This is Nave and Isla here. We are starting up a new blog about our school Keills Primary. We hope you enjoy our blog. On this blog  there will be lots of pictures and videos if possible. You can send in coments if you have any thing to say or any ideas to make our blog better.

Adding Adder and Subtraction Snake

Adding Adder and Subtraction Snake live together in our box of maths games.

It’s always great when your headteacher says there is some money to spend … so we enjoyed choosing more games and resources for the Big Room. Mrs Baker found these boxes of fun maths games which have proved to be very popular with the children and teachers.

One day a group of P1 and P2 children, plus me, were busy playing Adding Adder  – a great game to practise number bonds to 10. When they had finished beating me, one child asked if we could play another game. “I want to play this one”, he said, lifting out Subtraction Snake. “Well that game is about some maths that you and your partner have not learned about yet”, I replied, “but we could give it a go if you like.” Straight away there was a chorus of, “We can help”. “We can show him how to play”. ” We can explain about take aways”.  So …  once we had sorted out the ‘who’s having which colour counter, who’s going first’  issues, (board games are great for developing social skills!), off we went. I rapidly took a back seat and by the end of the game I was just about ready to proffer  my resignation and hand over the teaching business to the children – they are SUCH good teachers. Our new subtraction learners were shown how to take away numbers using cubes or fingers – ‘put out 10 cubes or fingers, and now take away the number on the spinner, and now count to see how many are left and that’s the number of spaces you can move along the snake’. They were shown how you could take away by counting back, ‘ put 10 in your head, look at the spinner and count back that number and then when you get to the last number move that number of spaces’. They were shown how to use a number line to take away, ‘ start at 10 and count back, what number have you got to? Move that number on the snake’. They were shown how to take away by counting on, ‘ put the spinner number in your head and count on to 10. How many fingers have you put up? Move that number of fingers.’  And they were shown how to use number bonds to help too, ‘ Well you know that 6 and 4 make 10 so 10 take away 4 must be 6 – it’s a linking fact  – you can write it on a triangle like this…’ PHEW! Incredibly helpful or information overload? It was interesting to see how each child had their preferred method of calculating and which one our new learners settled on. One needed the concrete visual support of the cubes. The other liked to count back using fingers. But we all agreed that the game went fastest for the children who could quickly recall their number bond linking facts – the ones who just knew that 10 – 3 = 7 – just like that! It was a great way of helping the children to see what they should be aiming for, (fast mental recall), but that there were different ways of working out and explaining what was going on in these calculations.

I must remember to plan  ‘You be the Teacher’ more often!

We love the blocks!

They’re wooden, smooth, tactile, come in all sorts of 3-dimensional shapes, fitting them NEATLY back into their box is the ultimate Krypton Factor challenge, (bet loads of you are too young to remember that!), and they have to be one of the most popular resources in the Big Room… they are The Blocks! We all love building with them, (although I just love fitting them back in their box – a very satisfying bit of 3-D tidying up!), and children are often reaching for the class camera to record their amazing constructions. But… is it just children playing with wooden blocks? The answer, of course is no – they are not ‘just’ playing, they are creating, learning, cooperating and so much more. Even though I have spent the last year immersing myself in the principles and practice of active learning in the classroom I can still lapse into the ‘just playing with blocks’ frame of mind.  But each time I’m shown the latest technical design for the new CalMac ferry, the next ancient stone circle, the seat that actually fits and supports a real child, the symmetrically balanced sculpture, the castle with the secret door, the  set for another Comic Life film making project  I am constantly reminded and amazed at the learning potential which arises when you mix children with wooden shapes.

Can you make a symmetrical building? ... Almost ... what needs to change?
Yes we can!

I’ve seen that Blocks + Children + A little bit of adult interaction = relevant, creative, motivated learning. I had specific Curriculum for Excellence outcomes in mind when we resources the construction area, (the home of The Blocks), in the Big Room, but as I was downloading the latest pictures from the camera – and there they were again – I wondered just how much of the curriculum could be addressed through the blocks. When our headteacher Mrs Johnston and I visited Luing and Easdale Primaries in march, they had blocks too, (bigger than ours … mmm), and their joint head, Stephen said he reckoned you could teach the whole curriculum with the blocks. I’m not exactly quoting you on that Stephen – but it is blocks for thought….

Developing a sense of pride and achievement, and balancing!
Can you make a clock face? Not what I expected!
OK Mrs Harper - we can put numbers on too - and by the way it's three o'clock.
Cooperating and working together. Can you make a rocket? How tall can you make it?

Olympic Village Development

Stratford in East London is not the only place which is attracting Olympic attention. The Big Room has experienced  it’s own development site as Scott’s Hut has been dismantled to be replaced by an Olympic Village and Keep Fit Centre. The Village is somewhere where the children can meet fellow athletes; find out about Olympic athletes from around  the world, (developing a deeper understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it); work out in the keep fit centre, (timing each other with alarm clocks and timers); learn about food health by preparing healthy snacks in the Olympic cafe; practise number and money skills by selling and buying those snacks and explore the food journeys that snack ingredients have taken to reach Keills. And these are just SOME of the learning opportunities which children can experience. The children have planned their Olympic Village and keep coming up with new ideas. Just like all big construction developments I have a feeling that the Big Room Olympic Village and Keep Fit Centre is going to keep evolving right up to the last minute!

More Gobblers!

I knew our Primary 2’s would have something more to say about right angle eating gobblers…

Eilidh decided to make more gobblers in her independent learning time. First she made a gobbler that eats right angles … BUT … then she made a gobbler that did not have such a big appetite and ate only angles which were smaller than a right angle. After a wee chat about these two gobblers Eilidh went off and made a really greedy gobbler that likes to eat angles which are bigger than a right angle. When Eilidh brought them to show me she also explained to me that she could put them in order – and so she did! We all looked at the gobblers and learned that the one that eats less than a right angle is called an acute angle gobbler, (Eilidh is good at remembering this one because it is a cute gobbler!!). The big greedy gobbler is an obtuse angle gobbler. Thanks Eildh for helping us all find our next steps in learning about angles.

Gobblers seen at Keills Primary School!

This picture could be a contender for a caption competition BUT in fact this is a primary 1 pupil joining in with the rest of his class to hunt for right angled corners in the playground. First the children had to make ‘right angle gobblers’ by cutting out a circle of card, folding it in half, then folding it  into quarters and then cutting out one quarter to be a ‘mouth’. The addition of an eye and some teeth, and the boring old circle becomes a ‘gobbler’ and is ready to head off into the great outdoors to ‘eat’ some corners! The children had great fun and were quite at home chatting about halves, quarters, right angles etc. Next steps for the older children, (but knowing P1/2 they’ll want in on the action too), is to learn about degrees of a circle and that right angles are ninety degrees of a circle. One of the great things about Curriculum for Excellence, The Big Room and the children being so much more active in their learning, is that many of the traditional learning ceilings are removed. Children see what’s going on around them and are keen to have a go – just because you are only 5 shouldn’t mean that you can’t join in and learn about right angles. And just to show that our P1 was having a bit of fun when the gobbler tried to eat him, (he knows he is not a corner!), but does know how to correctly  identify right angled corners in the real world, here are a few more pictures.

Right angled corner on the raised beds.
The bench.
This gobbler loves eating corners!

Well done to all the gobblers and their P1-4 friends. You found lots and lots of right angled corners and interestingly we noticed that all the corners were man made – we couldn’t find any right angled corners in the natural world. Mmmmm.

Spring flowers at Keills.

The face pots are feeling very happy with their red tulips!

If  you take a look in our school grounds you will see that Spring has truly sprung at Keills Primary School. All the hard work from P1-4 children and our parent helpers last October has paid off and we now have tubs of daffodils and tulips to brighten up the playground. As Isla M said, “It’s like the bulbs we planted in the Autumn have woken up now that it is Spring”. This afternoon P1-4 went outside to have a good look – and smell – of the flowers and then we wrote about what we thought.

(Thank you to all the great spelling and grammar checkers in the class who kept me right when I was typing the blog – especially Allana, Isla M and Isla K, Nave and Innes. Kyle checked my finger spaces for me too – thank you!)

This is what P1-4 wrote about their successful bulb planting.

Katie felt happy because the flowers grew. Kyle thought the daffodils were pretty. Our flowers are bright yellow.

Our flowers were bright and colourful but they are mostly over now. Our bulb planting was successful and we felt happy. (Innes, Allana and Connor and Mrs Urquhart  planted little early narcissus daffodils which looked beautiful in February when it was so grey and rainy – thank you – it helped to cheer us up!)

The flowers were very cool and pretty. Our flowers are fantastic and awesome. There are yellow daffodils and there are red and yellow tulips still to come.

It made me happy and all of my group were happy too. Our flowers were wonderful and colourful. They are the red tulips in the face pots on the steps.

Well done P1-4! Good gardening team work!

Sports Relief 2012

Sports Relief 2012 began in The Big Room with the morning challenge where children, working with a partner, had to create a two minute, keep fit warm up routine. The routine had to warm up all the different parts of the body, had to last exactly 2 minutes, (stop watches out guys), and children had to be ready to demonstrate and teach their routine to the big ones in the afternoon before our ‘run a mile’ event. Phew – makes me tired just writing about it! There were a lot of things to think about and it wasn’t always easy to agree – but all the children were very successful and we had lots of fun teaching the big ones too.

First we had to plan ...
... and record our ideas.
Then we had to practise ...
... and time our routines ...

So that we were ready to teach the big ones in the afternoon!

National Science and Engineering Week. 12th – 16th March 2012

As part of National Science and Engineering Week P1-4 explored ‘The World in Motion’. For our morning challenge  pupils had to draw and label non-living things which move on the land, in or on the water and in the air. We had lots of books to help give us ideas and we had to sort all the different machines and vehicles that we drew.

After break, P1-4 invited in parents and friends to join them as they explored and investigated different experiments and activities about forces and motion. They constructed amazing gearing systems, experienced the power of elastic or stored energy by constructing and testing paddle boats, flew paper areoplanes and tested the different designs, measuring distances flown to see which was the most effective and had lots of fun seeing how pushing forces could make balloon rockets speed along a length of crabbing line!  We kept the activities in the classroom until the end of term so pupils had plenty of time to investigate them.

Building with gears.
The aeronautics design team.
Ready for testing.

The  scientific concepts and rules behind the experiments are pretty big and complicated and we wouldn’t expect children to be able to wax lyrical about the detail of the physics, (could I – without a bit of swotting up?!), but it is really important for children to have exposure to these experiments – most of the planned activities could just as easily be classified as children’s games and toys as well as science experiments. Hopefully as they grow older, children will remember and be enthused by what they were able to discover and develop an appreciation that so much of what they experience and play with as children is grounded in science.

The balloon rockets were such fun!

Big White Snow and Ice Attack!

When Eilidh was setting her learning targets way back at the beginning of the Spring term, she decided that she would like to make a snow and ice picture in the creative area. ‘That sounds like a good idea Eilidh,’ said Mrs Harper, (thinking how well that would ‘fit’ into our Polar Lands topic!!). ‘How do you plan to make this picture?’ Eilidh thought that she should only use white things to make the picture, and that she could use paint and collage things …. BUT… she also wanted the picture to be very big and for everyone in the whole class to join in and make it together! WOW – what an exciting bit of independent planning. SO  …   we collected lots of white things, we used up all the rest of our PVA glue supplies and worked together to make a white snow and ice picture map of the Antarctic. We used different textured materials to represent different features in our white collage. We marked on Scott’s hut at Hut Point, and we showed the frozen sea ice, glaciers and the Transantarctic mountains and the ice plateau that Scott had to cross to reach the South Pole.

Thanks for your great idea Eilidh. We all enjoyed joining in with this project. What next??!!!

William, Kyle, Sophie and Allana make a start on the glaciers.

Eilidh and Connor making mountains.

And when we put it all together this is what it looked like.

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