Otterbourne Church of England
Primary School

With God's love, all are encouraged to thrive

Year R Blog



We've had another busy and exciting week in year R - I can't believe we've only been back at school a week!


On Monday, we talked about the NSPCC pants rule.  Through the engaging Pantosaurus story and song, the Penguins learnt the simple message that their bodies belong only to them and that they should always tell an adult if they are upset or worried.  The catchy song has been a BIG favourite, played multiple times throughout the week - reinforcing this essential message in a fun and memorable way.  If your child hasn't already pestered you to find the song , here's the link!  Apologies - its an earworm!!






Along side our lessons on personal safety, we also dedicated time to learn about the fascinating world of earthworms.  The children learnt about how important worms are for our ecosystem, learning which culminated in making our own Wormery during our Outdoor Learning session. Despite the persistent rain, the Penguins puddle suited and wellie booted themselves up and embraced the elements to search for earthworms.  Together, we created the Wormery using stones, sand and mud, topped off with the remains of the fruit they enjoyed upon returning to the classroom.  Well done Penguins!!  Their resilience, team work and incredible good humour in bad weather made me very proud of them all.


In phonics, we focused on "tricky words" and continued with these words in Kinetic Letters.  It's incredible to see the children's growing confidence in both tackling their tricky words and in  their letter formation.


This week in maths, as well as continuing on with number recognition, the Penguins have been creating number sentences, demonstrating their subtraction skills using Numicon shapes with confidence and enthusiasm.


All in all, it's been a week filled with tricky words, Kinetic Letters, number sentences, worms , pants, an important NSPCC message, two Penguin birthdays and quite a lot of rain.  Have a lovely weekend. x



This week was Otterbourne's "Be Happy Be Healthy" week- a fun filled and exciting 5 days  packed with a whole range of activities designed to help the children to understand their physical and mental fitness.


As you may have heard, an integral part of this week was the "daily mile" - every day, come rain or shine, we velcroed up our trainers and hit the playground for a quick jog/hop/skip (not quite a mile!!wink) around the playground.  The children loved this and their enthusiasm never wavered - they were brilliant and it proved to be a fantastic way to wake us all up and get ready for the day of learning and fun!


Even more running came with Monday's inter-house cross country event.  One muddy lap around the school field for the Penguins accompanied by their Y6 buddies.  The children ran superbly and enthusiastically.  There were quite a few slips and slides, but each child who fell, got up and carried on - most importantly with smiles on their faces!!  I was very proud of them all.


On Tuesday, continuing on with their physical activity, we were very lucky to have a session with Mrs. Alderman, a personal trainer, who showed us some brilliant exercises to keep our bodies strong and healthy.  We learned all about the importance of staying active and taking care of our bodies.  The children also shared their impressive knowledge about fruit and vegetables.


Wednesday was scooter day!! We had an absolute blast outside, the Penguins were highly proficient on their scooters, following the improvised one way system on the Meadow Playground beautifully.  The children showed great skill in negotiating roundabouts and zebra crossings and the speed police didn't have to issue any fines....(just a couple of warnings here and there!!)


On Thursday, linked with the Penguins' learning about Chinese New Year, we had a special Chinese New Year yoga session where we learned some traditional poses and stretches.  It was a another great way to recognize this festival whilst practicing mindfulness and relaxation.


Meanwhile, back in the classroom the Penguins made a Chinese dragon to celebrate Chinese New Year.  We used colourful tissue paper to bring our dragon to life and he looked brilliant until it started to rain!!!  The children showed great patience as he underwent a quick repair job!  He is now keeping a watchful eye over us all from the classroom ceiling.  We also made Chinese red lanterns which are supposed to bring fortune and good luck! (fingers crossed!!)


A highlight of the week and to continue the celebrations, the whole class enjoyed a Chinese food tasting session,  tasting noodles, seaweed, sweet and sour chicken and prawn crackers! The penguins tried it all and loved (almost) every bite.  I think there were "thirds" of noodles in some cases!!


We were also extremely lucky this week to have a visit from Mr. Lo who talked to us about the traditions and customs of the Chinese New Year.  The children were fascinated to learn how Isaac's family spend the festival and about how it is celebrated around the world.  A huge thank you to Mr. Lo for his time, Chinese sweets, prawn crackers and fortune cookies! We really appreciate it.


On Friday we enjoyed a lesson aimed at promoting great oral hygiene which culminated in all of us brushing our teeth for a whole two minutes, ensuring that we even reached right to the very back of our mouths!!!!! It was a lot of fun - apologies for the toothpaste stains down jumpers!!


In addition to keeping our smiles bright, we also received a PE session from Coach Robbie at  R and R  sports coaching to finish the week off perfectly.  The Penguins had great fun during this session - not only enhancing their motor skills but fostering great teamwork too!!


As if the week wasn't already exceptionally busy, the Penguins have also learnt three new sounds, continued their reading and their kinetic letter journeys with ever growing confidence,  and worked really hard on number sequencing and recognition activities!!!  They must be exhausted!!  I hope you all have a lovely relaxing half term and we shall see you back for more fun on the 19!! xx









Sorry no photos as the iPad went missing!

We have been continuing our Diversity Aspiration with the first week of Chinese New Year learning.

We have looked at some of the traditions which are similar to Diwali such cleaning away bad spirits and using light such as fireworks and candle/lanterns.

We have painted dragons and decorated the classroom with red paper chains. The children "helped" to set up the Chinese Restaurant and Takeaway. The children have prepared, served and eaten lots of noodles and chicken. The Hygiene Rating has been a bit hit and miss. It was closed several time when food was found on the floor!

Thursday afternoon was glorious for our forest school trip to the woods. The children enjoyed a bird story and song and made faces using sticks, stones and leaves.






It was a beautiful day for a bird watch on Monday. The RSPB Big School birdwatch involved an hour of bird watching in a specific area. We chose our Year R play area as we have been feeding the birds and watching them since before Christmas. The children took ten minute shifts to sit quietly with a clipboard to record each bird that appeared. What an incredible array of birds came to visit! Mrs. Science (aka Mrs. Simmonds) wondered if we would see more species of birds than the 9 that Year 6 spotted in October. 

Well the results were counted and verified in our maths lesson:


We saw 11 species of birds including a pheasant that hopped onto the fence from the churchyard!!

To say we are mildly obsessed with birdwatching is an understatement. On Wednesday we noticed a blue tit going in and out of the nesting box. We watched two amazing videos about Blue Tits:





From empty nest to first egg in less than 8 minutes! - BlueTit nest box live camera highlights 2021

The rest of the week has been busy with Bug Club learning sounds ar, or, ur, ow and oi.

We've also been doing our KL handwriting. 

In Class Collective Worship we read The Rainbow Fish. We are thinking about Loving Others. The children understood that the Rainbow Fish shared her scales and then felt happy. We made sparkly scales for our buddies.




What a productive and chilly week this week!

The children had a fantastic time making their ice mobiles on Monday in readiness for the first of our overnight freezes. They picked special things around the frosty field and then brought them back in their containers to sort. The challenge was to have ten items and only two of them could be brown (otherwise it would have been a handful of dead leaves!!!). After topping them up with water, we left them overnight and Mrs. Hall got chilly hands hanging them up in the morning. they really did look gorgeous!

Our teamwork PE session was in a circle and we had to work together to push the empty toilet roll tubes along the string. It was hilarious - the competitive streaks came out and the children were screeching at each other to go faster. We got the time down to 1 minute 43 seconds to get 6 rolls around the whole class.

Our bird obsession has continued. We made fir cone bird feeders by smearing lard into the grooves and rolling them in bird seed. The birds loved them and we've seen blue tits, long tailed tits and coal tits hanging off them. The children are so excited to see the birds when they are outside or watching through the window.

Sorting the lids has been fun - lots of different ways involving colour, size and material.

We read the story "Only One You". This initiated a lot of love heart making which were meant to be placed on pillows at home as a surprise. The illustrations in the story are painted rock characters so the children looked carefully at the patterns and designed their own.  These designs were copied onto the stones and decorated really carefully by the children. Next week we will give them several coats of varnish before Mr. Hiscox cements them onto our "mud strip" (a waster strip of dirt which is currently cordoned off as its so messy).

The ground was too hard to plant daffodils so we'll wait for a bit of a thaw next week.


Separate photo post of the selfies the girls took when they learnt how to switch the camera on the iPad! I deleted the 5 million photos of the floor before posting.....




Selfie's with the iPad!!




We've had a bird themed week to get us ready for the RSPB Big Bird Watch which school can start now. The children have been making masks, water-colouring/colouring birds and watching the birds on the feeders in the outside area.

Our teamwork PE was balloon keepy uppy's. At first this was a bit competitive with children wanting to do all of the keepy uppy's and then they got the idea of taking turns and working together. By the end of the session, every team was working cooperatively.

We have enjoyed learning new Bug Club sounds: oa (boat), oo (spoon) and oo (book). The children have done lots more handwriting and have been writing words and short sentences. Really impressed with letter formation and children's determination to improve. 

We enjoyed the remnants of the snow on Tuesday morning with mini snowball fights and lots of ice play. There were very cold fingers at the end but we had lots of fun!

The woods were predominantly dry and crunchy under foot as the frost hadn't thawed. We looked for signs of winter and the effect the sunshine had on melting the grass frost. The children each found a frosty leaf and melted it in their hands. In the centre of the wood was an ENORMOUS puddle. Everyone enjoyed walking through the water but some wellies (and legs) were shorter and we ended up with lots of soggy socks!!

Miss Whitbread came to see the children do Bug Club and Kinetic Letters on Thursday. She was SOOOOOO impressed with how focussed and engaged the children were. Well done Team Penguins :-)




Only a four day week but it felt like longer wink

We've learnt three new sounds in Bug Club - two vowel digraphs (ai, ee) and our first trigraph (igh)! The children were especially excited by the trigraph. We talked about triangles, trikes and trigraphs all having three of something.

We have a teamwork focus this half term which began with parachute and then team tidying. Its getting much better. 

We have done kinetic letters handwriting every day and the results are beginning to show. The children lie on their tummies for best results and I model the letters using a visualiser. 

Numicon (or Unicorn as one child thinks it's called) has introduced addition. The children have loved adding two Numicon shapes together and finding the total.




We made it!

Cheese stars, pumpkin scones, orange slices, party, carols by candle light and so much more!

The toilet rolls were perfect for out Loo Roll Star Party... who knew there were so many fun games to play. The snowman competition and snowball fight were highlights.

Party food was munched and we watched The Star, which is a gorgeous version of the Nativity told by the donkey.

Happy Christmas to you all and we'll see you in 2024 smiley




I know I always say "it's been a busy week", but this week it REALLY has!


The children triumphed in their performance on Wednesday afternoon. They are the best singers I've taught for a while and they are most definitely wriggly! The costumes looked gorgeous, their lines were clearly spoken and we were incredibly proud of them. It was also lovely to receive such positive feedback from families - thank you. Year 1 liked our dress rehearsal so much that they wrote fantastic letters to say well done.


In the very small gaps left in the timetable we have done lots of Christmas tree craft. The children have made and written their Christmas cards for families. In small world we saw some extremely creative baubles and reindeer.


A giant box kept a large group busy for a whole day - they made Santa's sleigh. Collaborative work at it's finest as they added bits and bobs, cut the shape and attached reindeers. It only collapsed when too many children sat in it!


Today we have made our Christingles. The children made these pretty much entirely by themselves - just a little help to push the candle in. They understood the relevance of each part.

Orange: symbol of the world

Red ribbon: the blood of Jesus

Four cocktail sticks: 4 seasons

Sweets: God's creations

Lit candle: Jesus as the light of the world


We also managed a trip to Secret Santa's shop! The children were so excited to choose gifts for family members.



Our EYFS Aspiration of recycling champions through "Reduce, Re-use and Recycle" has been worked towards with our creative use of Halloween pumpkins. Instead of throwing them away after Halloween we have re-used them for a number of creative tasks. Our final tasks included using chalk pastels to do observational drawings of the gourd type pumpkins and possibly the most fun was picking the seeds out of the pumpkins with tweezers before washing, drying and roasting them with Mrs. Johnson. Every child tried these protein rich snacks at snack time and more than half of the class had seconds or thirds! We will now compost the pumpkins and hope for some rich compost for our vegetable planting later in the year.

We have been working on our Kinetic Letters program, holding the pen correctly and practicing the six handwriting moves. This week we are working on the "Jumper Family" of letters which include h, b, r, n, m and p. They are the "jumpers" because you jump back up and over.




We have had the most amazing two weeks learning about Diwali. This is one of our Early Years Aspirations: to compare my life with others leading to an understanding of other faiths, cultures and celebrations.

After Mrs Bertacchini's blog last week we welcomed Mrs Webster in to talk about the Hindu faith and how they celebrate Diwali in Aniya's family. The children loved it; especially making a diya lamp from tealights, dressing up in beautiful clothes  and seeing Mrs Bertacchini dressed in a beautiful green saree.

This week we shared photos of Aniya's Diwali celebrations and decorated our home corner to reflect a Hindu home ready to celebrate. The children have loved dressing up, wearing bangles and making making playdough chappati. Thank you Mrs Webster for the donation of amazing clothes and resources for the children to use.

We designed beautiful Mendhi patterns and then had these face painted onto our hands to look like henna. The children made clay diyas decorated with sequins and filled with pretty tealights. We have loved sharing stories about Diwali too.

We have been strengthening our core muscles with our kinetic letters programme and learning the correct way to hold our pencils. The children used our new whiteboards and pens to write their numbers - fantastic job!

In Funky Fingers the children have used real hammers to knock golf tees into pumpkins and then used pliers to pull them out. Most day there has been a queue for this as the children have loved the real tools!

In our creative areas we painted pumpkins carefully using fine paint brushes. We have one more week of using our pumpkins before we put them in the compost.

There have been lots more Rangoli patterns inside and outside using chalks. Great collaborative work too!

Today we have made chapattis (flatbread) with all of the children. There was a little mango chutney for dipping too. We lit our clay diyas and everyone tried the chapattis this afternoon. What a lovely way to round off this part of our learning.




We have had a very busy week in Penguins class! This week in Maths the children have been matching Numicon shapes to numerals finding the 1-1 correspondence, and correctly identifying numbers when given a choice.

In Phonics the children have learnt 3 new sounds and we have spent lots of time focusing on the "tricky words" learnt so far.  

In topic, we have spent this week learning about Diwali.  We have had such fun exploring this Hindu faith.  The children listened to the story of Rama and Sita, and created their own colourful Rangoli patterns and learnt about the Goddess Lakshmi.  This afternoon we are going to be visited by Mrs Webster who is going to talk to us about how she and Aniya prepare for and celebrate Diwali.  There will be a separate blog to cover this exciting visit so watch this space!

Finally, the children participated in the Remembrance Service at the church this morning.  They had each made an individual poppy out of red craft materials and collaboratively made a poppy wreath that was laid at the front of the church.  This week we have talked about why we choose to wear poppies and what poppies signify. The children know that when we wear a poppy, we think about those that have fought for our country.  The Penguins were beautifully behaved in church and showed great respect, one of our school values, in acknowledging  the 2 minutes silence.  I was very proud of them all.  Well done Penguins.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. 

Mrs Bertacchini




Although it's just been a four day, rainy week, we have still packed in quite a lot into our days.

The children have loved finger painting squirrels and hedgehogs. Today its using cotton buds to carefully dot the colours onto Autumn leaves.

In Funky Fingers the children have manipulated lolly sticks to copy patterns. They have also posted most of the lolly sticks into the holes on the large wooden reels....

This week our Numicon has been in small groups rather than whole class. The children have been creating the Numicon patterns with pegs on boards and then finding the matching shape. They have also played lots of recognition games and pattern making.

We have dipped our toes into our new handwriting scheme - Kinetic Letters. The children have been doing lots of large scale movements to strengthen shoulders, pelvic area etc to support handwriting.

Our conkers have been well used but the time has come to compost them. As the shells are hard to compost the children broke them up which was great fun! Hammers used under close supervision!

New sounds this week were ck, e, u, r and tricky words no, go and the.

The parachute in PE was a great success. The children loved playing different games.




So sorry that there are no photos from last week. I had over a hundred on the iPad and instead of deleting one blurry one, I deleted them all and somehow they were unretrievable!

The children have enjoyed forest school. This week was fun as we all put our puddlesuits on!!!!!

We've been squirrels hiding our stash of nuts and then, after playing, going to find them.....oh dear there would be some very hungry squirrels if we were in charge. This week we found slim sticks and searched for whole leaves to poke on them. We made stick leaves!

In phonics we are now up to 12 single sounds (see our Bug Club folder for details) and the children are getting better and better each session.

In maths we have used numicon in lots of ways. We especially enjoyed building log slice towers and putting the number on the top.

Our conkers have been used sooooo much... threading, painting, rolling down chutes, sorting and in funky fingers. The most popular challenge was using the conker picker upperers (litter pickers) to put them pack in the tray. I'm fairly sure conkers were going on the floor just to be picked up.




What a busy two weeks... The children have enjoyed making their families using the resources from our Let's Explore area. They talked about sizes of each family member and where they were positioned in their families. The handprints generated a lot of talk about size - especially the BIG ones!

We've enjoyed being outside and making the most of the mild autumn weather. We've been learning about harvest around the world and particularly the Jewish festival of Sukkot. The children made a Sukkah shelter outside, putting branches on the roof. This is so you can still see the stars and God provide protection for the people inside. We decorated the Sukkah with paper chains and Conker strings and then ate our snacks in there. 

There have been a lot of slugs and worms to find in the mud kitchen and the children have carefully placed them in the bug hotel.

We had a visit from some Y2 children who came to read us their stories. It was nice to listen to them and to see some big brothers and sisters. 

Funky Fingers has been a hit with sock pegging, pipe cleaner poking and Conker threading. All of these tasks are good for fine motor control.

Our curiosity box has had some super interesting things.. it started with a deer skull, then a birds nest and this week some decaying sunflowers. The children have used magnifying glasses to look carefully at each item.

In the afternoons we have started our Numicon Maths sessions. Our first challenge was to fill the base board. This involved lots of talk about what shape was needed , what number and negotiating with others about which they needed.

We began class collective worship by looking at three versions of the bible. The children chose which one to read first - it was the rhyming one. We discussed how each bible tells the same stories but in a different way. We've started with the Creation. 

We began our Bug Club phonics this week and the children are picking up the first four sounds (s, a, t, p). We had two Early Years advisory teachers in school on Wednesday morning who could not believe how focussed and engaged the children were :-)

Cafe play is a HUGE hit with children creating "delicious" dishes out of loose parts (wood discs, sea glass, stones, curtain rings...) The cheeseburger is excellent - see if you can spot it in the slideshow!


15.9.23 Forest School

Yay - we've got 30 pairs of named wellies :-)

The children put their shoes in their lockers, put wellies on and lined up at the gate. That was hurdle number 1...

We spent ten minutes exploring the field but the children learnt to return to Me when they heard the whistle. WOWZER! they were brilliant and soon ready for the woods. We sat in the circle and were going to be still and quiet, listening to the sounds of nature BUT instead we were drowned out by the sound of the tractor mowing the meadow for our entire session! 

We talked about being safe and learnt the 3 rules of Forest School "Don't pick, don't lick and be sensible with a stick". We also looked at trip hazards, stinging plants and boundaries to keep safe. 

We sang a song about prickly hedgehogs, looked for squirrel food, dug little holes and buried our acorns.

Lots of handwashing on our return :-)


What an outstanding week we have had! The children have been utterly amazing and we are incredibly proud of how they've settled and picked up so many new routines. Even tidy up time has improved (for most children :-))!

The children were definitely flagging this afternoon as were the grown ups. We all deserve two days off!


15.9.23 We're Going on a Sibling Hunt....

The children loved having a photo taken with their big brothers and sisters. 


12.9.23 Day 2 

Another fantastic start to the day. The children quickly settled in the hall and then lined up with all of their belongings and walked to the classroom, put stuff in their lockers (with virtually no help) and deposited water bottles on the window sill. After register we had a story (that they voted for yesterday) and went off to Challenge Time with a few reminders about respecting resources and using TWO pumps of paint not 100!

We saw a few siblings who have been desperate to pop in and say hello, but from tomorrow this will be discouraged to keep our children settled. 

The home corner turned into a cafe and we were treated to some delicious cakes, spaghetti bolognaise and tomato soup. Outside bikes and scooters are proving very popular so the sand timer was introduced and this showed the children when their turn was up and that it was time to give someone else a go. 

It was hard to believe that today was only the second lunchtime as the children followed all the correct lunch routines. Our Year 6 Buddy rota started today and it was wonderful seeing the children supporting and playing together.


11.9.23 Our first day at school!

The children came in so well and sat in the hall with Mrs Bertacchini and Mrs Johnson. After they had chosen lunch the children were itching to play outside so off they went. We talked about a few rules to keep safe and to respect our resources. The children were very good.

Inside our lovely, tidy classroom soon became the working environment it was destined to be. After lunch we discussed the "two pump" rule of the paint dispensers after a morning of colour mixing sludge!! 

Lunchtime was amazing. The children were helped a little bit with sausage cutting but other than they they were very independent putting their cutlery in the right place and clearing up at the end.

It's two o'clock so we haven't tackled tidy up time this space :-)



More work needed on this and that's all I can say......



We have been busy over the summer moving to the new classroom. It is all set up and ready for Monday morning....will it ever look this tidy again?