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.'
'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?