Story by Educators Nicky and Sima
Families in Gorton House preschool are very welcome and enthusiastic contributors to the program. Last week a family approached us and asked whether we would like to share a celebration with them that is very close to their hearts—Halloween.
Halloween holds cultural significance for this family. We learned that Halloween originated in Ireland—the original homeland of this family, and every year this family participate fully in acknowledging Halloween—dressing up, carving pumpkins and making their house spooky!
We embraced the invitation to join them in preschool and so, just this week, they arrived with a huge pumpkin in tow. The child bearing the pumpkin was so eager to carve it amongst their friends and came in with images of faces we could use as inspiration. Every child in the preschool room was eager to join in and took turns adding to the design of the pumpkin, and then, carefully, and under the guidance of educators, carved it out using a small knife. Many of the children recalled a similar experience during Halloween last year and hoped that again we would put some candles inside to make the Jack-o-lantern shine (which of course, we did).
The children were so excited about the pumpkin flesh and the seeds that we scraped from inside the pumpkin, and wanted to use these for cooking, and suggested various recipes. The idea of baking pumpkin bread was born, and alongside educator Sima, the children cooked the pumpkin to soften it, then kneaded it into some bread dough. They then topped it with pumpkin seeds and over the next two days our pumpkin bread was baked. Nobody was willing to forget the idea of also making pumpkin soup, so that is planned for next week.
Alongside all of this, the children have now been inspired to plan further ways to participate in Halloween, discussing dress up days and making spooky decorations so that Gorton House preschool will look as spooky as it can. We are looking forward to seeing the children having fun, and they, alongside their families, are driving the celebrations around this festival.
Story by Speech Pathologist Kacey
This morning in Murray House toddlers a small group of children went into the office for a ‘Shark in the Park,’ group. We used a visual schedule so that we knew what to expect!
We started with a hello song and ‘checked in’ to group by placing our photos on a check in board. Each child’s photo was stuck to a shark that they put onto our ‘check in pond’.
After that we read ‘Shark in the Park’ by Nick Sharratt. We were very excited to call out “There’s a shark in the park!” together. The children were asked “What can you see?” They noticed ducks, children, a ball, trees and the main character Timothy. We used cylinder blocks as telescopes as we read and copied the actions of the main character Timothy. We looked at the sky, we looked at the ground, we looked all around!
After the story we used our telescopes to go on a scavenger hunt for items from the story—a shark, a duck, Timothy, a bird, a telescope, flowers and an aeroplane. Each child showed the group what they had found, looked at the set of items in the middle of the group and placed it with the matching picture. Matching activities help children to develop their visual discrimination skills.
Story by Playgroup Coordinator Rebecca
At playgroup you will often see us using natural and recycled materials in our activities and play. We do this because they are easy to find, cheap and able to be done at home with ease.
We use natural materials as they tend to be accessible as we can find them all around us. You can take your child for a walk to the park with a bag and encourage them to pick up sticks, leaves, flowers or whatever that is safe that interests them, from the ground. When you get home, you can use the materials that your child has chosen to make a nature collage, or for texture rubbing. Natural materials have sensory benefits for your child as they have different textures, sizes, colours and smells, all of which help enhance your child’s understanding of the world around them.
We also like to use recycled materials at playgroup as often as possible. Instead of throwing away a paper bag, allow your child to decorate it and before you know it you will have a handcrafted gift bag for a special occasion. In these pictures you can see that we have cut up paper supermarket shopping bags to create paper for the children to use. Boxes from the pantry can also be used as building blocks or turned into amazing creations.
Using natural and recycled materials helps teach our children about the importance of sustainability and allows them to explore the concepts of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. It also encourages children to use their imaginations to create wonderful and amazing things.