Director’s Report April 2018
Listening to the radio in the car one morning on my way to work I was concerned to hear the revelations of a recent survey about Australian’s understanding of sun safety. According to this study most of us do not know when we should apply sunscreen, for instance, that our skin can still burn (sometimes more badly) on a cloudy day. “How can we change this?” I wondered. “People need to be educated!” I thought. Wait a minute – the penny dropped – at kindy we can do something about this! So that morning in Blue Group we started learning about the Sun, that it makes light and heat, that it is SO important for us but that it can also cause damage to our bodies if we don’t protect ourselves properly from its rays, even on cloudy days. We’ve had some great discussions and the children have brought the topic up several times (there are drawings on the wall at kindy demonstrating our thinking). Hopefully we are reinforcing a sunsafe message at kindy which will have a positive impact on our young friends’ future behaviour around sun protection. We will have these discussions in Yellow Group this term too. “Can we learn about the moon and the stars too?” asked one curious friend.
Yellow Group have been applying their interest to exploring and experimenting with nature and natural objects. Collections of interesting leaves, stones, flowers and twigs become ingredients in the mud kitchen. We have been trying out twigs, leaves and feathers at the painting easel to see what kind of marks they make. Hunts for insects occur daily and the tiny creatures cared for and released. A group of children went with Michelle on a long nature hunt up, through, under, over and around the kindy garden searching for interesting things to photograph. Different colours, shapes, textures – things we hadn’t noticed before – even tiny, hot pink fungi and a rock with indentations that looked like face. It is well documented that spending time outside and interacting with nature is calming and supports children’s emotional development especially, and we are seeing this every day.
Teacher Kim left a surprise – some palm frond vessels that she had made. We looked at them and chatted about them at morning group time. What are they made of? What could we use them for? Someone suggested they would be good for carrying a baby in, as Aunty Sharron hold shown us the way Aboriginal people did in the past. We decided to call them “coolamons” as Aunty Sharron did. Since then our children have used the coolamons as canoes and for carrying things. Thank you Kim for these beautiful additions to our resources, they contribute wonderfully to teaching the children that simple, natural objects can be very useful and connect to our learning about our Indigenous culture and history.
Over the holidays the teachers transformed home corner into a medical centre – Blue Group call it a hospital, while Yellow Group call it the doctors’ surgery. In Blue Group the Hospital phone has been ringing non-stop with emergency calls – luckily we have had a small crew of rescue dogs and cats who, after awaiting instructions, run out to fetch the patient and bring them back to hospital. There they are treated by doctors and nurses wearing doctors’ coats and shower caps to keep their hair out of their eyes and the patients’ wounds. Bandages are applied, x-rays taken and injections administered. Records are kept on charts of body parts affected. “You have a frog in your throat” was one diagnosis followed by the rather more alarming “you have a horse in your heart”. Yellow Group have matched Blue Group for enthusiasm and engagement in the doctors’ surgery with the addition of a new wing – the animal surgery – where today a squadron of pelicans were admitted and treated for swallowing “hundreds” of puffer fish. The pelican actors were either made from loose parts or played by children. A team of doctors shared their ideas about what could be done and several methods applied – first extracting the puffer fish with tweezers, then blowing them out with a blowing machine, then finally, surgery. Children who had experience with having a procedure in hospital provided ideas for first putting the pelicans to sleep with a mask. The operations were performed successfully and all pelicans survived! We are very much enjoying this rich play that takes new directions each day and provides endless teaching and learning opportunities.
Blue Group experienced their first Bush Kindy by the Creek adventure on Tuesday this week, with Yellow Group excitedly anticipating theirs tomorrow. It was a very hot day but we enjoyed our walk down kindy street saying hello to the dogs and cats in their yards. We noticed cars, house numbers and people on bikes, and were careful to stay with our partners and in the line. We crossed the road safely and swish-swashed our way through the long grass in the park – to meet an unexpected visitor – a big green tractor there to mow! We chatted to the tractor driver and then ate our snack while we waited for him to finish before continuing on our travels. Being our first trip we focused on rules and boundaries – “no pick, no lick, stay within the boundaries”. We explored the forest a little and discovered some interesting features but kept our stay short to conserve energy for our big walk back. Our homeward bound trek was hot but we kept our spirits up with plans for what we will do next time – climb trees, make a fairy house, make a mountain out of sticks. The teachers are very excited to observe how children use this natural space, how their play develops and how it affects their confidence, resilience and creativity.
We enjoyed the lead up to Easter with a tall tale about the magical appearance of baby chicks in eggs for us to find. We made tiny clay nests, all comfy and cosy, and awaited their arrival. We had fun finding lots of colourful painted eggs in the garden before making the ultimate discovery of a big nest full of eggs – one for each clay nest.
- Tracy, Kate and I completed our C&K Nature Pedagogy training at Canungra last month. It was great to share experiences and pick up some new ideas which we can feed into our Bush Kindy and day-to-day programs.
- Fire Drill – in Blue Group we practiced what we would do if there was a fire at kindy. It will be Yellow Group’s turn next. This led to a hopeful discussion about having a visit from the firefighters with their truck. Together we wrote them a letter inviting the, to visit. We also included lots of questions and some things we already know.
- We planted a few seedlings in our veggie patch now that the weather is more suitable for growing. We are looking forward to discussing what else we could plant and how we must care for them.
- Some children discovered a bone in the garden – what could it have belonged to? They examined the weathered skull and shared their ideas… A sheep? A bull? A dinosaur? A unicorn? Some friends enjoyed burying and rediscovering it.
- Wove a giant spider web around A-frames – a colourful creation that caught some big “flies” and gave children opportunity to move their whole bodies over, under, in, out.
- We cut up a paw paw with Kim, tasted it and fed the skins to the worms.
- Our special words for the past few weeks have included “camouflage”, “nocturnal” and ultraviolet rays”.
- An enormous thank you goes to Niall from Urban Ecosystems for our fantastic new irrigation system. This is set up to water our top playground area and is programmed via an app and wifi. This will keep our garden green and our big trees happy. It is working like magic and we are already noticing the difference it makes. Thanks so much, Niall!
- To the committee for obtaining a grant for solar panels – how fantastic that we will save money and feed energy into the grid!
- To the working bee team for refreshing our kindy and having some great ideas for improving the building and grounds.
- To family members who have signed up to help with our Bush Kindy trips. We hope you enjoy it too!
Red Group Report April 2018
The last two weeks of Term One were filled with many preparations for Easter and our end of term Easter Egg Hunt. We made beautiful cards for our mums and dads and decorated baskets made from paper plates. We also made some bunny ear crowns to wear during our egg hunt on the last day of term. I was away the last week and would like to thank Kate, our lovely Green Group teacher, for covering for me.
The children loved doing finger painting with primary colours on a mirror. It was a beautiful visual and sensorial experience. As we progress through Term Two we will introduce a variety of methods to apply paint to paper and we will use clay to make 3D creations. We focus on the process, not the product at Chapel Hill and we know all children need time to explore new materials and repeat familiar activities again and again. Just to let you all know, we will start collecting artwork now for the Art Show in Term Three, in case your child wonders where their fabulous artwork has gone.
We have only had one session in Term Two and I have already noticed some changes in the group play. Many of the children are playing together in a mature manner, seeking out each other’s company and playing cooperatively. They are sharing ideas and negotiating these ideas for their play. The entire kindy environment is utilized now, including the climbing tree and mud kitchen. The new round swing is very popular, with up to six children sharing it at one time. It is wonderful to have a swing big enough for sharing or to lie down on for a peaceful solo swing. Red Group loves the new Doctors office. I found Phoebe in the hospital bed on Monday with many ailments and four doctors helping her get better. It’s amazing to observe how complex their imaginative play can be at three.
The children have also been challenging themselves physically; climbing the tree, balancing on planks and hopping over objects. We have put together a few obstacle courses in the last few weeks, which we encourage the children to adapt and change to their own design. At Pre-kindy we encourage and scaffold the children to develop their gross motor skills through climbing, balancing, jumping, digging, swinging etc.
In Term Two we celebrate a very special person in our lives with a Mothers Day Afternoon Tea. Red Group will be inviting our mummies along for yummy food and drink on Tuesday the 8th of May. We will be decorating and sending home invites next week. We are making our mums a special surprise and beautiful card to show her how much we love her.
We welcome a new Red Group friend this Term and her lovely family. Have you thought about coming to visit Red Group? We love parents and grandparents to join us for the afternoon, just add your name to the Roster list. Impromptu visits are fine also, we value all family connections at pre-kindy. If you have an interest or skill you would like to share with everyone please have a chat with me and we can work out a suitable time for you to share it with the group.
Here's a snapshot of what our Blue and Yellow Group children got up to in March 2018.
It takes some time to get used to big kindy life. There are lots of new names to learn, as well as routines and expectations. We are very proud of our new blue and yellow group friends who are really settling in, growing in confidence enough to show us their true personalities, and developing resilience as they face having to compromise, listen, take turns and share as a matter of routine. As we gather to read the last story of the day I look out on a little sea of happy but completely worn out faces – their young minds and bodies have worked so hard during the day!
In Blue group each day there has typically been a big group engaged in a session of dramatic play – A band of helmeted firefighters diligently patrol the outdoor areas, sirens wailing and dousing spot fires. Despite the noisiness it has been slow-moving, gentle play, as the children involved take turns being the leader and engage in great discussions as they build a fire station or base, and use clipboards to draw plans, maps and passcodes. This play has gradually morphed through different themes including building site, Paw Patrol, police, and most recently camping. The arrival of our new outdoor blocks inspired a rush of building projects – A Paw Patrol lookout, a home, a castle, a kennel, a sweet shop and a post office that involved letter writing. The self-driven nature of the play has allowed us to get to know these children’s interests and abilities and to hone in on some vital skills and understandings around social justice and fairness, co-operation, communication and problem solving.
Yellow Group has enjoyed a similarly rich and changing type of play that revolves around our big wooden cubby house in the top playground. Some story books and discussions about spiders inspired the creation of a “Spider Farm” there which involved weaving colourful yarn in between the slats, making spiders with craft materials and making food for the spiders and farmers in the mud kitchen. Over the weeks the play has expanded to include spider hunts, drawing webs and lots of positive discussions about spiders and the important job they do, as well as discussions and play about caterpillars, butterflies, hornets and bees. Again, this play that is driven by the children’s interests and enthusiasms allows us to find out what they know and like, and to teach skills and understandings as they are relevant to the children’s aims.
We are very grateful for our visits last week from Aunty Sharron, who is a Gamilaroi-Wiradjuri lady who shared some wonderful aspects of her culture with us and provoked interesting questions and learning about Australia’s first history. What was Australia like before there were houses, cars and shops? What did Aboriginal people do and eat? Where are they now? Through Sharron’s stories and descriptions children are building their understandings about our Aboriginal cultures and history. She also invites the children to see themselves as custodians of the land by revealing the connection between people, plants, animals and the earth and pointing out how we all rely upon each other.
This week Kevin from the Evergreen Children’s Theatre entertained and educated us with his Rainforest Experience puppet show. His theme of the uniqueness of the rainforest and our role as custodians reinforced Aunty Sharron’s message and our ongoing support of children as responsible citizens of the land.
The teaching team got stuck in to some professional development opportunities already this year – Tracy attended a seminar about childhood anxiety at OLR; Georgie and Esther visited Inclusion Works to see firsthand the extent of resources they lend out to support inclusion; Kate and I attended the first part of our Nature Pedagogy training at C&K head office last week and on Saturday Kate, Tracy and I will head down to Canungra to complete the practical side of the training.
- Mud kitchen play has been extremely popular with children using natural objects and loose parts to add to stews, cakes and cups of tea and coffee. This is a site of wonderful imaginative and collaborative play. One day in Blue Group we even explored pouring water of two different colours into either end of a flexible tube and discovering that they do not mix together straight away!
- We have some children who just love getting messy, and so we have provided many opportunities for painty, muddy, watery sensory exploring. Even if we don’t provide it some of our friends manage to explore in this way anyway! And for our friends who don’t enjoy messy play we are experimenting with sensory experiences that stay clean, such as mooshing goop around inside a sealed bag.
- We are reading about, investigating and creating our own animal tracks – the children are learning that animals leave marks, and are beginning to learn that we can tell the kind of animal it was by the tracks they leave. And do you know how else we discovered that you can tell if an animal has been around? Two friends noticed bird poo on a rock, which lead a small, enthusiastic group of us to embark upon a “poo hunt” and very educational it was….was that particular specimen belonging to a possum or a bug? “No, it’s definitely snail poo”, declared one now expert friend!
- Thank you to Cam and all the men at Shed West who worked on our fantastic new outdoor blocks – I reckon they’ll last us another thirty years or so!
- Parents who have come on roster – your help with cleaning up, organizing and preparing craft materials is enormously helpful and we cannot thank you enough for your time.
- To the parents who came along to our Bush Kindy information session – it was great to chat with you about what to expect … we are looking forward to families being involved in our trips into the bush!
- To the committee for sharing great ideas and enthusiastically getting stuck into projects straight away.
- To the working bee team for refreshing our kindy.
- To the committee and Adam Harm for our new ceiling fans – they are much more effective and quiet.
- To families for bringing in boxes and odds and ends – especially the odds and ends!
- To our teaching team for tackling term one with energy, warmth, humour and patience.