Story by Educator Mary
In the last few weeks in Gorton House infants we have planned a few outdoor experiences as we have observed a great interest by the children in outdoor activities. Our babies were engaged in our centre’s outdoor space, so we took them for a walk outside Gorton House.
Going for a walk together allows children to develop different skills, both social and physical. Staying in contact with nature helps them to develop their senses through touching, seeing, and smelling natural resources such as leaves, grass, flowers and sticks. Our babies showed us their curiosity by touching and feeling the natural environment around them.
Following the ‘Belonging, Being and Becoming: Early Years Learning Framework’, outdoor experiences have different benefits at this age, such as promoting healthy growth, learning, wellbeing and development. Exploring outside helps to enhance children’s social and cooperative skills. Our babies held hands, helping each other in a beautiful and meaningful way. Making connections in a new environment means sharing new experiences, building self-confidence and feeling comfortable with the world around them.
Going for a walk outside also helps to develop gross and fine motor skills. Our older babies engaged in walking, running, jumping and collecting natural resources. Our younger babies were encouraged to take a few steps, and to crawl and stand.
With this experience the children had the opportunity to explore, learn and have fun in a meaningful and playful way.
Story by Educator Afroza
A nature walk is a great way to observe, and explore nature while enjoying the outdoors. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and the children in Gorton House toddlers went for walk in our grounds to explore nature and we introduced them to natural elements in our environment. As the children walked, the rustling sounds from the dry leaves was amazing. They were very excited to ask their teacher various questions about nature, and Alma asked “Why there are so many dry leaves on the tree?”.
We visited the vegetable patch where a variety of seedlings are growing. The children were curious about what kind of plants are in the garden. We also talked about the soil, which has crushed egg shells on it. We told the children how these work on the soil to help the plants grow. Nature is the perfect setting to promote children’s creativity and imagination.
During our walk the children saw a kookaburra that was singing, and some children were seeing a kookaburra for the very first time. We encouraged the children to touch dry leaves and wet grass, and to climb on and over (non-hazardous) rocks and fallen trees.
While they walked, we told the children stories about nature. Last week we read a storybook about bugs, as well as the story ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. While on our nature walk, we saw long grass, and the children pretended to move through the long grass like the characters in ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.
Going on a nature walk and deliberately noticing things encourages children to observe with all of their senses. Children can learn to focus their attention and take in the details of the things around them.
Story by Senior Occupational Therapist Justine
Incorporating ‘pre-writing concepts’ in a play-based way has continued to be a focus for the children at Johnson House preschool. Pre-writing concepts can happen anywhere and, more often than not, don’t need to involve a pencil and paper!
Using playdough and gem stones, the children were encouraged and supported to roll out their playdough and to shape it into pre-writing patterns such as straight lines, zig-zags and circles. After forming the patterns with the playdough, the children placed gem stones on top.
Opportunities to master control of lines, curves and shapes is really important for the later learning of how these patterns can then be pieced together to form a letter or number. Keeping the activity relatively ‘error free’ also means that the focus is on building confidence and skills – the best foundations for writing later on.
The added tactile sensory input encourages movement and learning in a multi-sensory way. Sensory-enhanced tactile learning experiences are essential for brain development because when a sense is engaged, neural pathways are being created to assist with further learning.
Family Day Care Sydney Wide
Story by Educator Support Officer Maureen
After 20 years and almost 70,000 kilometres transporting possibly hundreds of children and many Educators to our weekly playgroup, we are delighted to say our bus keeps rolling along for another year!… But not without some effort. There are never two days the same in our roles as Educator Support Officers. Last week Barb and I prepared the bus by sweeping and washing the interior and exterior, before taking it to the Transport for NSW Roads and Maritime Service at Botany for its annual registration inspection over the pit. It got a great big pass!
Story by Playgroup Coordinator Rebecca
Last Saturday at our Fathers’ and Male Carers’ Playgroup we spent a lot of time playing in the outside area. The weather was amazing, and the sandpit provided us with the perfect place to gather and work together to dig holes and build roads for the trucks to drive on. We took our shoes and socks off so that we could feel the texture of the sand beneath our feet. Burying our feet was also great fun!
We discovered that we could ride the bikes up and down the ramp and this led us to learn about co-operation and sharing as we took turns and pushed each other up the ramp before the excitement of ‘whizzing’ back down.
We also enjoyed ourselves in the ‘office play’ area. Here we entered information into the computers and practiced our fine motor skills when we were trying to push only one key at a time. It was great to see the enjoyment on the children’s faces as they were allowed to play with things that are usually off limits.