‘buzz’ of excitement lead to some brilliant examples of the children’s independent writing as they created fact books about bees, bee themed stories and posters galore. Which leads me on to a question parents often ask, “How do I encourage my child to write?”

I know I have spoken top many of you at parents evening about ‘writing for a purpose ‘ as this is something I am passionate about. I believe this is the key to inspiring a love of writing from a young age, making writing real and worthwhile for children. Of course, every now and then a little bit of writing practise doesn’t do any harm, but to nurture that desire to write is crucial. Thinking about those real life situations when writing is useful if not essential. Menus, sign posts, shopping lists, cards, letters, recipes, anything you can think of! Especially if it is related to your children’s interests. For example I often “forget” things in the classroom, and the children then love to write me note or list to help me remember! Writing signs or labels for large and small scale models is another great example of when previously reluctant writers will happily spend time writing. Whether it be to say, ‘Please don’t touch’ or ‘Tom’s dinosaur cage’ it is a real reason for them to write! Here are a couple of lovely examples of signs children wrote in child initiated time this term to warn others about mini-beasts (one was a real spider the other was for some fantasy dangerous bugs, just in case you were worried!)

The first sign reads “Stop, web, spider!” and the second “deadly, do not touch!”


These are both great examples of children seeing an opportunity to write for a purpose that meant something to them and whatever activity they were engaged in. It came from their own interests therefore half the battle of encouragement is already won. Then the technical side of writing comes into play, however I often find where there is a will they find a way to access all that they have learnt so far. So maybe see if your children can surprise you with their independent writing? What will give them the urge to pick up a pencil?

Spring is here!

What a brilliant term we have had in Reception class. Not only have we very much enjoyed the arrival of Spring and some long awaited sunshine but it is also at this time of year when I really begin to notice the progress children are making in their learning. All the children have been working so hard improving their writing and the introduction of the ‘Super Sentence Challenge’ has brought with it a surge of keen writers! I have also been setting various challenges during their child initiated learning time which has spurred on lots of independent writing. The latest writing challenge was a colour hunt, where the children had to search for things inside or outside that matched their colour chart. It was fabulous to see so many of the class using their phonics knowledge and choosing to write!!


Our topic ‘Farms and Growing’ has been very popular with the children and has inspired many of our green fingered members of the class. We have used seeds to help us practice one to one correspondence in our maths, we have done some observational drawings of plants and flowers as well as combining technology with our writing skills by taking photos in our garden and making the pictures into or own plant fact books.


We have been working on adding two groups of objects together this term. Whether it be Easter eggs or apples, this is great activity to practice at home as it naturally comes into so many aspects of everyday life. We have worked on the method of ‘counting on’ to find the total. For example, “We have 6 cakes and I’ve made 3 more, can we count on from 6 to find how many we have?” Board games are a fantastic way to practice this skill of counting on from a given number. This Easter see if you can dust off your snakes and ladders and any other board games and have a go!


I hope you all have a wonderful break over Easter and I look forward to seeing you next term!

Sumdog competition – Get playing!

Welcome Maths Enthusiasts. I have entered the whole school into a Sumdog competition against other schools.

All you need to do is log onto Sumdog with your usual username and password then enter the school code sjs3 to help us gain as many points as possible. The competition started today and ends next Friday 14th February at 8am.

How do you earn St John’s some points? Simply play! The more you play the more we earn.


Good Luck children!


Mrs Gillhouley

Fairy Tale mystery!

We have had all sorts of drama and excitement in our fairy tale cottage this term! Anyone that thought that fairy tale’s might be dull or boring have been proved wrong! It all began one chilly Monday morning when the children came in to find our role play cottage had been ransacked!! There were broken chairs and tea cups and porridge all over the floor! Thank goodness some keen eyed Reception children spotted the footprints in the porridge which was a vital clue.


We had lots of wonderful discussions about who might have done it and why, before writing lists of what things we needed to help our investigation. I particularly liked the idea of getting police sniffer dogs in to explore the crime scene! After a few days a very apologetic letter arrived in class from Goldilocks, and order was restored. In traditional style, the bears went back to sipping cups of tea from their china cups and all was forgiven!


In other news we designed and made new chairs and beds for the bears to replace what Goldilocks had broken, using a range of resources from Lego to recycling materials. The comfort of the bears has really been thought about here with this bed even having arm rests!


This term we have already covered a number of fairy tales from ‘The three little pigs’ to ‘Rapunzel’ and it has been wonderful to see how many of the children have been able to use and retell these stories in their play. These traditional tales will hopefully now be securely cemented in their bank of stories so they can draw on the language and ideas as they become imaginative writers.


5,4,3,2,1,Blast Off!

We have hit the ground running this term with our topic, ‘Space and Light’ inspired by the fabulous book Whatever Next by Jill Murphy. In class we have loved retelling the story, and then began thinking about what other adventures baby bear might go on. It was great to hear all the children’s imaginative ideas and now that their writing is improving so much many children were able to write about their adventure ideas as well.

The weather this term has brought with it some wonderful learning opportunities. I have always loved the colours of Autumn and in Reception we are lucky enough to have our outside area, with a range of trees nearby giving us an endless supply of beautiful autumn leaves! We have explored every possibility, counting and sorting leaves, creating autumnal art using leaves we have collected, using charts to categorize leaves and reading autumn poems. Children never cease to amaze me with their creativity!

I hope everyone is looking forward to our Reception bedtime story evening on Wednesday 21st November. I hope it will be a lovely evening for your children as well as a good opportunity for parents and carers to find out a little more about phonics and reading at St.John’s. I look forward to seeing you then.

A warm welcome!

A very warm welcome to all the Reception class and your families, particularly if you are new to St. John’s. We have had a busy start to the academic year with my new class getting used to their classroom, friends, staff and of course buddies!

This term, as our topic is: ‘People who help us’ our role play area in the classroom is a veterinary surgery. The children have instantly been demonstrating their caring nature, bandaging many a poorly rabbit, cat or dog. In fact as an adult in the classroom I have had to be careful not to stand still for too long as I would have ended up with a bandage too!

The children have quickly been getting used to our routine in class and exploring the range of resources and activities. It has been lovely seeing them getting to know one another and even beginning to gain the confidence to chat a little and ask new friend’s what their name is!

It has been great to get to know you and your children better during my afternoons home visiting. As of next week Reception are staying all day so just to let you know you will be collecting your children from the main playground (where you drop them in the morning) at 3:15 rather than the side gate.

One scoop or two?!

We have begun our final term in Reception this week and I honestly cannot believe how quickly the time has flown this year! This term our learning will be linked with ‘The Sea’ including everything, from things we might find at the seaside, to the creatures that live in rock pools and in the depths of the ocean. Our role play area is now Reception’s very own ‘Ice Cream Parlour’ and the children didn’t take long to jump straight in to the roles of shop keeper serving a long line of hungry customers!


We have had great fun using our creativity and imaginations, inventing our own ‘nice and nasty’ ice cream flavours, some of which I would definitely not like to try! It was very funny to see how animated the children  were when describing their nasty flavours. In Reception we are now increasingly writing words and sentences independently and their progress is absolutely fantastic, with some children even beginning to use capital letters and full stops!

In Maths this week everything had a hint of the seaside also, as we were counting, sorting and adding shells and ice creams. We even did a big class survey to find out which flavour of ice cream was everyone’s favourite. The children were able to gather the information and use a tally chart to count their results before making a bar chart to show the winning flavour!



Insect Detectives


Well it really has felt like summer has arrived early this term!! In reception this has meant we have all been spending even more time outside in our wonderful outdoor learning area. This has been such a blessing with our current topic ‘minibeasts’ as the children have been able to spend time outside hunting for bugs and exploring the places they like to hide! So far we have covered a real range of creepy crawlies from ladybirds to bees and of course caterpillars and butterflies. In class we have been closely watching the development of our very own caterpillars. In fact just today we were thrilled to see three of our butterflies emerge from their chrysalises’!! It has been a fantastic experience to observe the class keeping check on every little change as the caterpillars have grown and transformed over time.


I have been thrilled with how quickly the children have picked up on our new maths focus: being able to double a number. We have been practising with stones, counters, numicon and of course anything relating to minibeasts! Maybe you could have a go at doubling some numbers at home?

In phonics we have all been incredibly excited to learn our first trigraph! The children have been practising using their phonic knowledge and tricky words to write a ‘super sentence’ each morning. Here are just a couple of examples of the brilliant writing Reception have been producing. As the year goes on it is such a joy to see children becoming more independent and confident to write fabulous sentences.


Minibeast Madness!

What a gorgeous week of sunshine we have had to welcome everyone back after the Easter holidays! I hope you all had a lovely time off. The children were certainly bursting with stories of their adventures over the holidays which was lovely to see!

This term our topic is minibeasts, and the role play area has become a minibeast investigation zone where the children can hunt and explore to their hearts content! We have also been exploring shapes this week in maths. As the weather was so lovely we went on a shape hunt in the outside area and spotted so many different kinds of shape!

This week we were also lucky enough to go on our trip to the wonderful Ladyland Farm. We had a fantastic day, jam packed with feeding sheep, calves, goats, stroking day old chicks and ducklings, and a rather bumpy but brilliant tractor ride! The children loved being able to be so close to the animals and it really was a fabulous learning experience! Thank you very much to the kind volunteers who came along and helped make the day so wonderful.