Make flying puppets!


Theatre Alibi’s Designer, Trina Bramman, has created beautiful flying puppets for you to make at home. You can choose from various different templates – maybe a bird? A butterfly? A dragon? Or even a winged horse!

alibiTrina has been careful to use bits and bobs that we hope you can find around the house. She’s put together a step by step guide with pictures too, to help children along the way.

Find the instructions and videos for this week’s activity here:

The Importance of Play

importance of play

As we enter our fourth week of staying at home, having just had an extension to the current lockdown measures for a further 3 weeks at least, I have increasingly reflected on the different experiences we are all having, depending on our own specific circumstances.

On video calls with family and friends around the world, I am asked ‘What is happening with schools in the UK?’ ‘Are your schools doing online learning?’ ‘How can I ensure my daughter does all of this work?’ ‘I’m trying to hold down a job as a single parent and I’m utterly stressed that my son/daughter is falling behind.’ ‘I made my son work for a whole day, because he’d been lazy all week.’

You are, no doubt, aware of many varied approaches by different schools.
It is not surprising, therefore, that parents may be feeling confused or anxious about what the right approach is for their child, and questioning themselves over what they should or could be doing to support their child, in order that the learning can continue. One phrase I hear is, ‘I don’t want her to fall behind.’

So let’s stop for one moment and consider the situation we find ourselves in. What are some of the challenges? And I won’t have covered them all here, so forgive me if I miss something that you are finding critically important in your own situation right now. But I hope that I can offer at least some insight into how we can all help ourselves to find a positive mental and emotional state whilst we continue to deal with unusual and new daily stresses.

You might be trying to manage full time work at home right now, possibly with increased pressures from the work environment to deliver on key projects, whilst at the same time finding yourself to be the full time carer and educator for your child or children. You might be battling with how to get shopping done safely, monitoring your child’s activities, cooking and all the usual household pressures, whilst also questioning where time for yourself comes into this. You might find yourself faced with impossible financial challenges that are sending stress levels through the roof, with finding yourself unemployed suddenly, or with the worry of whether your job will continue or not. You might be supporting a stressed partner, whilst doing all of the above!
And on top of this, you are asking yourself, ‘How am I supposed to give my child the time they need and make sure their schoolwork doesn’t suffer?’

Well, first, take a breath. In. Out. Slowly. Repeat.

Next, let’s talk about the importance of play. And I don’t just mean for the children. But for you too.

Here at Rackenford Primary School we are encouraging our parents to not worry about teaching their children in any traditional 3R’s way. If you can do it, and you want to do it, all good. But it is good to understand why play is an important part of learning and growing too. We hear this statement a lot, ‘play is good for learning’, but what does it actually mean? Maybe you have doubts about this, as certainly our society today generally doesn’t seem to give a huge importance or attach huge value to play under normal circumstances. We have been conditioned into placing huge value on academic achievement, and of course, it has a valuable place in our lives. However, it is by no means the only important and valuable activity that we can achieve.

When you look at play theory that exists, you begin to realise the extent to which play is a critical and crucial part of our development and wellbeing as humans. So much so, that play is a Universal Right of Childhood. It is written into the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 31 states that ‘Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.’ The UK is just one country of all but two in the world, that have ratified this convention.

And this is not to say that you now have to worry about what resources you are providing your child for play! On the contrary, children are very good at taking everyday objects and finding new and unexpected ways of using them. Play is fundamentally important for enabling children to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life and can be valuable in enabling children to recover from traumatic situations.

So how can play help?

Stop for a moment and see if you can define play. It’s not as easy as you might think. I know when I ask my son at the end of the day, what was the best bit about school today, he will often answer, ‘Breaktime.’ And I will admit to having thought, ‘well, so much for the lessons then!’
Play is actually very difficult to define but here are a few key points about play:

Play is something freely chosen
Play is creative
Play might be alone or with someone else
Play might involve emotional exploration
Play explores reality and rules and enables the creation of new boundaries, outside of those that adults might set
Play helps us make sense of a world through our own perspective
Play can be self-directed, or it might be rules-based play, like a board game
Play is intrinsically motivated – it is a means and may not have an end
Play allows us to explore our world and also to escape from it if we need to
Play helps us explore and experiment with identity

There are so many more that could be added to this list. When you start to think of play in such a wide sense, it is easy to see why play is so important, and not just for children, but for adults too.

My own particular play, my own activity of choice and self-direction, lays in my hobbies of art, writing, photography, gardening, music, running…. When I start to think of all the activities that give me a sense of calm and serenity, a sense of rebalancing, growth, self-esteem, identity, I realise why all these things are important to me. I also know I get stressed and anxious if I go long periods of time neglecting to take this time for myself to ‘play’.

So I encourage you all, all of our lovely families, to allow play to happen, the mess, the chaos, the creation, the arguments and resolution, the social development, negotiation skills, exploration of self and identity, role play and experiencing a new way of ‘being’, boundary pushing – the innovators of the future. Let children be self-directed, so long as you know they are safe, in a safe environment, then they can freely explore and self-direct their play.

It is okay if you have to be busy with work and you ‘haven’t been able to give them much time.’ They are self-directing, they are choosing, they are growing and learning. But remember, that if you can join in with some play, it might just be you that benefits the most, as you rediscover the joy of engaging in ‘the means that doesn’t have to have an end.’

As educators, we are all here for you and if you feel you need any advice or guidance, or if you feel you want more structured ideas for learning, or more ideas for play activities, we are here to help. Please keep sharing all of your wonderful activities and creations. You are totally inspiring and consider yourself now as teaching the teachers!

Now go and play…

Kathy Perry
Play Leader
Rackenford Primary School

A letter to welcome September intake families

september 2020 families

Dear “September intake” Families,

I hope you are all well, and enjoying the sunshine at this most unusual of times.

Congratulations, your school places have been allocated and we are truly looking forward to welcoming all our new children and families into our Reception class in September. Sharon and Mia (Class teachers), Michaela (administration) and I will be busy in school next week putting together your starter packs full of all the information you will need to get you started. This will include where to purchase uniform, lunches, FAQ, etc.

We work very closely with Little Angels and some of the children have already been visiting the school for stories and lunches and coming over to play. Some of you however will be brand new to our learning community. We would normally have several open morning and afternoon sessions in the summer term to get to know you and a chance for you to ask questions, get to know us and the school. As this may not be possible at the usual time we will come up with an alternative for you so that you feel completely at ease and in the loop.

A September start to a new school is always full of excitement and apprehension and often it is an anxious time for every on. We anticipate that this September will be more so due to the all the complex and shared events unfolding in these unprecedented times we find our selves in now and for the foreseeable future. I would like to reassure you that we will plan very carefully how to best meet the needs of all of our children and their families baring this experience at the forefront of our thinking. Indeed, we have the resources and capacity to put much in place to support all of our children and families when we return to school. We will not expect everything to just ‘go back to normal”.

So as I said I am really looking forward to meeting you all and talking further, you will receive your new intake packs over the next week or two. In the mean time if you have any questions please do email me on:

With kind regards

Sarah Maude and The Rackenford Team
Head of School

Ideas for a greener Easter fun!

The Green Parent magazine has shared five great ideas for your Easter weekend – do take a look.

They have also made a list of useful Lockdown resources here.

1. MAKE Eco Easter

Why not go all-natural with your Easter crafts this year? You’ll find all you need to dye eggs in your store cupboards – red cabbage, turmeric, onion skins and more – pro tip, try to track down some white eggs. If you’re feeling a little more creative, you might try making imprints using leaves on your eggs. Or pick up materials on your walks to make a sweet bird nest, perhaps you might even put it into a tree or onto your window sill and see if anyone makes it a home. Find more ideas for Easter fun and rituals here.

2 DO Nature on Demand

The sun is shining, blossom is on our trees, there are butterflies circling the budding bushes; Spring is most certainly not cancelled. Small connections with nature are uplifting and comforting, but this year, you may be missing seeing gambolling lambs and wild flowers. The Wildlife Trust has a series of webcams that provide a direct link to birds and creatures across the country. Spot kittiwakes in Newcastle, ospreys in Wales, and barn owls and badgers in Essex. If you’re really lucky, you might even spot a chick hatching.

3 DO The Grand Tour

Missing a big Easter holiday day out? Take a virtual trip around some of the biggest draws instead. Bonus: no queues to get in, it’s free and no gift shop stress. Many galleries and museums have taken their exhibits online, and have ideas for home activities. We like the tours and demonstrations at the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum’s apps and activities that prompt you to explore the wildlife in your back garden or park, Tate’s creative ideas for art projects, gentle explorations of artists’ work and lives, and child-friendly quizzes, and Kew’s colourful digital gardens.

4 DO Find Your Space

Sunday is the International Day of Human Space Flight, celebrating the beginning of the space era for mankind. Find out about the day and find resources here. Get a closer connection to fellow humans in space by watching the ISS pass overhead – this tracker will tell you when it’s next due to fly over your town. The space station moves in a continuous, straight line, and is visible when the sky is clear.

5 RECIPE Simple Simnel

More than any other year, this Easter we have time to bake. Christians are nearing the end of Lent, a time of self-denial and simple living, so will be craving sugary treats. Try making something truly over-the-top such as this Triple Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake, a traditional Simnel Cake or get the whole clan to help make Nest Cakes. If you’re more of an Ostara family, or don’t want to attempt Bake Off-style showstoppers, why not make this super-simple Honey Cake?

Free resources for the week ahead

To go with the theme of recycling we have found these great free activities.

Also try your own book scavenger hunt?

Find certain characters or items in your own books, you could use this list as inspiration or create your own.

You could do some colouring or drawings to brighten your walls or windows, and show support for others at the same time.

There are many free online colouring sheets available to download, however these are from Tickety boo illustrations.


These shadow drawings are also a good idea to use the the lovely spring sunshine coming through your windows, simply grab a toy, let it cast a shadow and draw around it. You could also observe how the shadow changes during the day.


Other than Joe Wicks PE lessons at 9am everyday, many TV personalities have also been providing free online support for children and parents, here’s a little selection for you.