Story by Educator Nicky
The children in Gorton House preschool continue to enjoy, as much as possible, time exploring the abundant natural spaces that the grounds of The Infants’ Home have to offer. We love the access we have to these spaces, and we’re delighted that our children, despite living in such a densely populated part of our city, can experience a nature oasis within our grounds.
It seems that now packing for mealtimes so that we don’t have to rush back to eat has become a very valued part of our excursions. Our visits to the Goose Paddock are often the children’s most memorable experiences. We have bought a wagon to make packing and transporting our needed items more manageable. With many of our children heading off to school next year, ‘lunch box week’ is just one of the opportunities we offer to make school experiences a little more familiar for them, helping build their familiarity with the experiences and expectations of school to support their transition to school.
We have been enjoying our lunch box week in the Goose Paddock! Of course, while in the Goose Paddock, noticing and observing nature, and reflecting on what we might see, are huge aspects of what excites the children about this space. We learn to recognise that the land we are on is also home to many other creatures that also rely on this space, so we share it with care and respect for all that live on this land. Just yesterday we were watching several large moths, or possibly butterflies, fluttering around while we were eating our lunch. Suddenly we saw a mother magpie and her baby fly down and land. The mother was holding what appeared to be a moth in her beak and right before our very eyes the baby opened its beak wide, and the mother magpie slowly fed bits of the moth to the baby magpie. We were in awe. It was the most amazing thing to observe first hand.
We also check regularly on the two St Andrews Cross Spiders that have built webs in the paddock, and we have also noticed the holes in the ground that signify that the cicadas have begun to make their appearance—one child spotted the first live cicada last week and we all gathered around, noticing it was a young cicada, a nymph that had recently shed its skin. We hoped it was able to keep itself safe from predators…
You never really know when you arrive in Gorton House preschool if you will find us there. Very often some of us are out exploring, as we take every chance we can get to explore our beautiful natural world. But you will know where to find us—go look in the Goose Paddock! One parent commented that she had chatted with her child about how much they love the Goose Paddock and the parent asked what it was the child liked so much. They responded, “The Goose Paddock makes me feel so calm”. Nature can be very grounding, and very regulating, which is so very important for a strong sense of wellbeing.
Story by Educator Neha
Recently the children in Johnson House preschool were invited to use musical instruments. They showed excitement and curiosity as they explored the music area. Some acted as musicians, while others were part of the audience. The children explored different musical instruments, such as rain sticks, drums, a xylophone and more. All of them had an enjoyable time and were delighted by this opportunity.
Engaging with musical instruments can help children with building their fine and gross motor skills, supporting their sensory development and enhancing their hand-eye coordination. It can also help children to their develop patience and perseverance. Moreover, music experiences have been known to accelerate brain development as music ignites all developmental areas, including intellectual, social, emotional and literacy skills. Experiencing music helps the body and the mind to work together.
To follow up on this experience, the children were invited to create their own instruments. They made rain sticks, xylophones, trumpets and flutes using rice, tissue paper rolls, colourful straws, ice cream sticks, paint and colourful paper. The children then used their instruments to dance and sing songs, and they really enjoyed working with their handmade resources.
Story by Speech Pathologist Rebecca
We enjoyed a finger painting experience this week in Johnson House toddlers, with bubble wrap as an added textural component! The children explored the cool, slippery paint and the bumpy, bubbly texture of the bubble wrap. They were also challenged to think about what colours might result from mixing together paint squirted directly onto their hands. They loved rubbing their arms and hands in the paint and swirling the colours together to produce new shades. To finish, they pressed paper onto the paint to create unique artworks, and gave me sticky, gooey high fives!
Sensory enhanced tactile learning experiences support cognitive development. Sensory play helps developing brains bridge nerve connections. New and frequent experiences create neural pathways that assist with further learning. Messy play fosters curiosity, scientific thinking, imagination, and exploration.
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Story by Educator Support Officer Maureen
Our Educator Una in our Randwick Hub has had a busy week with the children in her care.
She engaged in a community event, Keith’s Closet Shoe Box Appeal, supporting people accessing the Mental Health Service across NSW. Una invited donations and contributions from families using her service, and she was very grateful for their generosity. She also took her group of children to the local supermarket where they carried small baskets and chose items to add to the appeal. They had great fun filling and wrapping the boxes. To finalise the learning experience, the children walked to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick where one of the doctors from the Mental Health Team came outside to meet them and accept their donations. It was lovely learning for the children about the gift of giving.
Una also recently participated in our ‘Risky Play’ training session. She set up a suitable provocation in the centre of her garden, inviting the children to join in. They had a great time lifting and shifting and constructing and deconstructing the resources while using their imaginations, exercising their curiosity and developing their little toddler muscles.