On the 30th June, the Science Ambassadors and children nominated for working hard in Science accompanied Mrs Hearne for a day at Whipsnade Zoo.
The children had been specially invited by the Education Team at Whipsnade Zoo to trial and feedback on using some of their new educational resources. The ‘discovery boxes’ contain a range of activities related to the exhibits they were located by.
Through a range of practical activities, the children learned about the adaptations a camel has to enable it to survive in desert conditions, the various habitats animals live in such as the rainforest and how rhinos are tracked in the wild. Did you know that the greater one-horned rhinocerous (otherwise known as an Indian rhino) has a pattern of bumps on its bottom that are unique to each animal – just like our fingerprints! Lauren (year 4) said she particularly enjoyed it when we opened the discovery box and found a life size picture of the camel inside so we knew how big they really are. We all thought that the camel stores water in its hump when in actual fact it was revealed to be fat.
We enjoyed both the bird show and the sea lion display. It was thrilling to have so many different birds fly so close to our heads including a range of macaws and a harris hawk. There were lots of lovely babies on show including an elephant, guinea pigs, giraffes and crocodiles. The atlas moth caterpillar was just amazing – a sky blue spiky caterpillar much bigger than my finger! As we moved around the zoo, it was great to see the hippopotamus (both common and pygmy) up and moving around in their outside enclosures. The children’s least favourite animals we met were the definitely the turkeys!
The children also saw a little sneak preview through the fence of the new animatronic dinosaurs that are going to be resident at the zoo over the summer. They were very exciting and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see them fully in action.
The children were a delight and really impressed Mrs Hearne with their biology knowledge throughout the day. Unfortunately the time we had was just not long enough to see all the animals – despite Mrs Galligan’s fit-bit telling us all we have done nearly 20,000 steps! I guess that just means we’ll have to go back again for another trip!
On the 17th June, children of all ages took part in our second annual science fair. The children were able to present their investigation or knowledge of a science topic of their choice.
During the course of the afternoon, every single class in the school had the opportunity to visit the Science Fair and the children participating did a fantastic job of demonstrating and explaining their entries. This was then repeated for parents after school and the children were outstanding in the way they demonstrated their knowledge and enthusiasm to the wider public.
The topics covered ranged from water filtration, levitating matches, properties of materials, forces, water density and chemical reactions to how our sense of smell affects our sense of taste, x-rays of a range of animals, fruit batteries and fossilisation!
Mrs Hearne had been concerned that our first event last year couldn’t be topped, but the standard of work was equally high and once again demonstrating the passion for Science in children at Lark Rise Academy. We are now looking forward to next year’s fair!
Lark Rise Academy Support Two Rural Schools and a Girls’ Hostel in Sarenga, West Bengal, India
Lark Rise Academy have been able to support two rural schools: Godanga Colony Primary School (52 pupils), Chaknara Primary School (38 pupils) and a girls’ hostel Marsal Duar (24 girls) all located in Sarenga, West Bengal, India.
On Friday, 22nd January 2016, Lark Rise children took part in a non-uniform day and raised money to purchase equipment including skipping ropes, skip-its, catching scoops with balls, magnifying glasses, paint pallets, brushes and paper. All these gifts were enjoyed by lots of excited children in India and left for their future pleasure and education.
All of the children at Lark Rise also donated an item of stationery each (EYFS a rubber, KS1 a pencil, LKS2 a sharpener and UKS2 a ruler) enabling each of the children at the schools in India to receive a packed pencil case. The gifts linked with our theme of the month ‘Unity’. The children quickly learned that by working together they could provide much more than they could if they were working alone; they learned that if they all did their bit (bringing in their item of stationery); then their little would make a big difference… and as the donations piled in, pencil cases were filled and inserted into Lark Rise book bags which were left with the thrilled children.
The Indian children (from tribal communities) were really pleased with their gifts and the thoughtfulness of the children in the UK. “I wish I could have captured the squeals of delight and anticipation as the bags were given out” commented Mrs Berry “it is not cultural to smile for photographs, but their joy and excitement was evident!”
“The children loved their painting activity. Most children had never painted before, so holding a paint brush was a real challenge! They really enjoyed the opportunity to paint a peacock (the national bird of India) and then paint whatever they chose – most painted their homes (mud huts). Painting was a good lesson to share as miming could break through the language barrier. They were very keen to learn!”
Mrs Berry, feeling very proud of the children, remarked “The children have made lots of poorer children very happy; children who are a lot less fortunate than themselves. Their generosity has made the children feel valued. It has been great to connect Lark Rise with these schools where interactions and relationships are being built between communities across the globe – well done Lark Rise!”
On Thursday 28th April , some of our Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2 children attended a gymnastics competition at All Saints Academy. The teams had to perform a group sequence, with our Year 2 children performing to a piece of music from the film Toy Story. All of the children were commended on their professionalism and their hard work throughout.
Our Key Stage 1 children finished first in their competition; returning to school with a medal each. Our Lower Key Stage 2 children performed admirably and came runners up to a very experienced local school. All of the children enjoyed their afternoon at All Saints Academy and also had an opportunity to learn how to vault using a springboard.
I would like to congratulate all of the children who took part and also thank Miss Faber for supporting the children at the tournament.
From the 14th to 18th March, 2016, the school celebrated British Science Week. The theme of the week was Space.
Children from Reception, Key Stage One, and Key Stage Two enjoyed a visit from Dark Sky Telescopes. The children in Key Stage One and Reception made the most of the clear weather on Monday and were able to view the moon during the day using the telescopes. Children in Key Stage Two were not so lucky with the weather, but they enjoyed a practical session indoors learning about the sun, moon and solar system.
Lower Key Stage Two also welcomed representatives from Luton Astronomical Society who discussed ways that the sun can be viewed safely and shared lots of images of our solar system. The children learned about astronomy as a hobby and also got to look at some of their telescopes.
The Earth Science department from University College London provided a workshop, for children in Key Stage Two, to learn how people study space despite not being astronauts or ever having been to space. 3D glasses and technology were used to investigate the surface of the moon through pictures and the children were particularly excited to get to handle real meteorite specimens.
Children in Lower Key Stage Two also took part in the online ‘I’m a Scientist event’ where they got to chat online with real scientists about their jobs before voting for their favourite. The scientists in the children’s chat zone included scientists who: developed mass spectrometers to help fight cancer, study how stem cells become neurons which will help cure brain diseases, use beams of molecules to create tiny structures, one layer of molecules at a time, to run smartphones run quicker in the future, investigate how sleep affects mental health and study the birth and formation of galaxies through the universe.
We are really enjoying learning about Earth and Space and are hoping to achieve our Space Education Quality Mark – watch this space!
On 10th December a lovely surprise awaited seven children, (Lucas, Ruby, Angelina, Joseph, Joshua, Nathan and Nathan) when they were called to the Eatery to see Lark Rise’s Headteacher, Mrs Baker. In the Eatery, a special table had been set up with a table cloth, table mats, coasters, glasses, jugs of water, cutlery and serviettes; there was also a special sign that read ‘The Headteacher’s Top Table’.
The chosen children were given the opportunity to sit and have lunch with Mrs Baker. She and the children had a lovely time…sharing stories and enjoying their lunch, which was served to them on china plates at the table. The children were delighted and had been chosen (by the Academy’s lovely kitchen staff) for many reasons, including being consistently polite and for giving new foods a try.
This is a new initiative at Lark Rise that has been implemented in the Autumn Term to recognise children for making fabulous choices at lunchtime and Mrs Baker is looking forward to eating with many more children in the future at the ‘Top Table’!
On Tuesday 8th December (a cold chilly afternoon), some of our Upper Key Stage 2 children attended a Tag Rugby competition at All Saints Academy. The team consisted of seven Year 5 boys and eight Year 6 boys. Both teams competed against local Key Stage 2 teams in fixtures that were both fun and competitive.
The boys represented the school with a positive attitude, great enthusiasm and fair play. They scored some great tries and worked well together as a team. The competition was tough and the boys did very well to finish 3rd and 4th place respectively.
I would like to congratulate all of the boys who took part and also thank Mr O’Neill for supporting the boys at the tournament.
On Sunday 29th November 2015, a group of our Year 5 and 6 children (now known as our dance squad) attended this year’s Junior Just Dance Competition at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre, Slapton, Leighton Buzzard. The event is held annually in aid of different charities; this year’s being Keech Hospice Care, and this was the first time that any entry had been made by Lark Rise Academy.
The children had been rehearsing since late September for the event and had to learn two dances; the tango and the samba. For all of the children, it was their first experience of Latin and Ballroom dancing, and they were given choreography to learn by Accursio Romeo (organiser of the event and ex-choreographer for Strictly Come Dancing). The children worked extremely hard to prepare these two dances for the competition day.
On the day we were one of ten schools competing to be crowned Junior Just Dance Winners 2015. As the event is well established, many schools had previously competed and we were ready with full sequin outfits: the competition looked fierce. Our children did not disappoint with their stunning black dresses with flapper-like trim that moved when they did, and royal blue latin dance shoes to show off our school colours with hair flowers to match. The boys looked equally smart dressed all in black with royal blue ties and professional ballroom shoes. They looked the part! And they certainly danced that way too!
The children performed their two dances perfectly! And despite some dodgy judging from some of the panel, received good comments and marks from the judges. They came sixth place overall, which put them top of their group and winners of a glitter ball trophy. Here’s what some of the children thought about the day.
'I really enjoyed the dance competition because it was a lot like strictly and there were glimmering lights around the stage. I loved performing there because there was a huge audience' – Lily
'I thought it was really fun and exciting because there were eight other teams and we won our division' – Emily
'I really liked seeing my family support me and how they got to see us win a trophy' – Jack
'It was really fun but I wasn’t expecting to win a trophy' – Abbe
I would like to thank Miss Branscombe for all her help with teaching the children the dance routines and Mrs Baker and Mr Page for supporting us with costumes , rehearsal time and being there on the day. I would also like to thank all those parents and carers who came along to support us on the day! It would not have been such a success without their support and to those that stayed to help with hair, make up and photography. I would also like to thank Accursio Romeo and Charlie Duggard for their hardwork in organising the event, and especially to Accursio who visited the children in school to help them with their rehearsal.
Most importantly I would like to thank the children for working so hard, supporting each other brilliantly, being amazing sports men and women when we thought we were out of the running and for congratulating the overall winners. You were incredible! Bring on next year!
On Friday 13th November, the Upper Key Stage Two children were invited to attend the Grove Theatre for workshops with some of the team of dancers, actors and producers of this year’s performances of Cinderella.
The weather stayed fine for our walk down to the theatre and we arrived on time after a brisk stroll. The walk to the theatre gave us plenty of opportunities practise some of our road safety skills and take in some of the sights and sounds on route. Several pedestrians asked the children where they were off to at such an early time in the morning! They also thanked the children for being polite and making way for other pedestrians on the path.
On arrival we were taken into the depths of the theatre, beyond where people are normally allowed (front of house) and into the backstage area where we saw the dressing rooms and backdrops. There were more lights, plugs, switches, ropes and pulleys than you can ever imagine and the children were thrilled to hear what they were used for. They were also very surprised at the size of the stage!
We started with a question and answer session which really tested the experts and showed a great level of interest and observations. The children got to ask an actor, dance team leader and producer questions about their roles and how Cinderella is created from rehearsals to the final performance, with some interesting responses and a few trade secrets released!
We then split into groups to develop some of the keys skills that performers would use in the pantomime. One group learnt the dance steps to one of the routines used in the performance. There were lots of small steps with easy to remember names, such as; ‘windmill’ and ‘knee-bounce’ which helped the children and adults learn the full routines. Once the children had learnt these, they broke in to small groups and composed their own freestyle sections which were very impressive and complemented greatly by the main chorographer.
The next workshop entailed acting in pantomimes and the traditions behind the different roles from principal boy to lead dame. The children learnt about stage presence, altering the tone in of their voice and acting in role. The children were then challenged to play the ugly sisters who ‘Hate that Cinderella!’ They made up names, developed walks and actions and spoke in role. The final performances were super and some of our star performers were naturals! The actor told the children how good they had been and what they could work on next.
The children had a wonderful time and were great ambassadors for the school in everything they did. We are sure that they will now thoroughly enjoy their trip to the pantomime and want to give some inside knowledge about the production to any friends and family who also go.
Mr Ray, Mr Page and the Upper Key Stage 2 staff
From the 12th to 16th October 2015, the school celebrated National Biology Week. The theme of the week was Birds, Bugs and Beasts.
Our Science Ambassadors did a fantastic job in running a range of biology activities for children during their break times. These included; bug and nature hunts around the school grounds, manning a biology themed reading area and helping children to explore different items on our nature table. The children were extremely enthusiastic, with many bringing their own items in to add to the nature table!
We also enjoyed a host of events with external experts. The first was ‘Birds of Bray’ who bought in a range of owls and a kestrel to teach children about birds of prey. One of the highlights was the barn owl flying above our heads in the school hall. We were then lucky enough to have a number of pythons and a chameleon to come and visit us. Many of the children enjoyed handling these animals and they asked a number of insightful questions which furthered their knowledge of these reptiles. The skype assembly from the zoo was really exciting; a great way to benefit from our new technology. We were able to visit the penguins from the comfort of the school hall and could also learn about animal lifecycles and animal adaptation.
Running alongside the events in school were the competitions that enabled parents and carers to get involved in biology week with their children at home. We were overwhelmed by the entries to both the ‘Biology Bake Off’ and the ‘Nature Photography’ competitions. Cathriona Hickey (Learning Manager, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo) had a really hard job judging the photography, and the judging of the cakes wasn’t any easier! The photography exhibition at the end of the week showed off the children’s stunning efforts perfectly and made myself extremely proud of everyone!
We hope you enjoyed Biology Week as much as we did; we can’t wait to do it all again next year!
On Thursday 22nd October 2015 some of our Key Stage 1 children attended a Sportshall Athletics competition at All Saints Academy. The team consisted of five boys and five girls and they competed against nine other local schools in a variety of athletic based activities, such as javelin, hurdles and relay races.
The children showed great enthusiasm throughout the morning and supported each other by cheering and clapping. Myself and Mrs McAleese were very proud of them and they all came back to school with a great big smile on their faces.
The competition was tough, we won the relay races and overall when combined with our individual scores we finished in sixth place. I would like to congratulate all of the children in doing our school proud and thank Mrs McAleese for supporting the children on the day (and taking part herself)!
On Monday 19th October we held our Halloween Disco, which was organised by the FALLS (Parent Staff Association) team. Our local children’s entertainer, ‘Robbie Rocket’, hosted the first part of the evening and entertained all of the children in Reception and Key Stage One with lots of party games and fun music.
Afterwards, our resident DJ, Adam, filled the dancefloor with lots of current music and a fun atmosphere for Key Stage Two. The children enjoyed spending the time dancing with their friends and generally having a very good time!
Thank to the FALLS team who organised and hosted a great evening and to the staff for supporting the event; also, well done to all of the children for their excellent behaviour. A good night was had by all!
On Thursday 8th October, Early Years Foundation Stage welcomed the children’s Grandparents into school to celebrate ‘Grandparents’ Day’.
We shared our current theme learning based on growing and enjoyed a spot of gardening. Everyone had the chance to plant some bulbs in preparation for Spring time. Wonderful conversations were overheard as the Grandparents supported their grandchildren in putting the correct amount of soil in their pot, choosing their bulb and then watering it. We are all very excited to see the beautiful displays of colour!
After planting, we had an opportunity to spend time in and out of the classroom, playing together, completing observational drawings and even playing teachers.
As the morning came to an end, the Grandparents were treated to a sing song and a huge ‘Thank you’ for coming to share time together in the classroom.
We hope everyone enjoyed the time spent together as much as we did. We look forward to doing it all over again…soon!
Miss Hazel, Mrs Shilvock, Mrs Harrison and Mrs Whitt
On Thursday 24th September 2015 we held our official opening of the Upper Key Stage Two block. The morning started with a meet and greet with visitors from our local community as well as all of the builders, architects and planners who had put in all the hard work to make it happen.
Our children were very excited to see an official blue ribbon wrapped around the main entrance of the block and could be seen checking their ties and making sure their shirts were tucked in for the special occasion!
We welcomed Councillor Mark Versallion to the school in the morning and he was greeted by our Head Boy (Callum Kiteley) and Head Girl (Grace Bishop) as well as our prefects (Calum Brooke, Ewan Bidgood, Scarlett Phillips and Emily Mealing). Mrs Baker then led Councillor Versallion to the block and the Key Stage Two children sang ‘As One’ with a slight twist in a ‘flash mob’ fashion.
Mrs Baker then thanked everyone who played a part in making our new block and gifts were handed out as well as lots of clapping and cheering. Our visitors then made their way to the common room and listened to Samuel Terry (accompanied by Mr Terry) play the violin and piano. Plenty of tea, coffee and cake were enjoyed by all and we completed the morning with a tour of the Upper Key Stage Two block and the new playground.
Councillor Versallion was very impressed with the new provision for Upper Key Stage Two and told the children that he thought he was “very privileged to cut the ribbon,” and that “everyone today was really grown up, mature and smart.”
It really was an amazing morning and I’d like to say a big well done and thank you to everyone who played their part in making it special. One thank you that was missed during the speeches was a big thank you to Mrs Baker from everyone at Lark Rise. Without her vision and perseverance throughout the journey, this could not have happened. We are very fortunate to have such a driven Headteacher who always has the children’s best interests close to her heart.
This will go down in Lark Rise history as a special day to remember for years to come…
On Friday 25th September 2015 we held our annual Macmillan Coffee Morning. Having had a quick espresso and a mug of tea, Mrs Baker and I were joined by lots of members of staff to help set up and get ready for the morning ahead. Balloons were inflated, bunting stretched out and refreshments organised; we were all in for a real treat.
The children were very excited to spend some time with their parents and carers as well as have a biscuit and juice! The adults also seemed very excited about their cup of coffee and slice of cake! Some of the parents were fortunate enough to spend time in all three different Key Stages, providing them with a good excuse to indulge in some more cake! J
Thanks to all of the staff who helped run the event and also a big thank you to everyone who brought in cakes; Mr Page hadn’t event sent out his request! We hope you enjoyed spending time with the children and we look forward to seeing lots of you again in the near future.
Thanks for helping us raise money for such an important charity.
On Friday 18th September 2015, Red House (the overall winners of last years’ house competition) were rewarded with a special visit by Paul Grainger and Shooting Stars Circus Skills.
All of the children in Red House made the most of a non-uniform day and some of them also opted to borrow some of Paul’s circus costumes and wigs to dress up for the activity session. The children learnt a variety of circus tricks, such as: juggling, diabolo, balancing along a tight rope plate spinning. They then shared what they had learnt in a special Red House assembly at the end of the day. Josh in Year 6 managed to spin the diabolo whilst balancing on wheels; very impressive! All of the children had a wonderful day and we are now hoping to use some of our PE funding to purchase some of these resources to share with the rest of the school.
Another big well done to Red House and all of the staff for their achievement last year. Can they win the competition two years in a row? I’m sure Blue, Green and Yellow House will have something to say about that!