Growing and Flourishing
"The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." Gertrude Jekyll, British Horticulturist
We certainly have some avid young gardeners here at St Leonards. Under the guidance and leadership of garden-guru Miss Fisher, the pupils love tending to the plants in our polytunnel at school. It is always fantastic to see the pupils traipse down to the polytunnel at break or lunch time, trowel or wheelbarrow in hand ready to care for the plants. Lockdown has not stopped our budding horticulturalists from being green-fingered — it seems that our pupils have well and truly caught the gardening bug. They have been busy planting, watering, and tending to their vegetable patches and flower pots at home. The list of plants is extensive, varied, and interesting — peas, carrots, pumpkins, lettuces, radishes, parsley, basil, cress, beetroot, chillis forget-me-nots, sunflowers to name a few!
The teachers have also caught the gardening bug. Mr Barrable and his sons have converted their small sandpit into a raised bed to grow some vegetables. Water and slug patrols are carried out daily… whether this interest in vegetables is carried over to when they appear on his table in a few weeks time remains to be seen!
This week, two of our keenest gardeners, Jamie and Jonathan, reflected on why they love their hobby so much:
“Gardening makes me feel amazing and happy for two reasons. One, I like the smell of plants. They all smell different! My favourite plant to smell in my garden is mint. The second reason is I love the taste of them. I am growing tomatoes, peas, lettuce, courgette and potatoes to eat. My favourite taste is tomato. I also love squishing tomatoes up with my hands to make tomato sauce, it feels all squashy. Hang on - that's three reasons!" Jamie
"Gardening is exciting! It is exciting watching your plants grow and wanting them to get bigger and bigger and bigger. The tallest plants I have grown so far are my beans. They are already bigger than Miss Fisher's beans and she planted hers two weeks ahead of me!" Jonathan
This week was National Growing For Wellbeing Week, and their reflections are testament to the ways in which gardening has a positive impact on mental wellbeing. Gardening encourages our children to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and be immersed in nature. As Jonathan alludes to, it also teaches the children to be patient, responsible, boosts their confidence, and encourages them to connect with their peers and teachers.
It is also an incredibly rewarding hobby — both Jamie and Jonathan are growing vegetables which they will then harvest and turn into delicious, healthy, and nutritious food. You really can have your cake (or carrot) and eat it two! We would encourage all of our young gardeners to harvest some produce in time for Eat Your Vegetables Day (Wednesday, 17 June) and then cook something delicious to share with their families.
If your children have not yet caught the gardening bug, why not encourage them to get going and plant some flowers or vegetables. They will reap the rewards of time spent in the great outdoors, it will boost their mental wellbeing, and you will be able to eat some delicious home-grown produce or enjoy some beautiful flowers. As the British Horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll famously said that “the love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” Let’s hope that this is true for our children too!
CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY | It was a bumper week for Commendations and Spirit of St Leonards awards, with lots of fantastic work and kind actions to celebrate! Many congratulations to all the pupils listed below.
Spirit of St Leonards
TEACHER SPOTLIGHT | This week, we were delighted to speak with Miss Brannen about her experiences of home working and lockdown life. She has been busy preparing lessons, teaching via Google Meets, completing the Couch to 5K programme, and trying out some delicious recipes and new creative hobbies! We hope that you enjoy reading her reflections below.
Each day, I wake up at 6.30am. I then get ready for some exercise. On a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go for a run at the beautiful beachfront in Broughty Ferry. Before lockdown, I did not have this opportunity as I left home in my car to drive to school by 7.10am!
This week, I completed the NHS Couch to 5K programme, which has taken me far longer than the nine weeks outlined due to injury and generally not having the time before lockdown. At the start, I could not even run for one minute without stopping. However, I persevered and can now run non-stop for thirty minutes. On my rest days from running, I usually take a bike ride or go for a walk and also do an 'on demand' exercise session from David Lloyd. I have not been so fit and healthy for a long time.
At 8.30am, I log onto my computer ahead of lessons starting at 9am. I then stay working at my computer until lunchtime. I have been far healthier because I don’t have the choice of three courses! I have been making lots of Joe Wicks' recipes, and have found one that I absolutely love: a delicious pork sweet chilli stir fry. I have also made Joe's Energy Balls using cashew nuts, coconut and dates. They are lovely! I dropped some off with my parents on my morning run, and my Dad immediately texted me to say that he would like a full batch next time. I have really enjoyed trying and experimenting with new foods and tastes.
In the afternoon, I usually have a check in/drop in session and then reply to emails, mark work, prepare lessons, and have a meeting with Mr Barrable. At 5pm, I switch off my laptop and finish my working day.
When I am not teaching or preparing materials, I have been doing a lot of work on my house that I bought last September. I visited B&Q over the half term holidays and started to bring the garden to life. I have also transformed the old spare bedroom into a home office, but am still waiting patiently for the desk to arrive - it is due on 20 June, just in time for the end of term!
I have also been able to rekindle a few new hobbies. I have started knitting a small cardigan with multi-coloured wool. It is taking a long time, but I really like doing it in the morning with the sun shining in through the patio doors. I have also continued a cross stitch pattern that I had forgotten all about. Both of these take time and focus without any distractions. I also completed a jigsaw puzzle but, as I was having an online lesson with my class, there was a huge crash... Mog, my cat, had jumped on it and slid off the table. Goodbye, jigsaw!
My top tip for working from home would be to have a routine, stay organised, and keep busy. As Ronan Keeting sang, 'life is a rollercoaster'. We all have our good days and bad days. However, by eating healthier, more nutritious food, making time for myself, waking up each morning and forcing myself to do exercise (even when the weather is not nice) I have coped with working from home.
Lastly, the knowledge that I will see my class each day keeps me very happy. I know that at the end of all of this, we will be so much more appreciative of social interaction. I will therefore end with some wisdom from Barack Obama: “the future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” Keep busy, safe, and positive!
PUPIL SPOTLIGHT | This week, we were delighted to receive some written reflections from two Year 1 pupils, Haydar and Niamh. They shared some small two small snippets (one happy, one sad) from their weeks.
PYP EXHIBITION | After many months of hard work, perseverance, and determination, we are delighted to announce that the Virtual PYP Exhibition is open to visitors! The pupils have researched an amazing array of topics from refugees to rugby and pangolins to Poundbury. Please do follow the link below to browse the incredible, interesting, and informative exhibits at your leisure. The link will remain open until the end of term.
Once you have browsed through the exhibits, please do leave your comments and reflections in the Virtual Visitor Book. A huge round of applause and very well done to all the pupils in Year 6 - we are so proud of what you have achieved!
STAIRCASE SUMMIT | Over the half term holidays, Skye set herself the challenge of climbing the height of Ben Nevis by going up the stairs! Ben Nevis is 1345m high and her staircase is 2.77m high, and so she calculated that she would need to climb the stairs 486 times. She completed the challenge by the end of the week, climbing the stairs 186 times on the final day. What a fabulous effort, well done Skye!
REMOTE RIDGWAY | In normal circumstances, our Year 7 pupils would have travelled north to Ardmor for an action-packed week of outdoor activities during the half term holidays. This trip is the pinnacle of Outdoor Learning for the Junior School pupils. Whilst it was a great disappointment that the trip was cancelled, Mr Barrable refused to be defeated and instead launched a new adventure: Remote Ridgway. This was in partnership with the owners of Ridgway Adventure, Rebecca Ridgway and Mark Williamson, who kindly set up a web page to inspire the Year 7 pupils and also shared this message:
Mr Barrable encouraged the children to challenge themselves closer to home, to push themselves physically and learn new skills. After all, it is only through challenge that we learn about ourselves and realise that we are resilient and capable of achieving so much more than we think! The week revolved around the same three principles as the Ridgway Adventure: be self-reliant, be positive, and leave people and places better than you found them.
There were some fantastic response to the challenge set by Mr Barrable. As outlined earlier in the newsletter, Skye climbed the height of Ben Nevis using her stairs, whilst some of her peers camped outside, hiked and ran along the coastal path and Pilgrims Way, walked 11 miles from school, and even built rafts!
Mr Barrable also challenged himself mentally and physically, and learned some fun new skills. He rowed the length of a marathon (42 km) inspired by John Ridgway who rowed across the Atlantic in a boat, camped outside, and also foraged for some scrap wood to make a paddle.
The spirit of adventure is one that we want to instil in all the children here at St Leonards, and so to see it burning so bright and with such innovation is wonderful to see! Very well done to all the pupils who took part.
There are plans afoot to make sure that the Year 7 pupils still get to have their Ridgway Adventure, so don't feel downhearted on missing out just yet!
INVESTIGATING INSTRUCTIONS | After a fabulous holiday, Year 1 have thrown themselves into this week and focused on investigating instructions. The pupils found good, bad and 'useless' instructions in our homes.
Catherine decided her gramophone instructions were rubbish because there were too many words, and so they didn't make sense. The class agreed that instructions needed a clear sequence and that numbers helped. However, Catherine loved the simple mix of pictures and words for her Hungry Hippos game whilst Serena selected colourful and clear instructions ranging from butter making to tiger drawing. Lego instructions were very popular with the class - whilst long, Year 1 thought that they were great to follow.
Year 1 also watched how to play hopscotch, and in line with their present Unit of Inquiry, then played! The pupils were then hungry and used their instructions to help an adult prepare a sandwich lunch... it was harder than it looked!
HOUSE SHOUT | At the end of last half term, the Junior School pupils took part in the inaugural virtual House Shout Challenge. It was a great success! We were so impressed by the dedication of the pupils who made time during a busy week of online learning to practise, perform, and video themselves. It really is wonderful to see that the love for music that permeates through each class at St Leonards, as well as the deep commitment and loyalty that each pupil has for their house.
Very well done to everyone who took part in the House Shout Challenge! However, special mention must go to three sets of siblings: Maya, Amber, and Ayden Usmani who delivered a fantastic performance of a self-composed piece entitled 'Ocean Storm' on the flute, violin, and rain maker respectively; Jonathan and Simon Schwoebel who submitted some excellent solo performances; and finally Cara and Éabha Lang who both recorded some fantastic piano performances. We hope that you enjoy Cara's performance below.
Finally, congratulations to Harris who were the overall winners of the House Shout. We were mightily impressed by the number of entries that you submitted!
BUSY BEES | This week, the key workers' children had fun sitting around our fire pit at school, mesmerised by the smoke billowing up from the fire. A group of them had been busy bees helping to clean our bee hive frames and the fire was the result of their hard work. It seemed like a good idea to burn the old honeycomb from the frames, in case of any trace of disease from the colony, who died over the winter, remained. However, it is most likely that the bees died due to being in too small colony to survive the cold winter.
Dylan has also been a busy bee this week. He produce this lovely poster, with lots of interesting facts about bees. We love his three-dimensional bee made from pipe cleaners!
Biodiversity and Belonging
BIODIVERSITY AND BELONGING | This week, the focus of Miss Boissiere's weekly Lower School assembly was biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential on planet earth - we all have our part to play in the continued success of the planet, and are all important from the smallest insect to the largest mammals.
The Informal Concert at the end of last half term had reminded Miss Boissiere that we belong to a small, but no less diverse, community here at St Leonards where we are all valued and needed. She reminded the children that they are immensely important parts of their classes, the Lower School, and St Leonards as a whole.
Finally, Miss Boissiere encouraged the children to take part in some of the biodiversity activities organised by Glasgow Science Centre as part of their home learning schedule. To see some of their fantastic activities and videos including Food Chain Tai Chi, Snakey Science, and Origami Turtles, visit their YouTube Channel.
What a fantastic way to start the final half term of this academic year!
BRILLIANT BAKING | Conor and Aidan have been busy baking over the past few weeks. Conor created an imaginative cake tent complete with a figure toasting marshmallows over a campfire, whilst Aidan baked a sophisticated seascape with blue icing to represent the sea and fudge pieces to create a boat. Excellent work, boys!
MATHEMATICAL MINIBEASTS | Year 2 have been bringing together their Unit of Inquiry on Plants and Minibeasts with their Maths work by looking for symmetry in nature. Here is a sample of some of the children’s work from this week, including making symmetrical drawings, searching for symmetrical leaves and flowers, creating butterfly prints, using iPads to take symmetrical photographs, and creating nature mandalas and symmetrical minibeasts made from plants.
POLISHED POETRY | In response to Mrs Fynn's lockdown poem, which we shared in the newsletter a few weeks ago, Year 6 have been writing their own acrostic lockdown poems. We have been really impressed with the standard of poems! There have been some colourful and creative presentations. For example, Cecilia sung her poem, whilst Verity sent in a performance of her poem complete with props (below)!
Here is a snapshot of some of the other poems that Year 6 created (from Willow, Lewis, Abbie, Ed and Xander). We hope that you enjoy reading them!
WONDERFUL WILDLIFE | This week is Garden Wildlife Week. We therefore encouraged our pupils to get outside and go on a mini-expedition around their garden or local area and to look closely at the animals, plants, and insects around them. The pupils then submitted photographs to our Wildlife Photography Competition. The response was absolutely phenomenal. Below are a few photographs to whet your appetite, but please do follow the link to see the full virtual exhibition.
Spotted on Newsround
SPOTTED ON NEWSROUND | Earlier this week, we saw a familiar face on the Newsround homepage and evening main show... Xander was featured speaking about one of his lockdown reads: Eragon by Christopher Paolini! Why not give this short video a watch, and listen to Xander explain why he has enjoyed reading Eragon so much?
UNCREASED UNIFORM | Over the past two weeks, Year 5 have been busy working on their group presentations. To give their final presentations a sense of importance and occasion, Miss Brannen and Mr Barrable asked them to wear their school uniform for the first time since lockdown began... and instructed them to iron their shirts themselves so that they looked super smart! We look forward to sharing the results of their research projects in next week's newsletter, but for now we hope that you enjoy these photographs of our domesticated Year 5 pupils which they sent in to evidence that they did indeed iron their shirts (and that they were supervised!).