Eversfield Kindergarten Gets My Goat!
When I was a little girl growing up in Olton, I was led to believe that a fierce troll lived under the bridge over the stream in Jubilee Park. It always worried me slightly that there were never any goats in the park to chase the troll away. Now it seems he has turned up at Eversfield, or at least he has tried to… The feisty goats in Kindergarten made short work of him, and he’s gone now. I’m fairly sure he’s not coming back.
You see, last week, as part of the overall topic of Traditional Tales, Mrs Eades based all the activities in Kindergarten on The Three Billy Goats Gruff, quite literally leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of interesting learning experiences for the children. Naturally, of course, the starting point for all this was the story itself. For many of the children, this will be the first time they have encountered this particular fairy tale but, as they become more familiar with the sequence of events, Mrs Eades and her team like to read different versions of the story so that the pupils can spot the various twists in the plot. For instance, Maria noticed that, in one retelling, rather than being butted unceremoniously into the water by Great Big Billy Goat, the troll simply packs everything into his suitcase and moves away.
All this preparation and discussion is great for us further up the school because it teaches the children how much fun it is to play with stories, morphing them gradually into new ones. What, for instance, might happen in a story where the troll is a good character but suffered unjustly as a result of his unsavoury predecessors? Or, more straightforwardly, what did the billy goats do after the troll was butted into oblivion by Great Big Billy Goat? Did they graze happily ever after in the lush green meadow? Was that really the end of the story?
Through the use of small world play, the children were given the chance to interact with the characters from the story. Before long, they developed the confidence to retell the story themselves, laying down the core vocabulary of storytelling that will be so useful to them as they get older.
Linked to this, but providing more of a design and build challenge, the pupils were asked to construct a bridge from wooden blocks large enough to conceal a mean and ugly troll. Working co-operatively with a partner encouraged the use of positional language such as underneath, below, over and on top. Tejasv declared excitedly that his troll, who sounds like someone to be avoided, was going to ‘jump on top of the bridge to gobble up the goat.’ Later, the bridges theme migrated outdoors, and the children built a bridge that they could cross themselves. This inspired Nia, Tejasv, Maria and Daniel to act out the story. Maria, taking the part of the troll, attempted to hide under the bridge, ready to spring out to terrify the unsuspecting goats.
I told you Mrs Eades leaves no stone unturned in her quest for creative things to do. I like to imagine her as a very economical chef, planning busily in her kitchen, determined not to waste a scrap of her ingredients. Thus we had the children counting pictures of trolls and goats, representing their answers as figures on a sheet. In addition, they also worked with an adult on the sequence and accuracy of their counting of objects. It does look, however, like we now have the five billy goats gruff rather than just the three, and there may even be more gobbling grass out of the picture.
I’m not a great fan of goat’s cheese, and Mrs Eades didn’t think the children would be either. Nevertheless, when they were given the chance to try it, some of the children were extremely impressed. Matilda pronounced the snack to be yummy, whilst Reign wanted seconds! By contrast, Nia thought the cheese was disgusting. New tasting experiences are very valuable for young children, as is the chance to practise holding a knife correctly when spreading the cheese on the cracker.
The highlight of the week came on Thursday when the children in Kindergarten, along with those in Nursery and several mummies, visited Ash End House Children’s Farm in the hope of seeing some real live goats. They weren’t disappointed. Not only did they see a goat being fed from a bottle, they had the opportunity to feed the goats themselves with oats and leaves. Primrose, a friendly kid, wanted the children to stroke her, and many of them were brave enough to have a try. At the farm there were lots of other animals to see, including ducks, chickens, pigs and piglets, sheep, lambs and horses. There were even some owls and snakes. As the children walked around, they entertained the animals by singing nursery rhymes. As a thank you, the chickens gave everyone an egg to take home for breakfast.
If you think that all is going to calm down in Kindergarten now that the troll has been safely dispatched, then I’m afraid you’re wrong. There’s not long to wait now until the three bears arrive!