30 September 2008

It's Tuesday; let's share something we have found out about plants

A long-standing tradition in Class 2i is that in the first half of the school year, Tuesdays are for sharing something connected with the Unit of Inquiry.  Today is Tuesday - and for our first ever 'Tuesday Newsday' of this year, the class was soon groaning under the combined weight of plants, books, cuttings, seeds.  In fact you could be forgiven for thinking you had instead wandered into a garden centre or nursery.

Thomas started us off.  'These olives,' he began,


'Are from my garden.  They grow in winter and summer but they're not ripe in summer.'

'What is ripe?' asked someone.

Owen piped up confidently.  'Ripe means when it's ready to eat.'

'These aren't ready to eat yet,' said Thomas.

Tommy continued.  'This is my cactus,' he told us.


'I can stroke it,' he went on, somewhat to my consternation.  'You can get pricked.  I have been pricked two times already.

Some grow in hot hot deserts and some animals eat cactuses.  There's actually juice inside.'

And that wasn't it.  We were also treated to this  wonderful picture Tommy made at home.IMG_8581

'This is a picture I made out of garden stuff.  These (points to the 'grass') I got from a tree and the leaves kind of dried.  I used a branch (perhaps we should call it a big twig) as the stem and twigs as the branches - and leaves for the leaves.'

'This,' explained Sivert proudly, 'is my book of knowledge.  It has everything about plants.  My favourite page is this one.....


because it has a picture of a wood and it is like a wood in Norway.  They are dark with big trees.'

Meghna now.  'It was supposed to be a blue flower.....


and then when it grew, it grew into a yellow flower.  It said on the packet it was going to be blue.'  Now, I wonder how that happened!

Leon struggled across the room, grimacing slightly.  He had in his arms a huge pot.....


which contained something rather special.  Leon told us it is a bonsai (which is a 'miniature' or 'very small' tree; something rather mysterious is done to the roots to keep a bonsai tree small).

Leon also had a huge (and I mean HUGE) botanical book (we learned that botany is the study of plants).  We thought that Leon's book probably had everything you could possibly want to know about plants in it!

Quentin told us about what he had brought.  'It's a plant.  It comes from Vietnam.'


After a few puzzled looks, he went on.  'I collect seeds and then I bring them home.  I made them grow.'  I wonder whether we might also be able to plant some seeds and make them grow.

'I have got seeds in my bag and leaves in my box.  They come from trees,' said Seyf.


'The seeds are carrots and pumpkins.'

Dasha brought in a packet of seeds as well. 


'I brought seeds and I love them so much and I wanted to plant them at home but I didn't have time,' she said.

Shani shared a 'print'. 


'I made this on Saturday.  You get a leaf and then you paint it and put it on a piece of paper then press it hard.'  Do you recognise what kind of tree it is from the pattern of the leaf?

Martin delved into a bag and pulled out a handful of these.


'My dad kicked a ball up into a tree and I found these.  You can stick toothpicks in them and make little animals.  You can bake them in the oven and eat....'

Oh dear.  Time for a teacherly interruption.  These are horse chestnuts, which you can't eat.  I wonder; can anyone bring us an edible sweet chestnut so we can see the difference?

The reason for my hesitation is that yes you can bake them in the oven.  But not in order to eat them.  Who can find out why you might want to bake them?  A clue; try asking your dad, particularly if he's British.

Mark also brought us a plant.  He hugged it tight to his chest.


'This plant is called heather.  It's in the woods and it grows in the winter.'

Chloe brought something rather intriguing to show us.


'This is a bamboo from the Philippines (or possibly a little closer to home - Ikea perhaps?)  There are three to give good luck,' she explained.  She went on, 'There's a story about a coconut tree and a bamboo.  There was a little bamboo and a big coconut tree.  The big coconut tree was teasing the little bamboo.  One day there was a big storm.  The little bamboo was going over from side to side in the wind.  The the big coconut went sideways and his roots came up and he fell over.....When it was sunny again, the little bamboo felt better.'

Tommy wondered, 'What are the lines for?' (He meant the rings round the stem of the plant).  Closer inspection and an interesting discussion followed, and we discovered that new leaves sprout from the 'lines'.

We also wondered how the bamboo got its spiral shape.  I wonder who can find out and let us know!

Virginia had to be content just to show us what she had brought.  'It's lavender.  They smell even when they are dead,' she explained.


As well as a bag of dried lavender flowers, she also has some other mystery items.  'I am going to make something,' she told us.  Sadly time restrictions meant that she was unable to do so today.  However, we have set aside some time later in the week.  I can't wait to see what it is!

Harrison brought a sprig of these.....


'This is from my dad's chilli.  We planted it in the summer.  I have eaten some in a sandwich.'  Now hang on a minute there.  A chilli sandwich?  Aren't chillis those things that 'burn' you even when you just touch them?  Time for a very brave teacher to pinch off the tiniest bit for the tiniest taste.  And surprise, surprise, not even the tiniest bit 'hot'.  Yes, I do believe that I too could eat one of these in a sandwich.

Lastly (for today) Viivi showed us a bag with a plant in.  'Take it out,' I suggested.  She hesitated.  And then I saw why.


'It's a nettle,' she explained. 

'How did you get it out of the ground?' asked an inquisitive Tommy.

'My mum did it with gloves.'  Phew!

Martin became quite animated as we were at the 'stinging' part of the discussion which ensued.  He interrupted.  'If you touch it, and you get stung, then that's really healthy.  And you can make them into tea.'

Not sure I fancy deliberately getting stung, even if it is supposed to be good for me, but perhaps we might try some nettle tea sometime.  Milk and sugar anyone?

28 September 2008

Where do plants grow?

Our World of Plants is of course incredibly rich.  After all, plants grow - well, where do they grow?  What better way to begin to find out, than by getting outside to take a look for ourselves. 

We were able to divide up our school grounds into a number of very different areas; we chose to look more closely at four of these - the entrance to the school, the 'adventure' playground, the playing field and the school 'garden'.

We wondered; what plants would we find growing in these different places?

To the field first.....


armed with clipboard, paper and a pencil (nice and sharp; all the better for careful recording).


And what do we see?  Well, obviously, grass.....


but look more closely still?  Do you see anything else?  Daisies maybe?




And what's this I see?


OK - moving on now to the front of the school, near the entrance.  Very different; certainly not a huge expanse of 'grassy' playing field.  Take a seat perhaps (oh and what is that you are sitting on Chloe?)




or even lie down.....


for a better view.

And what do you see?  One of these.....

IMG_8508 IMG_8511

maybe some of these.....

another take IMG_8512

and even one of these.....

IMG_8510 IMG_8507

Oh and of course no flowerbed can call itself a flowerbed without some of these, even at this time of year.....


IMG_8514 IMG_8517

On again.  This time to somewhere quite surprising.  Somewhere you might not expect plants to grow.  But look carefully and you may indeed be surprised!

IMG_8519 IMG_8518

Finally (for now at least) run past some of these.....


(oh and by the way this particular one would have been worth a much closer look!) towards the school gardens, where, surprise surprise, you might spot some of these.....


or some of these.....


or even some of these.....

IMG_8524 IMG_8525

Well, what are you waiting for?  Get out there with your sketchbooks or cameras.  Make a record of some of the different plants you see in all kinds of different places.  Where do plants grow?

Our Second Unit of Inquiry - a note for parents

We are already beginning to get involved in our second Unit of Inquiry which began during this last week.  Of course work will continue throughout the school year on our first, as we come to understand more fully about the Profile of the Learner; indeed as we continue to display these qualities in our everyday (school) lives.

However, time now to tell you about what we will be up to during the course of the next few weeks.  The new unit is entitled Our World of Plants.  The Central Idea is that 'Plants are vital for life on Earth' and in order to further our understanding, we will be following three main lines of inquiry:

  • Plants have similarities and differences
  • People depend on plants for many purposes
  • Our responsibility to look after plant life

These inquiries will be supported through activities such as hands-on observations of a range of different plants, scientific investigations to discover how plants grow and what they need in order to thrive, visits to nearby places to find out how different plants are cared for and research into what plants are used for.

During the unit a range of skills will be developed; from research skills, where children will observe carefully using different senses as they become aware of details, to thinking skills where they will acquire knowledge, use new vocabulary and remember what has been learnt.  They will hone their social skills as they co-operate in a group or with a partner and learn to share and take turns and their communication skills as they listen to directions and instructions and share ideas.  As we venture out of the school grounds, so self-management skills will lead to children becoming aware of safety and avoiding putting themselves or others in danger.

Although the focus of the unit is science, work right across the curriculum is of course possible.  Children have already surveyed their peers to find how many people like and do not like certain fruits and vegetables and recorded the results in a table. 

Why not watch this space for more examples of cross-curricular links as we piece together Our World of Plants?


24 September 2008

After Picasso.....

We often take time to reflect on our work in Class 2i.  After all, reflection is an important part of the learning process.  

Such was the case when we had finished our portraits.  It was perhaps not surprising that before we began, a chorus of 'that's too hard' and 'I can't do it' echoed round the room.  In spite of these perceived difficulties, we all had a go anyway, and to a man, everyone was surprised and rather pleased at his or her success.

IMG_8467 By Quentin:

It has funny hair. It’s nice because it has lots of colours.  It’s like a fox!  I like it.

IMG_8468 By Raamy:

My picture is a bit strange and there are so many colours.  It looks nice when there are a lot of colours.

IMG_8469 By Meghna:

I like the way I did the hair because I like all the curves and curls I did.  I am proud of it.  The line in the middle is the best bit.  And that’s all.

IMG_8470 By Harrison:

I am proud of it because I used a lot of different colours.  I enjoyed it.

IMG_8471 By Leon:

I had to colour it a lot because there were a lot of holes.  I am proud.

IMG_8472 By Tatiana:

I wanted the picture to be funny with lots of colours.  I made an ear that was low and another one that was high.  I like it.

IMG_8473 by Sharukh:

I like the ears to be different colours and the face is also different colours.  I tried my best.

IMG_8474 By Aabis

IMG_8475 By Mark:

On the face there is one part that is green and the other part is face-coloured.  It has yellow hair.  I am proud.

IMG_8476 by Virginia:

I like it because of the many details.  And I like the light colours I used.  I like the way I made all the shapes.  I am really proud.

IMG_8477 By Owen:

I used a lot of colours.  He has a lot of blood.  I showed it by using red.  I am proud of it.  I did a good job.

IMG_8478 By Sivert:

This is a picture about a silly man.  He has ears like nothing and his head is a funny shape.  I am proud of it.

IMG_8479 By Shani:

I like the colours.  They are beautiful.  I am proud of it. I had fun.

IMG_8480 By Tommy:

I like how I made the ears.  The ears look spiky!  It was fun.

IMG_8481 By Shouq:

I like her eyes and I like the ears and I like the red colour.  It is funny and I had fun.

IMG_8482 By Ryoma

IMG_8483 by Thomas:

I like this one because of the colours.  I think it is funny and that’s it.

IMG_8484 By Chloe:

I like this picture because it has different colour shapes.

IMG_8485 By Dasha:

I am proud of my eyes because they are so beautiful.  I like the colours.

IMG_8486 By Shahrbano:

I used triangles to make the ears and the nose.  I used circles to make the eyes.  I am proud.

IMG_8487 By Seyf:

This makes colours and this makes colours too.  I am proud of the colours.

IMG_8488 By Viivi:

I drew this hair because my brother has hair like this.  I am proud of the shape.

IMG_8489 By Martin:

I copied my sister because she also did this in our old school.  It was funny.  I am proud that it is just the same.

I think you will agree that we have a class full of budding Picassos; now how much was it that his last painting was sold for?