Praise for the Wee Class in the Big Room!

P1-4 are ready for more magic science!

On Tuesday 15th November we had a support visit from Alice Sharp, an educational consultant and expert in experiential, active learning. Alice has been visiting all the schools involved in the Early/First Level Pilot and spent the whole day with P1-4. This is what she thought about the Wee Class in the Big Room.

Wow what a day I have had today.  I have to say that I have been amazed and stunned at the level of teaching and learning that has been demonstrated within the early/first level class at Keills today.
I have the joy of ‘joining in’ with lots of different classes around Scotland.  I have visited over twenty classes in the last two months who are challenged by many things;  the diversity of children in their abilities and interests, their ages and the different ways they learn.
I have supported teachers who are rising to the challenges this brings and of course the added challenges of curriculum changes, inspection pressures, parental understanding and children who are looking not just to being educated but to being valued and trusted and celebrated.
Watching our dancing raisins as we investigate liquids, gases and density.
Throughout the day the ideas have been inspirational, the engagement techniques fantastic and the depth and breadth of learning experiences offered to the children some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Every child was involved in planning, shaping and guiding their own learning.  There were ‘intimate’ teaching moments where needed.  New concepts introduced in a thought provoking and imaginative way by a highly motivated and enthusiatic teacher.
Throughout the day the children were offered opportunity to explore, investigate and experiment in numeracy, literacy, science and drama.  They were active agents in their learning process at all times.  The deep level thinking that they demonstrated highlighted their abilities to self manage their learning journey; their participation fully in their learning; their level of committment to working together in a mixed age and ability classroom, bringing benefits to all.  The level of engagement ensured they were involved in developing ‘subject skills’ while fully supporting their enquiry, analysis and creative thinking.
Each child and in fact the teacher approached the learning with concentration, energy and enthusiasim.  There was a level of challenge for every child which was purposeful, successful and full of fun!  These children were involved in developing a wide range of skills and knowledge with persistence and precision.  They were given time, praise and encouragement to move through their learning journey in the best possible way.
A day full of learning which will add to all those I imagine that have been shared already and many opportunities that are still to come.  It has been a priviledge to be an observer.  Everyone involved in this very clear vision of what Early/First Level can look like should be very proud.
Alice Sharp, Education Consultant, Experiential Play Ltd

The Potions Area!

We are going to tell you about our potions area. The potions area has measuring jugs, measuring spoons, different containers, potion ingredients, and pens and paper for writing potions and spells. You can learn about measuring in millilitres. You can find out about other people’s potions when you read their recipes and you can write your own instructions for making potions. There are big bottles with melted tiger fur, dragon blood, monkey snot and Mr Twit’s spit. It is lots of fun and we like making potions.

By Sophie and Isla M.

The teachers say: The children really enjoy the potions area and they can combine lots of different learning skills in a single activity. Our wee ones have to learn to handle equipment carefully, for example pouring liquids from a large to a smaller container. They can develop the early concepts and language of measure – eg full, empty, half full, nearly empty and can practice their writing when they record the gruesome ingredients in their potions. Older children learn to measure accurately in millilitres, how to read scales and how to make a total amount – for eg their challenge might be to make potions measuring exactly 250ml using four different ingredients, and to make a written record of their recipe. The children enjoy using their creativity and imagination to design potions and explain what effect they have. When we first made potions as a cooperative group learning activity, the children were allowed to drink their potions, (all safe ingredients of course -blackcurrant diluting juice makes great dragon’s blood!) – and the affects were amazing – one group completely disappeared! Parents please do not worry – now that we have a potions area in the classroom, we have a rule that the children may only test their potions with the permission and  supervision of an adult – just to keep things safe and healthy.

Bulb Planting

This afternoon P1-4, Mrs Harper, Miss Wilson, and two parent volunteers, Mrs Urquhart and Mrs Pate, braved the wild weather and went out to plant spring bulbs in the school grounds. What happened?


Innes, Allana, Connor and Mrs Urquhart

We planted tete a tete bulbs in between the rose bushes at the front of the school. We also planted them in the tubs. It was hard to dig because of the stones and other roots and jaggy bushes. It was damp and grey outside but it did not stop us from having fun. One tub was very easy to plant and dig the bulbs into. The bulbs are going to grow and at Easter time we should have lots and lots of beautiful flowers.   

Katie, Isla K, Kyle and Miss Wilson

We planted daffodils and tulips in the big tractor tyres at the side of the school. It was cold while we were planting our bulbs but we had loads of fun. We ran out of space so we found more tubs in the playground to plant bulbs. The tulips will turn into beautiful colurs in the spring time. We are very excited and cannot wait until they grow. Katie likes the yellow daffodils and Isla K likes the tulips. We liked getting our hands mucky!

Eilidh, Charlie, Isla M and Mrs Pate.

Our task was planting the Red Riding Hood tulips in the smiley faces tubs. Isla and Charlie’s best part was digging with their hands and getting mucky. Eilidh enjoyed planting the extra bulbs in the very, very large tub. We all agreed that we worked very hard and look forward to seeing the bulbs flower beautifully in the Spring.

Nave, Andrew, William and Mrs Harper

We planted tulips called Easter Surprise and daffodils called Pipit, in the big tubs at the front of the school. The fat bit of the bulb goes down the way and the pointy bit points up. We had to cover the bulbs with soil. William says, “We should have had a competition about who had the dirtiest hands!” Andrew says, “It was freezing but we were tough.” We all thought it was fun getting mucky and Nave liked it when there was a competition to see who could leave the sinks looking cleanest after we had washed our hands! (The boys and the girls both did so well I could not choose – Mrs Harper.) Nave says, “Next time we should take more pictures and make a book.” William says, “Next time we could see who has the cleanest hands after we had washed them!”

We all had a great time. Thank you very much to our parent helpers, we could not have managed so well without you. Now we just have to wait until Spring and see what happens!

Our Book Area.

Kyle and William decided together that they both liked the book area in our new classroom because Bella Bear was there all the time. (Bella Bear is our UNICEF bear and she lives with us in the classroom – except when she goes on adventures – more in another posting!)

William said he loved the big animal book. It has loads of pictures in it which is really fun. Kyle loves reading books with Bella Bear and looking through all the pictures in Bella’s Adventure book.

Miss Wilson helped Kyle and William choose an exciting story for Miss Wilson to read to them. The books they chose were ‘The Highway Rat’ and ‘Aladin’. William liked ‘The Highway Rat’ better because he said he liked naughty rats!

Thank you Kyle and William for telling everyone about the book area, and thank you Miss Wilson for helping the boys with the writing.

Our Challenge Books.

Each morning our teachers have a challenge waiting for us in our challenge books. There might be language or maths challenges, or challenges about music, art or keeping healthy. It is always a surprise. Here we are working on a challenge where we had to draw and write about  our favourite place to be.

These are some of our favourite challenges…

Katie says, ” My best challenge was designing a healthy smoothie.” Katie’s smoothie was really crazy because one of the ingredients was fish! Well fish is healthy!

Isla M says, ” My favourite challenge was the ‘things I like doing’ challenge and listening to the Jura Ceilidh Band and drawing pictures to go with the music.”

Connor says, “My best challenge was the pattern sequences.” Isla K liked the pattern sequences too.

Andrew says, “My favourite challenge was drawing and writing about my favourite place in the world.”

Innes says, “My favourite challenge was the fire safety challenge.” Innes had to remember back to our fire safety visit and draw and label all the safety clothes and equipment that a fire fighter might need to use.

Art area by Katie

I am going to tell you about the art area. You can learn about painting, mixing different colours and using different interesting art resources. There is different material, feathers, sparkly things, lolly sticks, pens and lots of other brilliant and colourful things. I like to make model ships and cute, pink garden pictures. By Katie.

Magic Science. Try to make an egg swim.

First we had a jar of water  and then we put in the egg. We told the egg to do his best to swim.

The   egg sank to the bottom. Then we put in magic  swimming powder. The magic swimming powder was salt and Connor thinks it is yummy but Mrs Harper says only try it if a grown up person says  you can!

We stirred the salt and the water.

Then we put the egg in again. This time the                        egg floated!!!

By Innes and Connor and Andrew.

Mrs Harper says, “How did this magic work? Who can explain how we managed to help our eggs to swim? Remember – if you want to try this magic experiment yourself you must first check with a grown up person at home.”