We all scream for ice cream!

Last week the ice cream van came to Oakwood School! All the children were very excited about getting their ice cream and they sat so beautifully at the table waiting for it! They all ate independently and practised their Makaton signing for ‘ice cream’ ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It was a lovely treat and we are all very grateful!

We have had some lovely sensory play sessions this week as well. The children have really enjoyed having the sand out, pretending we’re at the beach! We practised using the beach tools to mark make in the sand, or fill and empty containers!

The final week of our sensory story took us to the Arctic to see Polar Bears, and the Antarctic to meet the Penguins! The children enjoyed experiencing a frosty sensory play session using ice cubes and shaving foam to make snow! We put the tuff tray on the floor and the children all took their shoes and socks off to have a go at walking through our homemade snow experience! It was very slippery so they needed a little bit of support from an adult.

Our very last swimming session of the year has been a great one! The children enjoyed playing with the inflatables; turn-taking with an adult to throw it to each other across the pool! We have been practising our signing too! Signing for ‘More’, ‘Swimming’, ‘Yes’ and responding to an adult when they sign ‘Help’. It was a lovely way to finish the week!

We hope you all have a wonderful Summer holiday!!

It’s raining, it’s pouring!

Last week we really did have to contend with the rain! But the children in Badger Class were not deterred; we spent lots of time outside splashing in puddles and when it was time to stay in class, we made sure the children had lots to explore and stimulate their curiosity!

Top Tip: The simplest ideas are often the best!

The children thoroughly enjoyed exploring and playing in flour! Staff modelled mark making with their fingers; creating patterns, shapes, numbers and letters. Encouraging the children to copy or explore the texture and properties of the materials themselves. We encourage the children to explore with all their senses and get completely immersed in an activity as this is the best way to learn and embed new skills.

We also encouraged painting in a mess-free way! Mixing food colouring with water allows the children to explore with their senses in a safe way. The children used paintbrushes to create beautiful artwork through mark making with the appropriate tools; developing their tripod grip and giving the children the independence to paint and create in anyway they choose. Pop a plastic table cover on the floor for mess-free fun and learning!

In our Problem-solving sessions we’ve been exploring Measure! The children showed great curiosity about the balance scales and how they worked; filling the containers with different materials and watching the scales move up and down. Staff modelled the correct vocabulary as the children investigated the new piece of equipment. “Look, they’re the same.” or “See, this one is heavier.” This is the best way for the children to begin absorbing the new vocabulary and the contextual cues support understanding and embedding the new information being presented to them.

On Friday mornings we love to start our day with a Dough Disco session! The children are now anticipating the session just based on how we arrange the tables – some of the children even try to help tuck the chairs under ready to start learning! Each session we present the children with homemade playdough of a different colour or scent to keep them excited and engaged! This week our playdough was glittery and purple!

The children anticipate each song we play, even copying the actions to our favourite song – Baby Shark! We all love this session because the children work so hard; all engaging for the majority of the songs and exploring the playdough with all their senses. Staff model the playdough actions – prodding, squeezing and rolling the dough, so that the children can copy and refine their fine motor skills.

At the end of the week, we enjoyed our weekly swimming session. The children look forward to this session all week; using the symbols and photos available to them to request the activity. Not only do the children enjoy these sessions, but they are also learning some valuable independence skills. Some of the children are beginning to independently get themselves changed, with only verbal prompting from staff, “Take your shoes off” and “Put your swimming shorts on”. Through repeating these sessions weekly, and having to use these skills so often, the children have remembered exactly what is expected of them once they enter the changing rooms and have enabled them to become more independent in their own self care. Being able to get changed without physical support is a vital life skill to have.

Colours of the Rainbow!

Last week Badger Class began exploring colours in lots of different ways. The children thoroughly enjoyed using the parachute to sing along to the ‘Colours of the Rainbow’ song and begin to identify different colours. We use this song at the beginning of each Art lesson so that the children can learn to anticipate what activity will be coming next. This prepares the children for learning but also gives them the independence to initiate learning for themselves.

The children loved our colour exploration and mixing sessions! We have been exploring with our senses using water colours and ice. The children have been developing their pincer grips by learning how to use the pipettes to drip the water colours onto the ice blocks to create colourful patterns and watch the colours mix together. We were very impressed with how quickly the children learned to use the pipettes independently.

Staff have been modelling using the colour ALD boards for the children to begin labelling the different colours. Some of the children have been able to point to the correct colours on the ALD boards when prompted by an adult and this is an important skill we will continue to work on during these sessions.

For those children who benefit more from sensory exploration in their learning, we also had fun investigating frozen paints in a tuff tray! As the paints melted we used them to mark make in the tray, this was especially beneficial for those practising their fine motor skills as the paints were very slippery! Staff modelled grouping the paint blocks into different colours and using the symbols to label each colour.

Goodbye Lizzie!

Unfortunately, last week we had to say goodbye to one of our Badger Class staff. Lizzie has moved on from Oakwood School after 14 amazing years with us! She has been a wonderful asset to the class over the past year and we will miss her very much!

Our regular Sensory Room session this week was a big hit! The children have loved exploring the ‘Under the Sea’ items; beginning to recognise the different creatures we have been looking at, and the various pieces of weather appropriate clothing. Understanding what is appropriate clothing for the weather is a really important life skill for our children. We need to be teaching them that we must wear a coat when it is cold, or we must take it off when it is too hot. These are little things that we may not think about on a daily basis but it is really important for us to weave these vital teaching moments into our activities – even when having some much needed rest and relaxation in the Sensory Room!

Before saying goodbye to Lizzie for the final time on Friday, we knew it would be best for our children to enjoy some much needed fun in the swimming pool – it was really nice to have a dip and cool off from the hot summer weather! The children really were amazing during this swimming session; getting in and out of the pool sensibly and independently, and showing us how much their swimming has been improving! Some of the children have been showing us how well they can kick their legs and travel across the pool, while others have been practising floating on their front and back. We are very proud of how confident the children have become since September.

Once again, we are so sorry to see Lizzie go and we will miss her very much. We wish her all the best for the future, but she will always be a Badger!

Story Time!

The children in Badger Class got straight back into the swing of things last week! We have been working very hard to revisit skills we were developing before the break as it is extremely important for the children to repeat lessons and activities to ensure we embed vital skills that can be generalised and brought forward for their futures.

We began the week by revisiting ‘Shape’ in our Early Math’s sessions. The children have been showing us how much they can remember from our lessons before the break. It has been really helpful to spot gaps in their learning and to highlights areas we may need to continue to work on, but also celebrate some of the amazing new skills the children have been working on. Some of the children have been working really hard on their mark making skills and identifying the names of different shapes. Whereas some of the children preferred to focus on their fine motor skills using the peg boards and exploring the different types of shapes available.

Last week, we also had a surprise visitor! A story teller came in to give the children a wonderful sensory story experience. The children particularly enjoyed the ‘Under the Sea’ story where they were able to explore seashells and the sounds of waves. It was really lovely to see the children show an interest in the different aspects of the story; some of the children loved using the sound buttons to play music, whereas others preferred to explore the different beach items – tapping the shells made a pretty noise and the sea waves were very shimmery!

The children also began their work for the writing competition last week. We worked with each pupil individually to allow them the independence to make a completely unique piece of artwork. Each child was given the opportunity to choose the tools they used – some choosing to use their hands, while others preferred the stamps, brushes or rollers. They were also able to pick their own paint colours – purple was a big favourite!
Giving the children the space to explore their work in their own way was a great benefit. They all explored using their preferred senses; we liked to drip the paint from a height and splat the stampers hard to make a big mess! But the children all engaged for an extended period of time because they were able to have full autonomy over their work, and they have begun to create some amazing pieces of work!! We are very excited to show the final pieces!

Summer is coming!

The last week before the half term holiday as been a blast! The children have really enjoyed being out in the sunshine and have been working extra hard to make the last week, an amazing one!

We had another fantastic PE session this week. The children love using the equipment and climbing frames and have been working hard to develop their gross motor skills in climbing, balancing and coordination. Over the past term, the children have become very familiar with the equipment we use in our PE sessions and understand how they need to move their bodies to enable them to complete the obstacle and reach the top of the climbing frame.

During our Shape sessions this week, the children have really enjoyed exploring the different problem solving tasks focusing on shapes in different games and activities. We’ve been developing our fine motor skills in precise puzzle activities, using the very small peg board. We have also been creating patterns using the keys on the rings and constructing colourful towers with the building blocks. The children engage really well with these sessions because they have the independence to choose which tasks they want to take part in, allowing us to get a wonderful insight into the children’s special interests. This can be really useful in informing future planning, to ensure the children look forward to learning!

During our communication and language sessions, we carried on with our sensory story – Commotion in the Ocean, focusing on Sharks this week! The children are coming along really well with these sessions. We’ve begun to communicate our like and dislike for the different sensory aspects – some of the children really like the sand, but aren’t so keen on the water, whereas other children love the water so much, they are beginning to sign for ‘More’!
After the story, the children were able to explore a very chilly sensory play session! We froze some sea creatures in blue ice and the children had to use their problem solving skills to help them escape! We found spoons were the best tool to use! The children were very good at watching the adults model the correct actions, before having a go at it themselves.

The weather was so nice that day, that in the end, we put the tuff tray on Badgers playground so we could have some nice, refreshing fun in the sun!

When we come back after the holidays we will start looking at Swordfish!!

Sports Showcase!

Last week the children in Badger Class were able to show off their Gymnastics skills in our Sports Showcase! The children’s parents came to school to join in with one of our wonderful PE sessions and were able to see how much fun the children have during our weekly PE lessons, but also see just how much progress they have made since the start of the year. The children have thoroughly enjoyed our Gymnastics sessions and have become very confident on the equipment. They understand exactly what is expected of them during the sessions and how to use each piece of equipment appropriately and safely. It was a fantastic session and the children loved having their families their with them to celebrate their achievements! We are all so proud of our Badgers!

A really important part of our daily routine is developing emotional regulation and supporting the children to learn how to regulate themselves. We use the sensory room every week to give the children an opportunity to relax, calm their minds and offer essential intensive interaction moments for each and every child. The children love using the sensory room; exploring the lights, the bubble tube and the projectors creating an immersive environment. We have continued our adventure to the beach as part of our Under the Sea topic and the children are slowly becoming familiar with the items in our beach box; how to use them and what to wear!

Our Early Math’s sessions this week began by reintroducing Shape! This week we have begun to explore shape in lots of different ways, starting to understand that we find shapes in everything around us. The children enjoyed using shape stamps in paint to investigate the different patterns they can creating by choosing the different stamps. We have also had some fun engaging in shape matching using the shape turtles in a sensory tray and threading the different coloured keys onto the rings – this one was very tricky as we needed to use our problem solving skills to work out which way to thread the keys onto the rings.

We needed lots of help from adults to thread the keys but we will keep practising!

We also continued with our topic story this week – Commotion in the Ocean! Our sensory story took us deep underwater to explore Jellyfish! The children are getting very brave with experiencing the water and sand on their feet and some of the children are even learning to watch their peers and anticipate when it is their turn.

Badgers at the beach!

Last week we were very busy Badgers! We began the week with a wonderful, immersive session in the sensory room, linked closely to our topic, Under the Sea. We set up the sensory room to simulate a beach and underwater experience, with the sea breeze and the spring aroma scents. The children were able to explore our beach box full of interesting items associated with a trip to the beach! We explored appropriate clothing including swim shorts, beach towel, sun hat, sunglasses and a buoyancy jacket. Then also things we can play with and explore on the beach; nets, sand moulds and a crab toy.

Our little Badgers continued to work on their number skills this week. We explored numicon again through sensory play (weetabix playdough); squeezing the weetabix through the holes in the tiles and counting them with the support of an adult. It’s so important for the children in Badger Class to repeat activities such as this one, to reinforce the routine, embed new skills and develop a deeper understanding of early maths and number. Some of the children preferred to investigate the numicon on the square tiles; exploring the shapes and creating patterns with the different tiles. The children were supported to count the holes in the tiles and begin to understand that the tiles represent different numbers.

We finished the week with our regular Friday afternoon swimming session! The children have been showing us new skills they have been learning such as, blowing bubbles in the water and balancing on the floats. Our children are becoming extremely confident and independent in the water, requiring minimal support from the adults around them and initiating positive interactions in the water.

A Royal Celebration!

Last week, Badger Class celebrated King Charles III’s Coronation! We started the week by creating red, white and blue bunting to decorate our classroom. The children did an excellent job at making the bunting using tissue paper and glitter! The whole class engaged well in the task; sitting together as a large group around the table for a prolonged period of time and concentrating very hard on the task at hand. Each learner was able to choose which materials they wanted to use to decorate their bunting and maintained focus long enough to create two or more pieces of work each. We are very proud of how well the children were able to focus and follow instructions to create some beautiful decorations to celebrate such a historic occasion!

The whole school took part in a cake decorating competition this week, in honour of the King’s coronation! Each class was provided with a Victoria Sponge cake and various decorations so that the children could create a beautifully decorated cake to enter into the competition. In Badger Class, we mixed some red and blue icing sugar, which the children then drizzled over the cake. The children then chose to add sprinkles and wafer flowers to decorate the top of the cake, before adding flags and pictures of the King. The pupils also had the opportunity to explore creating shapes with fondant icing; rolling it out and using different shaped cutters. We had to practise a huge amount of self-control for this task, so that we didn’t eat it straight away! It looked so tasty!!

We ended the week with a Coronation Tea Party! Badger Class went out onto the field armed with picnic blankets, party food and a speaker to blast out the party tunes! We were prepared for any weather but were very lucky that the sun came out just for us! The children had a wonderful time rolling down the hills and chasing each other across the field, exploring nature before returning to the picnic blanket for a much needed snack or drink! It was a great way to celebrate the Coronation, but also provided the children with a sensory break where they could relax and recharge before a weekend, which I’m sure was filled with Coronation chaos and excitement!

Eco Week!

Last week we celebrated all things related to nature and looking after the environment, in support of King Charles’ love of the outdoors! Badger Class have been very busy this week, focusing on making Oakwood School look beautiful by tidying up our garden areas and planting new flowers.

We started the week by painting some wonderful pictures of Planet Earth. The children were able to independently choose between the two colours available; green and blue, and then practise holding the paint brush correctly and mark making on the paper. Some of the children chose to do more than one painting! Well done Badgers!

As part of Eco week, the children took part in a Bug Hunt! The children travelled around the school, following clues to find letters hidden in different spots in school and on the playground. At the end of the hunt we put the letters together to create the words ‘King Charles’!

We have also been working very hard to make the school look beautiful by tidying up Badgers Garden, planting some new flowers and looking after nature by watering all the plants! The children were very excited to be outside exploring our environment, learning new skills; using gardening tools to dig up soil, plant flowers and doing some weeding.

The class also continued with our Sensory Story for this term – Commotion in the Ocean. This week we focused on turtles and turtle eggs on the beach. The children are quickly learning to anticipate the beginning of our story; splashing in the ocean water and putting their feet in the sand. We used grapes to simulate turtle eggs and the children had to search through the sand to find all the turtle eggs. It was a lot of fun and very messy!

Our final activity for Eco Week was to create cress seed bags to hang on the windows, so that we can slowly watch them grow over the next few weeks. Gwen worked with each child individually to prepare the cress bags step by step. The children needed to be able to follow several single step instructions; wet the cotton wool, put it in the bag, sprinkle in the seeds, and pour in some water. The children concentrated very well on this activity and were able to follow each instruction with some guided support from Gwen. Now we get to watch the cress grow and grow!