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The children in Year 1 were bubbling with excitement last week as we started our new theme, ‘Let’s Celebrate’.
As a school, we strive to ensure that our children learn through fun, creative experiences which imprint memories on children’s hearts and minds. ‘Let’s Celebrate’ has provided us with the perfect platform for our children to participate in meaningful and memorable learning experiences.
As a Year 1 team, we decided to use the book ‘Kipper’s Birthday’ as a springboard for ‘Let’s Celebrate’. It is a well-loved story by English author, Mick Inkpen.
Our classes started their learning journey by listening to ‘Kipper’s Birthday’, which tells the story of what happens when Kipper decides to hold a birthday party, only for all of his friends to arrive on the wrong day. All of the children showed great engagement when listening to this story, and they also found it very funny!
‘Kipper’s Birthday’ has a strong underlying message about friendship. As making friends is a fundamental element of school life and growing up, we thought that it was important for our children to consider the important personality traits that make for a good friend.
Children worked in groups to share, discuss and write down their ideas about the characteristics of a good friend. Everyone had an opportunity to share their ideas with wonderful and thoughtful results.
On the second day of our topic, children were informed that they would be having their own class party at the end of the week. Everyone was delighted to hear this! The excitement was clear to see when speaking with children from each of the four classes in Year 1.
With the prospect of the party firmly in children’s minds, and a clear purpose identified for their writing, children proceeded to learn about writing invitations. Teachers modelled invitation writing and then children were invited to write their own.
Children were asked to invite a member of staff to their party. It was wonderful to hear an array of teachers’ names from around the school being suggested. It is clear that our children have made strong relationships with teachers in the school.
Our children produced some very well written invitations, which they were clearly very proud of! Research indicates that ensuring children have a clear purpose for writing facilitates high standards, and the writing that the children produced was definitely indicative of this.
Upon distributing their invitations, children were elated, as were the members of staff receiving them. Our children were encouraged to use their language skills to explain that there was going to be a party. Some staff members kindly replied in writing and we were able to share this with the children and use it as a reading exercise.
Finally, party day arrived! Our children were delighted to see that some of the people that they had written invitations for had come to their party. At the celebration, the learning focus was on speaking and listening. Children used their understanding of English to learn the rules of the games that were played. They called upon their speaking and negotiation skills to enable themselves to play the games fairly and co-operatively.
What a wonderful week of learning this proved to be! Our children thoroughly enjoyed their introduction to ‘Kipper’s birthday’ and the learning outcomes have been of a very high standard. Most importantly, I believe this week of learning will hold a special place in the hearts and minds of our children, as it most certainly will for the adults who were fortunate enough to have been involved.
by Emmanuel Alexander
International Curriculum Coordinator
The ‘Let’s Celebrate’ topic generated a great level of enthusiasm and excitement for learning. The children had the opportunity to show how much progress they have made in English across this unit, and their learning examples were outstanding. There was a particular focus on speaking, listening and writing, and the children were able to rise to the challenges the learning brought.
At HD we firmly believe in the notion that children are likely to achieve more and be more passionate about writing if they have a purpose and reason to write. The purpose for writing is stimulated by a relevant story book, which provides the children with a context for writing. It also supports the development of their vocabulary, punctuation and their ability to write coherent sentences.
"Kipper’s Birthday" provided a fantastic context to which the children could relate. Their delight at the prospect of a party for themselves was the cornerstone of some exceptional speaking and writing. The involvement of parents in providing photographs of parties and birthday experiences that some of the children have had, ensured they were able to discuss the story in the context of the characters and themselves.
The invitations written by the children were thoughtful and showed the improvements the children have made in their application of grammar and punctuality. I was able to witness first hand their interaction with the story, their appreciation of the humour and their understanding of the important messages about friendship, which was a theme of the story. Their delight that an array of adults arrived at their party created a further connection between their learning and a real-life experience that will provide a lasting memory.
I would like to thank the teachers for their hard work in planning and delivering an excellent topic. I would also like to celebrate the achievement of the children, who showed their growing resilience and love for learning at HD!