As a child I played cards frequently. My grandmother is a bit of a card sharp and taught me dozens of games from rummy to whist and patience. We even played pontoon – gambling with matchsticks! Now as a teacher, I’m struck by how fantastic these games are for a range of skills the children will need in their education. Beyond the obvious maths links – subtising, number recognition, counting, ordering and sequencing, strategies for mental calculation for starters – card games also teach & practise sustained concentration, turn-taking, patience, organisational skills, strategic thinking, perseverance and how to win or lose with grace. There are even speaking, listening and language benefits as you chat and joke over a hand of cards.
Some games can be neatly adapted to help your child master key maths skills. I’ve videoed my daughter and I playing two old favourites that are perfect for number bonds practise so you can see how the adaptations work. We’re playing with number bonds to 10 but you could dial this back for numbers under 10 if your child is not quite ready for 10 yet. Fluency with number bonds, even for smaller numbers like 5, are significant building blocks for mental calculation going forwards.
This is a good place to start for learning number bonds as the children can take as long as they need to find the total. You’ll be impressed with how quickly they start to remember the pairs of numbers they need.
Donkey (a variation of Old Maid)
This was a favourite between me and my siblings! In this version, play with the number bond pairs as in Pelmanism plus one joker card – this is the donkey. Shuffle the cards and share them out between the players (3 or more players works best for this game). Each player removes all the number bonds from their hand. Then players take it in turns to choose a card from the hand of the player to their left, removing number bonds as they are made. At the end, there will only be the joker card and the player left holding it will be the donkey. My grandmother would have some carrots handy when we played this and the donkey would have to eat one!
A fast-paced game of snap will help children build that speedy recognition they need for mastery of number bonds.
I hope you enjoy the games and some fun family time together playing them!
How are you? I hope that you are all ok and finding some nice things to do at home with your families? I am spending a lot of my spare time doing all of the things that I normally wish I had more time for, like spending time in my garden, reading more books, cooking, watching films and organising a few messy cupboards!
I also keep thinking about how we will remember this strange time. Have any of you had a go at writing or drawing your memories? Perhaps you could record yourself talking about life in lockdown because one day, when you are all adults, a child might ask you about this time.
Look at this notice from October 1918 (World War One ended in November 1918)
I wonder what children of the future will think when they look back on our school closure letters and signs?
On Friday, we will be celebrating VE day. This marks the end of World War Two – what a day of celebration and hope that must have been!
Hopefully many of you were able to watch my Friday afternoon worship last week? If not, here is the link again:
In my worship, I read you a ‘story of hope’ and I talked about some of the things I am hoping will change. Do you think the pictures above show hope?
Even when things are difficult, there are things we can be thankful for each day. Sometimes the things we are grateful for are BIG things and other times, little things that make a difference. Remember, in worship I have often talked to you about the difference a smile from you can make to another person’s day. Today, I am thankful that the sun has come out and my favourite flowers are starting to grow in the garden….these are not big things but they are things that have helped me feel peaceful today. You might be pleased that you can listen to your favourite songs today or play with your favourite toy.
Showing gratitude – saying thank you – really does link to all of our school values but especially thankfulness, peace, trust and respect.
So what things am I hoping will change?
When I think about the things that I would like to change after lockdown, I would really like to change some of the ways we have treated our world.
Do you remember our pledges to the world that we made for Harvest last year? Do you remember my pledge?
I said that I would reduce the number of take-away coffees I bought because these throw away cups are not good for the environment. Guess what? So far this year I have been really successful and I feel absolutely great about keeping my pledge.
So, this is where we start but there is so much more we can all do….
- Could we stop using single-use plastic completely?
- Use local shops and try to grow some fruit or vegetables?
- Cut down on our use of cars, by walking, cycling or sharing cars for essential journeys?
- Try to reduce how much ‘fast fashion’ we purchase – I remember the SBS Clothes Sale really helped us to think about this.
- Re-use and recycle when we can – like when year 6 used old clothes to make bags or when we swap books with a friend?
- Getting to know our neighbours and helping others.
I am sure that you have many ideas that you could share with me. Maybe you will join me in my first HOPE that the world will change because we are looking after it better. I am sure that people would be happier and healthier if everyone did this. What do you think?
For children who have mastered the phonic code, reading with fluency and expression is usually the next major hurdle in their reading journey. Luckily, it’s a skill that feeds itself because as their fluency improves, children understand more of what they are reading and the whole process becomes more enjoyable and rewarding. As it becomes easier and more enjoyable, they want to read more which then improves their fluency further.
I read, we read, you read
This is one strategy that you can use to help your child build fluency and provides a good model to teach reading with expression. I use this strategy with my daughter and have recorded our reading together so that you can hear how it works and what you should expect in terms of impact. Although she is in Year 1, I read, we read, you read can be used with any early reader wanting to build fluency and expression, as long as the reading text is well matched. It is worth noting, that this shouldn’t be the only strategy that you use with your child for reading but one of a range of activities for supporting your child’s reading (more blogs to follow..!).
Step 1: Choosing a text
For this particular activity, choose a text that is pitched a little higher than your child’s independent reading ability. For the example below, I chose Squishy McFluff, The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones which is a fun, entertaining read that my daughter happened to receive for her birthday. However, it is a challenging independent read for her, especially as it has a rhythm and rhyme to it. You can hear the level of challenge in the following recording as she reads a page for the first time:
If you’re able to, I’d recommend checking out Oxford Owls free eBooks for this as you can pitch texts fairly easily by choosing a book band above your child’s current book band.
Step 2: I read
Time to channel your inner Jack-a-nory! You read one page or paragraph to your child first, modelling lots of lovely expression and reading fluently (keeping a reasonably steady pace though). Importantly, you should also model enjoyment of the text as your child will take their cue from you – if you’re loving it, they almost certainly will too.
Step 3: We read
This time, you both read the text together. You’ll need to slow your pace a little to give them time for the extra processing they have to do. Lead them through the text and continue to put expression into your reading for them to emulate.
Step 4: You read
On the third read through, your child reads by themselves. Help them if they stumble over a word as you want to keep the pace of the read going. You should see a reasonable level of fluency on this third read and some imitated expression. If they are still finding the reading too hard, try a lower level text next time. Conversely, if they’re acing it at Step 3, you’ve pitched the text too low.
What does it sound like in practice?
I’ll leave you with a recording of my daughter and I reading a few pages of Squishy McFluff the other night. If you compare it with the ‘cold’ read above, you can hear the impact of this reading strategy.
As mentioned previously, this should be one of the tools in your reading toolbox and not the only way that you read together. You don’t want your child to get too dependent on your decoding, they will still need practise with this too. It is a lovely reading activity to do together that I hope you will both enjoy.
Grab a book, get cosy and have a go – happy reading!
As I took Flossie out for her walk, I noticed dozens of houses with rainbows painted in the windows. When I got home from the walk, I had to google the new trend. It turns out, people have been painting pictures of rainbows in their windows for children to go rainbow spotting whilst out on a walk and to bring people joy.
I wanted to feel part of this – but in my house I have no colouring pencils, colouring pens or paints! As I sat in the garden I felt disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to be part of this, but then I noticed the array of colour in the garden. At that point, I decided that I would make a rainbow, using the plants in the garden. Here is my end result, accompanied by my little assistant!
Here are some more rainbows that members of staff have shared:
Perhaps you felt inspired to make your own rainbow, please share it with us – we would love to see!
There are so many times that I am so grateful for a good book to read. An opportunity to float away to a different world, or to feel like I am in an adventure or to feel amused by the humour in a book. During this time away from school, books seem even more important. Sometimes I will be reading a book on screen and sometimes taking time to read books away from a screen. I hope that our children are also taking as much time as they like to absorb themselves in good books. Below are some useful links and ideas that you may find useful when selecting books and sharing books as a family.
Firstly, there are some really useful blogs to help you select books. Bronnie and Bill at Bookwagon are still working from their home and books ordered from them can be delivered to your homes. I confess that I do have a big collection on its way! Their most recent blog picks out some great new books and their website is full of other ideas. If you are still unsure what to select, you can email Bronnie and let her know you have an SBS keen reader wanting more books to read.
Helpful links for selecting books:
Follow this link to Bookwagon:
There is also the Book Trust. This has lots and lots of good recommendations and links. It is worth a browse of this website for activities as well as links to various different story times.
This is a useful site too – Love Reading 4 Kids. Again, it is full of recommendations, extracts of texts and activities for children.
Which books are SBS children reading or listening to?
It would also be good to get recommendations from the children. So if anyone reads a good book, please email class teachers or the school admin office to tell us all about it. We will compile a list of recommendations for our website.
There are many authors sharing their books in daily podcasts. Perhaps if you find an author you enjoy listening to you could let us know so that we can share it with the SBS community. In addition, we have started to record stories ourselves and we are using these for some of our lessons.
To do this we use free apps, such as Easy Voice Recorder. Once downloaded onto a device such as a phone, it is easy to record extracts of text and the upload the clip straight to learner’s pool. Perhaps children would like to read a story aloud for their friends to listen to? If they would like to do this, let us know and we can talk you through how to do it.
Inspiring writing through reading
It is also nice to research different authors. I have been enjoying watching the ‘authors and illustrators’ clips on the CLPE website. Here you can find authors reading their books, talking us through their illustrations and then sharing something about them with the audience. I think children of all ages would be really inspired to see how the artwork in texts comes together and like finding out more about popular children’s authors.
On the theme of books, words and writing, there are some really useful online dictionaries that your child can use when they are writing. I quite like the Collins Dictionary: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/urban
Plus, if all of your reading inspires you to do some more writing, why not make your own book. There are so many creative books that you can make. A quick google search took me to this page, https://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/bookmaking-crafts-make-books.html, with lots of ideas for making books and most do not require large amounts of craft resources. It can be motivating to draft a story or information book and then publish it in your own book. Perhaps your children will write something about what life is currently like for us; this may well become a piece of historic evidence for future generations.
You can be really creative with any writing you do. Your writing may also help others. Here is a piece of writing I found this week when out on my exercise break.
It says, ‘Be happy. Be kind. Be helpful. Be you.’
Another idea, is to take pictures of landmarks on your exercise breaks. When you get home, your children can try to draw a map of your route, labelling all of the landmarks and for older children adding a key. This is hopefully another type of reading and writing that might be fun for your children AND also covers national Curriculum objectives for Geography – so it’s a win, win!
So, don’t forget reading doesn’t need to be story books – there are endless poetry books, information books, magazines and children’s newspapers that our children can enjoy reading. However, you do it, please prioritise reading whilst we are away from school and really enjoy delving into books as much as you can!
Good luck and enjoy!
From Mrs Moir
I hope you are all well and managing to enjoy the beautiful sunshine at the moment. I wanted to share a lovely idea that I saw online with you all, we have started it in our family and it is so interesting to see what different members of the family wish for!
The suggestion is that every time your family are wishing they could do something, see some friends or visit a special place, you write it on a post it note and put it in a jar. Once things are back to normal the suggestions become your ‘bucket list’ of activities for your family to do together.
This a picture of our jar. So far my children have added, eating fish and chips on the beach, visiting their cousins, going to the cinema, having friends here for a BBQ and even a trip to Ikea (I’m not sure I am looking forward to that one!)
I hope that you will like the idea and I’m sure you can think of some really exciting things to do.
From Miss Harrison
Dear SBS Community,
How are you all? I spent last weekend thinking of the things I would like to do over the next few weeks and on my list are many creative activities to keep me feeling happy.
Here is a picture of something I once found on the beach – I love to look for ‘beach treasure!’
The patterns and marks on this branch probably tell a million stories – where did it start life and where has it been? How long has it been floating in our sea? I imagine the tree it once belonged to; I imagine a proud, majestic tree, the type of tree I would like to sit under on a sunny day. It might have been the type of tree that is good to climb? The perfect tree to climb to try to reach the clouds from the strong and towering branches.
This weekend I sketched this branch. But my sketch transformed……
The lone branch on the tree became a mighty dragon with handsome scales and tiger-eyes. Can you hear it ROAR?
What treasures can you find in your gardens? If you find a treasure, can you sketch it and then transform it into something new? Let your imaginations run wild and free. Have lots of fun!
From Mrs. Moir
Find out how to log into LearnersPool on our SBS Google Drive from home using this short video tutorial.
Update: you are now able to create and edit documents at home in LearnersPool. Thank you for your patience!
Details for opening google drive at home can also be found in this document:
On hearing the news of our school closure, the children came together in song this morning and recorded their first version of ‘Sing’ by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band. We’d love to see and hear your own versions of ‘Sing’ – record them at home and send them to us via email@example.com if you’d like to share them on our school webpage and help keep everyone’s spirits up.
There’s a place, there’s a time in this life, when you sing what you are feeling…
Sing up South Baddesley!