Tiny Turtles

Wow Words

 Giving children opportunities to explore a broad range of vocabulary is very important in Reception so every week we introduce 'wow words' to the class. We will explore the varied meanings they have in a variety of contexts. This is supposed to improve the children's speech, writing and also their confidence, particularly for those who currently have limited vocabulary skills.

In order to do this I have gathered the common language which children already have prior knowledge of, which is linked to our topic (Tier 1 of pyramid.) I then went through the key text we are using this half term and picked words which have many different meanings or may be a little confusing to understand due to limited experiences with these. (Tier 2) We will introduce 1 or 2 of these words a week and look at it in depth  to encourage children to understand it's meaning, use it in context and embed it in their mind. We then have subject specific words (Tier 3) which children will access throughout the topic.

I will be displaying the pyramid on the learning wall in the corridor and highlighting the words we have explored so you can use them at home too. I also invite you to add to Tier 1 of the pyramid with any topic based language your child seems to use a lot and have a good understanding of, this in turn may encourage us and parents to also incorporate these words into our learning

Activity of the Week

This week we have had two very popular activities, both linked to maths again! The boys in particular have really enjoyed exploring the number garage. I labelled the cars with number stickers and then created parking spaces in the garage, again by numbering these. The children then had to match the numeral on the car, to that on the parking space and park it. This helps their numeral recognition with numerals from 0 all the way to 20.  This could also be done with making either the labels on the cars or parking spaces dots for the children to count and match this to a numeral. This also encourages hand strength and communication skills as they talk to their peers to discuss where they are parking their car.

The second activity was a very simple number decoration task. The children had a large selection of collage materials for them to stick on numerals of their choice. This again had numerous learning opportunities, such as fine motor skill development as they picked up and placed sequins and small parts, as well as encouraging them to be imaginative as they considered where to place each item. This could be adapted at home with children looking through magazines to find numerals the same as their chosen one and sticking these on.

What Makes Me Special?

We have been very busy this morning, making self-portrait pizzas! The children did a wonderful job at explaining what they were using to create their unique features, as well as discussing other ways that make them special, such as their interests. The children will be bringing these home for you to cook and enjoy later. 

Sounds of the Week

This week we are officially starting our daily Phonics lessons, as the children seem more settled and ready to learn. Here we learn one sound a day and then use these in a range of activities to develop the skills for them to read and write.

Here are this weeks sounds, please ensure that if your child practices at home, they include the lead in and lead out line seen in these videos, otherwise it can really confuse your child and result in very messy letter formation. If you need any more help with this then please ask as I know it is also a massive learning curve for parents too.  

Activity of the Week

 This week the children have enjoyed matching numerals and quantities using padlocks and keys.
This is a very simple activity that brings with it many learning opportunities, some of which include: strengthening of fine motor skills as they turn the keys, number recognition, problem solving and perseverance.

If you would like to try similar at home, all you will need is various padlocks and keys, (I picked a multi-pack up from Pound Land) sticky labels and some key fobs.

You will then need to draw numerals or dots on the labels and stick these on the padlock and fob so that when they are matched, the padlock will open. I make this slightly more engaging by locking the padlocks on hooks that are screwed into a log and have small teddies or toys that need rescuing once the padlock has been opened.

If you would like any more maths or phonics ideas to do with your child at home, please visit this page on our website.

Reading At Home

I have sent the first set of reading books home this week for you and your child to use to retell stories based on the images. If your child is ready, they can also see what sounds and words they can find on the page. Along with the books, I have also sent home some guidance on how to tackle reading with your little ones and get the most learning out of it.

Please find this below in case it has been misplaced.

Our First Week at School

 We are nearing the end of the first full week at school and I just wanted to take the time to say how proud I am of every single child. They are trying exceptionally hard with all of the rules and routines and have shown great confidence around lots of new faces. 

There may be a few more tears in the mornings towards the end of the week as their little bodies adjust to the busy school week. This is perfectly normal and hopefully will soon stop all together.

Well done to the children, but also to you parents as I know it can be emotional sending your children to school and getting your head around it too.

Autumn 1 Newsletter

 Dear Parents/Carers,

It is a pleasure to welcome you and your children into Reception, with a special welcome to the new children and families joining the Barlborough Primary School family. I am very much looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you, along with your little ones over the coming weeks and have already had a delightful couple of days with them. The main priority during these first few weeks is to support the children as they transition into school life and make them feel comfortable and safe as they settle in to their new environment. 

This newsletter gives you some insight into your child’s day and what to expect from this half term to help ease you into the routines and structures of the school, but if anything is still unclear, please do not hesitate to ask.   

Morning Routine

Children are expected to be in the classroom at 8.50

In order to help your children settle down quickly in the morning, as well as begin to gain independence, there are a number of tasks we ask your child to do every morning. They may need a little support at first however by the end of this half term they should be performing these independently.

◾When entering the cloak room please encourage your children to find and recognise their name, this will help them learn the letters that make it up and therefore distinguish it from others in other contexts such as on book bags, PE bags and cardigans/ jumper.

Book bags will go in the large yellow box on the shelf by the door of the cloakroom (this is labelled) and lunch boxes in the one below

  • Above their pegs there will be a post-it note, please ask your child to write their name on this before sticking this onto the wall opposite the office door informing us if your child is having a school dinner or a packed lunch. This encourages the children with their name writing, pencil grip and again encourages them to take initiative. They can enter the classroom to write their name, however pencils will be placed on the windows.

◾ Upon entering the classroom, please ask the children to put their water bottles in the green trays which are located by the sink. This gives them continuous access to water throughout the day. Please note it is only water that is acceptable in school, any juice will be replaced with water.

◾Once all of the above are complete the children will then take part in activities set up on the tables in the classroom. These alter daily to allow children to explore activities they may not necessarily choose to conduct throughout the day and also consolidate vital skills needed to enhance their learning.  Again, your child may need support at first, but will be encouraged to gain independence for completion independently throughout the term;
The themes for these activities are as followed;

Monday- Name Writing/ Handwriting (When phonics starts)
Tuesday- Jigsaws and group games
Wednesday- Maths and number
Thursday- Rainbow reading
Friday- Cutting skills

At 9.00 I will call all of the children to the carpet, if parents could make a swift exit from the classroom by the outside door by the reading area so we can start our busy day this would be greatly appreciated.


Our topic for this half term is ‘Marvellous Me’ where the children will explore lots of different and unique ways which make them special. Here we will explore their original features, their interests and unique characteristics. This will then lead onto learning about families and how they differ from one another. Finally we will explore the amazing human body and why it is important to stay healthy. To make the topic more appealing, we will be using books by Lisa Bullard which explore the similarities and differences between ourselves, our families and our homes. They offer a great insight into cultural diversity also.

We will be celebrating our wonderful families with a family breakfast towards the end of the term where parents/carer will be invited to come in and participate in activities with your child which promote the unique nature of every family as well as eat some yummy food. This will be on Monday 7th October from 9.00am until 10.00am.  Please look out for the letter in the next few weeks confirming the date and times as well as a slip you will need to complete and return to me as it is a very popular event.


We will begin Phase 2 of letters and sounds next week depending on how the children are settling in.  Here the children will be introduced to a different sound each day and learn the necessary skills needed to begin to blend to read and segment to spell. I will be conducting a Phonics and Maths Home Learning Support Workshop for you to attend to help you understand how to apply similar techniques we use at school at home. This will be on Wednesday 25th September at 4.30pm - 5.15pm. This timing is to reduce the number of children that attend to help you get your head around it a little bit! If you plan on attending, please fill in the signing up sheet which will be put up on my door towards the end of this week.  Phonics is a little hard to understand at first, especially initial sounds as you are used to saying letter names, however Oxford Owl have a fantastic section on their website which demonstrates the pronunciation of each.  http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/phonics-made-easy  I have also put together some videos which are available on the school website. These demonstrate the pronunciation and formation of each sound. They are child friendly but also a vital tool to your own understanding of phonics. These can be found under the ‘parents information’ tab, with the heading ‘phonics and handwriting information.’

As phonics begins I will be sending home handwriting practice sheets. These will be sent out on Thursdays and should be returned the following Wednesday. Please note that we teach the children to write with a pre-cursive formation and this should be continued at home as going between writing styles could confuse your children as well as delay their development in writing. It can be a little confusing at first and may make your child’s handwriting appear messy, however it is essential that you continue to practice it this way. Please refer to the videos above or the handwriting booklet sent home in your transition packs.


As we begin Phonics it is important that your child discovers the sounds they hear and see at school in various contexts, we will therefore be sending home a school reading scheme book that you can share with your child. At this age, reading is a crucial part of children’s learning so it would be helpful if you could hear your child read at home as often as possible and ask them questions about the story to develop their comprehension skills. I will send home an information leaflet about this along with your child’s first book for some guidance. Your child will also have a Reading Diary for you to date and sign each time you hear them read. You can also use the diary for any informal messages you have to pass on. Please be aware every child is different and they all progress at different rates. However, if you have any concerns over your child’s reading development, please see one of us. In the meantime, please continue to read to your child as much as possible. The picture books outside the classroom can be borrowed for you to share with your children. Please sign these out and upon returning them.  

At first Lilac books will be sent home which have no words in. This is an opportunity for you to ask your child to look at the pictures and create their own narratives. Here you can use questioning to help them predict what will happen next, name the characters and think about the emotions of the characters. I would recommend that you start by making up the story on one page to guide your children, then encourage them to have a turn with the next few pages. After this pink books will be sent home. The children may still not be at the blending to read words stage, but it would be beneficial for your child to look at sounds they have learnt and have a go at orally blending these.

A lovely website that we will be using this half term is Teach Your Monster To Read

Reading  Rewards

As an incentive to try and encourage children to want to read when at home we have set up a reading reward system. Every time your child reads for 10 minutes or more and you have recorded this in your child’s reading record then you can place a dot on your child’s named book spine located in the school corridor. We will then total up the additions every week and choose a star reader (or readers) who has read the most times. A raffle ticket will then be sent home to the parents of the star reader as a thank you for encouraging your child to develop their reading at home. There will then be a prize draw at the end of the half term where a name will be picked out of a hat and a prize for the adults will be sent home. Along with this children who have read a minimum of 3 times a week will also get a certificate. Please note that we will check reading records weekly to ensure that comments match the total number of stars on the spines and we will remove any that are not recorded.


During this half term, we will be focusing on number recognition with numerals to 10 and beyond and counting objects and actions. With number recognition we encourage children to explore the shapes of numbers and the different lines which make each up. This allows them to distinguish them from one another and will encourage them to begin to record numerals with their own representations. When you are out and about see how many different numbers you can see on doors, shop windows, price tickets or number plates. This will help children with their development with this. Counting underpins all operations and the more we practise, the better we get.  If possible, count with your child as much as possible at home. Children can count anything and everything, shoes, claps, carrots or jumps!  – encourage them to count things wherever they are and if possible begin to integrate matching the total counted to a numeral for development of number sense and understanding.  Some great games can be found on this website; www.maths-games.org/counting-games.html

Boys Learning

It is common knowledge that boys often have a completely different approach to learning than girls. Although this comes with it many positives, it has also created a global problem where girls can be seen out performing boys throughout their whole school life. With this in mind it is absolutely crucial that we work together to try and engage both the girls and boys in the class and create that love of learning from the outset. It appears that independence is key when it comes to boys learning and I will be sending home some activities to all students which are designed to encourage independence in thought processes as well as when involved in tasks. I will also be sending home information by Gary Wilson who has published many books to help practitioners and parents nurture boys and build them to be successful learners. I have a fantastic book by him for parents called ‘help your boys succeed-The essential guide for parents.’  I would strongly recommend for parents to purchase this, or am happy to lend my copy out if you are interested in reading it. I have included an information sheet at the end of this newsletter about your child’s independence and ideas on how to build on this as well as some early literacy ideas to help both girls and boys discretely with essential skills needed to write successfully. 

Separation Anxiety

It is completely normal for children to get upset when you first start dropping them off at school, especially when they are not used to the new routine and structure that they are experiencing. In order to help upset children it is vital that we work together. It is best in these situations that you leave the class quickly as this makes the anticipation of you leaving less intense. In some circumstances children will latch on to you, making it difficult for you to leave, in these cases I will always ask your permission before I intervene.   Next I will ask that you give them a kiss and a cuddle before you leave. I will then take your child from you calmly and gently and comfort them until they calm down. Often they take very little time to settle and we will always contact you to assure you that they are ok, likewise you are welcome to ring the office if you are concerned as I understand that it can be very upsetting for you too. If your child isn’t clingy, yet still upset, allowing you to leave easily, please make a member of staff aware as some children will then try and follow you.

Passport to learning
At Barlborough we use a ‘Passport system’ to encourage children to work towards targets which encourage and promote good citizenship skills as well as link to British Values. The first passport they will start on is an Orange one. We will be concentrating on saying please and thank you and helping keep the classroom tidy this half term.

 A few further bits of information:

  • We will have PE twice a week on Thursday and Friday afternoons. Please can you ensure your child has their P.E kit in school on these days and that they are not wearing any jewellery (should your child have recently had their ears pierced you must send them to school with earrings taped up on these days.) As the weather turns colder it would be useful if your child could have long trousers and a jumper for our outdoor sessions as well as their t-shirt, shorts & plimsolls for indoor PE.
  • Please look out for First Aid letters which children will be given at home time if they have had an accident at school. This gives you information about what minor injury your child received and how/when. These will be on red paper if it is a head injury. Please be assured that if any accidents happen which we deem of a more serious nature we will contact you immediately.
  • Each term, our class newsletter is available to read on the school website.
  • We are always looking to collect recyclable materials to use to make models. If you have any that you could donate, please ensure it is clean and place it in the junk modelling box at the creative table.
  • We are always looking to have adult helpers involved in our school. If you would like to help out in our class as well as other year groups, please let me know and I will pass your information on to the office.
  • It is important that your child begins to develop their independence in order to undergo day to day school life confidently. With this in mind we ask you to support your child in practicing certain skills at home such as getting dressed and undressed, taking their jumper off and putting it on, recognising their name, putting their coats on and tidying away what they have been using before moving on to something else!
  • It is recommended that a pair of named wellies are kept on each child’s peg for outdoor learning as it moves into Autumn as we will be out come rain or shine!
  • Miss Heath-Smith will lead the class on Tuesday afternoons as it is my allocated planning time. Here they will do Forest School, where they will take part in natural learning activities.
  • Please ensure all clothes (including PE kits) are named as things will go missing and we are always eager to reunite it with its owner.
  • Please ensure that your child does not go on the play equipment in the main playground or Reception outside area before or after school.

If you have any questions about any of the above or any other queries please do not hesitate in speaking to Mrs Gilbert or I, we are always happy to help and understand there is lots of new information to try and process.  I hope the first few days in Reception have been as stress free as possible and I look forward to starting a full week with your little ones on Monday.

Kind Regards,

Miss Jolly

Autumn Term Topic Web: Marvellous Me

Click to view and download all the exciting things we'll be learning this term: