The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 1 December 2017


The Art of Tinkering

'Her brain is full of ideas, which she turns into extraordinary inventions in a shed at the bottom of her garden'. This is how a representative of Egmont Publishing described the latest in the Mr Men and Little Miss book series, 'Little Miss Inventor', to be published in March next year.

I was absolutely delighted to hear of this new book, not only because of the support this gives to promoting STEM subjects for girls, and continuing to provide great encouragement for girls to study science and pursue interests – and ultimately careers – in engineering, scientific research and manufacturing, amongst other areas. It is also so positive that the Little Miss range joins a number of outstanding publications aimed at providing strong role models to girls and boys. When released in March, it will join two other pertinent books in my study: 'Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls', and 'Fantastically Great Women who changed the World', both of which contain accounts of scientists, mathematicians, astronomers, astronauts, computer scientists and architects, all of whom are women who have made a significant contribution to the world. I recommend these two books as you consider Christmas presents, and hope they might appear on some letters to Father Christmas this year.

I am also delighted to see this book as an encouragement for children to experiment, to invent, to create and, perhaps more compelling to our children, to tinker. I remember as a child, hours spent with my tool box, tinkering with my BMX bike, building my treehouse (really not as impressive as I have made it out to be) and trying to make various structures. If this was to lead me to become more practical, it has certainly not worked as I am absolutely hopeless at any form of DIY. However, it certainly led to developing my imagination, desire to potter around, experiment and, quite simply, tinker. In amongst great educational progression and innovation throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I think it was a great pity that schools began to lose their provision for woodwork, CDT and home economics. These subjects were not just about learning to be practical, but also developing transferable skills that prompt explorations in learning.

I see the real enjoyment our children have in making things here at St Leonards, and as I write this, our Year 5s are making ships out of all sorts of recycled materials. No matter how artistic, dexterous, mathematical or spatial, children love to create things, and I love to see what our children have invented and made in and out of school. Tinkering gives children the complete freedom of creativity and autonomy of their product and should be wholeheartedly encouraged. I am sure many mothers and fathers might well be reading this hoping I am not going to suggest giving over the workshop or garden shed to their children, and I am afraid I am going to do just that: encourage your children to gather materials from the beach or woods, then create something. You will be blown away by your child’s ability to organise themselves, innovate and have the freedom to develop limitless ideas.

In the spirit of knowing that children have limitless potential and positive energy, I am most intrigued by the concept of ‘Room 13’, developed in 1994 at Caol Primary School in Fort William. The idea of this is to give over an empty space or classroom in school for children to develop their own creativity and use as a project space. The Headteacher at the time gave the following feedback: 'children can do amazing things, beyond the limited beliefs of adults, if they are given the opportunity', and Room 13 afforded them just this because the Headteacher allowed the pupils to run with their ideas, without adult intervention.

With Room 13 and ‘Little Miss Inventor’ fresh in my mind, I have been wondering how we can create a similar set up at St Leonards, and my colleagues and I will give thought to creating our own 'Room 13'. In the meantime, I urge all children to develop, or in some cases take up, the hobby of ‘tinkering’. Mike Fairclough, Headteacher of West Rise Junior School, gives the following related advice: 'keep a sketchbook and fill it with your ideas, inspirations and aspirations. Cut out images from magazines and images printed from the internet that inspire you. This serves two purposes. One is that you will begin to start thinking like an artist [or inventor] and the second is that you will begin to play around with ideas which will in time become a reality'. I can’t wait to see the children’s ideas, sketchbooks, inspirations and, ultimately, products of tinkering.

Hurray to Little Miss Inventor who joins a long list of STEM role models for girls and boys.

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

William Goldsmith


FESTIVE HOCKEY | Hockey took a festive turn this week when the PE staff asked the boys and girls to come along wearing something seasonal! There were jolly jumpers, Santa hats and tinsel-covered hockey sticks. Here they are showing off their Christmas hockey ‘strips’!


YEAR 4 ASSEMBLY | It was Year 4’s turn to take Assembly on Wednesday morning and they took the opportunity to show off the products they have designed as part of their Unit of Inquiry on the packaging process. Following trips to Pizza Express and Fisher & Donaldson to learn about different production processes, the boys and girls dreamed up their own designs, creating colourful posters to explain their work and devising short sketches of ‘adverts’ to sell the concept to their friends and families.

After hearing from each group, everyone at Assembly was asked to vote for their favourite pitch, with ‘Pampies’ nappies coming out on top with an impressive 81 votes!

Everyone worked really hard to put on the Assembly and sell their ideas, which ranged from ‘Ice Dream’ ice cream to ‘Double Double Pizza’ and a glowing piñata cake!

It’s safe to say we have lots of incredibly creative young inventors in Year 4!


STAR GYMNASTS | The St Leonards Junior School gymnasts achieved fantastic results on Tuesday at the Fife Gymnastics Tournament. The team finished second overall, which means they have qualified for the Scottish finals!

Special congratulations goes to Corinne who came first overall in the competition and thank you to Liz Rolland and Mrs Hogg for accompanying the team.


WATER AID BAKE SALE | Year 6 were busy over the weekend baking cakes, biscuits and lots of other sweet treats for their Water Aid Bake Sale on Monday! The cupcakes, digestive bites, giant marshmallows and more were well received with everyone queuing for a special snack. Well done to Year 6 for organising a successful sale and raising over £150 for Water Aid!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday:

Kabir for working hard on his super heroes poster at home, and taking great care with the presentation.

Olivia for always trying to do the right thing, for outstanding behaviour and for a hardworking attitude at all times.

Daniel for outstanding descriptive writing this week.

Sophie for showing an extremely caring attitude towards her peers, and always being well mannered.


YEARS 4-7 INFORMAL CONCERT | There was a fantastic turnout for the Years 4-7 Informal Concert on Thursday morning. Parents, relatives, friends and classmates took their seats for a morning of music with a seasonal twist.

From the solo performances to larger ensembles, the programme was incredibly varied. A march played on the pipes and drums gave a nod to St Andrews Day, and it was lovely to see so many of the boys and girls sporting a touch of tartan, too. A couple of festive favourites had everyone tapping their toes. There was a rendition of Jingle Bells from the string group and everyone was impressed by Charlotte and Alistair's duet of Silent Night.

The Boys' Choir wowed with 'What A Wonderful World' and the audience applauded tunes on the piano, violin and cello.

The string group was bolstered, for the first time, by a mini double bass, played by Roy.

Well done to all the performers for another very enjoyable Informal Concert!


COOL CHEMISTRY | The lucky boys and girls in Year 4 enjoyed an afternoon of Chemistry experiments this week, thanks to a visit from Dr Hanton. After learning all about the different properties of solids, liquids and gases (and asking lots and lots of questions!), the children headed through to St Katharines Hall, which had been transformed into a science lab for the day!

Much to their excitement, Dr Hanton had brought along a big tub of dry ice! Safely kitted out in gloves and safety specs and armed with pairs of tongs, the children were allowed to carefully drop pellets of dry ice into tall tubes of hot and cold water before adding a squeeze of 'magical bubble liquid'. The results were amazing, with shiny white bubbles pouring dramatically over the top of the containers and cascading down onto the tables!

The grand finale saw everyone move outside and onto the grass outside the Junior School, where the leftover 'bubble liquid', water and dry ice were all combined to produce a spectacular foaming mountain on the lawn! A big thank you to Dr Hanton for visiting Year 4 and for putting on such an exciting series of hands-on experiments.


ST ANDREWS DAY DANCING | Year 1 & 2 were getting into the spirit of St Andrews Day as they danced the Circassian Circle in St Katharines Hall!


VERDANT WORKS | The children had a great time visiting the Verdant Works in Dundee! They had the chance to dress up in clothes that the mill workers would have worn and learnt all about Dundee's industrial textile heritage.


SPECIAL COLLECTIONS | This afternoon, Year 5 were visited by Mrs Sewell, along with colleagues from the University of St Andrews Special Collections Department. Logan has written a great report of the afternoon's learning:

'The books were laid out on cushions for us to see them to keep them safe, they also had snake ropes over them to hold the pages open so that the spines were not bent. We were shown a video clip to start with which showed a book opening all on its own, this was due to heat and humidity, it was fascinating. We were also shown the bugs and spiders that have been found in these old books. The books we looked at along with the photographs and an Egyptian papyrus which was 1800 years old were amazing. The photographs were all in black and white and showed native Inuit's fishing and wearing traditional clothes to keep them warm, just like Captain Scott. The books had stories and maps in them which showed a world not yet complete and discovered, one book showed a map of the world that did not have North America or Australia and New Zealand. It was a very enjoyable and interesting visit.'

- Logan (Year 5)


MCMANUS GALLERIES TRIP | The boys and girls in Year 3 had a fantastic afternoon out on Wednesday when they visited the McManus Galleries in Dundee for a creative learning workshop on local role models. The children were shown the different galleries and learned about famous figures including Grace Darling, Mary Slessor and John Caird, who all had a connection to Dundee.

Next, the children were asked to gather information on a role model of their choice and come up with a newspaper article. They earned three marbles from the McManus Creative Learning team for being such an enthusiastic and hard-working class - good job Year 3!

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Cameron, Freddie, Harry, Ewen, Luke, Lucca, Rachel, Emil.


CHRISTMAS HOCKEY CAMPS | Various local hockey activities are running during the Christmas holidays including an U12 and U16 tournament, and a Festive Fling Ceilidh on Wednesday, 3 January 2018. All are organised by Grovemenzieshill Hockey Club. Please see the flyers included above and below for further details.


ST LEONARDS CHRISTMAS CARD | This year's beautiful St Leonards Christmas card is selling fast!

The special print of 'The Moongate', by local artist Frank Sproson, depicts just one of the many idyllic and iconic scenes in and around our school campus and now is the time to order your packs!

The cards available to buy in packets of ten at a cost of £6.00 per pack. Proceeds from this year's Christmas card will be donated to St Andrews charity Families First. Should you wish to order cards this year, please complete the form which was sent out via email last month and return it to the Junior or Senior School Office. Alternatively, email contact@stleonards-fife.org. Happy list writing!


There are lots of festive events coming up as we near the end of term. We look forward to welcoming you to any or all of the following:

In addition, the St Leonards School Choir will be performing this evening (Friday, 1 December) at the St Andrews Winter Lights Switch On, starting at 6.15pm outside Holy Trinity Church on South Street. All are welcome to come along and support the choir, and perhaps even join in a festive tune or two!

On Thursday, 7 December, the choir will be taking to the stage once more for the Worldwide Cancer Research Carol Concert at 6.30pm in Holy Trinity Church. There will be mulled wine courtesy of Tesco and mincemeat whirls courtesy of Fisher & Donaldson. To reserve your (free) place, head over to the charity's event page.

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