Otterbourne Church of England
Primary School

With God's love, all are encouraged to thrive

Leopard Class


Roald Dahl


Last week, I had a really interesting discussion with the Leopards. I shared a news article with them about plans to censor Roald Dahl books. As I'm reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the class at the moment (and they're LOVING it) I thought they'd be interested and I really wanted to know what they thought on the proposal. They were outraged! Almost all of them wanted to share their opinions and explain their reasoning which was super. They had SUCH valuable ideas and could justify them really clearly. Contributions included:

  • It should be the choice of a member of Roald Dahl's family what happens to his work.
  • We're old enough to understand that some of the words and ideas in the books are from a long time ago and that they're not acceptable today.
  • It should be down to the adult in the family/at school whether a child reads Roald Dahl books or not.
  • Children should have been consulted first as they're the ones who the books are for.

It was actually really lovely that one of the children asked my opinion on it too. 

The class were delighted when I updated them yesterday that the decision has been made that copies of Dahl's original texts will still be printed alongside new, censored versions thus allowing the individual the choice of which one to buy.



Reflecting on Spring 1


We have had a short but productive term in school that has been absolutely jam packed.


  • The Leopards began working with Mrs Morgan on their Forest School skills. The class love these sessions on Tuesday afternoons and Mrs Morgan has devised activities which really help the children with their listening skills whilst exploring their environment and being out and about in nature. 
  • Music sessions with Mrs Beaton have seen the class learning tuned percussion since Christmas. They are exploring pitch which has proven tricky for some children so again, listening skills are really being honed here. They have learnt what an ostinato is, can they tell you?!
  • In Science, the children have been learning about the difference between materials and their properties. They have established that a material can be manipulated or adapted to change its properties. To explore this, they conducted a test where they worked in teams to protect an egg from smashing when dropped using only paper and tape. The results were...interesting... but the children LOVED doing it. (A visitor to the school said I must have been mad doing this kind of activity on my own with 30 children!)
  • Our maths unit has seen the children learning about multiplication. They've thought about grouping, repeated addition and arrays. The Year 2s have been asked to learn their times tables at home now that they have learnt what is actually happening to the numbers. We will be moving onto division soon.
  • We have focused on the story of The Hare and the Tortoise in English. This all kicked off with an obstacle course competition which was made all the harder when I introduced a blindfold for some of the children, making them go a lot slower! The children very quickly guessed what story they'd be working on after this. The Leopards reflected on the features of traditional tales, adapted the story and ultimately, wrote newspaper reports on the event. This proved a real challenge for a few reasons. Newspapers aren't read by children in KS1 very often (!) so the tone of the writing was hard for the Leopards to understand. Many of the children fell into the trap of wanting to write as if it was simply a story. Perhaps they could look at the NewsRound website occasionally at home?
  • The History topic has been centred on Captain Scott venturing to the South Pole. It's a really tragic tale and the children were really rather taken aback when I explained it to them initially. Through telling the story lots and lots of times, the children have been able to unpick what went wrong and why it is an event in history we should remember and learn from.
  • We are still working through all the sounds in Bug Club Phonics and the Year 2s are working daily on their important spellings. 
  • The children really got a lot from our BE HAPPY, BE HEALTHY week. A highlight was getting to scoot about, learning how to be safe and respectful as they did. They even learnt about the history of the scooter!


Introducing our new topic


We started by looking at this picture and guessing why the people in the photo might be famous.


Ideas about who the people are included:




Snow explorers


Zoo keepers

Snow campers



Then the children were given a very odd task. They were split into 2 teams; the red team and the blue team. They were given the task of getting their PE tops on (over their clothes), hats, scarves, coats etc and then only when everyone in their team was ready, they could sprint to the other end of the playground and retrieve their coloured flag and get back to the starting point. The winning team was the one that had ALL their team across the finishing line. The children did really well to encourage others and some even helped their team mates to get their coats on.



After this, we went inside and I told them that we would be learning about:

A race involving a flag where people had to wear a lot of clothes and work well as a team.



Kelly Simm


Last week, the school was visited by Kelly Simm, an English artistic gymnast. She has represented the country at the Commonwealth Games and won some pretty impressive medals. The Leopards had a go at doing some fierce exercises to demonstrate the gruelling fitness regime Kelly keeps up with every day - they loved it! Later, they saw Kelly demonstrating some incredible skills and had the chance to ask her some questions about her career. Our time with Kelly was really inspiring. The children were wowed by her and I hope they appreciated her commitment to her passion. Apologies for the blurry photos - the iPad couldn't keep up!




Last week, the Leopards thought about Remembrance Day and particularly, the poppies that they were so excited to be buying. I talked to them about the soldiers who have been so brave over the years, the people who have helped the soldiers and the families of the soldiers. The children were very respectful and clearly very shocked at some of the incredibly upsetting situations soldiers have found themselves in over the years. Each child was given a a red template of a poppy and using the website, they each wrote a Thank You to a real, specific soldier who has died for our country. It was very special.


Later, we did some art. The children looked at the poppy fields painting by Monet and learnt a little about him. They then had a go at replicating his painting using a dabbing technique and mixing their own colours from a very basic selection. They look absolutely beautiful and a fitting tribute for remembrance.


A plea about toys!


We're having a bit of an issue with the number of little toys the children are bringing into school at the moment. We've seen lovely jewelry, special cuddly toys and HUGE toys coming in. I'm afraid the children simply don't get a chance to play with them in school and there is a huge potential for them to get lost, broken or stolen. It also means children are more likely to keep things in their pockets and fiddle with them during learning time, sneak in during lunch times to get them from bags or ask to 'go to the loo' so they can have a little play with them in the corridors. Things like slap bands and interactive watches are also causing quite a disruption in the classroom I'm afraid. 

I've spoken to the children about all of this and the agreement across the school is that toys from home need to stay at home. The Leopards have chosen to bring in their own toy from home for their Star Party so they will absolutely get the chance to bring a special thing in then. I also suggested that we set up a Show and Tell slot for 3 children a week so they could have a time to show off anything they were particularly fond of. This will be on a Monday and I will put up a list of whose turn it is each week on our Leopards Google Classroom page. 

If you could be vigilant on checking the children aren't bringing toys, jewelry, slap bands and fancy watches into school, it would be a MASSIVE help. I know they can be wily!

Thank you ever so much.


What do Phonics and Reading look like in the Leopards Class?



The children in Year 1 are taught Phonics 4 times a week whilst the Year 2s practise the tricky spelling rules they must know by the end of the year.



The class is divided into 5 reading groups: Hearts, Spots, Waves, Stripes and Spirals. Each day, an adult reads with a group. The children in that group are asked to fetch their reading diaries and we award house points for every entry since last week. The adult will then write a comment in the reading diary ready to be returned. The children in that group are then told to go and pick some new books to take home, HOWEVER, they are very welcome to change their reading books and take new ones home on ANY day of the week. They do not have to wait until it's their reading day, it's just that we give them the verbal reminder on their day! We have encouraged the children to write in their own reading diaries if they do some reading independently at home. Remember, it doesn't just have to be a school book that they've read that can be recorded; library books, home books, magazines and comics can all count as reading. It might be that you have a reluctant reader who is struggling but they independently read a sign on a door or spot some words they know on the back of a shampoo bottle! We would love to celebrate this by giving them house points so feel free to add that to their diaries too.

Whilst an adult is reading with one group, the other groups are working on a carousel of activities throughout the week. Each group will complete a phonics activity, a spellings activity, a handwriting activity and a comprehension style activity, all independently. 


Number Bonds


This week, we are starting to focus on Addition and Subtraction in Maths. We will be doing this for quite some time. We've started the unit by exploring number bonds - sets of number that add up to the same total.

The Year 1s should have instant recall of the number bonds to 10, then 20.


The Year 2s should be able to use this prior knowledge to understand number bonds to 100:


The Tunnel


The children are now focusing on the story The Tunnel by Anthony Browne. It's a mysterious story and provokes lots of discussion. Following on from our Parents' Evenings last week, the children had a go themselves! They took the roles of teachers and parents having a meeting about the children in the story. It was very funny overhearing some of the phrases they used! This exercise generated some excellent vocab for future sessions on the text, which we have displayed on our working wall.


Where the Wild Things Are


This week, the children have got their gnashing teeth into the story of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This is a children's classic and was certainly a staple of my childhood. In the story, Max's room melts away and becomes 'the world all around' him. Something similar happened in the Leopards' classroom as we used our imaginations to pretend we were all in a private boat, heading out to sea to find where the wild things live. With some sea sound effects playing in the background, we looked out of the sides of the boat to think about what we could hear, see, smell, taste and feel as we approached the mysterious island. Would you believe it, but the Leopards heard the wild things burping, tasted the salty water, felt scared of what they might find, saw weird fish leaping out of the water and even smelt the wild creatures' poo! This experience was lots of fun and (of course!) led to some writing - independent writing. This was quite a new concept for the Leopards, working completely by themselves. I made sure they knew that it was absolutely fine to make mistakes as long as they were trying their best with their ideas, handwriting and sounding out. Some children relished the chance to be free and creative whilst others found it more challenging to do a task largely unaided. I used this as an opportunity to see the children's free writing, their stamina for work and their independence skills. 

It would be really valuable if you could encourage the idea of independence at home as much as possible please. Whether that's getting dressed by themselves, getting their school things ready for the next day, making their own bed or putting their swimming stuff in the washing machine, just a little job here and there will really help with this mentality and will HUGELY help with attitudes at school. (DISCLAIMER: I promise I do know how busy all your lives are and how slow it can be asking a 6 year old to get dressed when you need to get out of the house and there are a million other things that need to be done first!!!)


First Weeks


We have packed in a lot in the first days of Leopards 2022-2023! We are exhausted and so we imagine the children might be too. They have done PE and music, both with external experts. They have had Mrs Simmons teach them some fabulous, hands-on Science during our PPA time (Planning, Preparation and Assessment). They have done some phonics, maths, English, explored their new topic 'Our Wonderful World', visited the library, had some PSHE reflection time and got used to new routines and learning expectations. Here are a few pictures!

Hello from Miss Smith


I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the Meet the Teacher afternoon so here is a quick video for me to say 'Hello' to you all and for you to put a face to the name. I hope to get to meet you all properly ASAP.


Hello from Miss Smith

Uploaded by youtube adder on 2022-09-17.


We are so pleased to tell you that our lovely Leopards have settled in brilliantly. For the Year 1 children, there is quite a big difference when they move up to KS1. The timetable is more formal and there is far less free play during the day. This can take some time to adapt but we're already noticing an increase in stamina from all the children. The Year 2s have a very new role too. They are suddenly the role models for the younger children and a lot is asked of them. They rather like this responsibility!


We have told the Leopards how lucky they are that they are the only class that get TWO teachers! The children seem to be coping really well with our set up (Miss Smith Mon-Wed, Mrs Harrison Thurs, Fri) and we're very proud of them already.


We will post pictures and updates of what we are learning about on this page weekly so do please keep an eye out as it would be fabulous for you to chat about the children's school learning with them at home.


Many thanks for your support for the year ahead,


Mrs Harrison and Miss Smith xxx