The children in Johnson House have been exploring the book The Giving Tree, written and Illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This book has linked in with the many discussions that educators have been having with children about kindness, feelings and respect. The children have been revisiting the book and exploring many themes arising from it. Following on from this, a Johnson House giving tree has been created where drawings, images and ideas have been added. The creation of such projects helps provide continuity as the children can revisit and add to the project. Each day currently involved and new children join in on the experience, ensuring that it is collaborative and that many ideas are exchanged and shared.
The children in Murray House infants love playing in the bushes! Educators are amazed by the learning and development that is occurring each time they observe the children. They enjoy getting involved in messy play by collecting dirt or mud, and being close to the natural environment by observing the trees and their branches. Some of the children have been challenging their gross motor abilities by climbing up big stones and engaging in safe ‘risky’ play.
This week the educators witnessed lovely interactions developing between the children playing in the bushes. The children welcomed other children to join in the play by saying “Hi Amelia!” and “Hi Leila!” with lots of excitement. This helps children to feel welcome and creates a sense of belonging within the group.
Murray House educators are pleased to see the children practising a range of skills while playing in the bushes, including gross motor skills and social skills, as well as building a relationship with the natural environment.
Throughout this week in Murray House toddlers educators intentionally planned and shared the book ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ by Julia and Donaldson and Axel Scheffler with the children. The aim was to promote children’s empathy, sharing and kindness. The children enjoyed the cumulative plot of this story, and some of them were also able to fill in the last few repetitive words in the story’s sentences when they were intentionally left out by the educators to extend the children’s language and literacy skills.
Through discussions about the story the children have demonstrated their awareness of kindness and their developing ability to see others’ perspectives. This awareness was seen through their responses when educators encouraged them to think of a kind thing to do for others. Some examples of their responses were: “we share”, “help someone when they’re sad”, “don’t hurt our friends”, and “help someone feel better when they’re sad”.
In Murray House toddlers, the children’s contribution to matters that affect them is always promoted. One of their favourite play spaces is the bottle house in the playground. However, with regular use, the back wall is starting to fall apart. The children were encouraged by educators to participate in discussions to decide what to do with the house. The unanimous decision was to save it. Therefore, the children have been very busy this week working on repairing the house with educators’ facilitation and support. Including children in decision-making gives them a message that they have a say in matters that affect them, and that their input is acted upon by responsive adults.
We are fortunate to have such beautiful grounds at The Infants’ Home, and even the youngest children in Rigby House are always keen to go for a walk.
During excursions into the grounds the older children care for their younger peers by holding their hands as they walk to the main lawn. Once there, the children enjoy running around and exploring the large expanse of lawn and challenging themselves to climb up and onto the big logs.
These experiences provide young children with opportunities to connect with nature, and they enjoy discovering natural treasures, such as flowers and leaves, and spotting birds and insects. They are always excited about what they see and find, and it is lovely for educators to hear them laughing and squealing with delight as they explore. While out and about the the children enjoy reading a story together with their educators, and this week they read one of the children’s favourite stories, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. On the way back to Rigby House, the children enjoy chanting along with their educators, “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one!”