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Applebee Wood Community Specialist School

Respect, Belonging, Trust, Resilience, Aspiration

Donaldson Class

Welcome to Donaldson Class!


Miss Chloe McLaughlin


Teaching Assistants

Mrs Emma Foley

Miss Bethany Hamilton

Miss Amy McMillan

Miss Jessica Penzer
Supply: Miss Natasha Crook


Donaldson class is made up of 11 fabulous children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. We follow the EYFS curriculum focusing on learning through play and exploring the world around us using sensory experiences. 


We focus on the 7 key areas: 

  • Literacy 
  • Numeracy 
  • Understanding the World
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Expressive Arts and Design


We will also be focusing on areas such as Independent Living Skills, Forest Schools, Swimming and regular Attention Autism sessions. 


Summer 1


This term our topic is “Down at the bottom of the Garden”, we will be looking at all things creepy crawly, gardening,  the life cycle of a flower and be spending lots of time outdoors now the weather is getting warm again! Our Story Focus will be "ARGHHH SPIDER!!"

Spring 2


This term has been jam packed with lots of exciting things; we took part in World Book Day and hosted our families in class for a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.


Our topic has been “Down on the Farm”, and we have been reading “What the Ladybird Heard”.
We have got really involved in the story and have loved learning about all the different animals that live on the farm; we have had to practice skills like following a map to get to the Fine Prize Cow! In Numeracy we have been working on ordering numbers and our understanding of quantity, we have also started looking at positional language, which we will carry on more next term! We have also been looking at money as part of our Continuous Provision. We have been matching coins and serving customers in the Donaldson Farm Shop.


In Literacy, we have been looking at colourful semantics and describing the characters in our book. We talked about what colour the farm animals were and which ones had spots, blotches or stripes! We have also been working on our Phonics and our Comprehension skills through Blank Level Questioning.


We’ve been working hard on our independence skills, putting on our own coats and some of us have even been zipping them up. We have been working on recognising our belongings, and asking for help if we are struggling rather than becoming frustrated. Some of us are now ready to start with our PECS books and can’t wait to get going with a new challenge next term!

Spring 1

This term is all about traditional tales and listening to some good stories! Our book focus this term is “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”, we have loved learning all about the troll and the goats! We have practised building bridges and passing over the water, we have role-played the story and “trip trapped” past the scary troll! We have had our first attempts at story sequencing and we have also delved into colourful semantics looking at who are our friends in class.

In Numeracy we have looked at “Big and Small” again, helped out by our story’s heroes! Putting the goats in size order, counting goats and measuring the troll! In Class Café, we have started to challenge our different skills, we have been making sandwiches, flapjack, fruit salad and pizzas! This has allowed us to work on our spreading and chopping skills, which is different to the traditional mixing and baking skills we have been working on.

In Swimming, we have taken the plunge and moved to the deep end! The swim teacher is encouraging us to jump in and swim as best we can. Some of us have lots of armbands on whilst some of us only have one on each arm! We’re so tired after our lessons but they’re great fun!

Autumn 2

This term has been full of lots of fun events and activities, such as Halloween. Bonfire Night and all the Christmas preparation you could think of. We have also experienced our first school trip alongside Rosen class to Leaping Lizards Softplay!

We are continuing with our water confidence skills in Swimming, and we are spending more time exploring different areas in our school, predominantly Forest School which is a new favourite of ours! We have been exploring the mud pit and different ways of getting as muddy as possible!

In Numeracy, we have been working on quantity and number ordering through the use of Numicon, we have also been exploring other concepts such as 2D shapes and “big and small”.
In Literacy, our focus book has been “The Jolly Postman”, which has allowed us to explore different traditional stories and also work on our Post Office skills in the new Donaldson Post Office! We have been practising writing letters in preparation to write one to Father Christmas himself!

Lots of our time has been taken up practising for the Christmas play and getting ready for our performance in front of all our parents and the rest of school. We have also done lots of Christmas arts and crafts and decorated our classroom as a whole class.

For our last week together, we have had a Christmas party, Christmas dinner in the hall with the rest of primary, and we’ve even walked to the end of our street to post our letters to Father Christmas! We can’t wait to see what the New Year brings!

Autumn 1


The first half term is always a hectic time in Donaldson Class!
We have welcomed four children back, and said hello to six brand new children!

This term has been all about settling in, having fun and getting to know each other. We have been working on our routines, how to ask our adults for help, and learning how to move around the school safely. We have done plenty of exploring in the movement room, the light and sound room, and up to Primary Yard!

We have also been on our first experience outside of school, and took part in our very first swimming lesson as a class! These will continue on a fortnightly basis and will hopefully improve our water confidence skills. We’ve also headed down to Forest School to jump in the muddy puddles! This has been a great new experience for some of us as we wear our waterproofs and can get as messy as we like!

We’ve also done the important stuff, like starting our Literacy and Numeracy lessons. We’ve been working on numbers 1-5 and everything that’s important about those numbers, like how to order them, how to recognise them and how to count out 5 items! Some of us can even go all the way to 10!

In Literacy, we have been reading The Colour Monster, which has helped us learn all about our feelings as we’ve started at school, some of us have definitely been a little scared or nervous, but we’ve also been really brave and tried lots of new things and met lots of new friends/adults.

We have enjoyed taking part in Class Café and Messy Play, anything to do with food is very popular, though sometimes its new food we haven’t heard of before, or sometimes we have to make it ourselves! We’ve been mashing potatoes and making jam sandwiches, whatever next!.

Next half term things will be a little different, our work will get a little more challenging, however there will also be lots of fun Christmas activities to do! We can’t wait to get stuck in!

School Year 2022-2023

Autumn 2


This term has been so busy! We started off with some key dates that provided lots of learning opportunities, such as Halloween, Children in Need, Kindness Day and Remembrance Day.

We spent a lot of time getting messy and carving pumpkins, we took turns in scooping the ‘guts’ out and then smelling and touching the inside of the pumpkin, it was lots of fun! Some of us needed a little encouragement to touch the pumpkin, whilst others just stuck their faces right in the middle of the pumpkin!!

At the end of our first week back we celebrated bonfire night! We talked about being safe around fireworks and sparklers in class and how to keep ourselves safe. We made firework pictures on some black paper which looked exciting! We also made sparklers out of breadsticks and chocolate with sprinkles.

For Remembrance Day, we made poppies out of salt dough and decorated them red and black. We also observed the minutes silence. We did very well! Some nice music played on the board, and we looked at pictures of poppies, all the adults in the room were very quiet so we tried our best at copying them. Our adults were very proud of us!


The run up to Christmas is always very hectic, we have spent lots of time practicing our roles in the Nativity and learning the words and signs to our song ‘Little Donkey’, we also spent a lot of time trying on our costumes and getting used to how they felt and that we looked different. At first, we spent all our time practising in class, but as it got closer to Christmas we practiced going in the hall and singing/signing our song. A week before the big day, a stage went up in the hall and we spent lots of time practicing walking on and off the stage nicely. Our end performance for parents and carers went very well, we were all so brave and sat very nicely on the stage. Afterwards, we spent some time with our parents/carers and posed for some photos.


The last two weeks of school were very fun, we spent lots of time doing all different kinds of Christmas arts and crafts, we did some Christmas baking, celebrated Christmas Jumper Day and had a Christmas Dinner in the hall. We also had a visit from Father Christmas who bought us all a gift, and on the last day we had our Christmas Party which was lots of dancing and party games! 

Week Five - WC 03/10/2022


This week we have read Brown Bear and learnt all about the different colours in the story. It was a little tricky at first as some of us don't like sitting down for too long, but we are getting much better at it!

We had lots of fun with different coloured paints and spent time mixing them all together to see what other colours we could make. Some of us then matched the animals from the story to the colours on the board, and even told an adult the name of the colour! 

We have also been experimenting with cornflour again, this week we poured all the flour into a tray and added a little bit of water at a time to see what would happen to it. The mixture got thicker and thicker and we loved dipping our hands into it and drawing in it. 

We have also been practicing our counting skills using the wooden bees, we had to explore the tuff tray and dig through all of the leaves to get to the bees. We then had to put them in number order, some of us needed adult help and others could say the numbers out loud! 

Week Four - WC 26/09/22


This week has been very busy, and we've learnt lots of new things! 

We have had lots of playdough time to help with our fine motor skills, we have been using all the fun tools that come in the box like the rolling pins and the shape cutters. Some of us could even tell an adult what the name of the shape was! 

We have had lots of sensory fun this week! Mr Banks teaches us Sensory Circuits which is lots of fun things like going to the movement room or getting messy in class! This week we used lots of shaving foam to draw and play in, we were supposed to use our hands but some of us wanted to use our feet instead! 

For Messy Play we have been using cornflour and seeing the different textures we can make. This week, we added yoghurt! We also added a bit of food colouring to make it more fun. We started off with a little bowl each and practised our mixing skills, but we soon ended up covered in the gloop and got it all over the tray! It was great fun!

We went down to Forest School for the afternoon to explore the trees and play. We enjoyed kicking the leaves around and looking at all the different colours on the trees. With some adult help, we all managed to crawl through the tunnels! 


In PE this week we have been working on our gross motor skills. This includes lots of things we are already good at like running and climbing, but we had to be very sensible during PE and learn to practise these skills safely. Some of us needed help to climb over the top of the frame, but we were all confident and gave it a go! We also practised balancing, there was lots of hand holding at first but as we got more confident, we would walk up the balance beams on our own! It was lots of fun getting to run around the big hall and have so much space to move around! 

Week Three - WC 19/09/22


This week has been full of new adventures! We have been continuing with our phonics lessons and have now introduced some 'handwriting' sessions too! We are all working at different stages, some of us are concentrating on our mark making skills and using lots of sensory tools like paint and shaving foam too achieve this. Others are using pencils already! We are either working on pencil control and drawing lots of squiggly lines, and some of us are practising writing our letters. We still need to practise the correct way to hold a pencil, so we have been working on our fine motor skills and doing lots of threading. 


We have also been learning about good hygiene in PSD and keeping ourselves clean. For our independent life skills lesson, we looked at handwashing. Some of us needed a lot of support to complete this task, we used a symbol guide and washed our hands in a bowl at the table. Some of us already knew how to wash our hands so we worked on turning the taps on independently and using the soap pump without any help! Hand washing is so important that we have made sure our guide is up on the wall in the bathroom so we can always remember how to wash our hands! 


In Swimming this week, we were split into our new groups, Donaldson and Rosen go swimming together, so the water confidence group are working with Mr Banks and two other adults. The early swimming group is working with Miss McLaughlin and two other adults. Water confidence means lots of fun games and toys in the shallow end to make sure that we enjoy being in the water. We also have a few children that are VERY confident in the water but need to stay in the shallow end until we can remember how to be safe.
The early swimming group were very brave this week! We had lots of armbands and pool noodles, but we went to the deep end for the very first time! An adult held us up in the water and we had to practise kicking our legs all the way to the deep end! Some of us found it a little scary but an adult had hold of us the whole time, so we were very safe! We did so well that the swimming teacher things next week some of us can try getting to the deep end with an adult next to us but not holding on!


On Friday afternoon we had our first rewards session! This is a time to move around in Primary and try lots of new things, our adults help us choose a club that we would like to go to for the half term. There are lots of different clubs like Film, Dance, Art, Outdoor Games and TACPAC (sensory relaxation). This means that we get to move around school and meet lots of new adults and other children from different primary classes.  

Week Two - WC 12/09/22


This week has been full of lots of new challenges for Donaldson Class. We have been adapting well to our new routines and have started introducing more formal lessons. The children enjoyed their first Attention Autism session and took great interest in the toys hidden inside the bucket. We will be increasing these sessions to help the children improve their focusing skills. 

We were very excited to find a new climbing frame in our outdoor area! This was much bigger than our old one, it has a climbing wall, a rope ladder and even a giant slide! This has allowed us to practise our gross motor skills by finding different ways to climb up to the slide and has also taught us about risk assessment as we are only allowed to play on the climbing frame if we are being safe and making good choices. 


We have been practising our sitting skills during circle time and we are getting much better at waiting for the songs to finish before we move away. We always listen to the 'Good Morning' song in our first lesson. We have also started our Phonics lessons; we are learning all about different sounds and pace, making quiet and loud noises and making fast and slow patterns of sound. We used all different instruments to see what sounds we could make, and some of us use symbols to show an adult we knew the difference between loud and quiet. 

In Numeracy we have been focusing on counting songs and taking turns. One of our favourite songs is Five Little Ducks. We practised this song in groups by singing together and then taking a duck out of the tray. Some of us could even work out how many ducks would be left before we took a duck away! 


We also went on our very first swimming lesson this week! It was lots of fun, and we all got to splash around and play in the water whilst the swimming teacher decided what groups we would be going in. Next week we will be split into two groups, some of us will be practising our leg kicking and starting swim skills, whilst some of us will be practising our water confidence and blowing bubbles! 


On Thursday we celebrated 'Roald Dahl Day', we painted pictures of Fantastic Mr Fox and practised our cutting skills. On Friday, we had our rewards in the afternoon. We had a choice of being in the classroom and choosing what toys we played with, or we could use the outdoor area and have fun in the sandpit and the water table. Most of us chose to stay outside as it was nice and sunny, we had lots of fun and some of us demonstrated great sharing and co-operative play skills. 

Our First Week - WC: 05/09/22


All of the children have settled in so well this week. It can be a little scary coming into a new classroom with lots of new faces, but we have all taken it in our stride. We are very proud of all the children this week, especially the children who are only use to one or two days a week at Nursery! 

We have spent lots of time getting to know each other and this week we have begun to introduce our class rules and expectations. We have had lots of opportunity to play and have been exploring our new environments. As a class we have been down to Forest school which we loved! We have also explored the playground that the bigger boys and girls play on. We have spent several mornings in our new light and sound room, and our new movement room! It's been great fun. 


We even went to our very first full Primary assembly. All five of the Primary classes were in the hall, Donaldson sat at the front together and did such a good job of sitting and listening! 

Friday was a very relaxed day, there were lots of tired faces, so we spent the afternoon listening to our favourite songs and having some choice time! 

Next week we will start adding more lessons and activities into each day so the children can get use to more of our routine, we will also be going swimming on Tuesday. 

Exploring the Light and Sound Room