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The power of pine cones!

The Power of a Pine Cone!

About 3 Sundays ago I suggested an afternoon walk to my husband. He has 30 years experience of being married to a primary school teacher so his question, as he collected his carrier bag, was not ‘where are we going?’ but ‘ok, what are we collecting today?’ ‘Pine cones’ was my reply and off we went to the woods. An hour later we had 2 bags of pine cones of all shapes and sizes.
Why? Because a simple pine cone can be one of the most useful resources in a classroom and it’s free! As I say to my staff, stay with me, I haven’t lost it completely!

I love natural resources.

A basket of pine cones in your role play can become any type of food the children imagine, how much more creative than the bright coloured plastic pieces that are standard? Pine cones can be currency in a shop, children will work out their own denominations and values, 5 small pine cones might be worth 1 large one. Think about the mathematical possibilities!

A basket of pine cones in your creative area. I have seen them turned into animals, wheels, people or just decorated for the satisfaction of adding decoration. Resist the temptation to add googly eyes with the suggestion of hedgehogs as you will end up with 30 formulaic hedgehogs and lose the opportunity for individual creativity.

I think you’re probably getting the idea! Pine cones in small world will become people, trees etc. In construction they will be added to structures and models.

I used my pine cones in a whole school assembly to talk about uniqueness. We marvelled at the uniqueness of each pine cone. How pine cones look the same but each one is different and amazing. This led us to think about the uniqueness of each of us, how we are all different but each of us is amazing. I gave each class a pine cone to take back to their classroom to remind them to value themselves and each other.

Over the last 2 weeks it has been very special to receive gifts of pine cones from the children. A little girl knocked on my office door with a pine cone wrapped up in home made wrapping paper and a label ‘To Mrs N love from A x’. She said ‘I know you like pine cones and you gave us all one to remind us how special we are so I found one for you because you are special too’.

The power of a pine cone, need I say more!
Oh and by the way it’s conkers this week, get your carrier bag Mr N!

Kathrine

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D.T. or Literacy?

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D.T. or Literacy?
As you know I have just completed my NQT induction year. I was recently flicking through my evidence file when I came across some photos that I thought I would share.
First let me set the scene. It’s second term of my NQT year. I’m tired, stressed and up to my eye balls in assessments and the numerous other facets that make up our job as teachers, when observation time comes around again. The year group: Year One. The lesson: literacy. The topic: houses and homes. My children need to work on their descriptive writing, so what can I do to encompass all of these?
My frazzled brain’s first thought: “I know! We can design a dream house, draw it, label it and write about it.” Sorted, right? Wrong! Whilst that probably would have been a perfectly okay lesson for the few children who enjoy drawing and writing, how was it going to engage the children who don’t enjoy sitting down and writing or hate drawing or just generally have no interest in the topic?
So I opened up my trusty Pie Corbett ‘Talk for writing’ book for some inspiration and re-read the ‘warming up the word’ section for possibly the hundredth time since starting my teacher training. And then it came to me. Why DRAW the houses, when we could BUILD them?
So here’s how the lesson went. We started by looking at some amazing houses from around the world: fairy tale castles, desert island paradise, jungle tree houses, bat man’s house…the list went on. In the background I played the song ‘Little Boxes on the Hillside.’ After thought-showering the describing words we had thought of so far as a class, off the children went. The challenge: make your dream house. I laid out the classroom with natural resources, junk modelling, gardening resources, paper, pens, post-its; the works. They could choose how to present their dream house either through drawing, collage, junk modelling, small world… the choice was theirs. The floor was covered with ground sheets for those that wanted to work on a larger scale. The only condition: their model had to include labels and adjectives ready for their ‘Big Write’ the following day. What followed was a morning of creativity, discovery, collaborative working, problem solving, language and vocabulary development and all-round enjoyment (from children and staff!)
The photos below show just some of the work that was produced that morning. The writing that followed the next day was descriptive, creative, and a true reflection of what those children could do when given the chance to engage with something and the time to ‘warm up the word’ properly.
So in answer to the title question: ‘D.T. or literacy?’ I say, “Why choose?!”

Hannah

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