Little Lions

Welcome to our class page. 

Key Vocabulary

A good vocabulary (the number of words you know and can say) is really important for all children. It is an important building block for helping children to talk in sentences (and beyond!) but it's also really useful for learning to read and write. So, helping children to develop a good vocabulary is vital. With this in mind please use this vocabulary triangle to introduce these words to your children and encourage them to use them when taking part in the conversation starters.  

Newsletter- Autumn 1

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 your little ones over the Reception School Year.  The main priority during the 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 and become accustomed to all of the new rules and routines.

This newsletter gives you some insight into your child’s day and what to expect in the first half term . I am also hoping that it will 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 dropped off at 8.55am. 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 with as little support as possible due to the current situation, so any practice at home will make these mornings a little easier for your child and the class.

◾When entering the cloak room your child will 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.

◾ Your child will then put their coat on their peg. Again any practice with taking coats off and putting them on (including doing the zip/buttons) will help them do this by themselves.

The children will then go and wash their hands with soap and water in the toilets before entering the classroom.

◾Once all of the above are complete the children will then enter the classroom. They will take part in morning work to develop their skills in certain areas. Some will be at tables, others on the carpet. The activities set up on the tables in the classroom 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. The themes for these activities are as followed;

Monday- Name Writing/ Handwriting (When phonics starts)

Tuesday- Name Writing/ Handwriting (When phonics starts)

Wednesday- Maths and number

Thursday- Rainbow reading

Friday- Cutting skills


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 in the UK and those from other countries. 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. Please see the vocabulary triangle and discussion points that you could use at home to support your children’s learning in this area and also to have some lovely little discussions about your unique family with your child.


We will begin Phase 2 of letters and sounds the week commencing Monday 19th September depending on how the children are settling in. Here the children will be introduced to a different sound every other day so we can focus on using these in reading and writing for over a two-day period for each sound. Introducing these at a slower pace should help all children to learn the necessary skills needed to begin to blend to read and segment to spell. I will be conducting a Phonics Home Learning Support Workshop for you to attend at school to help you understand how to apply similar techniques we use at school at home on Monday 12th September at 4.00pm. It would be lovely to see as many of you attend this as possible as it is vital we work together to develop the fundamental skills needed to read and write in Reception, because if children fall behind in Reception, it is very hard for them to catch up.  I understand that not all of you will be able to attend this, so I will also be uploading a video of the presentation on Class Dojo too.

 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. I have also put together some videos which are available on the school website or Youtube. 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 ‘parent’s 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 the Friday that we start Phonics lessons and should be complete each week and uploaded to Class Dojo for me to ‘mark.’  You will have a week to complete each one- guidance will be uploaded on Class Dojo in regard to this when it begins.

It is essential that the pre-cursive handwriting style shown on these sheets is continued at home, as going between writing styles could confuse your children as well as delay their development in writing.  This new technique can be a little confusing at first and may make your child’s handwriting appear messy, however it is important that you continue to practice it this way. Please refer to the videos above or the handwriting booklet for more help with learning to form letters this way.


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. Please upload a photo of this to Dojo every Friday so I can see what your child has been reading and how they have got 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 as this is a valuable tool to develop your child’s vocabulary and imagination.

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.

We will change these books on the Friday.  

We also have a virtual book library called Rising Stars which I will set reading books on as well so you can chop and change between hard copies and these online ones. I will send login details home for this over the next few weeks, along with a ‘how to read with your child’ guide which will help in using similar strategies at home, to those used at school. It also explains a reading reward system we have in place to try and encourage reading at home- as we know this can be tricky at times!


During this half term, we will be focusing on number recognition with numerals to 5 and counting objects and actions to this. We will also be teaching children how to subitise as this is a key element of the new EYFS curriculum as it underpins a secure understanding of numbers and their compositions. Subitising can help children to build images for numbers, to visualise and to learn number facts. For instance, most four-year-olds readily learn to recognise five dots on a dice, which helps them to understand the cardinal value or 'howmanyness' of five. We will develop their recognition of different arrangements of objects to represent numbers to 5 along with the standard dots on a dice.

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;

Boys Learning

It is common knowledge that some 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 and having spent a lot of time at home these last few months. In order to help upset children it is vital that we work together and make the goodbye in the morning positive and not sound so final. Using phrases such as ‘see you this afternoon’ or ‘ I can’t wait to see you when I pick you up later’ will help with this. It is best in these situations that you leave the playground 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.

Memory and Executive function skills

Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things. With this in mind, over the summer, it may be useful to try and build in some fun games which will help your child exercise and develop these skills- ready for when they come to school. One of the biggest ways to support with this is by giving your child time to think of an answer to a question, before jumping in with the answer or thing they would like. Anther way is to ask them lots of questions so that children begin using their working memory to retrieve information as they respond.  Children who struggle with these skills often find following one or two instructions difficult as they cannot yet retain and retrieve information in their working memory. If you ask your child things such as “Take your shoes off, then hop 3 times.” Can they do this? You could build up these simple instructions into your everyday routine. “Take your coat off then get your cup please.” Etc.

An easy game to play when in the car is an auditory sequential memory recall game! Say 3 or 4 words which the children have to try and repeat in order. Eg suitcase, lamb, sock, sandwich. Then ask children to repeat a sentence eg “The baby cries a lot.” Can your child remember the list of items?

Another favourite is the “What’s missing?” game. Place up to 5 objects on a tray, let your child see what is on there. Cover this up and remove one item. Can your child tell you what has gone? If they are really good at this, you could try taking away two items.

A few further bits of information:

  • We will have PE twice a week. An indoor and outdoor kit will be needed. The days these will be on will be confirmed on Tuesday.
  • 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 half term, our class newsletter is available to read on the school website.
  • 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 coat on, using a knife and fork and tidying away what they have been using before moving on to something else! Another great skill to try and develop which may have been delayed slightly from spending lots of time at home is recall of and following instructions. This is part of the Early Years curriculum so it would be great if you practice asking your child to do something once and letting them try and remember this and follow it up without reminders. This can then be increased to two and then three things within the sequence. An example of this would be “go and wash your hands, put your coat on and then sit down.”
  • Mrs Gilbert will lead the class on my PPA afternoons as it is my allocated planning time. Here they will take part in activities in the garden where they will take part in natural learning.
  • Please ensure all clothes (including PE kits/water bottles etc) are named as things will go missing and we are always eager to reunite it with its owner.
  • Book bags and mice will now be expected to be brought to school on a Monday. We will then keep these at school for the full week and return these on Friday.
  • Any letters or important information will be put on Class dojo or the website so please check these regularly.

If you have any questions about any of the above or any other queries please do not hesitate in speaking to Mrs Stokes or I, we are always happy to help and understand there is lots of new information to try and process.

I look forward to starting this learning adventure with your little ones in September and hope you have a lovely summer.

Kind Regards,

Miss Jolly


Topic Webs- Autumn 1

 Have a look at the fun things we are going to learn this half term.