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Year R

Welcome to Year R 2023-2024

The Early Years Team 


  Admiral Class - Miss Smith

Emperor Class - Mrs Palmer 

Skipper Class - Mrs Cordner 

LSAs Mrs Prosser, Mrs Morgan, &  Mrs Girling


What will my child be learning this half term?

Friday 14th June 2024: Week 2 - Getting ready for Sports Day! 

This week the children have been developing their ball skills and co-ordination in preparation for Sports Day. They worked collaboratively together to be the fastest team to complete an activity. The children used new skills such as under arm throwing and dribbling, to control objects such as balls and beanbags. We can't wait for the main event next week! 

Friday 7th June- Week 1- Exploring the Ocean

The children have had a fantastic week learning about the ocean. They have explored some of the different creatures that live in the ocean, which they then wrote about.  They have also loved being outside, investigating the different sea related tuff trays and building cars to get to the beach.


Friday 24th May: Week 6 - Bean plants! 

This half term Year R have developed their green fingers! The children have been learning all about life cycles, including that of a bean.  They have learnt how to plant and look after a seed and have been able to discuss what a seed needs in order to grow. They looked after their plants so well, that they needed to be planted out at the Balksbury Community Garden this week.

Friday 17th May: Week 5 - Messy play! 

This week the children have been using their senses to explore different textures and materials. They have been making minibeast bug sand castles and have worked hard to problem solved how to get the bugs inside the sand castles without making them fall down.  The children have been using their knowledge of length, by finding the longest and shortest pieces of spaghetti worms. 

Friday 10th May: Week 5 - Fruit Tasting 

As part of our topic about life cycles, we have been exploring the story 'The Hungry Caterpillar'.  The children have been learning about the days of the week and the importance of time, when it comes to a life cycles. In the story, The Hungry Caterpillar eats lots of different types of fruits. We decided to become caterpillars and munch our way through a selection of fruit, using the words, sweet, sour and juicy to describe our experience! 

Friday 3rd May: Week 3 - Capacity

This week the children have been exploring capacity. They have been using the vocabulary full, half full, nearly full, nearly empty & empty to describe different containers.  Using pasta, water, rice and lentils the children were able to estimate how many cups it would take to fill jugs of various sizes. 

Friday 26th April: Week 2 - Planting

This week the children had a great time learning all about the life cycle of a bean. They have enjoyed exploring and investigating different types of seeds and beans, using magnifying glasses and sorting circles.  The children even had a go at planting their own bean seeds, which will be coming home in a few weeks! 


Friday 19th April-Week 1

This week the children have been learning about measuring. They have enjoyed ordering natural objects by their length and height and have worked hard to use the language short, shorter, tall and taller.  They have even used metre rulers to measure their castles made from large construction. 

Friday 22nd March 2024 - Part Whole Model 

This week the children have been demonstrating their knowledge of number bonds to 10 and have been creating their own math problems during an outdoor lesson. The children represented their calculations using the part whole or tens frame method. The children chose their own natural foliage to act as their concrete resources. We are so proud of their growing maths skills. 

Friday 15th March 2024 - Week 4 

The children in Year R have had a wonderful time learning how to make their own playdough to use in Butterfly House kitchen. They have already mastered using children safe knives for preparing fruit and vegetables and we know that making their own playdough is going to be a great addition in their kitchen role play. We look forward to seeing what culinary creations they make with their very own playdough!

Friday 8th March - Week 3 

This week the children have been continuing to work on their core skills during PE. They have spent many weeks learning about the different gymnastic positions such as: pike & straddle and have learnt about the importance of landing safely from apparatus. We proud of the children's perseverance in PE and it has been great to see how quickly their skills are developing, week on week! 

Friday 1st March 2024 - VR Headsets

This week the children had a great time using the VR Headsets to go walking with the dinosaurs! They absolutely loved their experience and have not stopped talking about it all week. The children were able to write about what they saw whilst in VR and we were proud of how they are using their phonic knowledge in their writing. 

Week 1- Friday 23rd February 2024

This week the children have thoroughly enjoyed becoming paleontologists! They have examined and investigated different types of fossils and matched them to the correct dinosaurs. On Friday we had a visit from Open Box Theatre Company.  Using their imaginations, the children were teleported back to prehistoric times, where they learnt about herbivores and carnivores and they pretended to be dinosaurs hatching from eggs! 

Friday 2nd February - Week 5 

This week the children have loved learning about different types of transport. They were excited to see how 'The Naughty Bus' links well with our Phase 3 digraphs and trigraphs and were thrilled to see that they were able to read parts of the story independently. The children even wrote their own wanted posters about the bus. As part of their play, they were inspired to make their own maps and small towns for the naughty bus to explore. 

Friday 26th January - Week 4 

This week Year R concluded their learning about space with exploring and investigating ALIENS! The children took inspiration from our story this week 'The Smeds and Smoos' and designed and created their own clay alien, which will be coming home very soon! It was lovely to see that the children had recognised the links with the story and our schools code of conduct. 

Week 3- Friday 19th January 2024

The children have had a great week continuing their learning about space. They explored a 'The Whatever Next' tuff tray, where they retold the story using baby bear and the props. Using their imaginations, the children pretended to blast off into space in their rockets made out of podley. We have been so impressed with how many facts the children have learnt about the different planets, a particular favourite of theirs was finding out that the sun is actually a star and not a planet! 

Week 2 - Friday 12th January 

This week the children have become astronauts in training! They have thoroughly enjoyed wearing their top secret lanyards, which all had unique passwords for them to learn. Outside, the children even created obstacle courses to help them become fit enough to pass the NASA exercise tests. We will continue to learn about astronauts and space next week! 

Friday 5th January 2024

We were excited this week to finally be able to launch 'Butterfly House' our new Year R role play area, which is situated between all 3 classes. The children have had a super time in the kitchen, chopping up food with their child safety knives, as well as washing clothes and learning how to hang them up to dry. In Butterfly house the children are encouraged to link their play to real life experiences.  In the next few weeks, the children will be learning how to make their own playdough, to use as props in their play. 

Friday 15th December-Week 7

This week after hearing the story 'The last Polar Bear' the children decided they were going to have a go at making warm habitats for the polar bears, they used sticks and leaves to make the dens. The children also used the natural resources to make pictures of the polar bears, which they even framed with sticks! 

Friday 8th December-Week 6

The children were super excited this week to have their Christmas dinner in their classrooms! They listened to Christmas music and made their own hats, placemats and name cards for their seat at the table. smiley

Friday 1st December-Week 5

The children have made some incredible 'wanted' posters to catch the Evil Pea. We are super proud of how they have used their tricky words and their phonological knowledge in their writing.  Well done Year R!

Friday 24th November- Week 4

The children have enjoyed learning about real life and fictional superheroes. They have learnt about what skills a real-life hero needs to be successful in their job, such as, love, kindness and care. The children have had a great time creating their own Supertato’s and they even made a city to go with it!


Friday 17th November - People Who Help Us! 

This week the children have explored different occupations, with an extra focus on the special jobs that help make the world a better place. They were particularly fascinated with rescue workers, so we set some challenges for them to problem solve and risk assess as a team. They successfully planned and used bricks and other construction materials to make a platform, in order to save a cat from a tree. They also took their toy cat to their pretend vets, to make sure they were healthy after their ordeal.

Friday 10th November-Week 2

This week the children learnt about the importance of Remembrance Sunday and Diwali. For Remembrance they made poppies and talked about what they symbolise. We even had a visit from Major Wells! For Diwali the children looked at how people celebrate the festival of light,  and they then had a go at decorating hands with beautiful patterns. 

Friday 3rd November- Week 1

This week the children enjoyed our topic about the Leaf Man. They loved learning about the signs of Autumn and looking at the beautiful pictures in our story. The children were keen to explore the Federated grounds, looking for colourful Autumn leaves, which they then turned into their own Leaf Man pictures. 

Friday 20th October- Week 7

The children have had an amazing week continuing their learning about Traditional Tales. They have loved the story of the Gingerbread Man and were shocked to see that he was caught on CCTV visiting the classes. The children throughout the week, have been busy making bridges and traps to catch the Gingerbread Man. They even designed posters and decorated a Gingerbread Man biscuit to take home.

Friday 13th October 2023- Week 6

This week the children have been showing us their new number knowledge. They have been using manipulatives to create the numbers 1-4 in different ways. We have been working on saying one more and one less than a given number, as well as learning which two numbers make another number. We have some super mathematicians already! 

Friday 6th October 2023-Week 5

The children have had an amazing time this week. They have been exploring the outside environment with care, making new friendships, playing games together and embedding their maths and phonics knowledge. We have had some great discussions with them!

Friday 29th September-Week 4

The children have enjoyed exploring our topic 'Nursery rhymes'.  They have learnt different nursery rhymes from the past such as 'Polly put the kettle on', 'Wee Willie Winkie' and 'Jack and Jill went up the hill'. They were lucky to explore items from the past and they were fascinated to find out that in Victorian times there was no electricity. They were fantastic little Historians and even worked out a different way for Jack and Jill to get water from the hill as Jack had injured himself.

Friday 22nd September-Week 3

The children this week have been working hard on strengthening their pincer grip ready for writing. They have had great fun taking part in dough disco with their friends, painted using cotton buds, wrote letters and numbers in the sand and have even started to form some letters during phonic lessons. 

Friday 15th September-Week 2

This week the children had their first ever Phonic lesson. They joined in with enthusiasm and are already beginning to learn the new Phonemes. As part of our topic, 'All About Me' the children have spent the week creating themselves in lots of different ways. They have used natural resources, paints, pencils and crayons. We have been surprised by their creativity! 

Friday 8th September - Week 1 

What a fantastic first week the children have had! We are super proud of how quickly they have learnt the daily routines and The Balksbury Code of Conduct. The children have played beautifully together, sharing resources and making lots of new friends along the way. Today we completed our first ever PE lesson and again we were blown away with how independent the children are. laugh We have taken lots of photos and these will follow shortly. 

Last Day of Cohort 2022-23! 

We decided as it was our last day together that we would have a bubble fight. The children and the staff had an absolute blast!  laugh 

Friday 21st July- Week 7

As part of last ever English learning journey, the children were welcomed to school this week with a crime scene. The children had to use their detective skills to figure out who left the porridge oats, the broken chair and the bed. After a few clues, the children worked out that Goldilocks had been to school. But where were the bears?! The children went on a bear hunt to find the missing bears, where they made a map to recount their steps! We were super proud of their recount writing and their detective skills. 

Friday 14th July- Week 6

The children thoroughly enjoyed this morning's PE session. They warmed up to Joe Wick's workout, followed by a discussion on how our heart's beat faster when we exercise. This was followed by a few 'just dance' sessions. We have some great little movers in Year R.

Friday 7th July- Week 5

This week for Arts Festival the children have been learning about Yoyoi Kussama. They have experimented in the same style as Yoyoi and have used a variety of different resources, such as paint, stickers and felt tip pens. The children have impressed us with their creativity. We look forward to sharing all our art work with you during the Arts festival! 

30th July 2023 - Week 4 

Last Friday the children took part in their first ever Balksbury sports day! We were super proud of how well the children behaved and how they all showed perseverance and resilience on such a hot day. It was clear that all the skills they have been practising in PE, have developed to enable the children to all be Amazing Athletes!

Friday 23rd June- Week 3

The team in Year R have almost burst with pride over the last couple of weeks! This term started with an exciting writing transition into the new Y1 English books, in preparation for next year. The children's writing has gone from strength to strength and we thought we would share some of their writing with you! Well Done YR laugh

Friday 16th June-Week 2

The children had great fun as they watched the butterflies being released into the sky. They talked about the lifecycle of a butterfly and how the butterflies will go on and lay their eggs, creating another lifecycle. We have all enjoyed watching the butterflies grow and look forward to seeing them in our gardens!

Friday 9th June - Week 1

This week the Year R children met with the Year 6 children to plant a sunflower seed together. As part of our Health and Wellbeing curriculum, we would like the children to learn how to nurture and grow their own produce. The Year 6 children were very kind and caring towards the Year R children and it was lovely to see buddy groups forming. smiley


Friday 16th May - Week 6

The children have thoroughly enjoyed learning about Minibeasts over the last couple of weeks and we are very impressed with their new fact knowledge. The children finished the topic, by creating their favourite minibeast using clay, which they carefully painted. We are looking forward to coming back after half term to see what has happened to our class caterpillars! 


Friday 19th May-Week 5

This week the children have enjoyed learning about the properties of 3D shapes. They had a great time using the marshmallows and pasta to create 3D structures. The children were also able to talk about what 2D shapes they used for their structure. We have some fantastic engineers in Year R!

Friday 12th May-Week 4

Following on from the children's interests of catching items in the fishing nets, we added some small coloured bears to the water. The children enjoyed using the bears to subtract one colour from another, as well as adding two coloured bears together to see how many it made.

They even had a go at writing their own number sentences to reflect this. Well done Year R, you are great Mathematicians. 

Friday 5th May 2023 - Week 3 

This week the children experienced their first ever trip, which was perfectly linked to our topic of growing and lifecycles! The Team at Hillier Gardens could not sing the children's praises enough. They told us that they were enthusiastic, well mannered and respectful children who collaborated well as a group. Here are a few photos of our day, but also have a look on Tapestry as we have put many more on there as well! smiley

Friday 28th April 2023 - Week 2 

This week the children have been highly motivated by vehicles and homes. They used the loose part construction pieces to create submarines, cars and houses. They adapted their environment to add to their structures such as the bridge, which became a tunnel for their car. The children even made a number plate to go on the back of their vehicle! We have some great designers and builders down in Year R smiley

Friday 21st April 2023 - Week 1 

This week to kick off our topic of growing, we have immersed the children in the story of Jim and the Beanstalk (alternative version) of the traditional tale. Linking with the bean in the story, Year R decided to plant their own seeds. However we decided to conduct an investigation across the 3 classes to see whether cotton wool, paper towels or soil would allow a seed to grow. Many of the children have predicted that the seed will turn into a beanstalk, like in the story....the children are waiting in anticipation to see the results next week! 



Friday 31st March 2023- Week 6

This we have discovered that we have some 'green fingers' in Year R. Some of the children took it upon themselves to try and plant an orange and apple tree. They collected some seeds from their morning snack and chose a perfect spot to plant the tiny seeds. One of the children said, "I have watered the seed and given it love, so now it will grow" Mrs Palmer asked, "How will you know where you planted it?" The children decided to make some signs on sticks using paper to show where they had planted the seeds. 


Friday 24th March 2023-Week 5

This week the children have been learning about their local area. We took the children on a walk around the Federation to look for focal points e.g the different buildings and equipment, and also what they could see in their environment. Linking with our 'Wonderful World- Climate Action' week, we went to the teepee to listen to a story called 'Tidy', which highlighted the importance of looking after our environment.  On the way back to our classes, some of the children picked up some rubbish that they found, which shows real love and care for the school grounds. 

17th March-Floating and Sinking

This week the children experimented by making their own boats out of corks, cocktail sticks, paper, tin foil and straws, to see which was the best material to make a floating boat. One child had a go at using cellotape to hold his cocktail sticks together and then removed it to see if it did the same job. The children were excited to describe why some boats were floating and others were sinking. They had lots to talk about and loved testing their predictions!

10th March-Fantastic Artists

The children had great fun this week creating dinosaur landscape pictures. The art task was a two step process, first the children used the watercolors to create beautiful sunset backdrops, then the children drew and cut out dinosaur silhouettes. We are super proud of their final pieces of art! 

3rd March-First Signs of Spring

During discovery time, the children were excited to find the first signs of spring. They decided to protect the buds by putting a crate on top of them and writing a sign to ensure that no one would damage them. The children are very aware of how to look after our environment.

24th February-Dinosaur Art

The children have enjoyed our introduction this week to dinosaurs. They have painted some pictures of dinosaurs and made some dinosaur foot prints. They have also shared their knowledge about what they already know about dinosaurs and what they would like to find out.

10th February-Back to Roman times with Year 5

The Year R children went for a walk across the Federation and came across Year 5, who were acting out the Roman era. The Year R children watched in awe and then were asked if they wanted to join in. They joined in with such enthusiasm and were made to feel extra special by Year 5. 

3rd February 2023 - Problem Solving and Teamwork

This week in aid of Anti-Bulling day, the children have been working hard on recognising problems. They noticed that owl had got himself stuck up the tree, and unfortunately the ground outside had turned into lava!! The children worked as a team to construct an obstacle course, using the loose parts to get themselves to the owl who was stuck in the woodland high in a tree. They all shared their ideas and continued to adapt and change their design until they had completed a safe rescue.

27th January- Chinese New Year

The children enjoyed learning about Chinese New Year through stories. They then had a go at making lanterns and dragons using craft materials. Outside, they made their own music and created their own dragon, as well as exploring our Chinese tuff tray with the different animals that represent each luna year.

Chinese Dancing Dragons

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20th January - Comet Making 

The children have loved learning about all about space! The topic has really peaked their interests, so much so that many have decided to visit the local library to find more space books to share with their class. One child found a fantastic book on 'Comets, Asteroids and Meteors' which had a super craft idea in the back of the book! So we decided to follow the instructions and make our own comets. We even took them outside to measure how far they would travel. The distance was quite impressive!  

13th January-Building and Balancing

With a little adult help to get started, the children began to build and engineer a huge balancing assault course. The children enjoyed using their arms stretched out to support them from falling off the planks of wood. Some children even tried using our wooden sticks as walking sticks to help them get round the assault course. They all showed great determination to get round independently.

6th January-PE

This week the children have been enjoying learning about Space. During our PE lesson, we looked at making different space shapes with our bodies, for example the children made star shapes, alien shapes and rocket shapes. They also managed to negotiate their space well, by avoiding bumping into each other. Well done Year R!

16th December- VR Headsets

The children enjoyed using the VR headsets to explore the Arctic. They were extremely excited and were able to describe some of the things that they saw. Here a few quotes below:

Arianna said, "I am going in the mountains. I can see more stuff. I can see a white polar bear, no two!"

Oliver said, "I can see snow and a cave. I can see white small waves!"

Maya said, "I'm in the snow cave. There's lots of ice and snow in the cave. I can see a walrus!"

Oliver said, "I can see two bears near me. They are white!"

9th December - Frosty Walks 

Today we took advantage of the frosty weather as we are learning all about seasons and Winter. The children enjoyed walking the grounds of the Federation spotting for signs of winter. They saw, frozen plants and leaves, bare trees, frosty play equipment and they even found a huge lump of ice. We finished off our walk with writing our names in the frost. 

2nd December-Supertato

This week the children have enjoyed our Supertato topic and have had great fun making their very own Supertato's.  They did an amazing job and were very proud of themselves!

25th November-Understanding the World-Ice

The children were exploring different ways of making the ice melt. They used hammers, warm water and paint brushes to discover the best way to remove the peas quickly from the ice. Children commented on how the warm water helps to melt the ice and also how their hands can melt the ice, although they explained that it was very cold to touch it. They particularly enjoyed using the hammers and were very aware of the need to wear safety glasses to ensure that the ice did not go in their eyes. They learnt words like 'artefact' and 'excavator' as they carefully used the paintbrushes to remove the peas. They had a fantastic time being little explorers!

18th November-Water Exploration

The children were excited to explore the water containers in the rain. They could hear the different sounds the bowls made when the rain dropped into them. They explored how each container held a different amount of water and who could fill their bowls up the quickest.

11th November -Maths

This week the children have been learning all about the number seven.  The children have enjoyed partitioning different numbers using a variety of concrete resources, such as Numicon, cubes and conkers.

4th November 2022 - Diwali

This week the children have really enjoyed talking about what happens during Diwali celebrations and how Diwali is a festival of light. The children were super creative and had great fun designing their own henna prints on hands.   

21st October 2022 - Exploring Leaves

 This week the children took advantage of the falling leaves of Autumn and decided to make leaf pictures. The children were very creative with their designs and thought carefully about which leaf shape and colour would best suit their pictures. We are going to carry on with the children's interests and learn about 'Leaf Man' after half term!

14th October 2022 - Outdoor Classroom! 

Everyone was super excited that on Thursday this week our outdoor classroom was finally ready to use. The children have explored all the areas and treated the new environment with respect and care. They have really enjoyed using the construction planks of wood, exploring the nature trail and they even found a caterpillar. The mud kitchen was a hit, with many children demonstrating their knowledge of cooking and cleaning! smiley

7th October 2022 - Marvellous Maths!

This week the children have been working hard to show their new number knowledge.  Using practical resources, the children were able to represent their number in different ways using, pictures, Numicon, objects and in its written form. We even started to work on saying one more or one less than a given number. Great work this week Year R! 

30th September -The Gingerbread Man has been trapped

Great news, the cheeky Gingerbread man has been trapped! The children were over the moon that their wonderful creations led to the capture of the Gingerbread Man. This week we are looking forward to helping the   3 Little Pigs, build their houses of sticks, straw and bricks! 

23rd September - The Gingerbread Man

This week we begun our Traditional Tales learning journey.  The children were shocked to find out that we had a sneaky visitor to the Year R classrooms. The cheeky Gingerbread Man was caught on video and he also left a letter telling the classes that they would not be able to catch him. The children decided they wanted to make their own traps to try and catch the Gingerbread Man! We were so impressed with how inventive they have been with their designs, lets hope they manage to catch him soon!

Skipper Class Visit

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Emperor Class Visit

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Admiral Class Visit

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September 16th -  My Family

The children this week have been sharing with their friends 'all about me!' As part of these chats, we have been learning all about the different families we have at Balksbury Federation.  It has been lovely to see their cultural wheels and we have had a great time talking about where they live, their favourite food, music and what they like doing at home. 

September 9th - First week at school!

We are super proud of how well the children have settled into life at Balksbury Federation. They have experienced their first assembly, P.E, eating together as a year group and playing with the other children in the big playground. They have even managed to learn their clever spots and can line up in a very straight line! Well done Year R 2022!