Exploring the natural environment
The children in Johnson House toddlers show great interest in exploring the natural environment around The Infants’ Home. This week they enjoyed looking at seed pods, leaves and flowers, and they explored these through their senses. They smelt the flowers, felt the textures of the leaves and listened to the crunchy sound made when they stepped on the dry leaves. The children helped collect a few seed pods, which the educators then included in an art activity, using the pods as stamps. The children were exploring the texture of the seedpods while creating their art works. Educators talked with the children about the different colours and the patterns they were making with the seed pods.
The children in Johnson House preschool have been showing an interest in gardening. They helped to plant a lemon tree that was recently donated by a family, and they also planted some flowers to add to our garden bed. The children have been ensuring that our plants have been kept well-watered during the recent warm and dry weather. The garden is a great place for learning to occur, and it gives the children an opportunity to develop their understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. It also forms a strong basis for learning basic scientific concepts as children hypothesise and explore what plants may need and what will happen as they grow. This experience has also provided the opportunity for the children to work together. They revisit the garden regularly and this has helped to enhance this interest for the children each and every day.
The educators in the Murray House infants’ room have added new sensory bottles to the space, with the intention to provide opportunities for the children to explore movements and support gaze tracking. The children are interested in watch the glistening glitters revealing objects floating inside the bottles. The children rolled, shook and pushed the bottles on the floor, as well using variety of methods to experiment and discover the ‘treasures’ hidden underneath the glitter. As the children have been exploring the sensory bottles they have also been building connections with peers, sharing the delight of their findings and practicing communication skills.
Our community library is open for business! After weeks of collecting books and working in collaboration to establish some ‘rules’ about borrowing/taking books from the library, the children in Murray House excitedly announced that our library is open for business! Groups of children have been taking turns to visit the library, and many discussions have occurred about what is expected from everyone to make sure that the library’s collection is maintained and the that space is aesthetically pleasant for everyone to enjoy. With educator Alisa’s help, the children wrote down the following rules:
‘Pack away books’, ‘Read books gently’, ‘Not breaking books’, ‘Tidy up’, and ‘No pushing’.
It has been lovely to see some families stopping by in the afternoon to sit with the children to read some books before heading home! We’re looking for donations of good quality children’s books, parenting books, etc. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate. Thank you!
The snail interest
The children’s interest in snails is continuing to grow, and with the recent rain, the children have been delighted to find even more of them in our garden. The children have been observing the snails as they move and retreat into their shell. The educators wondered aloud to the children why snails have shells. The children gave this question some thought and came up with several theories to explain this: “They hiding there.”, “They sleep in there”, “It [the shell] stuck.”
The children have noticed that the snail shells are brown and they describe the spiral pattern of the shell by saying “round and round”. During a painting experience the children asked for brown paint to paint snail shells. As they painted, the children used circular strokes to represent the snails shell. What wonderful thinking and reasoning our young children are demonstrating!
Rigby House educators have been reflecting on the great benefits of practicing mindfulness for both adults and children. Slowing down, and becoming aware of the present moment has been shown to reduce one’s stress, and to improve mood, attention and the ability to regulate emotions. The educators have introduced the children to some simple strategies to support them to stop and focus on what is happening and how they are feeling. The educators led the children in this relaxing exercise by asking them to listen to various sounds in our environment, observe the colour of the sky, clouds, and trees, and feel the breeze on their skin. The children’s smiles and calm moods demonstrated their enjoyment of this very relaxing exercise.
Family Day Care
At Family Day Care Sydney Wide our educators try to incorporate STEM-based activities (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into the daily program to reflect the children’s growing interest in their world. One of our educators, Hiranya Kijkobchai, from our Northern Beaches hub, has recently returned from a family holiday in Thailand. Hiranya (or ‘Pook’, as the children call her) had brought back with her dried Butterfly Pea Flowers, which act like a blue dye when added to warm water and is drunk as a caffeine-free tea. Hiranya poured some warm water into an upright glass, and then added a couple of the blue flowers and the children observed the water turn blue. Hiranya then removed the flowers when the right shade of blue had been achieved. She then presented the children with a lime and asked them to think about what might happen if she squeezed lime juice into the mixture. The children watched in amazement as the lime drops changed the colour of the water from blue to purple. Hiranya let the children to conduct their own experiments, giving each of them a glass with warm water to use. The children added a blue flower and when they liked the colour blue it made, they took the flower out and squeezed a segment of lime juice into the solution. “It’s Purple!” was the result of every experiment.
Hiranya made up a fresh pot of tea using the flowers, this time adding a little bit of honey to the solution and pouring this into individual small cups for the children to sample. She explained to the children that the blue colour of the tea came from the dried butterfly pea flowers and that the acidity of the lime caused the water to change from blue to purple! A very simple, but effective way of engaging the children in the natural wonders of our world.
Over the past few weeks the children at playgroup have shown an interest in animals. This week it was all about jungle animals. During group time, to enhance their motor development, children pretended to stomp their feet like elephants, crawl and roar like lions and jumped from hoop to hoop like monkeys. They searched for animals in a bowl of feathers, they sorted animals, and feathers were used as a painting tool. Playdough, bikes, and home corner are always enjoyed at playgroups as well.
Help our our community playgroups by supporting our plan to fill our playgroup van with new resources and equipment for children’s learning. Please follow this link to our crowdfunding campaign.