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Blogs from Tewin Cowper C of E Primary School

Summer Term in Chestnut Class

Summer Term 2017 in Chestnut Class

Welcome back to the Summer Term. It is hard to believe that we are in the last term already. When I think back to our first week in this class, we have all come such a long way. The children are maturing fast and it is lovely to see them now taking responsibility for their own learning and being proud of what they have achieved. They are doing so well, we have had lots of fun and I am very proud of all of them.

We have an awful lot to squeeze in this term but it is going to be a great one with outdoor swimming around the corner, lots of lovely outdoor science activities, a whole term of athletics, rehearsing for the school play and our class trips.

Our English units for this half term have a theme of ‘freedom’ running through them. The children may have already been talking to you about our first book we have been reading called, ‘Henry’s Freedom Box.’ It is a heart-wrenching true story about a young slave, Henry ‘Box’ Brown and his escape to freedom. The children know this story really well already and will use this to write a chronological report pretending that they are Henry. This will also lead us on to learning and writing about some famous Black people in history. After this unit we will be immersing ourselves in lots of wonderful stories of Africa and continue to learn how to improve our story writing with good elements of grammar to extend sentences.

Mrs Barrie will continue teaching French on a Monday. The theme of learning for this term is learning the names for classroom objects, as well as following simple commands in French. Mrs Barrie will also continue teaching our RE unit on how Jews show commitment to God. I am sure your children told you about the special afternoon we had with Reverend Susannah learning about the Passover festival. I will put up some of the photographs from the meal on our website gallery.  

Our Maths learning this term will start with a Geometry unit learning about the properties of shapes and triangles. We will then move on to statistics and using and applying what we have learned throughout the year to solve problems. The children will also be practising their Maths targets regularly and times tables as much as we can. Please continue to help your child learn their tables and targets at home. A curriculum requirement is that children should be fluent in all times tables by the end of Year 4. This can only be achieved with help from home as times tables need to be practised regularly in order to be embedded.  

Science still has a predominant place in learning in our classroom. This term we are moving outdoors. We have already started growing tomatoes for our flower bed, we have been learning how to identify trees by their leaves and we have spent quite a lot of time practising how to read and make classification charts. This week I will be assessing how much they have learnt by asking the children to classify sweets in a branching database!!

Our two weeks of History topic learning about the impact WW2 had on children has proved to be popular with all. The children have been so immersed in the topic and have produced some excellent work. I only wish our curriculum allowed us to continue this a while longer as we have merely touched the surface but it has given the children some good basic knowledge to take forward into secondary school. I think they all enjoyed hiding in the hall cupboard during a pretend air raid! Whilst we have been learning about WW2, Mrs Johnson and I have been looking through all the old school records to see if we could find any evidence of WW2 bombings at our school. There is quite a bit missing during this period but we have been able to find out that our school and Tewin took on a lot of evacuees at the time. We have photocopied some of these pages for you to read and will pop them in your child’s book back as they make fascinating reading!

This week is assessment week and so we will not be following our normal weekly timetable. Please make sure your child goes to bed at a good hour. Children will be doing tests for either Year 5 or 4 and following the same format as the Y6 SATS timetable but there is nothing for them to worry about! These assessments will give me a good indication of where they are in their learning and any gaps that still need to be filled.

As always, please pop in and see me if you have any concerns about your child’s learning.

Mrs Cowler

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Spring Term in Chestnut Class

Spring Term in Chestnut Class

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas – mine was a bit eventful (to say the least) with nine growing puppies and thirteen for Christmas lunch but one to be remembered! Thank you so much for all the little Christmas goodies and the Vouchers you gave Mrs Johnson and I. It was very kind of you and very much appreciated. Thank you.

This term will be another busy one, as we build on what we have learnt in the Autumn term and have a real drive towards meeting targets and making progress, in what is rather a short term.

Leading up to half term I aim to cover two units in English. The first, will be Fairytales and Playscripts. Lots of drama as expected in this one and improving punctuation and sentence structure for writing dialogue. The unit after this one will be using stories from the same author to help improve writing. For this unit we will be reading two wonderful books by Lynne Cherry. Our main grammar focus will be on how to improve sentence structure by modifying adjectives, nouns and preposition phrases. Mrs Barrie will be teaching a unit on Persuasive Writing with a rainforest theme for inspiration.

Mrs Barrie will continue teaching RE on a Monday this term. The children will be learning about Judaism and will end their topic with a special Passover meal with Reverend Susannah after the Easter break. Mrs Barrie will also be teaching French on a Monday through our Au Café topic where the children will be having fun learning how to ask for food and drink in French.

Maths this term will begin with Fractions. There is a huge emphasis on fractions in the Key Stage 2 SATs and much of this is taught in the Year 4 curriculum, and so I would like to spend a few weeks on this to ensure that all children are secure in their knowledge and understanding. After a few intense weeks on fractions we will move on to Time which should take us up to half term. Our unit on time will see children, not only knowing how to tell the time in 12, 24hour, digital and analogue clock but, being able to convert quickly between them and work out distances between time. Any help at home with learning how to tell the time, if your child doesn’t already know, would be appreciated as the expectations are that children should already know this before entering Year 4.

Every Wednesday afternoon is Science learning. While the Year 5 children are taught with their peers in Oak Tree class, the Year 4s will be learning about States of Matter. They will be learning how to group and identify materials into solids, liquids and gases and learning fun facts like, ‘even the air around us can be a solid. But not with us alive in it!’ We will also be observing changes of states between materials when they are heated or cooled (there may be a bit of tasting in this one!)  We will also be identifying the parts played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle. 

This week we will begin a History topic on Thursday and Friday afternoons about the ‘The railway revolution.’ This mini topic will give the children an insight into the impact that the Industrial Revolution had in developing the current Railway system that we have in Britain. We will also be learning about some famous people that were responsible for making it happen.

After two weeks of History topic we will move swiftly on to a D&T topic of cooking where the children will be learning how to make a range of savoury filled rolls, including the roll!

On top of all of this lovely learning, PLEASE can you ensure that the children keep up with their spelling practise. They are all doing so well and it would be a shame to let it slip now. Maths Targets too! Practise, practise and more practise – that is the only way that targets are going to be met. It is evident that those children that have been doing just this are making the most progress and it is really starting to show in Maths lessons, as they are accessing the work much easier and working at a faster pace.

Swimming starts tomorrow at Stevenage Leisure Pool. Please ensure swimming costumes, hats and goggles (if needed) are in school. Mrs Johnson and Miss Mileham will be travelling with the children. Mrs Johnson has been doing this with me for a few years now and is well aware of our expectations.

Last term we had quite a lot of children that didn’t have their PE kits in school. Although we will be swimming for PE this term, I would like to still fit in some more when and where we can. We have a Tag rugby tournament coming up soon and an Indoor Athletics event imminent. I would rather the children didn’t do PE in school clothes, especially when we are outside on the muddy field. If they haven’t got trainers either – they will need to miss out.

We are very fortunate to have an experienced Higher Level Teaching Assistant in our class. Mrs Johnson will continue with Maths interventions in the afternoons for those children targeted as needing extra support. She will also be doing a daily Phonics intervention as a six week catch up program for a few children, as well as handwriting and spelling for some. You may notice a bit of extra homework in your child’s bag from these sessions. They are optional but would greatly benefit your child as a recap to what they have been learning.

We spent the last term getting to know each other and although we needed a lot of time spent on behaviour management and acts of kindness, I am hoping we have crossed over that bridge now and the children will continue to make an effort to be kind and respect each other’s differences. Please be assured that we take bullying very seriously in our school. I am a great believer that children will only learn if they are happy and feel secure. Please see or email me if you have any worries.

Thank you for spending the time to read this lengthy newsletter.

I am looking forward to an exciting, yet jam-packed term ahead.

Mrs Cowler

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Chestnut Chat - 20th November

Chestnut Chat – Year 4 and 5 Class – Autumn 2

20th November

I apologise for the blogs being a bit sparse over the past few weeks. I have quite a hectic home life at the moment, trying to entertain and look after our 9 Great Dane puppies, in between school work and paying some attention to my own children.

However, I am so pleased with the progress that is being made in our class. The children are settling into the pace of a Year 4/5 class and are taking much more responsibility for their own learning. ‘Growth mindset’ plays a big part in all we do and the children are buying into this well – mistakes are good in our class because we can learn from them and grow our brains!

After our half term break, we came back to an action packed week full of Science. I think this year, more than any, the children got so much out of the week and the learning ‘through play and having fun’ that was evident throughout the school was incredible. It was also lovely for me to see a different side to some of the children in our class that thrive from more hands on learning. I hope you too have heard all about the incredible week of learning we had.

Our Maths lessons this term have been heavy on learning lots of strategies to help us with mental maths. Times tables is such a big part of the learning in Maths and I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that children are learning their tables at home. It is a Government requirement that children know their tables ‘inside out with quick recall’ by the time they leave Year 4.  If children are not secure in their times tables, it makes everything they do in lessons that bit harder. We need our times tables to solve problems with multiplication, to find the answer to division questions, to find the area of a shape, to work out and compare measurements and much more.   As we all know as adults, times tables are also a skill we carry with us for the rest of our lives, as we use them in a lot of the daily things we do, and so it is essential that children get a good grasp and understanding of them now. Many of the children in our class are on track for doing this and our Maths Passports are certainly helping, but there are some children that could really do with some help and encouragement at home. There are plenty of free good apps that can be downloaded to add to the fun learning experience. Please look out for any extra times tables activities in your child’s book bag to support their learning. There is also a page dedicated to times tables on dbprimary (our learning platform) with lots of links to websites to help.

In English we are having a real drive on handwriting, spelling and sentence structure. Children have daily practise of spellings, learning new ways to help them try and remember their words. Please can you help by asking your child to practise their spellings they are working on. Every child has a copy of all the words to be learnt off the statutory word list and there is no harm learning more than just the nine they have been given. Spellings are tested every Friday afternoon, along with times tables.

As you have probably aware, the bar has been raised for all subjects across Primary school and reading has been significantly raised. The reading requirements and text types that children in year 6 need to be able to read and understand are at a very high level. In order to prepare children for this, children should be reading every day. The books they are reading should be over a range of genres including non-fiction books. They should find the books a little bit difficult with just one or two words that they have to think about for them to be reading at the right level. You can help your child with reading by asking them questions about the story they have read eg: who was the main character? Why do you think the author has chosen to use this word? Can you show me where the author has used an adjective, or fronted adverbial phrase? Why did the author start a new paragraph here?

In the next few weeks I am hoping that we will get the chance to make some Christmas cakes in class. Please can you save and let us have any clean 227g small tins (usually for tomatoes or beans) as we will be using these as individual baking tins.

Thank you

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D&T Week

This week is Design and Technology week. Our class will be trying our hand at sewing, learning how to do different types of stitches and sewing together different applications.

Our aim over the next 2 weeks will be, to use these new skills, to make a small cushion cover. To help towards the cost of materials, please may I ask that your child brings in £2 to contribute towards the cost.

Thank you

Mrs Cowler


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Chestnut Chat

Chestnut Chat - Year 4 and 5 Curriculum Overview

19th September 2016

Welcome to the new school term!

It has been a pleasure getting to know your little ones. The first few weeks have been full of assessment tasks and confidence building whilst I try and get a better picture of where your child is in relation to their learning.  I know a few of you are feeling a bit anxious as to whether your child is managing with the new curriculum and year group. Please don’t worry – that’s my job! :) Be assured that we run interventions in class for all children, immediately after a Maths and English lessons, for any child that ‘hasn’t quite got it.’ Children are learning to self assess and know how important it is to speak up when things are getting a little tricky. We are having a big drive on ‘everyone is good at something but no-one is good at everything – YET!’  There is always something to learn. I will let you know if I feel your child would benefit from extra support. We do have a parent consultation coming up very soon where I will be able to meet you and advise you better. Please feel free to contact me though with any concerns.          


For the next few weeks we will be getting to grips with Number and Place Value – the fundamentals of Maths. A large proportion of this term will be spent reinforcing number to build competency.


We are starting off our Narrative topic with Morals and Fables, looking closely at the work of Aseops Fables. The children will learn how fables are constructed, the stereotypical characters of animals that are used and start to plan writing their own fable. Throughout this topic our Grammar focus will be on basic sentence structure and punctuation.

Mrs Barrie has begun a lovely Poetry unit on imagery and will continue with this every Monday.


We will learn how the ‘Stone Age to Bronze Age’ period impacted on life in Britain. We will learn about how early man survived in a harsh environment, why Skara Brae was important for understanding life in the Stone Age, how copper mining was crucial to the Bronze Age and why Stonehenge was built. We will be painting like cave men, making tools, debating and lots more fun!


Our Science topic for the half term is ‘Sound’

Children will learn how vibrations cause sounds and how sounds travel, as well as how sounds can change pitch and loudness. They will be using hands on learning to investigate how sound works and work in groups to plan a documentary on how sound travels to the ear. They will work scientifically and collaboratively to investigate the best material for soundproofing, in the context of making a music studio quieter. Finally, they will demonstrate their learning from the whole unit by designing and creating their own musical instrument that will play high, low, loud and quiet sounds.


Our PE lessons this term will either be Rounders outside or using the Indoor apparatus in the hall, depending on the weather.

PE lessons are on Friday afternoons but please make sure kits are in school all week.


A few children are already forgetting to bring trainers in for playtime. Trainers must be in school everyday. Children will not be allowed on the school field or the apparatus without them.


During the first week of school, we recapped the importance of staying safe online and how to use the internet safely.

During the next few weeks, we will learn how to use MS Publisher and Movie Maker to create photo stories.


One piece of English and Maths will be sent home every Wednesday, to be returned by Monday. I am encouraging children to get it done as quickly and as soon as they can so that their weekend is not taken up with homework.

Please DO NOT let your child spend hours fretting and crying over their homework. If they can’t do the work in less than half an hour, then they haven’t understood the classwork well enough. All homework is something they have done in class and should be a recap. Just pop a note on it to say what they didn’t seem to understand or were struggling with. Try and let them do as much of it as possible independently.

Our class book

This week I will start reading ‘Wolf Brother’ by Michelle Paver. If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for your child to read along with in school– please do, but ask them not to read ahead! Wolf brother is a fabulously exciting book about a boy that lives in the Stone Age times

wolfbrother        a copy of the book can be purchased from Amazon


Our topic for French this term will be ‘Les vetements’ (Clothes), taught by Mrs Barrie

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Our Location

  Our Address:
Tewin Cowper C of E Primary School
Cannons Meadow,
01438 717378
01438 718586