WordS on Wednesday

The limits of my language are the limits of my mind - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Wednesday 9th December 2020

country carol - sue cowling

This poem uses rhyming couplets to describe the natural world in winter. It is many, many years since we had really good snow in Northwich. Here's hoping for 2020...

Walked on the crusted grass in the frosty air.

Blackbird saw me, gave me a gold-rimmed stare.


Walked in the winter woods where the snow lay deep.

Hedgehog heard me, smiled at me in his sleep.


Walked by the frozen pond where the ice shone pale.

Wind sang softly, moon dipped its silver sail.


Walked on the midnight hills till the star-filled dawn.

No one told me, I knew a king was born.

Climate change means snow is becoming much more unusual. If we want to enjoy snowy winters we will all have to make changes: walk and cycle more, use less energy and buy less stuff.

Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Christmas words by charles causley

Charles Causley was born in Cornwall and served in the Royal Navy and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. He loved Christmas and the folk law and traditions of our country. This poem brings these two fascinations of his together in a poem for Christmas with the family cat who has no idea about Christmas and is wondering what on earth is going on. Perhaps your pets are thinking 'What on earth!'

'They're fetching in ivy and holly

And putting it this way and that.

I simply can't think of the reason,'

Said Si-Si the Siamese cat.


They're pinning up lanterns and streamers.

There's mistletoe over the door.

They've brought in the tree from the garden.

I do wish I knew what it's for.


It's covered with little glass candles

That go on and off without stop.

They've put it to stand in a corner

And tied up a fairy on top.


'They're stringing bright cards by the dozen

And letting them hang in a row.

Some people outside in the roadway

Are singing a song in the snow.


'I saw all the children write letters

And - I'm not sure at all this was wise -

They posted each one up the chimney.

I couldn't believe my own eyes.


'What on earth, in the middle of winter,

Does the family think it is at?

Won't somebody please come and tell me?'

Said Si-Si the Siamese cat.

What special things happen in homes at Christmas? We take these for granted because they are familiar, part of a tradition that comes around every year. But how must Christmas look to people from cultures and traditions that don't celebrate Christmas? Like the cat in the poem, it must all look very odd indeed.

Bringing in trees and foliage (a word for greenery like holly, ivy and mistletoe) at winter time comes from a much older traditions and a much older religion. Long before the time of Jesus and longer still before the Romans invaded England. In ancient Briton, there were no vicars or priests but there were druids. Druids were a bit like priests and vicars but they were thought to have magic powers!

Our tradition of having holly, ivy and mistletoe harks back to these pagan times and ancient Druids. Pagan times go back to the Stone Age, a time when places like Stonehenge were sacred, like a church, mosque, synagogue or temple are today.

Ivy is an evergreen woody plant, great for wildlife but less so gutters.It symbolises eternal life (heaven in Christianity) because the plant is evergreen and lives through the winter. In ancient Egypt ivy was dedicated to Osiris, who represented immortality. In ancient Greece ivy was the plant of Dionysus because of its vigour.
The holly bush is an evergreen and loved by birds and humans for its bright red berries (they are poisonous to humans so don't eat them - use to decorate the house or leave them for the birds). Christians think of the thorns on the holly as a symbol for the crown of thorns at Easter but holly being special at winter time goes back much further. At the pagan festival of Beltane, holly (male) and ivy (female) were burnt together at the pagan festival of Beltane. Beltane was a winter festival to celebrate the coming of the summer and welcome in better weather and fertile soil so there would be crops to eat through the year. Beltane would once have been as popular as Christmas but would look very odd to us now.
o you have mistletoe in your house at Christmas? It's getting rare and is a special plant because it's a parasite. It doesn't get water or nutrients from soil like most plants, but from the plant it is attached to. Mistletoe was believed to have mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and ward off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse (Viking) mythology. Do you know what people usually do people do under the mistletoe? - in Covid times this is another tradition that may have to adapt!

Wednesday 25th November 2020

lizzie

Michael Rosen

You can see from the colour of the page that this is an old book!

This is an interesting poem.

Do you like Lizzie?

What would you think of Lizzie if she was in your class?

What is a 'tomboy?' Have you heard this word?

Why is Michael afraid of telling Lizzie he thinks she's great? What word does he use to tell you what he thinks of himself?

Wednesday 18th November 2020 - words for Anti Bullying Week

Two Words and lots to think about

Bullying is something we can all do; it is part of human nature. Being useful and kind are also part of human nature. When we are young our character is still being formed and we humans have the ability to shape our own nature, also called our personality or character. Humans become what they practice. Just as people who practice instruments become musicians and people who read become readers, so people who practice being 'prosocial' become prosocial people. Sadly, this also means that people who practice being 'antisocial' become antisocial people. Click the arrow to find more about these two words.

Prosocial and antisocial start with a prefix but what does 'social' mean?

  • social - a word that describes a society, a place where people get together, like your classroom, school, out at the shop or with others in the park.

  • anti - a prefix meaning 'against'

  • pro - a prefix meaning 'for'

So what does antisocial mean? Can you think of any anti-social behaviour? As it's anti-bullying week (against bullying), why not start your list with 'bullying'? I think we can all agree that's a number one antisocial behaviour.

What about pro-social? There are two words in our school rule that explain what being pro-social is. Why not start your list with these?

How many words did we start the antisocial list with? What about the prosocial list?

Now, here's a challenge. It is often easier to think of bad things than good things (that's true of human nature too I'm afraid - I'll tell you why another time). Make two lists: one of antisocial behaviours and one of prosocial behaviours. But, for every antisocial thing you think of, think of two prosocial things for your list! Making a list will help you understand why people like some of the things you do (the prosocial stuff) and why you get a negative reaction and they don't like other things you might do (the antisocial stuff). You'll also be putting double (twice as much) thinking into being prosocial (or useful and kind as we say in school).

You can use this for thinking about other people - if you notice something about them you don't like, something antisocial, try and think of two useful or kind things they have done. You will find this will make you happier as well. Of course it is also the case that if you only notice the bad things about people, you will miss out on enjoying other people as much as you could.

Now you get to choose - we each choose throughout every day how we are social, how we will treat the people we are with. The more we practice being prosocial the more we will be seen as useful and kind. The consequences will be more friends and happier relationships because we all like to hang out with useful and kind folk. Of course you might make the choice to practice antisocial stuff... well, there will be different consequences for practicing the things on that list. But the great thing is - we get to choose!

Ms S :-)

Wednesday 11th November 2020 - words for Armistice Day

why remember?

Today is Armistice Day and it is 102 years since the end of World War One when, at 11am on the 11th November (the 11th Month) guns were silenced and the long war that had raged across Europe for over four years finally came to an end. We stood all together as a school, outside, for the first time since March. The Last Post was followed by 2 minutes silence then Revielle, just like the ceremony at the Cenotaph last Sunday.

Why remember something as terrible as a war that laid waste to much of Europe? I am reminded of a saying quoted in our Curriculum document on the History page: the words of Danish Philosopher, Soren Kierkegard -

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards"

I think he means learning from mistakes and I do believe that fighting, like all war, is always a mistake. Soldiers might be fighting for a good cause, like defeating the Nazis in 1939-45, but somewhere before a single shot was fired there were mistakes by Governments across the world, failings that they and we can learn from. Just as when children fight, there was always a time before when people could have chosen a peaceful solution to their problem. I think this is why History is such an important subject, part of our National Curriculum which all children must study and all of us should learn about and learn from.

These words about our little planet were first published in the United States in 1979. Writer and illustrator M.B. Goffstein helps us understand the meaning of peace more deeply and seems even more important today, with man-made climate change and environmental damage on the news almost daily. Goffstein's words illustrate how we are all connected with one another and also with the other species of animal, plants, fungi and bacteria we share our planet with. These wise words us show us respect and kindness to other people and other species is so important if we are us to care for ourselves, live well, sleep well and enjoy our own inner peace.

Our planet is a lively ball in the universe.

Oceans move ceaselessly, and below, in the deep, fish swim, molluscs hop, and plants wave silently.

Tiny grains of sand keep the powerful waters from flooding lands where trees grow skyward.

It looks so peaceful from afar.

But little puffs of smoke erupt where men are fighting, or shooting ducks down from the sky, or breaking mountains.

Homeless dogs and cats are scared and lonely.

Old people look in dustbins hopefully, though we have riches we are born to share.

Low trees hold fruit and vegetables lie warmly in the soil or hide on vines.

Waves of wheat and corn shimmer in the sun.

They are made for people.

They're made for cows who nurse their calves.

They're made for grey wolves with their pups.

They're made for ducks and singing birds and snakes and little minks.

For every living creature is our brother and sister, dearer than the jewels at the centre of the earth.

So let us be like tiny grains of sand, and protect all life from fear and suffering!

Then, when stars shine, we can sleep in peace, with the moon as our quiet night-light.


The link below shares words from children across the world who have experienced war who tell us very directly the real human cost of conflict and the value of peace. The content is challenging and probably more suitable for older children. However if folk at home want to watch they can make an informed decision in their own family. https://www.unicef.org/children-under-attack/poems-for-peace

Ms S

Wednesday 21st October 2020

PEACE

November 11th is Remembrance Day and in Monday's assembly will share the different poppies people will be wearing to remember those who have died in wartime.

Why do we choose to remember terrible times when our country was at war? Is it to glory in a particular country winning? Is it to remember the sacrifice of people fighting for a good cause? Is it to remember the cost of war so that we can better understand the value of peace? What do you think?

It can seem that 'peace' is an easy to understand word, but as is often the case, the more you think the harder it is to describe. People generally think of peace as 'not fighting', 'not arguing'. We describe 'peace' by saying what it isn't. Do any other words help us understand peace, tell us what it IS? I have thought of three: serenity, grace and courage.

Serenity - have you ever felt serene? Serenity is a state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. Serene people can accept disappointment and still enjoy their day. Achieving this positive state of mind means you won't feel as troubled by life's ups and downs. A similar word is sanguine which means to stay optimistic and look on the bright side of of a bad or difficult situation. Can you think of a time you have been sanguine or shown serenity? Was it here in school or at home? What did it feel like? For school to be a serene place to learn, we all have a part to play.

Grace - do you have grace? A dancer, gymnast or sportsperson is described as graceful when they move beautifully. Grace is also a word to describe those with courtesy and good manners; when you hold open a door for someone and say 'after you' you are showing grace. Accepting defeat in a sporting manner is called accepting with 'good grace' (like Lutz Long who won the silver medal when Jesse Owens won the gold in the 1936 Berlin olympics - do you remember Mrs R-B's assembly about him? It also means to bring honour and do something well or make somewhere a better place - a great actor or performer will 'grace a stage'. How do you grace our school with your presence?

Courage - is it brave to not be scared? Think about it. Courage is hard, being brave isn't easy. Brave people get scared too but they master their fear. A brave person may be scared of something new or difficult but they will show self-control and determination, not give in but try it anyway. And feel great when they succeed! When people are being unkind to someone, a courageous person might fear if they stand up for the victim they will get turned on or be laughed at but they do it anyway, because it's the right thing to do. Can you think of a time when you have been brave?

These words could be a thought for the day or, if you believe in a God, a prayer.

This is our school.

Let peace dwell here.

Let each room be one of contentment.

Let love abide here:

Love of learning,

Love of each other,

Love of life itself.

Let us remember that as many hands build a house,

Many hearts and minds build a school.

Wednesday 21st October 2020

Maya Angelou (click the link to hear Maya read her poem)

Shadows on the wall

Noises down the hall

Life doesn't frighten me at all


Bad dogs barking loud

Big ghosts in a cloud

Life doesn't frighten me at all


Mean old Mother Goose

Lions on the loose

They don't frighten me at all


Dragons breathing flame

On my counterpane

That doesn't frighten me at all.


I go boo

Make them shoo

I make fun

Way they run

I won't cry

So they fly

I just smile

They go wild


Life doesn't frighten me at all.


Tough guys fight

All alone at night

Life doesn't frighten me at all.


Panthers in the park

Strangers in the dark

No, they don't frighten me at all.


That new classroom where

Boys all pull my hair

(Kissy little girls

With their hair in curls)

They don't frighten me at all.


Don't show me frogs and snakes

And listen for my scream,

If I'm afraid at all

It's only in my dreams.


I've got a magic charm

That I keep up my sleeve

I can walk the ocean floor

And never have to breathe.


Life doesn't frighten me at all

Not at all

Not at all.


Life doesn't frighten me at all

Did you know that October is Black History Month? Maya Angelou is a really famous American poet. I chose this poem because it links to our thinking about how what we think in our own in our heads affects how we enjoy life and other people... or not! People with an optimistic, positive outlook on life and other people have positive and happier experiences. Those who take a more pessimistic or negative view, are fearful and this will show in how they enjoy and experience life and other people.

Do you know what 'optimism' and 'pessimism' mean. I have a card on the wall which may help you work it out:

The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty." The optimist says, "The class is half full."

The good news is we do have some control and can choose to be more optimistic. If I say hello and someone doesn't reply I choose to think maybe they didn't see or hear me rather than they don't like me. I wonder how you can think more positively about life and other people?

Wednesday 14th October 2020

how to make a friend by Jane Heitman Healy

You start by saying Hi there,

Hello, Aloha, Ciao

If someone answers back to you,

Smile and nod and bow.


You might try saying hola,

Salur, godag, shalom.

If someone answers back to you,

They might be far from home.


A friend begins by greeting

Those they meet along the way,

To make them feel welcome

At home, at school, at play

This week's poem probably has some words you don't know. Which are they?

Can people in class tell you what they mean?

Is there something the same about the words in italic? Do you know what italic means?

What do you think the poem is asking us to think about?

How does it link to what we've been thinking about in Mrs R-B's Monday assembly and Ms S's tune on Tuesday this week?