Monday, 7 February 2011

A change is as good as a rest.....

Every term we have a 'try something different' day. This means that pupils are allowed to choose from a list of activities that are not generally a part of our normal curriculum. Sometimes the activities are linked with a theme but not always.

The teachers and teaching assistants also have to research some different activities that they can offer on such occasions. Some activities last an hour, whereas others can last for the whole day.

Over the past couple of years I have had some really great days. On one such day I took a group of able, talented and interested pupils to Keele University to study Forensic Science. We had a wonderful time working with hair and fingerprints using techniques and microscopes the like of which we can only dream about in school.

Another day we built giant rollercoasters using Knex and then investigated frictional forces.

One of the best days was when, together with three colleagues, we took over the food room and made jam, soup and chutney. The challenge was that following our harvest festival we were to use up a lot of the fresh produce. The fruits of our labour would then be 'sold' at our school Autumn Fair.

When we looked at the mountain of apples which had been donated we realised that apple would be the basis of  EVERYTHING we made. Altogether we made about a hundred jars of blackcurrant and apple jam, spiced apple chutney, apple and green tomato chutney, apple and red onion chutney and apple and beetroot chutney. In fact any chutney providing it contained apple and there was even apple in the soup!

The pupils were excellent at peeling and chopping. At one time I was surrounded by  pupils chopping onions and wearing science goggles - I wish my camera had been to hand. Some pupils were weighing out the ingredients and others in charge of sterilising the jars, designing the labels and cutting out fabric covers.

We all had a fantastic time doing something different and useful. We could have sold two or three times the quantity we made.

I hope we get to do this again next year, perhaps with a different group of pupils. I came home from work  stinking of boiled vinegar and thrilled with the experience. I  even bought myself a book of preserves and chutneys which I can't wait to try out. In fact a very good friend, who is renowned for her chutneys, bought me exactly the same book for Christmas.  I will take one out to France, then there will be no stopping me.

Start saving jars ........!!


  1. GaynorB I have everyone saving bottles for me but the problem is I end up with boxes of them in the car in the UK to bring over, when there is so many important things that need taking to France :( I have to get my priorities right, but last year I ran out of bottles and had to buy some. They are not very cheap!! Diane

  2. Gaynor, jars over here are much cheaper than in the UK... buy the Le Parfait jars with the clip-down lids... or the Famillia Wis range [also from Le Parfait] which are rather like Kilner or Mason jars. I don't know where Diane bought hers if she reckoned that they weren't cheap... but I have seen some expensive jars in Gam Verte!
    But both the ranges I mentioned use repaceable seals or lids which bring the overall costs down even further.
    We'll pay for the catfood in jars if you like?!

  3. Gaynor--agree the Le Parfait jars are cheap and good; certainly they were ok for my Damson jam. I use the ones with the screw on lids. They're available at the SuperU, Intermarche and LeClerc.

  4. Diane, Thanks for the information. I usually have access to a ready supply as I can ask my pupils and a good number will come in.
    I see you had a very busy day responding to all your congratulatory messages!

  5. Tim and Antoinette - thanks for the information about good reasonably priced jars to use. I'll check them out on our next visit, as although I can ask my pupils, what comes in can be variable.

    I now need to plant more fruit trees! We have a lot of trees in our garden but they are mostly ornamental ones. There are some young trees, the most prolific of which was the quince.

    Still, at the moment we are only able to come out during school holidays which doesn't always coincide with the best fruit picking time. One day ..... :-))

  6. Try an ornamental crab apple such as John Downie or Golden Hornet - you'll have flowers, fruit, and wildlife. Also ornamental quince fruits make good quince jelly.

  7. Hey your here. Great to see you with a blog.
    Now I'm going to try and work out exactly where you live other than France!

  8. Hi Byrd, I'll let you ponder on the location for a while, but you are about 45 minutes away!