The Miniature Mice

Summer 2 Newsletter

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope you managed to enjoy the half term and had a well-deserved break in the wonderful sunshine we had. I cannot believe we are starting the final half term of the school year, where has the time gone? During this last half term our topic will be ‘Minibeast Madness.’ Here we will be exploring creepy crawlies and small creatures you may find in the garden. Firstly, will be learning about habitats and going on welly walks to the garden to see if we can spot some of these. We will be exploring how different mini beasts like certain environments and will even be trying to make some of our own for the garden. We will also be exploring how some of these creatures change during their life cycles and what we can do to help care for the creepy crawlies in the world.

At this point in the year, we have sports day and the transitions weeks where children visit their new class so that they can get to know their new teacher and get used to the structure. However, due to the road map for restrictions easing not yet permitting us to confirm any plans to go ahead with transition, I am unable to give you specific details about how this will take place under the current conditions. I will update you as soon as we can make proper arrangements. Mr fiddler has put some information on the school page on Class Dojo informing you about how sports day will run this year.

We are continuing with Phase 5 this half term, where more alternative sounds for phonemes already learnt will be introduced. The children have picked this up very well so far and have impressed me by asking me which spelling of the sounds they need in their writing. Please refer to the little bookmark I sent home recently for more information about this, as well as to help your child consolidate these. There are still some children who are not picking up reading or spelling the tricky words without support. With this in mind I have tried to incorporate these into the home learning for additional practice.

Our main focus in Literacy this half term will be looking at non-fiction books once again, however we will concentrate on using the language included in such books. The children will continue to use the ‘talk 4 writing’ methods of boxing up and adding actions to help the children internalise this new vocabulary as they really enjoyed using this method to learn facts about seahorses last half term.

We will also be continuing to encourage children to write sentences independently and have a focus on handwriting to get letters clearly formed ready for their next school year and so that they have the solid foundations needed to start joining letters in Year 1. Many children are becoming very independent writers and are enjoying being encouraged to create their own sentences and then recording these. Again I have tried to incorporate this aspect into the home learning tasks where the children will get to record their own unique ideas. Some children are continuing to need lots of support when writing. Please can I ask that you encourage as much independence as possible when completing their home learning tasks. If they constantly ask you what sound is next, re-direct the question to them and don’t fall into the trap of accidently giving them all the answers. This will help them greatly. Also once your child has done some writing, if you ask them to read over their work, this will encourage them to evaluate their work and add in anything they realise they have missed. This will once again help make the transition into year 1 far easier as they will be expected to sit at tables and work more independently to complete learning tasks.

We have returned to school learning all about Money, here we will be learning how to recognise and identify coins using their size, shape and colour, before looking into the concept of value. We will then move on to time.

When looking at time we will begin with learning the days of the week and months of the year, before using different methods to measure time, such as stop watches, sand timers and then clocks.

In order to help your children at home here are a number of ideas you could do;

◾Ask children to sort a pile of coins into 1ps, 2ps 5ps etc to help them learn the properties of the money.

◾Set up a pretend shop.

◾Allow them to hand over coins when in shops and look at price tags when you are out.

◾Put coins in a bag, ask children to close their eyes and choose one and then they have to tell you what it is. You could then have a turn and get it wrong so they have to correct you.

◾Look at arrows on a clock.

◾Time how long it takes for your child to do things for example get dressed or how many star jumps they could do in a minute (or tidy their room!!)

Children have continual access to the outside area so please ensure that sun cream is applied daily and that your child brings a named hat to school. If children do not have sun cream on, I will have to limit their outdoor time to ensure they are safe. Please can I also ask that a water bottle is brought in daily as many children do not have them?          

Home learning Tasks
Although home learning tasks are not compulsory in Reception, completing work at home and practicing skills learnt at school frequently, makes a significant different to the progress children make. There are many children who have completed their home learning tasks every week from the start of the year, so thank you for your support with this, it has made a huge difference and is very evident in their learning at school. Completion of these tasks are strongly recommended in Year 1 due to the more extensive curriculum, so anyone who has not been completing the tasks regularly, may wish to trial incorporating these into your week so it is an easier transition for next year.

Unfortunately, we are having to say goodbye to Miss Wilson this half term as she is moving to a new school to begin her first year of teaching with her very own class. She has been a huge help in our class and supported all of the children in their learning. We are very sad to see her go and wish her all the best for her new adventure- her new school are very lucky to have her. Her last day will be on 25th June.

Class Dojo
Just a little reminder that Class Dojo is an informal communication method so any messages in regard to attendance or last-minute pick-up changes should also be given to the school office as it is not always guaranteed I will see these before, during or after the school day depending on meetings I may have at these times or the day being particularly busy. Thank you to those who already do this.

Thank you for your continued support,

Miss Jolly


Topic Web

Look at all of the fun things we will be doing this half term.  

Beach Day

 We had a fabulous day to celebrate the end of this half terms topic. The children looked wonderful in the t-shirts that we had spent our Art lessons making and it was lovely to see so many smiles as we took part in the large number of activities throughout the day. 

Summer 1 Newsletter

Dear Parents and Carers,

I am amazed that we are at the beginning of the last full term of the school Year.  It has flown by and when I think back to when the children first started in my class, to how they are now, the progress they have made is incredible particularly with everything they have been through in the last few months.

This half term our topic is ‘Commotion in the Ocean.’ We will be becoming deep sea divers to explore the magical depths of the ocean and learn about some animals who live here.


In Literacy we will start by exploring rhyming words in stories and poetry before moving on to using the talk 4 writing method to explore non-fiction texts and how we gain information and facts from these. We will be learning about the features of these books (for example the contents and index pages) and will be creating our very own pages to create a class book.

The children will be working towards writing one or more full sentences this half term. The children should now be at the stage of including finger spaces, capital letters and full stops regularly, with many words spelt phonetically and most tricky words spelt accurately, with little to no adult support.   To entice your children to practice this at home you could introduce a special writing pen that they only get out when they want to practice their writing.

If you are struggling to get your child to have a go at writing independently, when they ask you what comes next if you respond “What do you think?” This often encourages them to engage as chances are, they will actually know!


We are continuing with Phase 4 of Letters and Sounds just to embed the Phase 3 sounds and how to use these in polysyllabic words and composing longer sentences. We will then be moving on to Phase 5 when I feel the children are ready. Here they will learn some alternate ways of writing some sounds for example if we take the sound ai (rain) this can also be written as a (race) ay (delay) etc. I will provide more information about this when we reach this stage.


The children’s confidence and love of reading seems to have grown greatly last term. Many children are sight reading most of the high frequency and tricky words now and quickly notice repeated words in books. I have had a number of parents telling me that they have displayed these words around the house so that children constantly see them. This is a fantastic way to develop their sight reading.  Please practice reading their books as many times as you can throughout the week and continue to ask the children questions about what has happened in the text or to predict what events may happen next, who might they meet next, what do you think you could change the title of the book to? This will continue to develop their language comprehension skills.  You could even use a bit of the ‘talk 4 writing’ methods we use to develop vocabulary and ask children to create story maps about the narrative and get them to act this out.


This half term we are focusing on Shape, Space and Measure again, however we will be introducing length, height, capacity and weight. The children will be working towards using language associated to all of these things competently (for example length- long/short, height-tall/small, capacity- full/empty/cupful’s and weight-heavy/light) We will be using many methods to explore how we measure these things. There are lots of ways you could practice this at home too. For example when weighing out ingredients ask your child to help and discuss grams, when in the bath see how much water different containers hold or use a tape measure to measure the size of their favourite toys.

We will be continuing to order numbers to 20 and beyond, say one more than/one less than a number, and complete simple operations during starters.

Passport Targets

We will now be focusing on ‘comforting others.’ Lots of children do this naturally, but it will be nice to look at ways in which we can do this.

Other Information

  • As the weather is getting warmer we advise that the children bring in named summer hats and have sun cream applied before school as and when needed.
  • Homework and the timetable for this has been put in bags ready for Week 1. 

Thank you for your continued support,

Miss Jolly

Curriculum Web Summer 1

 Take a look at the exciting things we will be learning about this half term. 

New Members of the Class

 During science week we introduced the class to the eggs in the incubator and explained how we were going to look after them to help little chicks hatch and grow. It was lovely to see their excitement and how keen the children were to help nurture the eggs by reading to them and spending time chatting to them. After 21 days the eggs finally hatched and the children got to meet them. We had a lovely afternoon spending time with the chicks. All the children were so enamoured with them and asked some fantastic questions as they watched them roaming around before they took it in turns to hold and feed them.
Well done for being so caring and kind Reception, I am super proud of you. 

Science Week

We started Science week this week with a very fun experiment after learning about the importance of planning inventions and selecting materials for a particular purpose. We worked in little teams to plan and build bridges that would be strong enough for our Billy Goats to cross. It was wonderful to see how the children worked together to decide what to use and how to shape and assemble their bridges to meet their plans. There was also a lot of critical thinking shown as the groups changed their approach if they ran into challenges or thought another method would be better.  

Extreme Reading

 It was wonderful to see so many children take part in our 'extreme reading' competition for World Book Day this year. We had lots of very creative entries and I enjoyed seeing all of the unusual places you read your book! Well done to Edith who won the competition. She managed to read whilst sliding down a slide, on a trampoline! 

Home Learning Week of Monday 22nd March

Home Learning Week of Monday 1st March (2)


Home Learning Week of Monday 22nd February (1)



Curriculum Web Spring 2

Home Learning Week of Monday 8th February (6)




Home Learning- Week of Monday 1st February (5)





Home Learning- Week of Monday 25th January (4)




Home Learning- Week of Monday 18th January





Home Learning- Week of Monday 11th January




Spring 1 Newsletter

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and would like to wish you all a Happy New Year-let’s hope it is a good one! I am extremely proud of how far the children have already come during their first full term at school and can’t wait to see what they can achieve this half term too.  

 This half term our topic is ‘Real Life Superheroes.’ Here the children will explore lots of different occupations and discover their roles in helping us with day to day tasks. We will split the topic into areas such as People who help us; at home, at school, stay healthy, get food and keep safe. In the final week of this topic we will then look at what the children would like to be when they grow up! This will be celebrated with a “When I grow up” dress up day where the children will be invited to dress up as the occupation they would like to do when they grow up.  This will be on Friday 5th February 2021.

English (Communication, Language & Literacy)
We will be focusing on looking at non-fiction texts this half-term. Here we will be exploring how these differ from picture books and identifying some of their key features. We will also include the talk4writing practice similar to that used when looking at Jack and The Beanstalk last half term. This encourages children to organise facts as well as recognise language used when writing them down.  Using similar techniques we will also learn a version of the story ‘Cops and Robbers’ by Allen Ahlberg.

 The children will be encouraged to use full sentences when writing and break their flow of speech into words. We will be looking for them to use capital letters, finger spaces and full stops, so any support at home with this would be very useful. 

The children will be given a range of opportunities to utilise these skills this half term with different activities such as creating posters to promote helpfulness at school or writing about what a doctor might need in their bag.  The children will also be completing a weekly independent writing activity to further develop their confidence to form sentences and words using their own knowledge as some of the children have become extremely reliable on adult presence when writing, and are reluctant to have a go. We have tried this out last term and it has been extremely successful and the progress made already has been amazing.

I have noticed that some children are still very dependent on adult support when writing. If children do any writing at home I advise that you help them plan it by saying the sentences together a number of times, marking each word by using your fingers (a video will be posted on dojo about how to do this) and then leaving your child to write the sentence on their own. This may be a challenge at first, but it will help them read over their work to see what sounds come next as well as develop their critical thinking skills, enabling them to sequence their own ideas. Once they have completed this, I would recommend going over their writing and correcting one or two things such as letter formation, or adding in some missing sounds. This again encourages your child to think about reading over their work and editing it.

We are continuing with Phase 3 of letters and sounds this half term where children will continue to pick up new digraphs (2 letters which make one sound eg ai as in r/ai/n .) They will also be introduced to trigraphs, (3 letters which make 1 sound eg igh as in t/ight/t) new tricky and HFW and also encourage the blending and segmenting of CVCC words (as in frog).

It is vital that children practice their reading and writing at home as well as school as it consolidates their understanding and also heightens their confidence. Also please may I express the importance of letting the children use their robot talk to isolate each sound in a word independently, and not being given a word to copy as this makes them reluctant to have a go on their own and hinders their progress. I can often tell which children are reliant on their parents for this when it comes to writing in school. Please can I also encourage the use of cursive letters in all writing otherwise it will confuse children in the future if they are swapping.  

Shape will be our focus this half term where the children will be looking at repeating patterns first, before moving into identifying 2d and 3d shapes and their properties. Although main teaching and activities will have this focus, we will still incorporate daily number starters and focus on this in Friday maths lessons to ensure the children’s number sense continues to develop. To support your child in this area you could begin to look at shapes in the environment and allow them to play and construct with various shaped items to make images and models to develop their understanding of tessellation and edges.  Please note I will be using the term ‘rectangle’ and not oblong, due to recent studies suggesting this is the correct name for this shape!

Children are making great progress in completing their passport targets. We will be focusing on ‘solving a problem without arguing’ this half term and try and encourage children to use communication and kind gestures to keep play going when challenges may occur.


Please see the timetable below for the homework- I will also set it weekly on Dojo. I will be keeping a record of who completes this from now on as numbers have reduced slightly, although it is not compulsory it is exceptionally beneficial. The weekly words have worked very well with many children learning these by sight, thank you for your support with this.  I have also added a number of spare sheets at the back (which are labelled) if you notice children need additional support in certain areas or if they want to do some additional work.  Please continue to encourage pre-cursive handwriting and correct one or two handwriting ‘mistakes’ on the homework and ask your child to practice these multiple times at the bottom. This is a strategy used to help develop their hand muscle memory to make writing easier.

Week 1

Sentence- Pat a dog.

Maths- Scarf Pattern Sheet

Weekly word- Dad

Week 2

Sentence- Cat in a hat.

Maths- Maths seeds – 2D shapes

Weekly word- Mum

Week 3

Sentence- Cats and dogs.

Maths- Natural 2D shapes

Weekly word- big

Week 4

Sentence- The cat on a bed.

Maths- Maths Seeds- 3D shapes, cube and sphere

Weekly word- the

Week 5

Sentence- Sock on a mat.

Maths- 3D shape models

Weekly word- if

Week 6

Sentence- Rats on a bag.

Maths- Maths Seeds- 3D shapes, cylinder and cone

Weekly word- at

A few further bits of information:

  • PE will continue to be on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • If you have any questions about anything in this letter then please do not hesitate to ask. I look forward to another fun filled half term.
  • Independence is key this half term in order to help the children make good progress. To help this you could encourage children to do little jobs at home such as set the table, make their bed, match socks etc and this in turn should help them regain their independence and allow them to redeem critical thinking skills, encouraging them to process information by themselves and act on what they have heard with little adult intervention. If independence is lacking, children will find making progress very difficult as they become reliant on an adult doing absolutely everything for them which is not beneficial in the long run.

Thank you for your continued support,

Miss Jolly

Spring Topic Web

These are the exciting things we will be learning about this half term.  

Autumn 2 Newsletter

 Dear Parents/Carers,

Welcome back, I hope you had a restful break after such a busy, but fantastic first half term at school. I am extremely pleased with how the children are settling in and can already see some brilliant progress as they embrace all the new topics and learning concepts I keep sending their way. Autumn 2 is going to be another action packed half term, particularly with all the celebrations in the run up to Christmas, which is always an extremely exciting time of year for the children.  Although things will be different this Christmas due to the restrictions, we will still make it as magical and fun as possible.

This half term we will be looking at Traditional Tales. We will be focusing on exploring the language included in these books, different character roles and beginning to learn how we can be authors and change elements of a story ourselves. We will also be learning about celebrations and family traditions such as Diwali, Firework night and Christmas.  To help your children develop in this area it would be great to share some of your favourite traditional tales as well as the more modern ‘messed up fairy tales’ which often tell the stories from a different perspective. This will help extend the children’s vocabulary even further and also explore the concept of differing narratives.

The children are rapidly picking up the new sounds introduced, as well as the skills needed to read and write words and captions. Due to their hard work, we will be finishing Phase 2 in the second week back and then move onto Phase 3 where more sounds will be introduced as well as high frequency words(HFW) and common exception words (Tricky words.) New bookmarks will be coming home with your child. If you could attach these to the others on your reading log then this would be great. I have had a few parents say that their child is a little reluctant to read at home. This could be due to a number of things such as time of day, lack of understanding of the narrative so it therefore becomes boring, or un-engagement. To try and help with these issues I would firstly suggest picking the reading time according to your child’s mood. If you know your chid is more responsive in the mornings, try and have a morning cuddle and spend 5-10 minutes reading before the morning kicks in.  In order to hook the child into the narrative and also help them learn how to understand these through the use of pictures and text you could first act out what you think will happen using the pictures to help before ‘being a detective’ and actually reading the story to see if they were correct.

Weekly Word Card
I will be sending home a set of word cards on Friday. Each week when the homework is posted, I will include this weeks ‘word of the week.’ This is a word that we would like you to practice with your child every day at home so they are able to read it by sight. We will then do a weekly check at school to see who has learnt it.  This will develop your child’s accuracy when reading and also their fluency so please ensure you practice it.

Literacy will focus on encouraging children to use their phonic knowledge to segment words in order to build sentences with less adult support as previously needed, due to the majority showing great understanding of how to use skills taught in phonics lessons to do this. We will also be using ‘talk 4 writing’ methods to look at Jack and the Beanstalk.

I will be including lots of videos on Class dojo so that you can see how talk 4 writing is used to develop children’s language and understanding of the features of a book. This will give you insight into little activities that can be done at home to help develop these further. I will also be showing you how we encourage children to write independently, without copying words and going over dots to help them grow into independent writers.

This half term we will continue to focus on number work. This includes recognising numerals to 20, (or beyond) counting accurately and matching totals to a number, adding 1 more than to a number, estimating totals with realistic answers. We will also be introducing combining groups to find the total (simple addition) and then recording this using the plus symbol. Finally in week 7 we will be beginning to look at simple patterns, ready to lead us to shape in the Spring term.  Any additional number learning at home will benefit your child’s number sense. Your children have really enjoyed some of the number songs I have introduced so I have included links to these below. Song to 100-  I have noticed that there are some children who have come to school lacking any number knowledge or number sense making it difficult to recognise numbers 1-10 and count out totals to match each numeral. Any additional practice at home would help develop these skills quickly.  You can also use the number games I have created on the home learning section of the website.

Home Learning
The response to the writing home learning activities has been fantastic and the children are consolidating skills learnt at school very quickly by practising them at home too. This will continue over Autumn 2 and I will now include a maths activity linked to what we have been learning in school. This will alternate between being paper based or online using a website called ‘Maths Seeds’ which is very fun and engaging.  The logins for this have been stuck in reading records. Each week the correct task will appear on a Monday, (see below for what these will be.) However, I have added some additional tasks your child can work through in your own time to develop number knowledge or consolidate skills.  It has been fantastic to see how many children get excited about this weekly, and I see a huge difference in the children who complete it regularly. May I remind you it is not compulsory, however strongly recommended that this is completed as again it consolidates skills and builds independence.

Please see the timetable below for the homework- I will also set it weekly on Dojo.

Week 1

Literacy – b/d sorting

Maths- All about number 1 and 2.

Weekly word-at

Week 2

Literacy –  Phoneme frames, cat, fan, hat, van

Maths- Maths seeds- numbers 1-10

Weekly word-sat

Week 3

Literacy – Pictures and captions matching

Maths-All about numbers 3 and 4.

Weekly word-pat

Week 4

Literacy – Phoneme frames- ham, bat, tap, dog

Maths- Maths seeds- Counting backwards from 10

Weekly word-tap

Week 5

Literacy – Cut and stick to make the words.

Maths-All about 5 and 6

Weekly word-sap

Week 6

Literacy – Phoneme frames- man, hen, pan, leg

Maths-Maths seeds- number lines 1-10

Weekly word-sit

Week 7

Literacy – Pictures and captions or a Christmas project.

Weekly word-sip



 I have also added some additional sheets at the end which can be done to help build skills you see your child struggling with. The more practice, the easier these tasks will be J

Boys Learning Update
I have included two more information sheets about how to support early literacy development with a little questionnaire to help you asses the level that your child is at currently and some ideas to further support them. Please note it does state on it that ‘too much pressure at an early age can create literacy difficulties.’ This is extremely important as pressure can lead to low self-esteem and also reluctance. This doesn’t mean you give up trying if your child is a little reluctant, it means you try new strategies to engage them. I have also included some maths ideas for home. Again these are not focused solely on boys and would be very useful for both genders learning development.

Reading Books

There has been a little confusion about how the reading book system works. We sent home two books at the start of the term so you could quarantine one and read one. The one you have read that week should be returned in book bags on a Monday so we can change it on the Friday- once it has been quarantined in school. The second book that has been sat at your house for a week is the new one to read for that week as it is now ‘safe,’ whilst the other book which has just come home is now quarantined.

All books need to be in bags on a Monday to change, I can no longer accept late books brought in as we are trying to ensure that staff handle minimal things brought.  I hope this makes it a little clearer.

Live Story Time

At Barlborough Primary School we are always trying to prepare for the future. Due to the uncertainty of everything at the moment we want to practice performing some live lessons- which we are hoping to conduct if there is another lockdown. With this in mind, I will be hosting a story time on Monday 9th November on Teams at 4.30pm. Here I will read a story to your child.

Class Dojo Takeover 

I am very aware that you are not able to get to know us as a staff and build the relationships we usually get to when you come into school daily. With this in mind Mrs Gilbert and Miss Wilson will be doing weekly Dojo takeovers where they will post updates for the class. During these times, please feel free to continue to message me however.

Yours Sincerely,

 Miss Jolly


 Today we have been learning about the traditional tales linked to Diwali and how this is celebrated. We have then created our own diva lamps using clay. The children experimented with pushing and patting the dough to make the shape and discussed how the clay was going to change. 

Smoothie Making

 This afternoon we were tasting a selection of fruit and vegetables ready to make smoothies on Friday as part of the learning we are doing this week about how to keep our bodies nice and healthy. The children have then been writing what they liked best. They have done an incredible job segmenting words with more independence to write a caption. 

Realistic Drawings

 Today in art the children learnt to use shapes to draw more realistic faces. The drawings on the left are the ones from last week and those on the right are from today's. I can't believe how well they all listened and used different lines and shapes to create the features on a face.

Name Writing

 This afternoon the children have all practiced writing their name in the pre cursive writing we use at school. Some children have picked this up quickly, others needed a bit more support but I am very proud of them all for trying. This is proof they can do it in case they tell you differently when practicing at home :)

Self Portraits

 Yesterday we were learning all about how being different and unique makes us special, we then went on to paint self portraits, concentrating on our features. They look fantastic.

Mouse Club

 On our first mouse club adventure we went to the garden and made some mouse letters to teach all the class mice our names. They look fantastic and the children were so enthusiastic about using their mice during the school day.

Questions from the Phonics Meeting

 How can I find more information about phonics?

Please use this video for information about how we teach Phonics at Barlborough Primary School.

Why do we teach pre-cursive handwriting in Reception?

In Year 1 and 2 it is in the curriculum that children join their handwriting and they are assessed on this throughout the year, as well as in the Year 2 SATS tests. With this in mind we teach pre-cursive handwriting in Reception as it is the beginning of the joined up handwriting process. It is also a more assessable handwriting style for children with additional needs- such as dyslexia, as there is always the same starting point (on the line) and the same end point (on the line) for every letter.  It is very important this is practiced with your child at home as well as school or this will actually result in very messy handwriting due to inconsistent muscle memory and your child will become very confused.

Do we send home sound button cards to help with reading?

We have done this in the past, however only 2 or 3 children would actually use these, which resulted in a huge waste of paper. We will trial this in the next few weeks and see how many children use these at home and make a decision on if it will be something that will be used.

You can add your own sound buttons on words you are trying to encourage your child to read, simply by adding dots under single sound graphemes and a line under digraphs/trigraphs.

If we go into self-isolation/ lockdown will we be expected to teach Phonics at home?

Yes you will have Phonics included in the daily plans, however I am very mindful that it is like another language, so will point you in the direction of videos to help you with correct pronunciation and letter formation so you can practice at home. If we go into full lockdown again, I will make ‘lesson’ videos that you and your child can follow along with together to take that pressure off you. I have some examples of such videos on my YouTube channel from the previous lockdown if you wanted to see how these would work. Unfortunately I am unable to do this for children isolating as creating the videos is very time consuming when I am also teaching full time.

What are the expectations for writing at the end of Reception?

At the end of Reception children will be expected to write full sentences with 5 or more words in it and include capital letters and full stops. These words will be phonetically spelt- broken into their sounds, apart from the common exception words (tricky words) which cannot be segmented (eg the/to/she) which we will expect to be mostly spelt accurately. These will be sent home on bookmarks, along with the Phase 2 sounds so you can practice them at home with your child, as the key to sight reading and spelling these accurately is practice, practice, practice! Some parents choose to display some of these words by the toilet, in bedrooms or place them on stairs before bed for children to read daily. I also have some ideas of how to make practicing reading these in fun ways in this video here:

Please note although the below examples are what we aim for, we do recognise that some children will not achieve this by the end of Reception. We will work at every child’s level and get them to achieve their very best. We aim for the Early Learning Goal however, as this puts them in a good position to continue to meet their Year groups targets when progressing through the school, as if gaps are formed from an early age, it can be very hard to fill these and continue to try and achieve new, trickier goals.

Are these any tips to motivate children to complete tasks at home?

You could have a ‘home learning’ box which has resources in it like a special writing pencil that only comes out for homework tasks and a toy that they get to play with for 10 minutes upon completing this. For reading- using finger torches can be a fun way to entice children or having a ‘reading buddy’ to use is also a great way to engage children. This is simply a soft toy that only comes out if children are going to read to them. Sometimes asking children to read to pets or family on face time is also a nice idea.

How do you teach the children to hold a pencil?

We use a ‘crocodile snap’ method which is a step up from the tripod grip learnt in nursery. Please see the video here which shows this

Are there any helpful websites and apps we can use at home?

We use Phonics Play at school which is fantastic.
Reading Eggs is also very good.
Teach your monster to read is a fun and engaging app too.
Jolly phonics songs on YouTube is also something we use in class to help the children memorise the sounds. (This is not the scheme we follow- Letters and Sounds is)
Although there are lots of free apps available, many of these are not pre-cursive or American which can be very confusing for your child.
Oxford reading owl is very good for free e-books and also parental guides for ideas for reading and writing at home. They also have sound clips for pronunciation of every sound if you get fed up of hearing my voice in my videos!

When will the homework start?

This will be started next week and expected to be sent in via Dojo Every Monday so you have a full week and a weekend to complete it. You may choose to do one sound a day or all 4 at the weekend. See what works best for your child.

Will my child be assessed in Phonics?

We will do a half termly informal assessment in Reception to ensure your child is retaining the sounds and tricky words, and if there is anything we need to recap or send home to help your child with things they may be finding difficult. There is no official test in Reception, however there is a statutory test in Year 1. This is called The Phonics Screening Test. If they fail this, they will have to repeat it in Year 2.


Phonics Information

Please find the video presentation that I would normally go through with you at the Phonics Workshop ready for the question and answer session which is on Wednesday 16th September at 4pm. 

You can also find some of the letter formation and sound pronunciation videos I have made here:

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 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 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 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. Also, due to the current situation, we may be changing things on a regular basis to suit the class and their needs- but I will keep you updated with this.  

Morning Routine

Children are expected to be dropped off at 9.00,

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. The children have been spilt into two groups as recommended by current guidance, to minimise the risk of cross contamination if there happens to be Covid-19  cases at school. Each groups seating place will change weekly, allowing both groups the opportunity to 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- Jigsaws and group games
Wednesday- Maths and number
Thursday- Rainbow reading
Friday- Cutting skills

These groups will then alternate throughout the day having time in the classroom, the outside area, the garden or the learning spaces in the hallway.  The children will come together at playtimes, assembly times and lunch times to enable relationships to build. The groups will also change at half terms so once again, the children make friendship groups with lots of different children.


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 begin Phase 2 of letters and sounds the week commencing Monday 21st September 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 usually conduct a Phonics Home Learning Support Workshop for you to attend to help you understand how to apply similar techniques we use at school at home, however this is not viable at the moment due to limiting the number of visitors in school. With this in mind I will upload a video presentation with information about this onto Class dojo and the school website next week. I will then hold a Microsoft Teams question and answer session on Wednesday 16th September at 4.00pm if you would like to discuss anything in regard to this.  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 ‘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 Fridays and should be returned the following Monday in book bags.  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 the next few weeks.


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.

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 be sending home two books home on Friday 25th September which you can share together and do the above with and these can be returned to school on Monday 5th October so you have a full week reading them. We will then change these on the Friday and you will keep them for the following week.

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.


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;

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 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.

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 Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. As stated in a previous letter we will ask your child to come into school in their outdoor sports kit on these days. Please try to encourage your child to practice getting dressed on these days, as they will be expected to do this at school when things return to normal in the future. Also please try to provide shoes that do not have laces on them.
  • 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.
  • It is important that your child begins to develop their independence in order to undergo day to day school life confidently- particularly when we are fairly limited at what we can help them with under the current guidelines for example limiting contact with the children and their belongings as much as possible. 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.”
  • Miss Wilson will lead the class on Tuesday 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 games.
  • 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 as we are unable to touch them for 72 hours once in school. We are trying to limit what comes into school and what is sent home- again to limit cross contamination. 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 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

Curriculum Web Autumn 1: Marvellous Me