On the first school day after the Easter holidays we took a walk down to our woodland to see if the Easter Hare had left us anything – and just look what we found!

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What amazing timing! On Monday we celebrated Candlemas (see here for some history behind the festival), and we celebrated in school by making candles in the earth around our daffodil spiral.

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February 2nd is also thought to announce the arrival of Spring or else a second Winter, according to whether the weather is fine or foul. Sun on Candlemas day indicates six more weeks of Winter, whereas an overcast day suggests that Spring is soon to appear.

If Candlemas Day be bright with sun

Then the Winter's but half begun,

But if Candlemas day be dull with rain

Then Winter's power is on the wane.

As the sun was shining on Monday our children declared further Winter to come, and the following morning, lo and behold! We awoke to snow! Now, we don't get snow in the Thames Valley every Winter, so when it does come we need to make the most of it - so we spent the whole morning building snowmen, throwing snowballs and then getting warm again with some hot juice.

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Twelfth Night, Epiphany, Three Kings' Day, Little Christmas: call it what you will, January 6th marks the official end of the twelve days of Christmas. On this day it is said that the Three Kings (Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar) found the child Jesus after following a bright star from the East, and gave him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

 

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In Italy and Spain it is traditional for children to leave a shoe outside on Epiphany eve, ready to be filled with gifts. They leave food for the camels in the same way that a carrot may be left for Santa's donkey. In some cities a boat arrives in the harbour bearing three 'kings' who then parade through the streets as a central part of the celebrations.

 

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At Alder Bridge, in Kindergarten, the old Russian folktale of Babushka is a traditional part of our own celebrations. While in the school we celebrated on the first day of term with French Galette Des Rois, and one child in each class became King for the day when they found the treasure in the cake. A story was told about the journey of the Three Kings from the perspective of the camels, and about the gifts the camels gave the baby. The day was full of related crafts with children making stars, beeswax camels and beautiful paper puppet theatres.

Celebrating Epiphany is a lovely way to continue the Christmas mood into the new term... 

 

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IMG 1710 768x1024Class 3/4 spent three days in our 9 acres of woodland last week. They learned about the plants and wildlife which co-exist there, they planted hazel saplings for future coppicing, crafted pendants from hawthorn wood, built shelters, made nettle soup for lunch, and listened to stories around the campfire. We are so lucky to have this space. 

Last week the children in Class 7/8 presented their independent projects to the school community.

The assignment was open - pick a subject, any subject, and create a project around it. The only fixed element was the deadline, and as a result we were treated to a reflection of the self-direction and self-motivation that our children grow into at the age of 13/14. The diversity of the Class 7/8 projects is always tremendous, in both content and approach, and this year was no exception...

We heard a history of cake-making, watched a cookery demonstration, sampled the results and bid for a beautifully decorated two-tiered chocolate cake. 

We heard about the life of Audrey Hepburn, her influence and legacy, and watched a short film extract of My Fair Lady performed by current and past pupils. 

We heard about falconry and the care of these magnificent birds, and heard about the experience of giving a demonstration with birds of prey in Gloucestershire. 

Dubai was the subject of the next project, and we were carried away by the enthusiasm of the speaker, his knowledge of and passion for the place. 

The next speaker took us to Space, and entertained us with the sheer 'bigness' of it all and sang that most memorable of Monty Python songs: Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving, and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour...

And finally we heard a talk on the history and techniques of poetry, and were treated to a recital. As part of his project the speaker had published a book of his own poetry and artwork and there were copies available to buy. 

Well done to all!

 

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