(Yes, we did have lots of fun creating this photo!)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we were inspired as a school to start challenging the amount of plastic straws that we were getting through on a daily basis following our ‘Make a Difference’ assembly topic back in September. You may remember that it all started when P4 brought a small pot of straws to our sharing assembly and told everyone that the way that they had decided to make a difference was for the 6 children who took milk each day to pour it out into a cup, rather than use the cartons and straws. They then collected the straws in the pot (below). Those 6 straws per day added up surprisingly quickly and we were all shocked by how many they had collected in such a small space of time, from so few children.
This is what 6 straws per day over just a few weeks looks like
We did some calculations and worked out that we could save arund 1,600 straws by the end of October (5 weeks) if we all followed P4’s example. So, each child who took milk was provided with a cup, cup washeruppers* were duly appointed in each class and we all began the challenge enthusiasically. By the end of the 5 weeks, we had in fact collected 2,312 straws (as we had forgotten to factor lunchtime milk into the original calculation) and we vowed not to go back to our old ways. It took a few weeks after that but I am delighted to announce that Abbeyhill is MAKING A DIFFERENCE to the environment as we have now got an agreement with the dairy who supply our milk (Muller) that they will give us large 6 pint jugs of milk, exactly as you would buy at the supermarket, instead of the little cartons. In the time it took to make that arrangement, the straws kept piling up and we had over 4,000 which helped us create our ‘Drowning in Plastic’ photo at the top of the page. Don’t worry, they are certainly not going to landfill as one of our artists-in-residence has grand plans for them. Come and see them as part of the Colony of Artists festival in September 2019!
We only have 70 children across the school who take milk every day and look how much plastic we’re stopping getting to landfill. If you’re an Edinburgh school being supplied by Muller, why don’t you take up the Abbeyhill challenge and see if you can make a difference too?
If you visited the Abbeyhill area last weekend, you can’t have missed the Colony of Artists festival! The whole area was abuzz with bunting signalling which houses were open to showcase a variety of art. I enjoyed a piano recital by two of our P1s, a dramatic reading of Maisie of Morningside (in tribute to Aileen Paterson who sadly passed away earlier this year) by our drama group and finally came up to school for the finale on Sunday; a poem by one of our parents, acompanied by another parent on bagpipes, a dance performace by our P1 and P2 dance club and a reading of a play. I even managed to sneak in a piece of cake at the pop up cafe as well as see all the work that’s been done by our children over the past year. Thank you so much to our Curator in Residence and P5 parent, Iliyana Nedkova, as our involvement couldn’t happen without her. A special thanks also to her very able assistant, Vlad Hasiu, P1 & 3 parent. Colony of Artists is over for another year but it seems to get even better each time so roll on September 2019!
If you watch STV News, then you might see our P5s tonight (or Monday)! Gordon Court sheltered housing have produced a book called ‘Remembering the Fifties’ and P5 have been working on a project with the Citadel Arts Group, interpreting stories from the book through art and dance. P5 presented their interpretations yesterday, following the book’s launch last week and it was all captured on camera for STV. If you’d like to read more about the book and the project please click here.
Our first week with no straws has gone well with all children now drinking from a reusable cup and P7 collecting all the unused straws. Ideas for spreading the word include sending all the straws back to the milk company at the end of our first month (Erin, P3) and sending a photo of all the straws collected to other schools to see if we can inspire them (Martyna, P5). Pupil Council are going to take on an environmental focus this year so it will be up to them to make the final decision – watch this space towards the end of October to see what we do!
P1 and 2 had very successful trips to the Gardener’s Cottage on London Road this week; check their pages and social media to see if they’ve shared any details. P2 told me all about the things they had tasted including edible flowers! These trips were all part of our food focus at Abbeyhill and our Cooking Classroom, which is taking shape. We’re very keen to reduce the amount of snacks that are high in sugar, salt and fat and we’ll be working with the Parent Council and Pupil Council on this project. Ideas so far include ‘trading in’ snacks for a healthier version at a school tuck shop and trying Royal High’s ‘snacks without packs’ drive. Staff have their thinking caps on at the moment but expect to hear more about this after the October holidays.
This time next week our P7s will be on their way home from camp; have fun at Lagganlia P7!!
This week we have finished our block of ‘Making a Difference’ assemblies but we’re far from finished making a difference! Each class was asked to come up with ways to make a difference together and every family was asked to think of ways they could help their community. Today in assembly we all heard brilliant stories of our children helping neighbours to tidy up their gardens after Storm Ali had wreaked havoc, walking a neighbour’s dog, giving unwanted toys to another child and taking a homeless person something to eat and drink. We talked about the fact that although those things feel small, they will have meant a great deal to the people involved and it may inspire them to do soemthing to make a difference themselves.
There are some brilliant plans afoot to make a difference in classes and some that have already got started. P2 have been collecting litter in the playground and after the weather we’ve had this week they have had their work cut out collecting bits that have blown in off the street! P7 are starting a break and lunchtime play programme from Monday which will run every lunchtime and Friday morning breaks. The P7s have a rota for who is on ‘play duty’ and the games will change each day. I think they’ll have to exercise crowd control on Monday! P1 have been looking at food waste and we’re hoping that our school food waste bin will arrive any day now, swiftly followed by our packaging bin.
P4 opened our eyes to the amount of plastic that we’re using with our daily milk and, despite only 6 children in the class having milk each day, they have collected a small bucket full of straws in the 3 weeks that we’ve been focussing on Making a Difference in assembly.
After assembly, I worked out that over the school year, P1-7 use an unbelievable 16,575 straws, all made of plastic and packaged in plastic. So, with P4, we’ve made a plan that from Monday we will use re-usable drinking cups in every class and collect the straws that we would have used. Thank you to Mr Forrest who found enough cups for everyone in a cupboard! Check back in a month to see how big the pile is and what our next steps are…
Don’t forget that this weekend is the Colony of Artists festival. The school is a venue and it’s looking fantastic! Please come and visit us as well as the rest of the artists who take part, including lots of Abbeyhill children! Check back next week for some fantastic photos.
The whole school has been buzzing with Maths activity this week as everyone took part in a house Outdoor Maths Challenge and a variety of activities in class, as well as a homework photo challenge for Scottish Maths Week. Everyone shared what they had done in assembly this morning and activities ranged from Maisie of Morningside made out of 2D shapes in P1 to a ‘build your own theme park’ budget challenge in P5. P7 had to apply their knowledge of Maths to real life situations and have discovered just how widely Maths is used in everyday situations. Mrs Flowers has assured us that she has already had some great entries for the ‘Extreme Maths’ homework photo competition and we’re all looking forward to seeing the rest next week! Maths Week continues in lots of places over the weekend so click here to find out what else you could get up to.
We’ve also had Parent Council this week and it was lovely to welcome some of our new Nursery and P1 parents. It was a packed agenda with discussion on a wide range of topics but food became a central theme (not just because we had some yummy homemade biscuits made by James and John) as we discussed our plans to have parents for lunch so they can try school lunches for themseles, the imminent arrival of our food recycling bin and full fat vs semi-skimmed milk. The next meeting is the AGM and all are very welcome.
P5 Play Champions began their training with Canongate Youth’s Play Rangers yesteday so we look forward to having more play experts in the playground! Our Loose Parts play continues to be very popular and it will be used much more at play and lunchtimes next week. P2 – P7 Pupil Council met for the first time today and received their first assignment…watch this space. We all had great fun doing a jumping photo for the display board! P1s will join us in January once they’ve fully settled into school routines.
Have a great weekend – don’t forget that it’s a bank holiday and there’s no school on Monday 17th September. School resumes as normal on Tuesday. It’ll be a busy one next week as we prepare for the Colony of Artists festival!