Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Missing heads and spotty bottoms

It may well be early November, but Christmas was on everybody's minds in the Reception Class at Sunnyside School today.

Whilst it isn't time just yet to dust the cobwebs off the nativity donkey and his fellow four-legged stable friends in preparation for the Sunnyside Christmas performance, it is time however to think about......Christmas cards!  

As part of an exciting whole school fundraising project, little learners throughout Sunnyside School have the opportunity to see their original artwork turned into high quality full colour printed Christmas cards, which parents and carers will be invited to purchase in the coming weeks.

So this very afternoon, as marvellous images of snowmen, Father Christmas, Christmas trees, Christmas Robins, Christmas Ninja Turtles, and Christmas Power Rangers began to emerge from the specially provided paper, the classroom was also buzzing with a great deal of Christmassy chit-chat from the participating little learners. And it was while Mrs Crayon was overseeing their artistic endeavours, she learned that these little artists have never seen real snow before, or at least they don't remember seeing real snow in their short lifetime. 

Mrs Crayon then began to reminisce about an afternoon in early March, several years ago now, when a significant amount of snow unexpectedly fell out of the sky during the school day, and after it had stopped and settled, the euphoric little learners of the day were able to head out into the garden to build their very own snowman. 

And what a magnificent snowman he was! Sporting Lego Bricks for eyes, tangerine peel for a nose, ivy twigs arms, a flowerpot hat, and a pair of spotty pyjama bottoms for a scarf, he stood tall and resplendent in the wintry sunshine. 
He stood tall and resplendent for a mere thirty seconds, because in the time it took Mrs Crayon to reach for her camera in order to photograph this snowy vision, his head had departed his body, and completely vanished into thin air. Both Miss Kind and Mrs Caring, who'd been in the garden with the little learners the entire time, couldn't account for this puzzling occurrence, and the little Sunnysiders themselves were as equally baffled by their snowman's sudden lack of head. However, when Miss Kind and Mrs Caring posed the question, 'Who broke the snowman?', the garden was immediately filled with hurling accusations, and a great deal of finger pointing, as a somewhat guilty looking group began blaming one another for carrying out the dastardly deed.    

After several minutes of listening to a chorus of, 'It wasn't me, I didn't do it!', Miss Kind and Mrs Caring suddenly became aware that the once portly body of the snowman was busy shrinking in the afternoon sunshine. Consequently, the race was on to fashion a new head for their ever diminishing snowman before all that was left of him was his pyjama bottoms!  

To this day, it remains a complete mystery as to the circumstances surrounding the apparent evaporation of the Sunnyside snowman's head, so as Mrs Crayon delighted in yet another depiction of Father Christmas as a Nijna Turtle, she decided it was high time she paid homage to this unresolved whodunnit.    

Who Broke The Snowman!

Who broke the snowman 
If it wasn't you or me?
Well someone's knocked his block off 
And it's such a tragedy. 
He's got a nice round body, 
With buttons one, two, three,
But sadly there's an empty space 
Right where his head should be!

Who broke the snowman 
If it wasn't you or me?
Was it done on purpose 
Or accidentally?
He once stood majestic, 
And as tall as a tree,
But since he lost his noggin, 
He's shrunk dramatically!

Who broke the snowman
If it wasn't you or me?
Well, someone round here did it
And it's such a mystery.
Perhaps there is a snowman thief
In the vicinity,
Or could it be a gust of wind
That's caused this vacancy? 

Who broke the snowman? 
We don't know who to blame.
Maybe it was thingybob,
Or even whatshisname.
We've done our best to fix him,
But he just don't look the same!
So let's pretend our snowy friend,
Was like this when we came!

"It wasn't me!"
"And it definitely wasn't me!"

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Thinking caps and caterpillar facts

It's been translated into at least 40 different languages. It's consistently used by Early Years practitioners as a teaching aid. It's won numerous awards, and as sure as eggs is eggs, it has thrilled little learners everywhere since it's publication in 1969! 
Hurrah, for Eric Carle and his wonderful picture book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for it is story of the week this week for the little Reception learners at Sunnyside School.

With it's simple text and distinctive collage illustrations, this fabulous story covers an array of educational themes - counting, foods, the days of the week, and the life cycle of the butterfly.   
And it was the concept of transformation (from 'hungry caterpillar to 'beautiful butterfly') that team member Mrs Crayon, found herself exploring with her group of little learners today, as they cleverly fashioned their own hungry caterpillars from empty egg boxes. 

Having established that a caterpillar's remarkable journey begins as a tiny egg, the conversation then focused on the next and most fascinating stage in the life cycle, that of the cocoon or chrysalis. Whilst they snipped and glued, painted and decorated, Mrs Crayon was keen to find out if her industrious group knew anything about the mysterious goings on deep inside a caterpillar's cocoon. 

It has to be said the little makers struggled to offer any insights regarding cocoons, and just as Mrs Crayon was about to enlighten them herself, a budding entomologist in the group put down his glue stick and pipe cleaners and announced, "I know about cocoons I do! A caterpillar goes in one to have a think!" 

Perfect, thought a completely outdone Mrs Crayon!     

Nobody Knows

Nobody knows 
Where a caterpillar goes, 
When he wants to contemplate important things.
Well, there is a little room,
In the depths of his cocoon, 
Where he dreams of how he'd like to spread his wings.

As his life before unravels,
He dreams of foreign travels,
And viewing the whole world from way up high.
Spending many happy hours,
Sipping nectar from the flowers,
No, he cannot wait to be a butterfly.

But until that special day,
In his cocoon he has to stay,
Where no more a caterpillar will he be.
Say farewell to all that munching,
During endless hours of lunching,
With a waistline twice the size of you and me!

Now, inside while he is shrinking, 
You know he's busy thinking,
So don't disturb him is the message please!
The consequences will be tragic,
If you spoil nature's magic,
And deny a butterfly the summer's breeze.

"Today I am mostly thinking about the biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation. So...I could be in here for some time!" 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

How do you dos and supermarket blues

Well here we are, four weeks in, and the little Sunnysiders have settled extremely well into their new Reception Class. They've already got to grips with how the school day runs, and all little learners are taking full advantage of the exciting learning opportunities on offer each day. 

The Reception Team is thoroughly enjoying getting to know their new charges, and as always the information they gain about each of them will go on to inform the weekly planning. 

A few days ago, as part of all this vital getting to know you business, the little learners participated in a circle time, focusing on the things that make them happy. When the Team asked the question 'what makes you happy?' around the circle, the vast majority of these teeny tiny learners reported that they felt truly happy when their Mummies came to collect them from school each day. (Nothing unusual there, and completely understandable given that the vast majority of these brave little Sunnysiders are just four years old.) So, as the subject of today's circle time was centred around the things that make us sad, the Team naturally assumed that they were about to hear expressions of woe and heartache from little learners desperately missing their Mummies . 

It therefore came as quite a surprise when the first little learner in the circle to respond to the question, 'What makes you feel sad?' did so by announcing that, "Spiky things and going to Tesco" caused him a great deal of grief and upset. Confident this surprising declaration was going to be a one off, the Reception Team was astonished to hear a second little learner announce that he too was saddened by spiky things and going to Tesco, as was the next....and the next little learner in the circle. Fearing she was in the presence of thirty downcast supermarketphobes, Mrs Organised asked if there was anyone else in the circle who wanted to share something that made them sad, but, that didn't involve spiky things and or, a shopping trip to Tesco. When a little hand shot into the air with it's owner squeaking in desperation to be chosen, Mrs Organised felt duty bound to check first that he wasn't about to say 'spiky things and going to Tesco'. "I'm not going to say that," assured the little learner, "I'm going to say sharks, and going to Morrisons!" 

Deciding she was dealing with a class of future online shoppers, an undeterred Mrs Organised decided they would all revisit this subject again at a later date!       

Oh Woe Is Me!

Oh woe is me, I'm feeling sad,
When will this nightmare stop?
Yes, I'm having to endure
Yet another weekly shop.
As we drag our bulging trolley
Up and down the aisles,
This dreaded supermarket
Goes on for miles and miles.

We've been trapped in here for hours!
I've aged another year!
Oh, just bung things in the trolley Mum.
And let's get out of here!
Don't scrutinise the bargains,
Or the buy ones, get one free,
This shopping expedition lark
Is simply not for me.

But, uh-oh! Look what's happened,
My Mum has spied a friend,
And now that they are chatting
I fear my life will end!
I have the perfect cure though, 
For my melancholy mood, 
We can do away with shopping,
If we give up eating food!

"I'll have grown a beard by the time we get out of here!"

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Jingle bells and jungle yells

Hurrah for squeaky shoes and pristine uniforms, for it can only mean one thing - a new academic year has begun!

It is now the turn of the 2015-2016 cohort of Sunnysiders to tell their story and to share their thoughts and feelings about life at 'big school'.  
There to guide and support them as they journey through the Reception Class at Sunnyside School, are team members Mrs Very Jolly, Mrs Organised, Miss Kind, and Mrs Crayon.

As always, a busy and eventful year awaits little learners and grown ups alike, so in order that the coming days run safely and smoothly the Team's immediate focus is on 'settling in' procedures and establishing the routines and rules of the setting. In addition, through a host of fun filled activities, the Sunnyside Team will be helping the little learners to develop their sound awareness and listening skills. 

With that in mind, the little Sunnysiders participated in a game on the Smart board today with the emphasis on getting them attuned to the sounds around them. As they listened to a mix of environmental and animal sounds, the group was required to identify and name each of them.
It was all going swimmingly with excited little learners recognising sounds left right and centre.......until that is, they were exposed to the famous cry of none other than Tarzan.
It has to be said that both Mrs Very Jolly and Mrs Crayon were a little surprised to hear the famed ape-man amongst the mewing cats and grunting pigs, not to mention the chugging combine harvester and the ka-chings of a cash register. So, as a deathly silence fell amongst the somewhat bewildered group, Mrs Very Jolly thought she'd help them out by setting Tarzan off again. And again...and again. And just as a despairing Mrs Crayon was contemplating sticking Lego bricks in her ears to protect them from the annoying yodels of the loin-clothed jungle hero, a little voice piped up and announced, "I know what it is.......it's Father Christmas!" 

So there you go....before we've whipped the baubles from our Christmas trees, and slung the decorations into the loft for another year, Santa Claus has already shed his iconic scarlet coat, popped on a fetching loincloth, and is merrily swinging through the Chewing Gum trees in a jungle far, far, away!

If you go into the forest today

If you go into the forest today
You're sure of a big surprise.
For swinging in the canopy
Is Santa in disguise.
You'll find it hard to spot him there
Because he's up so high.
But if you listen carefully 
You'll hear his jungle cry!

Not everybody knows this fact,
But Santa's not one man.
For when he isn't Santa Claus
He's actually Tarzan! 
So when December comes around,
And Santa has to leave,
He jets back to the North Pole
In time for Christmas Eve!

"Just one more swing.....and then I'm off!"

Monday, 24 August 2015

Mops, socks and little men.

As the long summer break draws to a close, and the new academic year begins, there is just time for one final "Do you know?" courtesy of the Sunnyside cohort of 2014-2015. 

As we have learned from previous Sunnyside stories, "Do you know?" moments are special. These enchanting and spontaneous utterances are simply a piece of information that a little learner feels compelled to share. As far as the Sunnyside Team is concerned, a "Do you know?" moment brings an extra ray of sunshine to the school day, not to mention and smile and giggle.  

It was Mrs Crayon who was in receipt of this particular little gem, whilst she was on her knees, (in every sense of the word) thinning out books in the book corner on the last day of term. 

After scrutinising Mrs C's attempts to sort her dangerously listing tower of hardbacks, the little learner in question sidled up to the weary practitioner and said, "Do you know?.....my favourite story is Snow White and the three seven wolves!" 
Convinced that her jaded ears were tricking her, Mrs Crayon was keen to push for some clarification. 
"Sorry...did you say, Snow White and the three seven wolves?" she asked, as the little learner thumbed through a stray copy of Percy Thrower's 'Practical Guide to Roses'.    
"Yes!" stated the little learner, studying Percy's tips on dealing with troublesome aphids.
"That's...the three seven wolves?" persisted Mrs Crayon, still believing her ears to be blocked.
"Yes!" reaffirmed the little learner, somewhat irritated at her teacher's apparent lack of understanding.
A bewildered Mrs Crayon was curious about the number of wolves involved in this version of the Grimm brothers' legendary fairy tale. Was it three, or was it seven? Could it be thirty seven? 
"None!" came the emphatic reply, "Not one!"

As the little learner plonked Percy and his aphids back on the listing pile, and sauntered off, doubtless in disgust that a grown up could be so woefully ignorant of her beloved storybook, a re-energized Mrs Crayon was certain there was a poem to be had out of this surprising twist of fate for the celebrated, singing domestic.  
However, with not the slightest notion of how to shoehorn wolves into a half decent rhyme, (try finding a word that rhymes with wolves) Mrs Crayon nevertheless vowed she would, (in some form or another.) 

So, with just days to spare before the Sunnyside Team welcomes the next new intake of Reception learners into the fold, Mrs Crayon would like to proffer the following.

Said Snow White to herself one day

Said Snow White to herself one day,
It's always work and never play.
I'm tired of washing socks and hats,
Of mopping floors and brushing mats.
I'm going to leave these little men,
To start my life over again.
I'm shipping out, with no regrets,
And all I'm taking are my pets.
Into the sunset we shall sail,
To start another fairy tale.
I'll fill my life with fun and laughter,
And do away with men hearafter!

".....and from now on, we shall be known as, Snow White and the Three Seven Wolves!"

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Jelly facts and fish stings

It's that time again...that time of stark walls and overflowing waste bins! 

Believe it or not, it's the end of the academic year! And at the end of the academic year, what went up....must now come down! This means display boards must be stripped, dingle dangles must be removed, and draws and cupboards must be emptied and tidied. It is also time for the team to reluctantly bid farewell to the current Reception Year cohort and wish them luck as they journey towards their brand new class. Yes...Year 1 is beckoning the little Sunnysiders of 2014-2015!

As Mrs Crayon was busy wrenching staples from all the classroom's display boards this afternoon, she was accompanied by a willing and helpful party of little learners armed with magnets, picking up the growing mound of extricated staples on the floor. 

As they all toiled away, the subject of the imminent six week holiday came up for discussion, and the group began to share with one another their plans for the long break. Whilst some little learners were venturing to foreign parts, others were staying put and looking forward to spending time on the Island's beautiful beaches.  

"You better watch out for jellyfish!" informed one little learner as he freed his magnet of a ton of staples, "Jellyfishes kill you, you know!"

The little learner's grim warning came as a result of an increase in jellyfish sightings in recent weeks, when they have washed up on beaches around the Isle of Wight. It also prompted an abrupt end to all the holiday chit-chat and for the debate to centre around the issue of jellyfish. 

The little staple gatherers immediately launched into an exchange of far out claims regarding how many of these gelatinous creatures they'd seen on the beach, as well as their size and proportions. As the little learners tried to outdo one another with claims more and more fantastical, i.e. the beach being littered with jellyfish 'as big as a bedroom', Mrs Crayon couldn't help wondering if some of these jellyfish sightings were in fact supermarket carrier bags shamefully washed ashore in Whippy Cove Bay. Nevertheless, she was keen to find out if the group knew anything factual about jellyfish other than they can kill you, and they grow to the size of a one bedroom apartment. As it turned out they didn't, however, a little learner playing close by saved the day when he joined the magnet monitors, offering to share some or his own jellyfish insights.   
"I know about jellyfish I do," he declared to Mrs Crayon as she descended the dizzy heights of the 2 step ladder she was using.
"Do you indeed," she said, happy to be reunited with terra firma again.
"Yep!" the little learner told her assuredly, "I know they sting you with their nettles!"

What a wonderful way to end the school year thought an appreciative Mrs Crayon, grateful for this new jellyfish fact. After all, it is also thanks to this particular cohort of little theorists, that we have an understanding of why humans have eyebrows, what a camel stores in his humps, the true potential of kittens, and how to keep the ducks happy! We have also discovered some extraordinary facts about our Queen, horse tack, and the perils of purchasing rabbits.  
As the essence of a nettle-wielding jellyfish ditty began to formulate in the far reaches of her mind, Mrs Crayon felt totally indebted to these clever little people for inspiring her to produce another year of Sunnyside doodles and rhymes. 

Happy holidays little learners! Happy holidays dear readers!

SUNNYSIDERS will return in September with a brand new cohort of little learners and a host of brand new stories and rhymes! 

Beware the Jellyfish! 

I'm as fragile as a flower, 
And as flimsy as it's petals.
But don't be fooled, if you come near,
I'll sting you with me nettles!

"With gnashers like mine....who cares about your nettles!" 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Bare heads and beanstalks

What does a beanstalk and a pair of spectacles have in common?

Well, the answer is little Sunnyside learners of course, but how on earth pray tell?

The new topic in the Reception Class at Sunnyside School is 'growing', so the Team has magically transformed the home corner into a garden centre complete with real shrubs and cut flowers. 

This overabundance of vegetation in the classroom has dramatically affected the humidity levels sending them sky high so creating the ambiance of a tropical rainforest! Just to add to this jungle experience, a few weeks ago the little Sunnysiders planted their own Runner Bean seeds. Every day since then they have dutifully and enthusiastically nurtured their bean shoots to the point where the tendrils of this quintessentially British vegetable plant are now nudging the light fittings!

In addition to a variety of non-fiction books on growing plants, the little learners have also enjoyed reading a selection of story books with tenuous links to flora and fauna. Like the very traditional 'Jack and the Beanstalk' for instance, and the not so traditional, yet hilariously funny, 'Jim and the Beanstalk' by Raymond Briggs.

In Briggs' version of small boy climbs ridiculously tall beanstalk and meets grumpy giant, Jim, just like his famous predecessor, also encounters a none too cheery towering ogre, only this one is extremely short-sighted, toothless, and rather follically challenged. In order to help the poor chap feel better about himself, Jim spends a great deal time shinning up and down the ridiculously tall beanstalk supplying the giant with false teeth, wigs and, yes, spectacles in return for gold coins.

This wonderful story has really appealed to the little Sunnysiders' sense of humour, so much so it sparked an entire afternoon of crafting spectacles from pipe cleaners no less! In no time at all the classroom was filled with bespectacled little learners stomping about the setting yelling "Fee-fi-fo-fum!" at the top of their voices.

As Mrs Caring was busy fitting glasses to little learners and attempting to reform all the squashed and misshapen ones, a little learner interrupted her endeavours with a "Do you know?" announcement. 
"Do you know?" said she, peering through a pair of fluorescent green chenille spectacles, "The other day I went to the big hospital for my eye competition!" 
"Your eye competition?" questioned Mrs Caring, thinking she must have misheard the little learner due to all the "Fee-fi-fo-ing!" going on around her.
"Yes!" confirmed the little learner shoving her homespun specs further up her nose. "And.....I hadded to wear wooden glasses!"

The little learner went on to describe in great detail the tasks she was required to perform during her "eye competition", and she was adamant that she was made to do it all wearing glasses made of solid wood. When the little expert on eye examinations had finished sharing her knowledge with Mrs Caring, she went to share with Miss Kind, and then again with Mrs Crayon.

While thirty pairs of little learner eyes furnished with a myriad of brightly coloured tufty specs was a truly inspirational sight today, Mrs Crayon was completely captivated by the notion of eye wear carved from the wood of a large tree that bears acorns.

She then began to ponder how the admen of this world might try to persuade the masses that wooden glasses are the next must-have. And as she pondered, Mrs Crayon penned the following.  

Ode to wooden specs

Come and view our range of spectacles both standard and bespoke,
They'll last you all your life because they're made of solid oak.
Hand carved and finely finished they're ideal for anyone,
There's just one teensy drawback, it's a shame they weigh a ton!

You'll look and feel the business from your head down to your toes,
It just takes some getting used to all that weight upon your nose!
As sturdy as a sideboard they won't bend nor will they flex,
You'll have everybody asking you where did you get those specs?

Simply squirt a little polish and then buff them till they gleam,
You could finish with some Briwax tho' that is a bit extreme.
If you're set on buying wooden specs, then please don't hesitate,
Mind you...you'll need a neck of iron just to hold your head up straight!!

"They're alright till you need yer hands!"