Story by Educator Nicky
Campfires have always been a significant part of the children’s experiences in Gorton House preschool. However, many other experiences and interests have dominated the program in recent months, leaving little room for campfires. But finally, that has changed!
The children recently began talking about past campfires and commenting on how long it had been since we’d had one. We recalled the many things we had cooked on the fire in the past (including Stickbrot, dumplings, pancakes and bread, to name just a few) and when our newer children listened in curiously, we showed them photos on the iPad of past fires we’ve had, and the many meals shared. Plans for our first fire were immediately made for that very same day, and the children insisted that on our first fire, we should toast marshmallows. Everyone agreed and Emily dashed out to buy marshmallows and arrived just in time to light the fire, but then it rained! However, we are survivors and planners, and we knew that we would all be together again, the same group of children, on the same day, the following week.
We got prepared. Waiting for the same day of the week meant that the same children would be present, and no-one would miss out, and so on another Tuesday, we gathered. We acknowledged the Wangal people, and their care, respect and love for the land, the waterways, and the animals. As we lit the fire, we talked about the ways the Wangal people may have used a campfire. Was it to keep warm? Was it to cook food? We wondered about the stories they told their children as they sat around the fire…
Lighting the fire was exciting, and marshmallows were shared. The children took turns approaching the campfire with their marshmallow to toast it over the flames; those who were more cautious sought help from an educator who stayed right beside them the entire time. We developed an emerging awareness of the dangers as well as the joys of fires. We discussed behaviours that might put ourselves or others at risk and we remained alert and cautious about how we moved around this space.
What was also deeply exciting was putting the fire out. Initially we enjoyed just gathering around the firepit, watching the dancing flames and hearing and seeing the way they crackled and flickered. This was very soothing. However, as other things took our attention, we discussed how fires should never be left unattended, and how important it is to ensure a fire is completely out once we’ve finished with it.
As the children poured water over the flames and fully submerged the burning firewood, we explored the wet and cool charcoal left behind. We felt the ash with our fingers and discovered that the coal that had been left behind once the wood had burned was now a wonderful art medium and the children explored this as they used it to make marks on paper. Later we tipped all this cooled residue—the wet ash, the burnt sticks and all evidence of the campfire—into our play fire pit. This play fire pit was actually our original fire pit, however after what must have been almost a hundred (or maybe more) fires, it had begun to corrode, and needed to be replaced. The children now use this in dramatic play, gathering together to pretend to cook over the fire, bringing sticks to keep the fire going, and warning one another about the risk of burning themselves if they get too close to the flames.
Where to from here? The children are already planning what’s next and it seems we are cooking our lunch on the fire next Tuesday… Homemade sausages made from lentil sprouts, amongst other ingredients, to be wrapped in bread with tomato sauce!
Story by Educator Tanzila
The children in Johnson House toddlers have been exploring insects for some time. To support their interest and learning, I have been reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, by Eric Carle, to them. ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ is quite famous among our children as it has been reflected in their other play experiences as well. For instance, making caterpillars out of playdough or looking for caterpillars in the leaves in the garden. A collage activity was set up with glue, round paper shapes, paper stripes and pom poms to extend on this interest. The children were asked, “How can we start to make a caterpillar?”. One child enthusiastically suggested, “Start with the red head”, pointing happily to a toy caterpillar. The children confidently glued the head to begin with, and then slowly built up the caterpillar body by pasting on the green round paper shapes. When they finished pasting the caterpillar together, the children spoke about adding more features such as eyes, a nose and a mouth. The children continued to add various features to the caterpillar. This play experience helped children to develop their fine motor, language and cognitive skills.
Story by Educator Yoshi
Easter is an exciting holiday time, with family gatherings full of love, and lots of fun activities and events, and the children in Murray House babies have been enthusiastically getting involved in Easter activities.
They enjoyed the books ‘Easter Egg Surprise’ and ‘Spot’s First Easter’, finding the eggs in the stories by lifting the flaps in books as they took turns and shared the books. They were encouraged to count the number of eggs found to help build their early numeracy skills.
The children also engaged in painting to create eggs for Easter. Art experiences are not only fun, but they also promote creativity, hand-eye coordination, visual-spatial skills, and fine motor skills. They also help children gain confidence and to experience positive emotions.
The children also participated in challenging Easter egg hunts, reaching through a ‘spider web’ basket to reach some pretend eggs and playing a magnetic egg-catching game, both of which supported the development of their problem-solving skills and perseverance
Story by Educator Andrew
Last week in Robinson House we took our bike trailers out into The Infants’ Home community for another nature treasure hunt.
Previously we had explored every single part of the Robinson House back yard, making many exciting discoveries, but wondered what else could we find within The Infants’ Home grounds?
We wouldn’t have to wait much longer to answer that question, as we set off to see what we could find. Remi, Riley, Oliver, Kruz and River were very eager to be the first to leave Robinson House on the bikes, but before we left, we needed to have a quick chat about staying together as a group and a few things to ensure we were all kept safe… and then we were off!
The peloton headed up the footpath that runs behind Robinson House, up the path towards Johnson House and then all the way up to the kitchen garden!!
We were making tremendous progress and we discovered rock melons, flowers and a variety of fresh herbs (just to name a few) in the garden, but most exciting of all was the ride itself!
We decided to do three full laps of the huge circuit before making our way up to the top cubby house for a quick play.
Next on our adventure was another trip to the garden, before making our way back to explore Robinson House’s huge front yard. Whilst we were there, we found balls that we added to our trailers, and we were even lucky enough to find quite a few clay Easter eggs left over from last week’s hunt that hadn’t been found yet, and they too were thrown into our trailers.
As we rode, we discussed some of our favourite things we had done so far:
Remi: “Riding the bike on the path”
River: “The bike riding!”
Kruz: “Going up and down the path”
Oliver: “Riding the bike”s
Riley: “When Oli made a funny joke”
What an amazing adventure we all had! Next time we will record our journey using a GPS watch and we’ll upload it to a device so we can see exactly how far we went! We will also be able to see where exactly we travelled on the journey on the map and the speeds at which we travelled, among other exciting statistics.
What a great morning everyone, I’ll need to make sure I bring a bike next time too!