What makes us happy?
Happiness has been at the heart of the Junior School this week, starting with our assembly on Monday morning, at which we thought about the top five things that make us happy. It might be spending time with friends and family, little acts of kindness, the rush that comes from exercise or playing a sport we love.
It was wonderful to hear from the children about what makes them smile. Not one person came up with something material - all spoke about people, hobbies and games.
We learned that Kyle in Year 6 appreciates a good night’s sleep before getting up for school in the morning – or rather the sensation of waking up is made all the better by going to bed early!
Scott in Year 3 enjoys playing with his dog; Monty in Year 2 loves football (tackling, in particular); and Paula in Year 3 likes to take part in gymnastics competitions. For Rachel in Year 6, it was spending valuable time with family and feeling loved and cared for.
Since Monday morning there have been smiling faces all round the Junior School, and nowhere more so than at the Year 6 Exhibition.
The children worked so incredibly hard on their projects, many choosing to focus on causes and subjects close to their hearts. Care was taken in setting up the displays and it was lovely to see so many proud, and happy, parents, friends and relatives engaging with the children and supporting them. It certainly made me happy and demonstrated the true philosophy of our wonderful PYP curriculum and the skills that the children are learning, which will stand them in great stead for life.
Another event which saw proud parents (and a very proud Headmistress) was our LAMDA performance evening on Tuesday. I was so impressed by the quality of the performances, the acting and articulation, and capacity to learn so many lines.
Some of the children even wrote their own improvised pieces, which could easily have been mistaken for the work of a published playwright! Based on Tuesday evening’s performances, I am sure those sitting LAMDA exams this week will have impressed.
Our Ridgway Adventure during Half Term also generated smiles all round, and I gather from Mr Barrable, Miss Neave and the pupils that this really was a trip to remember. The children behaved incredibly well and took on each and every challenge with tremendous enthusiasm, including their night alone on ‘Survival Island’, which I have to admit had me slightly on edge at first. I needn’t have worried, however, as all our young explorers made it back in one piece, sun-kissed and content.
A final mention this week must go to the Year 2 children, some of whom have brought in the most intricate miniature gardens, created as an optional homework project during Half Term. The hard work and effort that has gone into making them is clear for all to see. Their gardens will be on display in the foyer until the end of term, so if you haven’t already, please do stop by and have a look.
Well done to everyone on a busy first week back. Let’s continue to keep our smiles wide as we learn, play and celebrate over the coming weeks, and if at any point you feel in need of a little cheering up, you might enjoy this short video, ‘The Pig of Happiness’, by Edward Monkton. It certainly has my Year 6 class smiling on a Thursday afternoon!
The weather looks to be unpredictable, but have a happy weekend, come rain or shine.
RIDGWAY ADVENTURE | Year 7 travelled up to Ardmore for their Ridgway Adventure last week, ready for whatever awaited them outdoors at their destination. An action-packed week ensued, with rafts raced before breakfast; the Reds edged a victory by just 3 seconds over the Blues in their bid to collect Mr Barrable and instructor Tim from the swimming platform in Loch A Chadh-Fi.
After a hearty morning meal, the group set off in the work boats to see the 1966 Atlantic rowing boat used by Rebecca Ridgway's father on his famous voyage, and the 1992 Cape Horn sea kayak, used by Rebecca to become the first woman to kayak round that formidable coastline. Whilst out on the water, the teams lifted lobster creels to look for a catch, and found plenty of crabs of all different types inside!
Next was the start of the 'search to survive' course, which was wilderness orienteering on a grand scale. A great opportunity to practise teamwork and decision making, as well as map-reading as the pupils located clues to unlock a striking flint for their night on 'Survival Island'.
Both teams were successful and were back down at the Adventure School at 4.30pm for a cup of tea and piece of cake before heading across to the island.
The teams worked well together and established shelters quickly, setting small fires to cook up their foraged food and simple rations.
The week also involved hiking, rock climbing and games on the beach at Oldshoremore. What a fantastic adventure!
LAMDA Performance Evening
LAMDA PERFORMANCE EVENING | A huge well done to all our Junior School performers who took part in Tuesday evening's brilliant LAMDA showcase in the Music School Auditorium. Family and friends enjoyed clear speech and top acting from the pair and individual entrants, who have been working very hard to learn their lines, project and prepare ahead of their exams this week.
North East Fife Tennis
NORTH EAST FIFE TENNIS | Congratulations to the Year 3/4 tennis team on winning the North East Fife Regional Finals during the Half Term week. The Year 5/6 team played the following day, finishing second in their age category. Well done to all involved!
Pony Club Competition
PONY CLUB COMPETITION | Anna (Year 4) and Emily (Year 6) took part in the Junior Fife Pony Club area competition in Perth and won, with their team finishing as the first out of eight. This means the girls qualify for zones in July!
Also with the Fife Pony Club, Anna came first in the 60cm and first in the 60cm 'working hunter', finishing as the overall champion in the 'working hunter' class and winner of the Junior Puissance on Chase me Charlie at 1m10cm. Well done to both girls!
Fife Mini Tour
FIFE MINI TOUR | Logan (Year 6), Sanna (Year 5) and James (Year 3), along with Senior School pupils Katie, Adam and Angus (Year 8) completed the Mini Tour of Fife last week, including a tough run up East Lomond! James finished fifth in the U9 boys, Logan fourth in the U11 boys, and Angus ninth, Katie second in the U13 girls and Adam third in the U13 boys. This is a challenging series of races over five consecutive evenings in locations across Fife - a very impressive feat!
Botanic Gardens Day
BOTANIC GARDENS DAY | On Wednesday, Years 2, 3 and 4 enjoyed a wonderful visit to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. It was a wet journey on the bus, but fortunately the rain stopped just as the group arrived and held off until home time.
The Year 3 activity for the day was a journey to find the P.P.P, or the 'Perfect Panda Place'. This, the children discovered, would require four things: shelter, water, air and food.
They set off on a hunt around the grounds of the Botanics, looking for the perfect spot for pandas. Many places were found, including many with some of the four things they were looking for, but not everything. Only when the girls and boys arrived at the Chinese Hillside did they find plenty of water, areas to shelter, lots of bamboo to eat and good, fresh air.
Over the course of the day, the children learned lots of interesting facts about pandas and their habitat, including the types of bamboo they need and what we use bamboo for. Did you know bamboo can be used as scaffolding? It's extremely strong! It can also be made into cloth, which is extremely soft, as well as dog toys that are (almost) indestructible.
Meanwhile, Year 2 were busy exploring the vast series of greenhouses, moving from tropical rain forests to the desert, and even back to the time of dinosaurs!
As they travelled, the children stopped to explore various plants and learn about which parts of them are used for different purposes. Year 2 discovered that plants provide us with food such as vanilla, bananas, papaya, cocoa, rice and sugar, while other plants are used to make rope, create rain-makers or even make boomerangs!
The Year 4 class enjoyed a workshop on 'Plants We Use', starting off with an introduction to the wonderful produce grown by many students and volunteers at the garden. The children were asked to identify a variety of plants that we use as food, from root vegetables to edible flowers! The Herb Garden and Physic Garden (used to grow medicinal plants) were of particular interest, and everyone enjoyed taking in the aromas from the different herbs.
Next was a tour of the stunning glasshouses, where Year 4 saw cocoa trees, sugar cane, banana trees and amazing bamboo plants which grow by one metre every day!
A fascinating and varied visit for all the year groups!
Year 2 Strings
YEAR 2 STRINGS | Year 2 continue to build on their instrumental skills as part of the Junior Strings Initiative. With LAMDA exams on in the Music School Auditorium this week, they brought their violins down to St Katharines Hall to learn some new tunes with a change of scenery!
Year 7 Moving Up Day
YEAR 7 MOVING UP DAY | The Year 7 pupils were joined by their new Year 8 classmates today for a series of activities and challenges designed to give them an insight into life in the Senior School at St Leonards. After a challenge morning with Mrs Pennycook, pupils attended informative sessions covering the MYP curriculum before embarking on class projects on St Leonards Grass, organised by Mr Barlow.
By late afternoon it was time for fun activities including a bucket and sponge challenge and a very soapy water slide on Birdcage! This evening many of our Year 8s-to-be will be staying in school for supper in the CDR, a ceilidh in the School Hall, and finally a sleepover with hot chocolate in Bishopshall!
Learning Through Play
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY | Mrs McGregor's Year 6 French class have been learning vocabulary through playing games as an alternative to traditional spelling tests. First of all, the pupils created their own board games including card games, a tower game and a Mr Men game with the aim of teaching one another 20 adjectives in French.
The second part of the activity was based on learning new vocabulary and revising the topics covered this year using games that French children play at school. A wonderful interactive lesson!
The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:
Ting for excellent mathematical reasoning in the class problem solving, pattern-based activities.
Cameron for enthusiasm and helpful ideas when working on the end-of-term assembly.
Abbie received a swimming award for breaststroke in the Fife Novice League.
Conor and Aidan, along with a number of other Junior School pupils, took part in the Chariots of Fife beach race on the West Sands last weekend, receiving a medal at the finish line. All those who took part received a round of applause at assembly. Anyone else who ran and would like to bring their medal in to be presented during Celebration Assembly is very welcome to leave it with Mrs Dewar.
A Note from the Lower School
Have we really only been back for a week? Goodness me, it has been a packed one!
The highlight has to have been the enormously successful trip to Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden, which was organised by Mrs Arkwright and involved a large number of the team. Panda habitats were found, healthy eating explored and lessons learned about the value of all the plants from pods to roots. Exhausted, but happy, staff and pupils demonstrated precisely how wonderful the outing had been.
As if this wasn’t enough excitement, Year 2 had the opportunity to attend the Bioblitz event held by the University of St Andrews, with the most amazing exposure to all sorts of fish living within our rock pools. This free event continues over the weekend and we would heartily recommend a visit if you are at a loose end, wellies essential!
There are activities and outings aplenty this term, so do keep an eye on all the various mailings but I’m sure that the children will keep us all straight.
Sadly, the end of last half term saw the Year 1 chicks re-homed. Our own Mrs Souter took four of them back to her house, where I am informed that they are doing extremely well. What to call them was the big issue occupying everybody’s minds, and to that end we held a lighthearted ‘competition’.
The children’s ideas for names were enormously varied, with suggestions such as Vaporian, Peep, Flash, Fluffy, Sinbad, Cheeky and Shelley to name a few. The adults were pretty reserved but after we had laughed about the somewhat irreverent Sam and Ella (sorry Mrs Dewar) and dismissed Ezekiel (sorry Mr Lamb), we had to confess that Mary (Queen of Chicks) and Chiquitita (a tribute to the staff’s current musical tastes) were somewhat inspired. We couldn’t ignore the loveliness of Hetty, Lavinia and Felicity but then there was also the fact that one of the chicks had become very fondly known as ‘Nugget’ by all the children... Whatever they go on to be called, we were all delighted to watch their first few weeks and even more grateful that we shall be able to see them grow via Mrs Souter. My thanks to everybody who offered name suggestions and apologies for not being able to record them all.
Year 1 have embarked on their final Unit, exploring toys and games. Drawing on inspiration from a rocking horse brought in by one pupil, the children enjoyed a relaxing art lesson on Tuesday experimenting with oil pastels to produce wonderful still life after learning about the work of Van Gogh. The results were amazing and the focus incredible.