Our Wondrous World, Pownall +
The week commencing Monday 8th February 2021 was the start of the Pownall + Topic ‘Our Wondrous World’, at Pownall Hall School!
The aim of the week was to encourage a further appreciation of the world we live in, a greater sense of awe and wonder, and develop children’s beliefs and spirituality.
The word ‘spirituality’ has been trending and gaining traction in the media recently, but what does it mean to be spiritual? While we understand spirituality can be linked to religious beliefs, more and more people are also identifying as being ‘spiritual without religion’.
Spirituality without religion places emphasis on the well-being of the mind, body and spirit. It is a journey of: self-discovery in finding not only who you are but also who you want to be; keeping an open mind, understanding others’ beliefs, living without judgement, having a connectedness to earth, nature, people and the world around us, accepting ourselves, and embracing each moment.
The week was a huge success with all of our children taking part in a range of fun, interactive and engaging activities, and developing their spiritual awareness, well-being and understanding of the world around them! The Topic served to enhance our family connection, even though the majority of us were learning and teaching from home during these difficult times. Read on to find out more about the topic and the great learning experiences that took place…
Early Years Foundation Stage
During the ‘Our Wondrous World’ topic, the Nursery children explored the idea of showing gratitude for the world around us, with a large focus on nature. They explored nature as medicine – asking the question: how is it good for us? Children learned that spending time in nature or bringing nature inside can benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing. Research suggests that spending 120 minutes in nature per week supports good health and wellbeing. We are proud to say that our Nursery children do this every day! Here are some of the things they have enjoyed this week:
Outdoor mindfulness – Practising mindfulness outdoors enables us to truly connect with nature. Feeling the ground underneath us, watching the fluffy clouds move slowly across the blue sky, and listening to the call of the birds.
Colours – ‘Colours are the smiles of nature’. The Nursery team brought yellow daffodils and pink tulips into the nursery, placing them on the table at mealtimes. They really made everyone smile! They also explored the colours of the rainbow during sensory play with rainbow rice. On Wednesday, they even ate a rainbow! A healthy snack made from fruits and vegetables. Nursery snack times are all about connecting with others and give us a great sense of wellbeing.
Rolling – The Nursery children love to get outside and connect with nature. One of their favourite activities is to roll down the grassy slopes on the way to Forest School.
Recycling – In the nursery, children love to learn about and look after our natural world. They have a special song that teaches them about the benefits of recycling and the danger to sea life, caused by plastic entering our oceans.
In Kindergarten, we focused on how we can look after our Wondrous World, discussing all the little things we can do every day to make a big difference. The children took part in a daily Eco-Challenge at school and home, as well as some daily mindfulness.
On Meat Free Monday, the staff and children came to school with a meat-free lunch. Our KG parents also shared some delicious meat-free evening meal ideas through Tapestry. During the Forest School session, Kindergarten explored and found some hidden animals that had escaped. To make sure that they all returned to their correct homes, they sorted them based on what they ate, and talked about and used the vocabulary herbivore, omnivore and carnivore.
Turn the Taps Off Tuesday, saw KG saving, reusing and recycling water. They created their own glitter bottles that they also used for some calming meditation as well as learning how to use these to help relieve us in times of stress or anger.
On Waste Collection Wednesday, they learnt about what litter is and how it can harm our animals and the environment. We went on a safe litter pick around the school grounds, but were very pleased to find that there was hardly any litter to collect!
Think Before You Throw Thursday, involved recycling activities, such as junk modelling, learning about and sorting packaging of different materials and thinking about how we can use everyday items in different ways.
Free the Plug Friday – children learnt about what uses electric power and how to make small changes in the way that we use these items to save energy. KG went outside on a sensory safari walk (after turning our classroom lights off), an activity that requires no electric power! We concentrated on each of our senses and enjoyed time in the great outdoors.
The children in Reception were very interested in the Pownall + Topic of ‘A Wondrous World’. They listened to the story, ‘Here We Are’ by Oliver Jeffers and they also listened to the song ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. The children thought carefully about ways to look after our planet and have made some beautiful posters, nature crowns and bracelets.
Pre-Prep (Key Stage 1)
In Form 1, children enjoyed their daily ‘Live’ Form Time discussions about positivity and gratitude. In English, children were asked to think of ‘natural‘ things that can be found in our wondrous world that match the 7 colours of the rainbow, and they created their own beautiful rainbows to show what they had found!
In Form 2, Children became detectives to help solve the disappearance of Dr Gilbert, the famous explorer. They solved puzzles and followed clues around our very own Pownall Island to discover his whereabouts. Children then had to choose a specific country to focus on to create a fact file including recipes to create a ‘Form 2 Wonderous World Recipe Book’. The project encouraged children to be curious, inventive, creative and hands-on! At the end of the week, Form 2 children had the opportunity to showcase what they had learned throughout the week. They dressed up in clothes from the country they researched, as well as sharing photos and facts! The presentations included drama, art, music.
In Pre-Prep Music, children enjoyed learning about the Music of the British Isles. They looked at why we are called the British Isles and discussed how we live on an island, surrounded by sea, and that we have the seaside all around us in every direction. The children went on to sing and listen to traditional music inspired by our country and the sea. Finally, pupils created their own seaside soundscape using their voices, bodies and ‘home’ instrument.
Prep School (Key Stage 2)
At the start of the week, Form 3 enjoyed their ‘Live’ form time where they discussed the meaning of spirituality: religious and non-religious. Children were then introduced to positive affirmations and how these can be used to start each day in a positive way, displaying a content and meaningful mindset. After some meditation, children were encouraged to write their own positive affirmations and decorate their: work area; home or bedroom with these. In their English lessons, they read information about different religions and explored their similarities and differences. Children soon realised that the core values of some religions were very similar and they reflected on these values to discuss which is most important to them. Next, Form 3 explored the book ‘Here We Are’ by Oliver Jeffers, and they identified all of the important messages in the book that we can remember throughout our lives. Following this, children created a moral code to live by as a list of instructions, in order to have a happy, peaceful and positive life! They reflected on everything they had learned about spirituality over the course of the week to create a unique and thoughtful poem to express what spirituality means to them. In RE, Form 3 learned about Pilgrimages to Mecca for Muslims and took part in personal and spiritual reflection, whilst in music they listened to ‘Earth’ by Hans Zimmer and created an artistic response to the music.
In Form 4, children started each day with a short, guided meditation. They also watched some videos on the importance of gratitude, and we discussed things in our life that we are grateful for. In English, children came up with their own messages in a bottle to share with their year group. The messages focused on the things we were currently missing, but also shared positive affirmations. In Design and Technology, Form 4 created Positivity Jars, where they could come up with their own positive messages and store any ideas they came up with inside the jar. In Science, Form 4 linked their ‘Living things’ topic to the Pownall + theme by researching animals in our ‘Wondrous World’ that have weird and wacky adaptations. Some of the most interesting animals shared were the ‘Jesus Christ lizard’ that can walk on water and the ‘Short-Horned lizard’ that can squirt blood from its eyes to warn off predators. In music, the children experienced Mindful Musical Moments, listening to pieces of beautiful music that celebrate our wondrous world, and creating artistic responses to them.
In Form 5 time, form 5D started off the week by sharing positive affirmations and decorating their work station with the affirmations that encouraged and motivated them most. They also discussed gratitude and everyone in the form shared something they were grateful for. The most common things were family, friends, homes and pets. To finish off the week we followed a guided meditation video. Through their History lessons, Form 5 recognised that everyone has a role to play in creating a world where we can celebrate individuality. Form 5 discovered that this ability to celebrate diversity and individuality has not always been in our society, and looked at wonderful role models from the 20th century who helped bring it about. Through their continued study of Goodnight, Mr Tom in literary appreciation, Form 5 further developed their understanding that everyone is important, has much to give, and must be respected and loved if they are to become loving, caring people themselves.
Finally, Form 6 children also enjoyed a ‘Live’ Form Time each day to share positive messages and promote well-being. In English, Form 6 collaborated both in lessons and outside of them, to create the School Newspaper: Pownall Press, with varying categories including well-being and ‘feel good’ stories. In Geography, Form 6 linked their ‘Trade’ topic to the Pownall + theme by researching natural resources that the Earth provides that we rely on to survive and to improve our quality of life. In RE, children took the time to reflect on what they are grateful for in life and wrote their own thankfulness poems. Within History, Form 6 learned about ways to govern: democracy, and dictatorship. Comparing the governments of the late 1920’s and 1930’s, they began to understand that the pure ethos and ideals of democracy, communism and fascism were not always applied by those who led the party of power.
We very much enjoyed this topic and we are thankful to our outstanding teaching staff for creating such fun, engaging and memorable activities, as well as being proud of our children for being open-minded and embracing all of the different learning opportunities that the week had to offer!
“ It is important that children have a sense of connectedness and belonging to the world around them as well as exploring and understanding their own and others’ beliefs, and a desire to make the world a better place. This topic has been a great success in developing children’s understanding of spirituality and it has been wonderful to see the kind and thoughtful messages that children shared throughout the week. What a magnificent way to end the half-term! ” – Miss Birchall