Spread a Smile
This week, we have been thinking about the importance of caring. This is one of our Learner Profile attributes, at the heart of the PYP philosophy and approach to education.
Kindness, compassion, respect and empathy are values that can sometimes be overlooked in focused discussion, perhaps because we assume that they are somehow more obvious or more inert. However, this attribute is one of the most important things that we can encourage in our children. This is achieved in many ways in school through the curriculum, assemblies, events, team work opportunities and through the positive role-modelling of adults and peers.
The Junior School has been full of kindness and care this week, and nowhere more so than the Year 1 classroom, where the hatching of our chicks has been met with great excitement and enthusiasm. Miss Boissiere’s classroom has certainly had a revolving door of visitors ready to greet our new arrivals. Empathy towards animals is strong amongst our children. In addition to the Lower School hatchery, I received an eloquent email from Shreyas (Year 6) outlining a possible fundraising project for the Wildlife Trust and saw Monty (Year 2) gently scoop up a visiting spider and pop it back outside.
I was also heartened to hear the positive comments and discussion between our Year 6 pupils as they left our Informal Concert on Thursday. One commented on the excellence of Daniel’s cello playing, whilst another replied that they were all incredible and should be proud. I couldn't agree more. The concert was fabulous and the discussion and interest from the audience demonstrates not only great musical appreciation but also care and respect for each other.
On Monday, I challenged all the children to perform a considered act of kindness this week, and since then many have taken place, including the finding and returning of lost property, children helping each other if they felt unwell or sad, and many smiles and doors held open around school. These acts of kindness, caring and generosity needn’t stop at the end of the school day, and there are plenty of ideas for good deeds to do at any time:
- A Bank of Good Deeds. Research shows that reminding children about their past good deeds encourages positive thinking and willingness to treat others well in the future. Parents might memorise these together by creating a bank of good deeds. Cut out paper and write down the day’s good deeds. Encourage your child to think of even the smallest act of kindness - it doesn't have to be big to make a difference.
- Empty Aggression. In the same manner, you can collect the bad deeds and emotions. These can be denoted as black clouds or blots cut out of paper. Talk to your child and ask whether he or she has done anything that might be considered a bad deed. Put these, and any negative emotions, into a bag and throw it away.
- Good names. A game suitable for groups, players stand to form a circle and throw a ball to each other whilst calling the recipient good names. The person who says the most good names wins.
- Compliments. An alternative to ‘Good Names’ game: Sitting in a circle and holding hands, every child should give compliments to their neighbour The child who receives a compliment should thank the neighbour and, in turn, say something pleasant to the next person. Adults can participate, too: offer children some nice adjectives when they hesitate.
- Love Pyramid. Remember what you love doing together with your children. It might be looking after a family pet, exploring the great outdoors or playing with favourite toys. The adult starts and puts a hand in the centre. The children go next saying something they love and adding a hand each time to form a pyramid.
- Create a kindness jar. Make a note of and add in acts of kindness, written on scraps of paper. Ask the children to pick one and see if they can do it this week.
There are many more general acts that can become a habit and make a real difference. I was struck once by a comment made by Professor Robert Winston in one of his ‘Child of Our Time’ documentaries. It has stuck with me through the rest of my years working with young people. He commented on an experiment in which a wire was placed on a group of participating children to tape the interactions they had all day. When the researchers analysed the tapes, they were shocked to see how many negative statements and general instructions the children received in comparison to positive statements, questions or expressions of kindness, love and respect Watching this made me even more determined to model positivity.
Even small things like welcoming the children with a smile, telling them you are pleased to see them or thanking them for a great lesson work wonders. Good deeds and words spread. I wonder how many we will all pass on this week?
Have a wonderful weekend, and I very much look forward to welcoming you all back with a smile on Monday.
Year 2's Plant Inquiries
YEAR 2'S PLANT INQUIRIES | Year 2’s studies into the different uses of plants has led them to begin exploring the possibility of using plants to create natural pigments and dyes.
A couple of weeks ago, while we were out identifying and drawing wild flowers, some of the children in Year 2 started colouring their pictures by rubbing the plant itself onto paper. This week, we explored this idea further by experimenting with the Japanese technique of ‘Hapa zome’, or ‘leaf-dye’. We collected leaves and flowers in various colours, laid them out onto a piece of white cotton, then used a stone hammer to crush the plants and release their dye into the fabric. We then hung up our pretty coloured bunting amongst the trees to dry.
Our next project was to craft our own paintbrushes using found materials such as twigs, grasses and leaves. We made our own paint by grinding up earth, stone and charcoal from the fire pit and mixing it with a little oil and applied this paint to different surfaces.
We had a great time investigating the natural world, following the children’s own ideas about ways to use the materials that we found.
- Miss Fisher, Year 2 Class Teacher
British Open Golf Workshop
BRITISH OPEN GOLF WORKSHOP | On Tuesday, two of our Junior School golfers, Verity and Erin (Year 5) attended a workshop hosted by the Women’s British Open Champion Georgia Hall.
This was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to train with a pro and learn lots of ways to grow their game. Georgia, who plays on the Ladies European Tour, won her first major championship, the 2018 Women’s British Open, last year. A brilliant experience for Erin and Verity!
Botanic Gardens Visit
BOTANIC GARDENS VISIT | Year 2 enjoyed a fun-filled morning at the St Andrews Botanic Gardens today, exploring in glorious sunshine. Children unveiled mini-beasts hiding under logs and in bug hotels in the woods, before safely replacing the wood. More mini-beasts were found lurking in the pond amongst the exotic plant life and even a dozing terrapin was spotted submerged in the water. Braving the humid heat of the Butterfly House, we discovered dazzling patterns on brightly coloured butterflies, fluttering amongst luscious plant life. Shiny leaves, harboured tiny eggs and camouflaged caterpillars and we saw chrysalis, suspended awaiting an emerging butterfly. Great excitement, seeing the life cycle of a butterfly in action and a fun time had by all!
- Mrs Lindsay, Year 2 Class Teacher
High School of Dundee Fixtures
HIGH SCHOOL OF DUNDEE FIXTURES | Congratulations to the U12 cricket team that beat High School of Dundee 173-156 on Monday afternoon. The mixed team had a brilliant game on Big Field, with Luke and Adam (Year 7) as the top batting pair. Top bowler was Cameron (Year 7).
Meanwhile, the U12 girls lost narrowly to the High School on the tennis courts, but with some really close games.
Year 4's CDR Visit
YEAR 4'S CDR VISIT | As part of our Current Unit of Inquiry, Year 4 have been researching the importance of healthy eating and the role it plays in our overall physical health.
Over two Fridays, we have had the opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’, under the guidance of the catering manager, Mrs Kettles, and to discover a little more of what goes on.
Our first stop was the ‘dry store’ room where the pupils were free to browse and examine the supplies, finding the answers to some of the queries we had. Huge sacks of cornflakes and pasta, giant tins of tomatoes and buckets of jam were just a few of the amazing sights. Even the spices were in such big jars. They would have been the envy of Mr Borthwick in ‘The Perfect Hamburger’.
From there, we ventured into the walk-in fridge and identified lots of fruit and vegetables. Beyond that, we took a risk and stepped into the walk-in freezer. The atmosphere was so very cold that we did not linger. Some left holding their noses; not because of the smell, but because of the effect of the freezing temperature on the nostrils.
Mrs Kettles was both helpful and patient in answering some of the questions we had prepared in advance of the visit. She seemed impressed that the pupils had wanted to know how much salt is used in one day, how difficult it is to ensure that there is enough food for everyone and how much is fried. Mrs Kettles was happy to answer and ensured we had greater knowledge and understanding of the decisions she must make. The pupils were impressed at how much thought goes into the selection of so many different meals and their preparation, while also considering the current 78 special dietary requirements around the school community.
We learned that there is a staff of 17, including four chefs. This number is required to ensure well-balanced meals are provided efficiently for boarding students at breakfast, 620 pupils and staff at lunchtime and the same boarders at supper time. The first shift begins work at 7.00am to enable breakfast to be ready for the boarders.
We met Mary, one of the cooks, by the oven, from where she was removing freshly-baked scones for morning snack – 11 baking trays with 20 delicious scones on each gave her the opportunity to pose an arithmetical question as we stood and marvelled at the size of all the kitchen machinery.
We also met Stevie, the member of staff who single-handedly completes all the orders for packed lunches. He explained that opening and resealing the packets containing the sandwiches takes longer than putting together the rest of the lunch bag. One day last week, he had 125 packed lunches to prepare before school even began!
It was an enlightening experience and was certainly worthwhile. We would like to thank Mrs Kettles and her team for taking the time to speak to us. We really appreciate it!
- Mrs McKimmon, Year 4 Class Teacher
WEDNESDAY CRICKET | We had yet more beautiful weather for Wednesday’s cricket fixtures, with the U10 team winning their match against Clifton Hall. Top batting pair was Harry and Xander (Year 5), and top bowler was Archie (Year 5).
The U12 boys lost their game against Riley House, but that didn’t impact their enthusiasm. Big smiles all round!
Beach School Adventures
BEACH SCHOOL ADVENTURES | What a fabulous afternoon Year 3 had on Monday!
They met Gavin and Ranauld from the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust down by the West Sands, and for the afternoon the children had the most amazing time.
Looking at the biodiversity of the area around them they looked for different types of sea birds, we saw eider ducks, cormorants and various gulls.
We then headed to the rock pools as the tide was in our favour, leaving us with wonderful pools full of crabs, fish eggs, hermit crabs which we caught and put in our tubs to observe, as well as tiny shrimps and many other small pool creatures. We looked at limpets and learnt that they can live for up to 20 years always returning to the exact same spot when the tide goes out!
Finally, we went digging for lugworms, an activity that was hugely enjoyed by all. Many were found, large and small.
The class had a wonderful time and the information they have gained from the rangers was fantastic. This is a service we will be using more and more in the future to help us with our outdoor learning and Beach School.
Year 4-7 Informal Concert
YEAR 4-7 INFORMAL CONCERT | On Thursday morning, parents, pupils and staff took their seats in the Music School Auditorium for our final Year 4-7 Informal Concert of this academic year.
It was another busy programme of musical treats, starting with a traditional African folk song from the String Club.
The following performers then took to the stage for a series of solo pieces: Daniel (Year 7, cello, Allegro from Sonata #2 by Marcello); XiuRong (Year 6, Ja-da on the piano); Ed (Year 5, Minuet on the piano); Grace (Year 4, The Pelican from Helican on the flute); Saydee (Year 4, Jungle Drums on piano); Eliza (Year 6, The Wizard of Oz on the cornet); Lana (Year 5, Hoe Down on violin); Jennifer (Year 6, Moon Glow on the flute); Eabha (Year 6, In the Desert on the piano); Thomas (Year 7, Entr’acte No.3 on the violin); Shelagh (Year 5, Rigadon on violin); Sofia (Year 6, Ecossaise on violin); Finn (Year 7, Harry’s Theme on piano); Rory (Year 4, piano); Riya (Year 5, Do A Deer, guitar and voice); Evie (Year 4, Minuet on piano); and Isha (Year 7, theme from Wallace & Gromit on the flute).
A wonderfully varied and entertaining concert as we go into the final week of this first half of Summer Term. Thank you to all our young musicians, to our brilliant Music Department staff, and to the parents who joined us to enjoy the show!
Swimming Gala Success
SWIMMING GALA SUCCESS | Congratulations to the U11 and U13 girls who were successful this week in our St Leonards Swimming Gala against visiting teams from Kilgraston and Strathallan. Well done to all our super swimmers!
Back in the Maths Kitchen
BACK TO THE MATHS KITCHEN | Year 4P continue to make connections between their Unit of Inquiry on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, their investigation into capacity in Maths, and their focus on instruction writing in English. This week, they have been back in the 'Maths Kitchen', designing their own smoothies, measuring the ingredients carefully and enjoying the final results. Delicious!
Mental Health Focus
MENTAL HEALTH FOCUS | On Wednesday afternoon, Year 4 pupils were pleased, not only to welcome Eugene Adams, a specialist nurse from NHS Fife, who came to speak about the importance of good mental health and well-being as part of the current Unit of Inquiry, but to find themselves enjoying the talk outside in the sunshine. That in itself set the scene for a very pleasant question and answer session, where we were encouraged to think about when, and in what circumstances, we can feel good about ourselves.
Eugene acknowledged that it is, of course, alright to feel sad or annoyed or angry. It is important to realise that our feelings do not always have to be positive. He was greatly impressed with the long list of feelings the pupils could list in a matter of two or three minutes.
He provided the pupils with a selection of ten different strategies to employ when they may be in a position where they feel they may be struggling - with stress, with school work, with friends, with feelings and with many other important aspects of life.
It was a most worthwhile visit because it complemented the healthy eating, exercise and rest aspects of a healthy lifestyle, which the classes have been researching.
Eugene promised he would be back to visit and check on how well the various strategies were working for the pupils.
- Mrs McKimmon, Year 4 Class Teacher
MUNRO CLIMB | Well done to Kyle and Ryan (Year 6), who conquered their first Munro last weekend! The boys climbed Ben Lomond and enjoyed the reward of a breath-taking view from the top. Here they are with Loch Lomond in the background!
COASTAL RUNNING | This week has brought nothing but beautiful blue skies, which was ideal for the Junior School Running Club! Our runners headed along the East Sands and up the Fife Coastal path, with St Andrews looking wonderful behind them! What a great day to be outdoors!
Congratulations to the following pupils who received certificates at Celebration Assembly this week:
Abdulla was Year 1 Pupil of the Week for being a wonderful friend and guiding a visiting pupil.
Mia received her ABRSM certificate for Grade 1 Piano, which she passed with Merit.
Khan was Year 3 Pupil of the Week for trying hard to listen in all classes, especially as his ears have been poorly.
Molly was presented with her pre-bronze certificate for Jazz Dance.
Ethan received a Commendation for his imaginative and carefully written stories about Alien Eggs.
Isobel received a Commendation for her imaginative and carefully written stories about Alien Eggs.
Abbie was presented with a swimming award for Butterfly from the Fife Novice League.
Rachel was presented with her silver ballet award from the United Kingdom Alliance Theatre Faculty.
Our Junior School gymnasts received a round of applause and their medals following last week's Fife Schools Gymfest.
Mungo received a Commendation for showing great perseverance towards improving his handwriting and overall presentation.
Matilda received her certificate for passing Intro 1 Jazz Dance.
Eleanor received her certificate for passing Intro 1 Jazz Dance.
Amber received her certificate for passing Intro 1 in Ballet.
A Note from the Lower School
Forgive me. This Lower School News finds me rather preoccupied.
For those in the know, it was Day 21 on Wednesday - hatching day!
Wow, did they hatch. We welcomed five gorgeous little chicks on Wednesday and a further six by Thursday. As word filtered out, so the pupils, staff and parents arrived at will to visit the Year 1 classroom. To say that it was incredible, would be an understatement. To say that it was a valuable learning experience, would be an understatement. To say that it was a privilege, would be an understatement. Naturally verbose, I found myself without words, merely wonder!