WordS on Wednesday
The limits of my language are the limits of my mind - Ludwig Wittgenstein
With the meadows somewhat belatedly starting to flower we can really look forward to noticing the wildlife we live amongst and spending more time outdoors.
There are some beautiful wildflowers growing in the meadow. We used 'The Lost Words' with Robert Macfarlane's poems and Jackie Morris' illustrations for our very first Words on Wednesday, through the first lockdown when around two thirds of children were learning at home. The books are used as our prizes for the Red Admiral awards and have won awards for their beguiling acrostic poems and jewel like illustrations. The Lost Words are so called because the poems spell out the names of creatures and plants that were once common sights in the UK. Children grew up knowing the names of plants and wildflowers and the wildlife they grew up amongst. Below are six wildflowers, five of which can be seen in the meadow at the front of school. he wild bee orchid is yet to appear but if it does, as it did a year or so ago, the children will be invited to see this marvel of evolution. We hope children will have a go at learning the names and remembering the look of the plant inviting them to see our wild meadows as places to look on, wonder and appreciate.
Just One Blade of Grass?
Today in assemblies we shared the work made by year 2 and 4 for the Northwich Art Exhibition at Barons Quay. The work was inspired by the meadows springing up around school and Ms Stewart's memories of her grandfather. The theme of this year's exhibition is 'Our World.' Meadows are springing up around Kingsmead and Northwich because the Parish and Town Councils are trying to help insect life and encourage biodiveristy in our town.
Bio ~ biology: living things including plants, fungi, bacteria and animals (which includes us)
Diversity ~ variety and lots of difference
Communities thrive when all the different people who live there are kind to each other, share and cooperate. Nature is similar. We know nature is healthy when lots of species are thriving. It's not just about the big glamourous animals like polar bears, pandas and tigers; insects and the plants who live right here among us are as important as anything else for the health of our planet.
The title 'Just One Blade of Grass' comes from Ms Stewart's grandfather. When she was young and peeved about something, he'd say 'Get over y'self! You're not so important; you're just a blade of grass in the field of humanity.' He said this not to be unkind but to be kind, because he loved her. He knew that people who go through life thinking they're more important and special than those around them are more often than not disappointed and a bit peeved because not everyone else thinks they're quite so marvellous! We may be the most special person in the world to our parents and carers and people who love us, but to everybody else we are... , well, somebody else, someone no more or important or less important than anyone.
Ms S thinks there's something else great about being like a blade of grass, something that's kept her happy for over 50 years. When we make a mistake or get something wrong, there's a lot less to worry about when you are ... just a blade of grass!
Yellow RattleA parasite plant that keeps the grass from bullying other plants. Yellow Rattle is key to any successful meadow planting. Per gram the seeds are more valuable than gold.
VetchA creeping plant that puts nutients back into the soil, making the land more sustainable.
Bird's Foot TrefoilImportant for its nectar and caterpillar food.
Ox Eye DaisyThese big daisies spread easily and are not fussy. They provide food for birds and pollinating insects, attracting wildlife to the meadows where they grow.
Wild Bee OrchidThese are as rare as the daisies are common and they don't visit our meadow ever year. But when they do, the first thing you think is - it's a bee! The flowers mimic bees, attracting bees to come and get friendly. The bee then gets covered in plants which they take to other bee orchids and so make new seeds - baby plants!
KnapweedThe flowers on knapweed look like small thistles. It flowers June to September and attracts all sorts of butterflies from Common Blues (sadly not so common), Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns.
Winter has finally departed and the trees are greening up with the promise of warm summer days. With warmer weather birds are more abundant and we are thinking about birds and what we might learn from them this month.
Once as I travelled through a quiet evening,
I saw a pool, jet-black and mirror-still.
Beyond, the slender paperbarks stood crowding;
each on its own white image looked its fill,
and nothing moved but thirty ehrets wading-
thirty egrets in the quiet evening.
Once in a lifetime, lovely past believing,
your lucky eyes may light on such a pool.
As though for many years I had been waiting,
I watched in silence, till my heart was full
of clear dark water, and white trees unmoving,
and, whiter yet, those thirty egrets wading.
Judith Wright's poem shares how wildlife and nature, can not only enrich our lives in the moment, but become a precious memory, a part of us. Egrets are the same species as herons, several of whom are nesting along the River Weaver by school and who are always a welcome sight (if you're not an anger - they are great fishers!
jet-black and mirror-still are phrases a bit like similes. Jet is a semi precious stone, very black. When water is still like a mirror you can see reflections in it. What other phrases can you thing of like this for nature? This morning was fridge-cold but star-bright as Ms S cycled to school! If you were describing something in your writing, think about turning a simile into a hyphenated phrase.
The Canary in the coal mine
Our Music yesterday - The Prophet Bird by Schuman - and this old saying are connected. A prophet predicts the future. Prediction is another word about when we think what will happen in the future; when we are reading we often predict what's going to happen - it's human nature to predict stuff. A prophecy is something predicted to be coming, a prediction about the future.
Canaries were used by miners in coal mines in Britain until 1986 to predict danger for the miners working deep under the earth. Miners would take a canary (a small yellow bird) in a cage deep into the dark mine. Because canaries are so small they would be affected by dangerous gas before miners would even notice them gas. The miner would not smell gas and not feel unwell but he would know there was danger because of the canary in the cage.
We don't take canaries down mines any more but the saying has stuck as a prediction of dangers ahead. It tells us that other creatures can be good prophets of danger ahead for us all. When we take action to help nature and other creatures we are not only helping the animals and plants but ourselves and other people too.
I hope lots of you have watched David Attenborough's Wild Isles. If you haven't you can get it on I-Player and it's a great way to learn as a family about the wonderful wildlife right here in the UK. There are Kingfishers filmed in Wild Isles and there are Kingfishers nesting along the river Weaver by school. Look out for them if you're on a walk. The early morning is the best chance to see them but you have to be lucky and fast - they fly very fast!
Be a word detective and see how many words you can learn.
When you read or listen to someone reading aloud, or in a conversation, take a second to notice new words.
Note it! Write it down or say it out loud and if you decide you do want to know what it means, do the following:
Think about what you do understand and know from the other words, the sentence or phrase - give it your best deduction (a deduction is an intelligent guess, one based on the evidence you have - the police are great at deducing, it's how they catch criminals!).
Ask someone else what it means or use a dictionary (if you haven't one at home, here's a link to an online dictionary)
Think about how close you were. It's remarkable how the rest of a phrase or sentence can help you be a super sleuth with words.
Try to find three times in the same day where you use the word in your writing or talking to someone else - this is the magic bit for learning the word and remembering it.