Scroll to content
Thomas Eaton Primary Academy home page

Thomas Eaton

Primary Academy

All for Learning and Learning for All


Welcome to Donaldson Class!


Hello. We are Pre-school and we are named after the children's author Julia Donaldson. 

She has written more than 100 plays and books for children and teenagers and served as the children’s laureate of the United Kingdom from 2011 to 2013. The laureate’s job is to promote children’s literature.


Julia Donaldson Facts

  1. When she was a young girl, Julia’s father gave her a poetry book called ‘The Book of a Thousand Poems’. She would learn & recite these poems & begin to write her very own.
  2. Julia met Malcolm Donaldson, whom she wed, at Bristol University. The would busk & sing across the world, writing specific songs for each country. The ‘Spaghetti Song’ was a real hit in Italy!
  3. Before releasing her first book, Julia Donaldson was a singer-songwriter for children’s television. She was inspired to turn her song, A Squash and a Squeeze, into a story book with pictures. She collaborated with illustrator Axel Scheffler, & the tale was published in 1993, six years before The Gruffalo was released.
  4. Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo book was actually inspired by Chinese folklore. There is a tale about a little girl who escapes the wrath of a tiger by claiming to be the queen of the Jungle. The tiger follows the girl through the jungle and misinterprets the fear of the other animals to be scared of the girl and not the tiger. The tiger fled.
  5. Despite being a children’s author, in 2009, Julia published her very first book for the teenage market. It was titled Running in the Cracks. It is also her longest book to date.
  6. There is a portrait of Julia Donaldson by artist Peter Monkman in The National Gallery. It features her in her ‘prop cupboard’ where she writes her stories. It was commissioned by the Trustees for the First Prize, BP Portrait Award 2009. The painting itself is oil on canvas.
  7. Julia Donaldson was the Children's Laureate from 2011 to 2013. An aim of hers was to encourage children to perform more poetry & plays to create a greater love of reading & books. Also, during her tenure, she passionately campaigned against library budget cuts & closures.
  8. In 2011, as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours she was appointed MBE for services to literature & later promoted to CBE in the 2019 New Year Honours.
  9. In 2013, Julia & her fans set the world record for creating the longest chain of paper dolls. Macmillan Children's Books, 50 volunteers & fans from all over the world submitted tens of thousands of hand-designed paper dolls. 45,282 paper dolls were laid out & the chain measured 4549.7m, breaking the previous record of 2683.21m. That's the equivalent of 40 football pitches!
  10. She has written more than 200 books. Over 80 of these are available to buy in shops/online, with more than 120 designed for schools.

About us


Our room leader is Mrs Payne and Miss Wren and Mrs Anthony-Saxby also support the children in Donaldson class.

Children who begin their time at Thomas Eaton in our Pre-school or Reception Class are welcomed as part of our school from the very beginning. Parents are welcomed too and we pride ourselves on our good relationships with children and their families. Our experienced and dedicated Early Years Team work closely together through Pre-school and Reception to ensure children are given the best educational start and develop a life long love of learning.


We benefit from having small class sizes in Early Years, giving teachers the opportunity to get to know their pupils extremely well; observe how they work and embrace their next steps in learning. Teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their early development.


Learning in the Early Years (particularly in Pre-school) is play based. There are untold benefits of child led learning including the development of intellectual skills, thinking and motivation. Play encourages language skills, supports pre-literacy skills, develops social and emotional skills and fosters creativity and imagination.


Children will also work in small groups to further develop number, mark making and writing, phonics, art, fine motor and speech and language skills.


Teachers plan to develop children’s curiosity and interest in learning and risk taking is encouraged to give children the opportunity to be resilient and brave learners. 


Our outdoor space is used throughout the year and the freedom of this learning environment sees language skills thrive and discovery and inquiry skills develop. 

Reading with your child,


Reading to children from an early age is the best way of encouraging them to love books and reading. By reading stories aloud, we take them into a world that goes well beyond our typical everyday spoken language, and form a link for them between reading, comfort and love. We need to do everything we can to ensure children get the reading habit while they are very young – before technology gets a foothold in their lives. 


But what can you do to help develop good reading habits in pre-school aged children at home? Children thrive on repetition, so remember that when they’ve read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt for the hundredth time, you are hardwiring their brain for success! The more they read, the more the story ‘belongs’ to the child. When a child knows a story well, they will want to ‘read’ it over and over again, joining in with the actions and expressions that their adult has used – a rewarding experience for everyone!


10 top tips for reading with your child at home.



1. Make reading to your child feel like a treat, introducing each new book with excitement.

2. Make it a special quiet time and cuddle up so both of you can see the book.

3. Show curiosity in what you’re going to read:
Oh no! I think Arthur is going to get even angrier now.

4. Read the whole story the first time through without stopping too much. If you think your child might not understand, say something like:
Oh I think what’s happening here is that…

5. Chat about the story:
I wonder why he did that…?
Oh no, I hope she’s not going to…

I wouldn’t have done that, would you?

6. Avoid asking questions to test what your child remembers.

7. Link stories to your own experiences:
This reminds me of…

8. Read favourite stories over and over again, getting your child to join in with the bits they know. 

9. Read with enthusiasm. Don’t be embarrassed to try out different voices; your child will love it!

10. Read with enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it, they won’t either!


The Characteristics of Effective Learning


The characteristics of effective learning are important learning behaviours that we support the children to develop throughout their time in Pre-School. They are split into three categories:


Playing and Exploring - Engagement:

Can I do this?


Active Learning - Motivation:

Do I want to do this?


Below you will find a useful website to explore the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the importance of developing a growth mindset.


Creating and Thinking Critically - Thinking:

How do I do this? 


We can help children to become effective learners by playing with them, listening and responding to them, acting as a sound board, supporting them to pursue their own interests, inspiring them, modelling discovery learning and both guiding and supporting them.

Our colourful world:


This half term our topic is 'Our colourful world' and we will be looking at space, travel and destinations chosen by the children . . . watch this space!

Our Colourful World

In Donaldson Class, we have been exploring different ways to travel and had fun making junk model cars, boats and planes. After reading the story ’Snail and the whale’, the children have enjoyed packing their imaginary case and travelling to Italy to make pizzas, to France learning to count ‘un, deux, trios’ and we also designed our own Aboriginal art!