Recently the children in Johnson House toddlers have been interested in physical play, especially balancing on the outdoor play equipment. To extend their interest the educators introduced yoga with the children, focusing on balancing poses. The children were very enthusiastic to practice the poses demonstrated on the yoga cards, such as the ‘moon’, ‘mouse’, ‘shark’, and ‘magic carpet’ poses. As the children practised these they demonstrated how flexibly they can move their bodies. Yoga for children facilitates their strength, flexibility and coordination, and supports a sense of calmness.
The children are enjoying many elements of mindfulness within the Johnson House program. This term, each week a small integrated group participates in a mindfulness group. This week, to set the tone, we began with ‘star breathing’, where the children were encouraged to trace around the edge of a star, breathing in as they traced along one line, then breathing out as they traced along another. This experience helped the children transition from the daily program to the group, as well as to adjust their focus and attention for the remainder of the group time. Then, using a feather on different parts of their faces and hands, the children were encouraged to bring their full awareness to the feather – How did it feel? How did it sound? How did it smell? This is an example of a ‘sensing meditation’, where the children focused their attention on the sensations of the feather as well as on their breathing. We finished the group with our yoga sequence – ‘Dance for the Sun’. We are practising yoga for several reasons – physically, it enhances flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness, and mentally it improves concentration and promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Mark making – developing early literacy skills
Over the past few weeks we have been following children’s emerging interest in exploring mark making using variety of media that is available in their environment. This morning a child was observed creating a small hill of sand on the edge of the sand pit. While using her hand to flatten the mound, she noticed that her hand left a pattern. Her face lit up as she pointed at the pattern, showing her findings to the educator. She then used her finger to run along the sand’s surface, creating a squiggly line, and saying “hiss….!”, seemingly imitating the sound of a snake. It is always lovely to closely observe children’s engagement in play which leads to the development of learning, such as early literacy skills.
This week Lisa Doyle, our Occupational Therapist, invited the children to read ‘In my heart: A book of Feelings’. The book uses beautiful pictures and text to explore a range of emotions, including calm, happy, sad, brave, mad, hopeful, afraid and silly. As we read the book we talked about how our body might be feeling or how our face might look when we feel these emotions, and we talked about what was happening in the pictures that might cause someone to feel that way. Our toddlers are little people with big feelings, and they don’t always have the words to describe how they feel. Through reading this book, and through helping our children to name their emotions throughout the day, we are able to give them the words to describe how they feel, and help them to express themselves. In turn, as they get older, this helps children to be able to regulate their own emotions and actions throughout the day.
Over the last couple of months some children in Robinson House have been engaged in a project on how the planets work in our solar system. We have also been busy creating our own version of these planets. The children and educator Lesley came up with lots of ideas to make the planets, and after some discussion decided on utilising different size balloons and papier-mache. We will continue to explore and add to our project. We are also in the process of making a space rocket and a space station. The children showed cooperation by working together and sharing space and ideas.
Family Day Care
Storytelling has a special place in Rae’s Family Day Care Sydney Wide Service, with the children hearing many stories throughout their day, including stories such as fairy tales, folk tales, fables, myths and legends. Introducing subjects through stories engages children’s imaginations and strengthens their ability to create a picture in their mind, which is an essential skill for creative thinking later in life. Recently the children were telling their favourite stories: ‘The man who had lost his little green button’ and ‘The Easter Bunny and the special egg’. Stories become special moments in the children’s days – they take care to tell their story and to share their feelings with delight and joy.