The Holt

Umbrellas Renoir

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In our English lessons, we are learning a Discussion Text titled ‘Should Bringing An Umbrella To School Become Compulsory?’ We have debated whether this would be a good idea or not. The people FOR believe that it would mean no more indoor wet playtimes. On the other hand, the people AGAINST claim that some children might use their umbrellas inappropriately and they would therefore pose a health and safety risk. In the book Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the children at the local school in the Welsh town of Manod, where it always rains, walk to school every day carrying umbrellas. We decided to do our own umbrella parade around Timsbury.


In our Art lesson this week, we worked in groups to recreate a live version of The Umbrellas by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We studied the painting very closely to make sure that we held the same positions and facial expressions of the people Renoir painted. You can compare this group’s finished work with the actual painting below.

Umbrellas Renoir

A lot of our work in Term Six has been based on the painting The Umbrellas by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.


We really enjoyed making our Barbara Hepworth sculptures. We had great fun designing them, before scraping away at the bars of soap with lolly sticks and potato peelers. They all turned out really well and will be on show at the Open Afternoon next week.

Barbara Hepworth

These are sculptures by the artist Barbara Hepworth that we used as the inspiration for our soap sculptures.


We enjoyed looking at each other’s Learning Log Home Challenges. This time the theme was South America, which linked with the theme of this year’s Summer Fair. There was a variety of different projects to look at and learn from, including ones on flags, animals, food and landmarks.


We have had a brilliant time in Maths this week investigating the capacities of different containers. We have learnt how to convert from litres into millilitres and vice versa. We have even begun to understand some imperial units of measurement, including pints and gallons, and found out what a gallon of water looks like and decided whether we would be able to drink it in one go! We also investigated how much it would cost if the containers were filled with petrol instead of water (using the current price of around £1.20 per litre).


Barbara Hepworth was a British sculptor. She was one of the few female artists of her time to be known throughout the world. She is most well-known for her carvings which were inspired by nature and the surrounding landscape. Her sculptures were often abstract and contained holes. We decided to have a go at creating our own Barbara Hepworth sculptures. Interestingly, we are carving bars of soap to create our artwork. They are already looking impressive, plus the classroom is smelling really fragrant!


Review by William

The picture is of food and drink and it’s called Still Life with Oranges and Nuts. It was painted in 1772 by Luis Melendez. Some of the food is mouldy and I don’t think anyone would eat it. Next to the oranges is a barrel of something. Maybe wine. Behind the oranges is a massive green melon. There are some planks of wood next to the nuts. I think they weren’t going to eat that. They’re on quite a dirty, dark brown table that made me lose my appetite. They might pack that for a dreadful, disgusting picnic next time they go for a walk.


Review by Seth

The Equestrian Portrait of Charles I was painted by Anthony van Dyck. He started it in 1637 and finished in 1638. It looks like an armoured man on a horse at twilight by a forest. In one of the trees, there’s a bird box. Behind the horse, there is a couple that are talking. It looks like they are nervous and are asking who will go first to meet Charles. The sky is cloudy and the land seems flat all around. Charles has long, frizzy hair and a moustache. The horse is large and muscly. It has a large, black mane that flows over its shoulder. It has black shins and ankles. The scene reminds me of Hazell’s Wood from Danny, The Champion of the World.


Review by Samantha

In the Whistlejacket painting, the horse has one white foot and he/she has brown fur and a long swirly tail, swaying from side to side. It was painted by George Stubbs in 1762. The horse is standing on its two back feet, looking as if to pounce. It looks very elegant and talented. Maybe it’s on its back legs because a wolf, dog or another type of animal has scared him/her or it might be greeting its owner.


Review by Jessica S.

This painting is called Bathers At La Grenouillere. It was painted in 1869 by Claude Monet. On the bridge, there are some people chatting, probably saying, “When is our boat coming?” or “Why are there people swimming and blocking the way of our boat?” But behind them, there are eight boats all lined up and the ninth boat is very thin and it’s making its way round to the plank of wood that the people are standing on. I think that the people will get on this boat. Next to the line of people, who are waiting to get on a boat, is a blue shed with a lifeguard, probably waiting for someone to drown.


In Term Six, we will be writing Problem and Resolution stories. Our story map features an extract from the book Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce. It is a story about a boy who steals a painting from The National Gallery. For our Dazzling Start, we looked at lots of famous paintings which can be seen if you visit The National Gallery in London. We thought up some ideas for what we might call these paintings before we found out their actual titles. We then each chose one painting to write a description of.


Report by Thomas

In the May Pondwatch, there were lots of changes, probably because it was spring going into summer. We saw three frogs and a lot of tadpoles. Also, the water level was really low. The large tree has now got nice green leaves. We saw lots of new growth. Yellow flag irises had appeared. They like moist habitats.


We have now planted our evil monster plants outside in the school’s vegetable garden. It will be very interesting to see what these strange seeds we found will grow into. Please contact the police immediately if these plants begin to invade Timsbury!


In Science this week, we were investigating electrical conductors and insulators. We learned that electrical conductors allow the electricity to pass through them. This means that the circuit is complete and the bulb will light up. We went around the school testing what was an electrical conductor and what was an electrical insulator. In the photograph, the boys have found that the door handle is an electrical conductor. We later realised that all the things which conducted electricity were made of metal.


At last week’s Term Five Music Concert, these children represented our class and they all performed brilliantly. They have worked so hard within music lessons at school, at orchestra practice after school and obviously rehearsing at home too. We are very proud of these seven Otters. It was great to see them having such a fun time doing something they enjoy.


Do you remember when we went around the school grounds collecting examples of frottage art? This is when you take a rubbing of a surface using an oil pastel. We have designed pieces of artwork which use these rubbings to create interesting pictures. These could be landscapes or familiar scenes, but could also just be abstract. It is up to each individual artist how they plan to use the frottage they have collected. In the photograph, you can see a snake which looks really effective with its stripy pattern.


This term we have been sowing seeds, but now we have moved on to sewing material! We have designed and are now making pouches to keep our electronic devices in, for example tablets, Kindles or consoles. In the photograph, you can see us pinning patterns onto fabric and then cutting around them. We had to remember to add a seam allowance onto our measurements. All of our pouches will have the initials of the owner sewn onto them. Then, we will stitch the separate parts of our products together.


We are still very much enjoying learning how to play lacrosse. Our skills in stepping, squatting and scooping are improving and we have now learned how to cradle the ball in the lacrosse stick while we are running. Mr Wilson, the lacrosse coach, has taught of lots of fun games to play to practise our lacrosse skills. It’s great fun!


Our Term Five topic in Science is Electricity. We enjoyed investigating making bulbs light up. The maximum number of bulbs we were able to make light up in a single circuit was five. George and Jake set this record! Can you see on the whiteboard some dates and appliances? We decided to research when the common electrical appliances we now use in our homes (such as vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and televisions) were first used.


April was the first month in which we saw significant changes beginning to happen in our environmental area. We caught lots of tadpoles and also some newts. Buds and leaves were now appearing on the trees. There were also some bluebells growing. The water level had gone down in the pond. Also, we were finally able to stand on the pond dipping platform as it wasn’t slippery anymore.


In Art during Term Five, our topic is Texture. We are working on a project which involves collecting examples of frottage to then build up a bigger piece of artwork, using all of these different textures. Frottage is the technique of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface. We found lots of different types of surfaces around the school grounds to rub with our oil pastels.


In our first lacrosse session, we learned how to pick up the ball. The method is STEP, SQUAT and SCOOP. After mastering this, we then started to practise our catching skills. The key word here is CUSHION. Finally, we learned how to pass the ball using a lacrosse stick. For this, you need to POINT, PUSH and PULL. We all very much enjoyed our first go at this unusual sport.


Please do not be alarmed but it is our duty to inform you that billions and billions of seeds have been dropped on Timsbury. We believe that this is the work of Axel Scarmarsh and his Superiors. But don’t worry because the ODF (Otters Defence Pause) are working hard to save the world from this evil threat. We have collected up all of the seeds, planted them and are growing them in the school greenhouse to see what germinates. Many of us believe they could be Spykins (pumpkins sent to spy on us). We will obviously keep you informed of what is happening.


We went to St. Mary’s Church to follow The Easter Trail. We enjoyed learning about the Easter story through traditions and foods that are found at this time of the year. We ate pancakes, chocolate eggs and hot cross buns. We also made a palm cross. In the photo, you can see us sat at a table where there is a Shabbat meal. This takes place every Friday in the religion of Judaism. Many of the foods eaten at this meal are linked to the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.


In this term’s focus of Colour in Art, we looked at how Georges Seurat created his paintings. Did you know that he used coloured dots to trick your eye into mixing the colours he used into other colours? He called this pointillism. For example, if a section of his painting looks purple, it will be because he has painted lots of red and blue dots closely together. We enjoyed creating our own pictures in the same style.


On Scoot To School day, everybody arrived on their scooters or bikes, ready for a fun day of exercise on the playground. A tricky course was set up with obstacles to navigate around or over and we enjoyed the rare opportunity to whizz round the playground, steering in and out of cones and flying over ramps! Some of us enjoyed having a go on Beth’s and Lukas’s interesting three-wheeled scooters, which were quite difficult to steer.


This month, there have been some dramatic changes to the pond environment, some natural and some man-made. First of all, can you see the new fence which was erected last week? This has helped to make our school grounds more secure. Although there are still no leaves on the trees, we saw daffodils and new shoots of reeds growing in the pond. Also, there are now lots of animals in the water. We found quite a bit of frogspawn and also caught some newts in our nets. The terrible smell we normally experience when we visit the pond area wasn’t there this time, probably because there are no leaves decaying in the water anymore.


The Life Education Van turned up last week and the Year Four Otters enjoyed a session inside it learning all about how to keep our minds and bodies healthy. Megan said, “We learnt that the drug nicotine is addictive and can harm your lungs and make you live for a shorter time. We also found out why it is important to be unique. We visited the planet Conformatron where everyone wore the same clothes, ate the same food every day and were only allowed to smile once a week.”


We know what you’re thinking! Is that The Great British Bake Off tent? No, hang on, it’s the Masterchef studio! But you would be wrong because it is, in fact, the Year Four Holt set up for our morning of making Feelgood Flapjacks. No sugar allowed. No syrup allowed. The recipes chosen had to be sweetened with healthier ingredients. It was a fun DT session and the classroom is now smelling rather lovely! Not all the flapjacks were a success though and we will be evaluating the process and trying to make decisions about how we could improve them before we have another go later on this term.


The Science Fair was a huge success and thank you to everyone who came along to support this new exciting event. It was great to see so many children enjoying finding out about science. Well done all of the Year Four Otters who entered the Science Learning Log Home Challenge. The standard was amazing and it was a very difficult task to choose just six to put forward to the judges. Our two visiting judges found it similarly difficult to select an overall winner but in the end decided on William’s project on How Do Liquids Clean Coins? You can see part of his project in the photo.


In Art this week, we used another different medium to create pictures of peaches. There was some skilful work going on as our Year Four artists layered their paintings, beginning with the lightest colour of yellow first. After that we built it up gradually with pink and red tones. Finally, we added some shadows to help the fruit look like it was sitting on a surface.


We finished our Science Week experiments by inflating balloons, but we didn’t use our own lungs to do this! We added two teaspoons of dried yeast, two teaspoons of sugar and two teaspoons of flour to half a glass of warm water. Then, we stirred it well. The mixture was poured into a bottle and we stretched a balloon over the top. We left them in a warm place and waited. The yeast reacted with the warm water, sugar and flour to give off carbon dioxide gas. The gas expanded to fill the bottle and inflate the balloon.


How does changing the temperature of the water affect how long it takes chocolate to melt? We investigated this by putting squares of chocolate into boats made of foil and then floating them in baths filled with cold water and boiling water. We noticed how much more quickly the chocolate in the hot water melted.


We had fun with some magic tricks today! Put a coin under a transparent cup. Gradually fill the cup with water whilst you look at the coin through the side of the cup. The coin disappears! Next, hold an arrow behind the cup and look at the arrow whilst filling the cup with water. The arrow appears to point the other way! Actually, this isn’t real magic, it is just science in action!


Did you know that most coloured inks are actually made up of lots of colours? We separated some inks by drawing a line in felt-tip pen near the bottom of a strip of filter paper. Then we dipped the paper in water, making sure that the pen line stayed above the water. When the water soaked up the paper and touched the ink, the ink dissolved, spread out and separated into different colours. This is called chromatography.


Have you ever seen raisins dance? This is a fun experiment to try. We poured some sparkling water into a cup. Sparkling water has lots of carbon dioxide in it, which is the gas that makes it bubbly. Next, we added some raisins. When the raisins are in the sparkling water, the carbon dioxide molecules attach to them. When lots of these bubbles form on the raisins, they becomes less dense and this causes them to rise to the surface. At the surface, the bubbles begin to pop, making the raisins less buoyant. Therefore they sink again. This whole process is then repeated.


Have a look at some of your 1p and 2p coins. Are they bright and shiny? Over time, copper coins become dull in colour and lose their shine. This is because they become covered in a layer of copper oxide. We put a 1p coin and a 2p coin into a cup of cola and left them overnight. The next day, the coins were shiny again. The acid in the cola had removed the copper oxide and cleaned the coins.


If you visit the Holt at the moment, there is a strong smell of onions! This is because our Science Week began with us grating onions to collect their juice. There were a lot of tears! Once the juice had been collected, we used a paintbrush to write our names or draw a pattern on a piece of paper. Later in the day, we put the blank pieces of paper into a hot oven and, after ten minutes, our names and pictures reappeared! When the juice dries it looks invisible, but when it is heated, the juice reacts with oxygen turning it brown.


Do you remember when we were using chalks and oil pastels last week to create pictures of peaches based on a painting we had studied by Danny Smythe? Well, this week we decided to have a go at painting our own pictures of peaches. This required a lot of colour mixing so it tested our knowledge of how to make different tones of pinks and oranges, as well as the brown for the stalk. We used a range of effects. George even dabbed his painting with a paper towel to create a texture. The results turned out really good and we are all proud of our finished pictures.


Have you ever wondered why you see vehicles spreading salt on the roads whenever it is icy? We did an investigation to find out. We set up two trays with an ice cube in each one. On one of the ice cubes, we tipped a teaspoon of salt and then we timed how long it took for each ice cube to melt. We concluded from our results that salt makes ice melt quicker. We learnt that salt melts ice by lowering the freezing point of the water around the ice. The ice melts and is unable to re-freeze except at a much lower temperature.


On World Book Day, we all learnt how to make an eight page mini-book from folding one sheet of A4 paper. We enjoyed making our own books. Most of us wrote stories, but some children in our class chose to write joke books, autobiographies or even dictionaries! It was great fun!


Matilda wrote, “On the outside of the peach, I saw patches of colour shimmering in the sunlight. The colours were pretty pink, ruby red, buttery yellow and a hint of tangy orange. The smell was as sweet as chocolate and stronger than peppermint. This colourful beauty’s skin was as smooth and silky as a newborn kitten. As I bit into the magnificent fruit, its slimy, wet filling danced in my mouth as it skipped from side to side. I was filled with joy because its tropical flavour was so delicious.”


We have discovered that Sainsburys sells five different types of flapjack. In a Great Otters Flapjack Off kind of activity, we decided to rank these five flapjacks in terms of what they looked, smelt and tasted like. We began by deciding what colour the perfect flapjack would be, what we would want it to smell like and what flavours and texture we would be expecting. We decided that a golden brown, medium sweet, medium soft flapjack would be the best one. We ranked each flapjack, giving it a score from 1 to 5, and then added up the scores to find our winner. Next time, we will be looking at the ingredients to decide which we think is the healthiest.


Our topic in Term Four is Food Glorious Food! In English, we are learning the Japanese story called The Peach Boy. We are also reading James and the Giant Peach. In art, we found a painting of a peach by the artist Danny Smythe and tried to reproduce it using either chalks or oil pastels. Have you ever looked closely at the colours of a peach? In Roald Dahl’s story, he writes, “The skin of the peach was very beautiful – a rich buttery yellow with patches of brilliant pink and red.”


Ahead of next month’s Science Fair, all children in the school have been completing Science Learning Log Challenges. The task was to work on a project based on a scientific question, for example Why is the sky blue? Why do we sometimes see the Moon during the day? Why do our fingers and toes wrinkle when left in water? or How do aeroplanes stay in the air? There have been lots of brilliant entries in this competition and we enjoyed looking at each other’s.


The shield was the most important piece of defensive equipment in Anglo-Saxon England. A shield wall, like the one we formed in the photograph, would have been used on the battlefield. Smaller shields were lighter and easier to handle, and therefore were best used in minor skirmishes and hand-to-hand combat. In contrast, larger shields were most commonly used in full-scale battles. They would have provided better protection from projectiles.


Report by Shannon

We started by doing a warm-up and it was front crawl. After the warm-up, we did breaststroke legs. Breaststroke makes me happy because I look like a frog. The middle group started by jumping  in which I like doing. It looked like the lower group was doing their front crawl legs on the bar. Then, we did breaststroke legs on our back with the float.


Our final Forest School session was led by the EcoWild team and held at Parish’s House. We had a great time lighting fires, making charcoal pencils, playing on the swings and slides and drinking hot chocolate. We finished off by making an off-ground trail out of logs and branches. We had to make our way along the course without putting our feet onto the ground. It was good fun!


The shield was an extremely common piece of war equipment used by the Anglo-Saxons. Did you know that nearly 25% of male Anglo-Saxon graves contain shields? In Old English, a shield was called a bord, rand, scyld or lind. Anglo-Saxon shields comprised a circular piece of wood constructed from planks which had been glued together. At the centre of the shield, an iron boss was attached. It was common for shields to be covered in leather to hold the planks together. Evidence suggests that some Anglo-Saxon shields may have been painted. The diameter of shields varied greatly, ranging from 30 to 92 cm.


Report by Ben

On Tuesday, we did front crawl from the deep end to the rope. After that, we did backstroke the same way as we did front crawl. Next, we did breaststroke. Then, we practised our breaststroke legs. We held our floats out in front of us and did our breaststroke legs. Finally, we jumped into the pool and did front crawl to the shallow end and then we did backstroke back to the deep end.


This week, we made our monthly visit to the school’s environmental area to see what changes have happened in the last month. One group of children saw what they could find living in the pond, whilst the rest of us observed and recorded their findings. Then we swapped over. There was no sign of any life in the pond and we’re looking forward to when we start finding some frogs. We did notice that the water level was the highest it has ever been since we started this project in October. There has been a lot of rain recently. The large tree which overhangs the pond still has no leaves on it.


Do you remember when we made shields during our topic on the Romans? As we have been learning about the Anglo-Saxons in Term Three, we decided to research what their shields looked like and have a go at making some. Thank you for sending in your cardboard boxes to help us with this project. You can see how much we enjoyed making them. Come back soon to find out how they turned out in the end.


Report by Beth

For my group’s warm-up, we jumped in and did front crawl. But for the main lesson we did backstroke. It was very tricky! First, we started with our floats on our knees. Then, on our tummies. Next, with no floats. To finish the lesson off, we jumped in again .


In English this week, we are learning a story map about a fictional account of a young girl’s trip on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. For a dazzling starter, we set the classroom tables up in the shape of the ship to do our work. Can you see the gangway where we enter and leave the ship? See if you can spot the bridge too. George and Wesley enjoyed sitting here as the captain and navigator! Let’s hope they don’t steer us into trouble! We acted out the story which was great fun, imagining what it would have been like to see the world’s most luxurious ship for the first time, empathising with the passengers travelling in steerage and experiencing the chaos and panic of trying to evacuate the ship safely after it had struck the iceberg. We have enjoyed learning lots of facts about the RMS Titanic through this drama activity.


We enjoyed finding out about Anglo-Saxon place names this week. Did you know that ‘bury’ means ‘fortified place’? This shows us that Timsbury is an Anglo-Saxon name. We searched atlases for other villages, towns or cities which end in -bury. How many can you think of? We have Marksbury, Amesbury, Avebury, Salisbury, Tewkesbury and Canterbury on our list. We studied some other place name endings too and what they mean: ford = river crossing, ham = village, ney = island, stow = meeting place and wich= farm.


Alongside the usual fun activities at Forest School of fire lighting, den building and practising our tool skills, some of our class this week worked on a new project of creating tree houses for the local animals. As we walked into the environmental area, we saw a grey squirrel clambering up a tree so we know there is a lot of wildlife around and about and we hope they enjoy making use of our luxury residencies!


Report by Megan

Firstly, we jumped into the pool and did front crawl up to the rope. Then we had to practise some other strokes and some push and glides. My favourite part was jumping in and doing front crawl because front crawl is my favourite stroke.


We enjoyed our monthly trip to the environmental area to check whether there have been any changes in and around the school pond since December. Immediately, we noticed that the water level was much higher than it has ever been. Most of us thought that this must be because of the large amount of rain we have had recently. This new fresh water seems to have made it a lot less smelly now around the pond. The large tree still hasn’t got any leaves on it and we didn’t find any animals on this visit.


We’ve learnt a new game! It’s called Nine Men’s Morris and it was invented by the Anglo-Saxons. It involves moving your counters and trying to form a mill. A mill is when you have three of your counters in a line. Once you have created a mill, you are allowed to remove one of your opponent’s counters from the board. It’s a game of strategy and we have had a lot of fun challenging each other. We think you would like it too!


In Art this term our focus is Pattern. We have been creating our own patterns using cut out shapes of coloured paper. We used the technique of folding the paper before we cut to get lots of shapes that were exactly the same size. Then we could reflect or rotate them to create our patterns.


Report by Shaniya

At swimming I’m in the middle group. What we’re doing in my group is swimming front crawl and backstroke. The other groups are doing the same thing as us but they get called sharks, dolphins and octopuses. The top group was jumping in and swimming around the deep end.


In January and February we will be experiencing Forest School sessions with Mrs Munro every Thursday. After our experiences at Folly Farm, we already have a lot of expertise in these outdoor pursuits, such as fire-lighting, den-building, using a range of tools and, of course, drinking hot chocolate!


In Term Three our topic is The Smashing Saxons. We are enjoying finding out about Anglo-Saxon Britain but have already discovered how complex this period of history, between when the Romans lived here and when the Normans lived here, really is. We have created an excellent washing line timeline in the classroom!


Report by Evie

First we needed to see what group we were in again so they could see if we were getting better. I was in the highest group with lots of other people. Then we did ¾ of a length. The stroke we did was front crawl and then we did backstroke. I really enjoyed swimming. It was very fun.


In English at the start of Term Three, we have been looking at instructions. The text map we are learning is How to Make a Classic Margherita Pizza. We began by considering the sequence of steps needed to make beans on toast. It was fun on the first morning back after the holidays to do some cooking!


It’s been another brilliant term in the Holt. Everybody has been working so hard and truly deserves a relaxing break. From all of the Y4 Otters, may we wish everyone the happiest Christmas. Have a great holiday and we’ll see you in 2017!


A display of our work in Science during Term Two is now on show in the school corridor by the staff entrance. You are welcome to pop in and find out about the learning we have been doing on the topic of Sound. The display includes photographs of us experimenting with different musical instruments to discover how we could achieve differences in volume and pitch. There are also the results of our science investigation where we found the relationship between the volume of a sound and the distance from the sound source. Can you predict what we found out?


The Otters Orchestra did an amazing job at the Term Two Awards Assembly. Our thirty enthusiastic recorder players surprised the audience with how good we sounded. Well done to everybody in our class for the hours of practice you put in to learning this difficult tune. We have enjoyed finding out about the story of Good King Wenceslas in our English lessons and it is now our favourite Christmas carol!


Report by Maria

This week’s swimming was a fun swim session. I thought it was really fun. When we got in, we did front crawl. Next, we did jumps across the pool. It was really funny. After that, we took it in turns to dive down and get objects or get objects that were floating. Finally, we got to play around in the pool for a bit.


In our Science work on Sound, we have been investigating the relationship between the volume of a sound and the distance between the listener and the sound source. We went to the field, half of the class carrying drums and cymbals, the other half with clipboards ready to record their results. Our ‘scientific orchestra’ played for ten seconds while the investigators judged how loud the sound was. The listeners moved ten metres further away each time and judged the volume again. They ended up 130 metres away, at the other side of the field. We discovered that sounds get fainter as the distance from the sound source increases.


Report by Courtney

On Tuesday my class went swimming. We did a pencil jump in and did front crawl to the rope. The hardest part of the session was breaststroke because you have to push and glide. My best bit of swimming was the mushroom float because all you do is curl up in a ball.


Megan: The pond has changed because most of the weeds have died. The pond is still stinky and, even though there are lots of dead plants, there are new leaves growing. Seth: The pond looked bigger because everything has died down. It stank because of decaying leaves. Algae is growing and orange fungi is growing on logs in the pond. Also, there are already new reeds growing for next year. The water level is rising as well. Finlay: The pond is very different since last month. All the leaves have fallen down and logs have somehow fallen in and are covered in fungi. There are also new plants which are very, very early.


At the Christmas Fair, the Year 4 stall was Christmas In The Holt. Our customers each chose a picture which had been drawn by a member of our class showing an otter enjoying Christmas. When all the pictures had a name written on them, one of them was chosen at random to find our winner. Congratulations to Oscar’s mum who won our Star Prize of a West Highland Terrier that sings I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday! Thank you to everybody who came along and had a go. Christmas In The Holt raised a total of £31.43.


Christmas has arrived in the Holt! This team of Otters were given the huge responsibility of setting up and decorating our classroom Christmas tree. We think they did a very good job – especially considering one of the legs of the stand was missing and the lights were in quite a tangled mess! Did you know? 1) In a recent survey, Christmas trees came eighth in a list of people’s favourite smells. 2) The average Christmas tree contains about 30000 bugs and insects!


Report by Luca

Swimming on Tuesday was so much fun because we did all my favourite strokes. Firstly, our swimming teacher told us to do a pencil jump into the pool and do the front crawl down to the rope. I think I did pretty good to be honest. I was quite proud of myself. A few minutes later, we had to do backstroke to the rope. This is my least favourite stroke but I think I did ok. Then, we were asked to do my favourite stroke of them all – breaststroke. The reason why I like breaststroke is because you go about one metre per stroke and you breathe every time.


We are pleased to announce that the first ever public performance by the Otter Orchestra will be at the Term Two Awards Assembly, where we will be performing a classic Christmas carol. Rehearsals are already underway and the tune is beginning to appear! We have all been given a recorder to take home so that we can practise.


Report by Oscar

When my group got together, we lined  up and got ready to pencil jump in and do front crawl to the end of the length. Then we did backstroke. Another group was doing the same as us. My favourite thing was when we jumped in and raced each other. I thought the swimming lesson was amazing.


Although it wasn’t a Mufti Day at our school, the Year Four Otters still decided to do our bit for one of our favourite charities, the BBC’s annual Children In Need appeal. Several of our class wore a spotty accessory to school in honour of Pudsey! Despite it not being an official fundraising day, our class still did a quick whip round and managed to collect £9.60 which is a terrific effort. Every single penny raised is very valuable as it goes to helping disadvantaged children throughout the UK.


In November, Amy Williams visited our school. Amy won a gold medal in the skeleton event at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. We asked Amy lots of questions. Seth asked how fast she went when she was speeding down the ice track. It turns out that it was over 90 miles per hour! We also found out that it is called the skeleton because the first sledges that were used were frameworks which looked like human bones! We enjoyed having our photo taken with an Olympic Champion. Can you see the gold medal? It was very big and very heavy!


Report by Thomas

On Tuesday afternoons, Year Four go swimming. In my group, we started by doing front crawl up to the rope. Next, we did backstroke, which I wasn’t too good at. Then, we had to do breaststroke and I was ok at this but it was quite hard.


We enjoyed turning our classroom into a Roman exhibition as we all displayed our Learning Log projects. It was fun going round the room and finding out what other people had done. Some excellent models had been made. In the photo, see if you can spot Luca’s tablet. No, we don’t mean his iPad! A Roman tablet was made of wood and covered with a layer of wax. They used them to write on and they were reusable by warming up the wax and smoothing it. Also, can you see Billy’s very impressive Roman shield that he made? Look out for Evie’s sword too. A Roman sword was called a gladius.


Report by Jessica

First we got split into three groups. Then we carefully slid into the pool ready to swim. The teacher gave us a number up to six. When she called our number, we had to swim front crawl across the pool. Then we swam backstroke to the other side. Next, we swam breaststroke and after that we did dolphin wiggle! Finally, we all did a massive jump in and swam any stroke to the wall. I enjoyed jumping in at the end. It was also fun when we did breaststroke because that is my favourite stroke.


We visited the environmental area to see how much the pond area had changed since October. From the photograph, you can see how different the plants look now it is Autumn. However, what you can’t tell is how different the pond smelled. Most of the leaves have now fallen off the overhanging tree into the water and these decaying leaves are helping to make the water give off a rather pungent odour! On this occasion, during our pond dipping, we found two water snails and an interesting creature which looked like a woodlouse. We later found out that it was called a water hoglouse.


A rugby coach came to work with us. It was a wet day so our session was in the hall. We enjoyed playing tag bulldog. Our rugby skills are already very good because we did it during PE in Term One.


Our class are selling poppies during November as part of the Poppy Appeal, which is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign, held every year during the period of Remembrance. We wear the paper poppy as a symbol of Remembrance to remember the men and women killed in wars. Did you know that the first Poppy Appeal was held in 1921? The money raised helped World War 1 veterans find jobs and housing after the war. Armistice Day is on Friday 11th November and we will join the rest of the country in observing the two minute silence at 11 o’clock.


In our Science work this term, we are learning all about Sound. We began by bringing all of the school’s musical instruments into our classroom and investigating how they make their sounds. We discovered it’s all about vibrations. We watched a cymbal vibrate when Seth hit it. We also plucked violin strings to make them vibrate. We found out these scientific facts: The thinner the string, the higher the pitch. The tighter the string, the higher the pitch. The shorter the string, the higher the pitch.


Report by Lukas

The instructors assessed how good everybody was at swimming. If you were a beginner, you could choose to walk or doggy paddle if you wanted to. Some people did backstroke. Everybody watched each person swim across. The beginners went last. I was in the beginners team. I like swimming but it would be better if I knew how to swim.


Term One ended with us dressing up as our class animal. It was nice to have proper otters in The Holt for once! What a super term it has been. Everybody has settled in so well, worked really hard and experienced lots of exciting learning opportunities, from the Tour of Britain to our class leading a school assembly, from Folly Farm to forming our own Roman legion! See you all in Term Two. Have a great holiday!


The Skirmishing Formation was a widely spaced line with two ranks of soldiers, the second line standing in the gaps. The spaces allowed each soldier greater mobility to fight. Imagine the Roman army sweeping across the battlefield, killing all who got in their way!


The Repel Cavalry formation was also defensive. The front rank formed a tight wall of shields with a line of spears pointing forwards. The ranks behind would hurl their spears at the enemy. It was a very effective tactic against the fast approaching horses.


This is the Orb Formation. It was in the shape of a circle and would have been used when a small unit of Roman soldiers found themselves surrounded. It was therefore a defensive formation. Officers or archers would position themselves inside the circle.


This is the Wedge Formation. It was used to break through enemy lines. Legionaries formed a triangle with one soldier at the tip. They then charged towards the enemy, waving their Roman gladius swords.


After finishing our Roman shields, the Romanus Otterus legion headed to the school field to practise our infantry tactics. This is the Testudo Formation. Testudo is the Latin word for tortoise. Because the shields fitted so closely together, the Roman army could approach enemy fortifications without getting injured.


Thank you to everyone who attended our collective worship on Celebrating Differences and Peace and Reconciliation. We talked about how trying not to fall out with other people is important, but what is possibly more important is how we fall out with them. We helped people to think about learning to have arguments in the right way and finding ways to deal with falling out that help to sort out the problem. Later on, we taught everyone about the life of Desmond Tutu. He worked hard to make life fairer for people in South Africa who had black skin and also to bring peace to his country where there was lots of fighting.


On our second day, we spent the morning in the woods, where we were set the task of building a camouflaged, waterproof shelter, large enough to fit all of our group in. While we were inside, other children threw cups of water over the shelter to check whether we had covered our structure in enough grass and leaves to keep us dry. Afterwards, we lit fires and toasted bread and marshmallows.


One of our favourite activities at Folly Farm was setting small mammal traps. Inside them we put hay, cotton wool, cat food, mealworms and pieces of apple covered in chocolate spread. There are very strict rules you have to follow when setting these traps so that any animals which are caught are not harmed or stressed by the experience. They would have had a very comfortable time in our little hotels! We put our traps out in a field late at night and then returned in the morning to find out if any had been successful. When we opened them up, we discovered two mice and a bank vole!


The pond at Folly Farm is amazing and we had a much more successful time pond-dipping than during our October Pondwatch session at school. Several different types of water-dwelling invertebrates were caught in our nets, including snails, water beetles, stonefly larvae and water boatmen.We also found some baby newts. A beautiful dragonfly kept flying low over the pond while we were there.


We went on a lovely walk around the 250-acre nature reserve, through natural grassland and wildflower meadows up to a ridge which gave us stunning views across Chew Valley. Can you see Chew Valley Lake in the distance?


Do you remember the invertebrate hunt we went on in our school’s environmental area? While we were at Folly Farm, we repeated this activity but on this occasion we were in their spectacular woodland. We found a wide range of invertebrate species, even catching some myriapods this time. Myriapods are the animals with many legs, such as centipedes and millipedes.


The Year Four Otters went on our residential visit in October to Folly Farm. We spent two wonderful days exploring this beautiful nature reserve. Everybody had a great time and enjoyed learning about predators and survival in this super outdoor setting.


The Otter Roman Army is getting ready for battle training by making our very own Roman shields. Each of the Year Four legionaries has designed and is now making their own scutum. Did you know that the shell of a turtle is also called a scutum?


During the year, we will be learning to recognise how environments can change and what might cause these changes to happen. Our school pond is central to our study and every month we will carry out some fieldwork activities in the pond area. We will then record the results of our investigations and plot the changes throughout the school year as we repeat the process each month. Our October pond dipping failed to produce many signs of life, although a few frogs were spotted by our keen-eyed scientists.


In our Science topic of Living Things and their Habitats, we are learning how living things can be grouped in a variety of ways. Our Prime Learning Challenge question is: If it swims in the sea, it must be a fish, right? Most of us were very surprised to discover that dolphins are actually mammals and that starfish and jellyfish are not fish at all! We explored our local environment and used classification keys to identify the invertebrates we found. Did you know that woodlice are crustaceans, like crabs and lobsters?


To launch our English fiction unit of Rags to Riches stories, in which we are learning a text based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we turned the Y4 Holt into our very own chocolate factory! We melted lots of bars of Galaxy which filled the classroom with luxuriously intoxicating smells. This helped us to produce some excellent drama work in which we pretended to be the five lucky Golden Ticket winners on their tour of Willy Wonka’s factory.  Our hard work was rewarded afterwards by us being allowed to dip digestive biscuits into the delicious, bubbling, chocolate liquid!


On Thursday 8th September, Bath welcomed the Tour of Britain cycle race and our class joined the roaring crowds to cheer on the riders at the finish line in Royal Victoria Park. New Zealander Jack Bauer won the stage. We spent the day enjoying cycle-based activities around the park before the peleton arrived, which included Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins. Three of the Otters, George, Seth and Shannon, were selected to ride up and down the home straight before the professionals got to do it for real. It was a brilliant day!