Lots of conversations have been happening in many aspects of the Johnson House program in regards to cooking and food preparation. Using their imagination, the children have pretended to bake at the playdough table as well as serving each other pretend food in the dramatic play space. One of our educators, Madhu, extended on this interest and curiosity with the children this week, inviting them to make fruit kebabs. The children cut their own fruit independently and carefully slid the pieces on to their skewers. This experience was a great opportunity to extend on the children’s interests and to enhance everyday skills linked to food preparation and cooking.
This week the children in Murray House infants have been enjoying lots of fun in the water and have been busy making lots of splashes in the puddles. Educator Latha has turned our ball pit into a puddle for our children to enjoy and explore during the beautiful hot weather. Many of the children showed interest in this, as water play has always been a favourite play for many of our children. The puddle instantly captured the children’s attention, and they all jumped into it with barefoot to explore. They stomped and tapped the water and watched the splashes. The children seemed to enjoy the hot weather and didn’t mind getting wet. Some of the children even sat down in the puddle to play!
Playing with water can help children to develop and practice many skills. It is terrific for exploring sensory experiences, and it allows children to learn about ‘cause and effect’ as they make lots of splashes.
Children need opportunities to practise their turn taking skills, and teaching them how take turns remains one of the ongoing goals of our curriculum. This week in Murray House toddlers we continued to foster children’s turns taking skills with various social games and songs. With support the children are displaying an increasing ability to take turns whilst having a lot of fun!
We’ve recently added some new resources to the indoor kitchen as well. As a result, the kitchen has been supper busy. Children have been observed pretending to shop and cook for the educator, for each other, and for their ‘babies’. Through their imaginative play, we, as educators and children’s co-players have been heavily capitalising on these spontaneous learning opportunities to foster their creativity, imagination, language skills, turns taking skills, regulation skills, as well as promoting healthy food choices.
The children’s interest in cooking and imaginative play also transferred to the mud kitchen outdoors. In the mud kitchen and mud pit, they were not only busy pretending to cook and make birthday cakes, they also used their senses to explore the properties of mud and seemed to enjoy the sensory experience of squelchy mud when they touched it and squeezed it with their hands. Their interest in mud was extended upon through a book titled ‘Mud Puddle’ by Robert Munsch. The children regularly request this book, and it seems to be a favourite at the moment.
We also further extended the children’s interest in sensory play through the provision of ‘slime’. A few children slowly explored the slime’s texture by touching it with one finger, then with one hand, then two hands, and finally with both arms. They used the big muscles of their wrists and arms to spread the slime around the table while singing.
Books and reading are an important part of the program in Rigby House, and lately the children have been requesting many readings of one of their favourite books, “Room on the Broom”.
The children have come to know this book very well, and it’s wonderful to see them answer the questions that their educators ask about the story, and to see them dramatise the story as they take on the parts of various characters such as the witch, the dog, the cat, the monster, the beast and the dragon!
Our educators have been supporting the children to further extend their imaginations and creativity by inviting them to express their ideas and understanding of this story through sculpting with playdough and painting. The children created their own scary monsters, beasts and dragons, and as they worked they talked about the characters they were creating, the part they played in the story, and why they were scary or ‘bad’. We also heard many ‘roars’ coming from the scary creatures that the children created. What wonderful imaginations!
Celebrations for Lunar New Year have taken up a large part of Robinson House’s curriculum over past weeks. In particular, the stories and practices of dragon dancing have inspired the children’s imaginations. Getting creative with cardboard, masking tape, gold paper and paint, we made a beautiful shiny dragon’s head! Many of the children were eager to share their experience of Lunar New Year, saying things like “I was in a restaurant when I saw a dragon with my family!” and “When I went to Chinese New Year there were so many dragons, I was scared.” One child explained “When there are fireworks it means there’s a celebration.” The children’s knowledge has led us down many avenues; for example, one child shared that drums always accompanied the dragon dance. Another child shared with the group that the people in the dragon’s tail need to walk in single file, not in twos as we had been doing. We watched some videos of the experts and then the children shared their ideas for choreography.
Our explorations of dragon dancing has inspired a lot of collaboration and shared thinking amongst children and educators, particularly as we learn to move as one big dragon rather than as a group of individual people. It has been beautiful to see the children take a very active role in their learning, and reminding educators of the plan for the day, saying things like “We need to write our letters for our red envelopes!” or “Remember we have to go outside today to practice the dance!” It has also been great hearing from families and educators about how they celebrate Lunar New Year in their communities.