25 April 2009

Joe’s House

We had a very exciting proposal put to us the other day.  Amelia’s mum has been writing a book for children.  It is a book about children’s rights; specifically the right of all children to have somewhere safe to live with their family.   It is called Joe’s House.  This is what the front cover of the book will look like (the book has not yet been published).

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The book tells of Millie (that’s Amelia!) who lives at number 42 Bridge Street (which is where Amelia used to live in Portugal – although of course the street would have been rua da ponte in Portuguese).  It describes her journey to school each day, with her mum and her baby sister Lottie (yes, you’ve guessed it – Lottie is really Amelia’s sister).  Can you see Millie’s dad watering the plants on the balcony?

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Millie’s walk to school each day takes her past Mr Pastry’s cafe at number 36, Mr and Mrs Apple, the grocers, whose shop is at number 32 and Mrs Grey who lives at number 30. 

In the book (and yes, in real life too!) Millie has quite an imagination.  On Monday morning, for example, she was a rabbit, bouncing along the road to school.

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We hadn’t got all that far into the story (Millie the rabbit had just bounced past Mrs Grey from number 30) when we reached a rather odd-looking page.

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It had words, but no pictures.  Hmm!

As I said at the start of this post, the book hasn’t yet been published.  This is because it isn’t quite finished.  It has all the words it needs, but some of the pages don’t yet have their illustrations.

Lisa (that’s Amelia’s mum) explained to me that she was thinking about filling in the gaps in the story with pictures done by children.  Possibly even the children from Class 2i!

Well of course, we couldn’t let that proposal pass us by, now could we?

But first we would have to read the story again even more carefully.  The first ‘problem page’ we came to told how Millie (the rabbit) held mum’s hand as she bounced past the BIG dog from number 25. 


Well, you would, wouldn’t you.


On with the story, to the part where Millie the rabbit bounces past Joe, sitting as usual on his park bench.

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Joe is a little boy who has no home.  He ‘lives’ in the park.  Amelia told us that Joe really exists, although in real life he is a homeless man and not a little boy.

On Tuesday, Millie was a lion on her way to school. 

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As she passed Joe, Millie said, ‘I’ve been thinking – Joe could come and live with us, in our spare room.’

On Wednesday she was a mouse.  ‘What are you today?’ asked Joe. 

‘A mouse of course,’ squeaked Millie.

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On Thursday, Millie was a beautiful butterfly.


She fluttered past Mr Pastry, Mrs Apple, Mrs Grey…..


and the big dog…..


before spotting Joe. 


Friday was dress-up day at school.  Millie wore her snow princess outfit.


She wasn’t even afraid when she went past the BIG dog at number 25. 


After all, she had her magic wand with her!


‘What are you pretending to be today?’ Joe asked her. 

‘I’m not pretending.  I’m a real Princess,’ replied Millie.

‘Where’s your castle?’ laughed Joe.

‘I don’t live in a castle; I live at boring old number 42.’ she replied.

And so to the last page of the book.  Another blank one.  At the other end of the park Millie said to Mum, ‘I’ve had another thought. Maybe Joe doesn’t want a house. Maybe he wants a castle instead!’

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And maybe you could paint a picture that would fit those words.

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24 April 2009

From winter to summer in two short weeks

Having spent the last Friday evening before our Spring Break huddled round the fire in multiple layers of assorted clothing, following a return to sub-zero temperatures, imagine my surprise on our return a mere two weeks later.  Erstwhile bare trees…..


are now cloth├Ęd all in green (ho ho).  The mauvaises herbes are all poussing like mad. 


And the school garden is virtually unrecognisable.



and narcissi…..


are nodding their pretty heads.  The allium gigantium…..


looks fit to bust and Chloe’s sparkly tee shirt…..


is glinting in the sunlight.

Those radish seeds we planted?  Almost ready to be munched upon.


The garlic?  Heading skywards.


The well-watered herbs obviously relished their pre-vacation soaking…..



and the transplanted (by another class) chard…..


and cabbage seedlings are glistening and shiny with health.


But we had work to do.  Trenches to be dug and marked out in preparation for the planting of flower seeds.


And a challenge.  In the form of a handful of bamboo canes…..


and the biggest ball of string I have ever seen…..


which need to be turned into ‘tepees’ for runner beans to spiral up.

What to do?  A team effort is definitely required.  Someone to hold the canes steady…..


while lots of hands work with the string…..


winding it round and around…..


and around!

And just look here.  OUR runner beans, that we planted in the classroom in September, and which survived both the winter and spring breaks; temperatures which were too hot and too cold; being given too much as well as too little water…..somehow, against all the odds, had a sudden spurt of life and have now been transplanted outside and teased up one of the cane tepees.


One final thought, though.  I hope we have spiralled the beans in the right direction…..

21 April 2009

Solving a couple of problems with glass jars and tin cans

Well, we now know what (or should I say who?) a Stig is.  Stig lives in a dark, smoky shelter in a corner of the chalk pit.  He collects and re-uses the things that have been thrown away into the bottom of the pit.  Ask someone in Class 2i to tell you how he used the mudguard of a bicycle and the tube of a vacuum cleaner to collect his drinking water!

One day, Barney gathered together some things that his grandmother no longer wanted; glass jam jars and empty tin cans.


He thought that Stig might be able to use them for storing things.  He was quite annoyed therefore, when Stig, fascinated to discover how to use a tin-opener…..


proceeded to take off all the bottoms of the tins.  “You’ve spoiled all the tins now!  You can’t keep things in tins with no bottoms!”  What was the use of a lot of tin tubes with no ends?

Remembering what it was like in the shelter (dark and full of smoke) we wondered how the tin ‘tubes’ and empty glass jars might be used to solve those two problems.

Aabis thought about the problem of the cave being dark.  Maybe Stig and Barney would ‘put the cans out in line from Stig’s house and then the light of the sun will come in and it will go in the glass which is held up on a rope, and reflect.’

Quentin suggested that they could ‘take two sticks, make a fire and put the jar over the fire and make a light.’  I wonder…..

Ryoma would put a candle in one of the jars.  A similar effect - perhaps!

Amelia was rather more creative in her thoughts.  ‘Put a jar in the roof, catch some glow worms and put three in each jar.’


Dylan would make a hole in the side of the cave and put the jar in the hole so that the light shines through.

Tommy had a similar plan for making the cave brighter.  ‘Dig a hole to outside through the wall.  Put glass jars in the hole…..then get some fire and melt the jars to make a window.’  Hmm!

He also felt he could solve the problem of the smoke.  ‘Put the cans together and the smoke goes up the tube through the roof.’

Shahrbano too felt that they could ‘take the cans and glue them together to make a chimney.’


Martin and Virginia also would use the tins to solve the smoke problem.  They would make a hole in the roof, stick the tins together and put them in the hole to take the smoke out.


Of course, you will have to read the book to find out how close we got to the way in which Barney and Stig solved the problems.  What I will say, however, is that some of us weren’t far wrong!

03 April 2009

Trouble in the vegetable rack

Thursday evening; hunting in the dark recesses of the vegetable rack for a clove or two of garlic, to perk up the dinner.  What did I find?  Green shoots.


I suspect that the dark had confused the garlic into thinking that it was underground and needing to ‘pousse’ or sprout.  Which, although it meant that I had to be a bit more creative with my flavourings than planned that evening, gave me ‘food for thought’ for the next day’s gardening tasks.  Perhaps it would continue to shoot, send down roots and fatten up in time for some later dinner if we were to plant it.


So, let’s poke some of the sprouted cloves into our newly-prepared seed beds…..


and water them well!


And while we are at it, we had better make use of our prepared (raked and carefully measured) beds and a sunny afternoon, and get some seeds planted too.  Radishes, carrots and onions.

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Some seeds are tiny so they need to be sprinkled onto the soil from a cupped palm.

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And then watered.  Well.


Other seeds are big enough to be poked into the soil one-by-one.


And then watered.  Well.


And while we have got the watering cans out…..


I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give the rest of the garden a bit of water.

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After all, there hasn’t been much rain lately.