Story by Educator Nicky
Regardless of the weather, the children in Gorton House preschool are always planning for campfires. It is the campfire experience, above all others, that most excites almost every child in the preschool room. With a shift in the weather recently, and the rapid drop in temperature, the warmth the fires provide has added an additional element to draw us in.
It had been a while since marshmallows were toasted, so this week, packets of marshmallows were brought in at the children’s suggestion (dare I say insistence) and the gathering of some children around the fire to light the firewood and toast these occasional treats drew us all together.
These gathering times provided us with opportunities to share discussions about the important things happening around us—the country we are on, the fact that we are gathering on Wangal Land and sharing this space, and other ideas.
This week was Reconciliation Week, and we remembered the country we were on, acknowledged Darug, the first language spoken on this land, and acknowledged Australia’s First Nations People and the care of country they have practiced for thousands of years and continue to practice today. We talked about how we can work together, alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to care for the land, the seas and animals, and hear their voices when they speak about how to ensure a safe and fair Australia.
The children take an active role in planning for our campfires and our jaunts to the goose paddock to collect firewood, and they ensure the wood has time to sit and dry thoroughly before we use it as we have discovered that moist wood causes smoky fires. The children mix cooking ingredients so that other meals (in addition to marshmallows) can be cooked—this week, it was banana and cinnamon pancakes. We discuss the ingredients and options and model inclusion so that every child’s dietary requirements are considered. Vegan marshmallows are available, and dairy milk can be switched to plant-based milk so that every child can engage and have the same opportunity to be involved regardless of their dietary needs.
The children work this out for themselves automatically when we are cooking. Some of the children look to see which peers are in attendance and they may comment, “We should use oat or soy milk today so that [child] can have it too.” This proactive and transparent action is just a reality, an automatic part of shared decision making so we are creating a community where it is normal for us to plan experiences where everyone’s needs can be considered.
As I type this story, I am preparing to dash back, so that we can light the third fire for this week—to warm our hands, (and our bellies) with pancakes and the last batch of marshmallows for a while, as we do know that too much sugar on a regular basis isn’t the best for our bodies. Afterwards, we will sort through the damp ashes for bits of charcoal that we will then use to draw and create temporary art on a panel of fence palings that we have assigned for this very purpose. And hopefully, everyone will feel warm in both body and spirit!
Story by Educator Sreedevi
The children in Johnson House toddlers have been eager to play with dinosaurs. To facilitate this interest, Educators have been creating play spaces and experiences linked to dinosaurs. Dinosaur puzzles were added to the space and the children were keen to carefully arrange the numbered dinosaur puzzle pieces to create an image, using numeracy-based skills to put these together. They showed excitement as they successfully completed the puzzle.
The children showed interest in the dinosaur images on the wall, and they compared and contrasted the puzzle and the poster images, and pretended to be dinosaurs, stomping and roaring in the space. This then turned into a great art experience where the children were able to create dinosaur footprints using art materials.
With the range of opportunities presented, the children have really enjoyed this investigation, which has helped to extend their imaginative play skills, fine motor and cognitive thinking skills. We look forward to continuing this learning in Johnson House toddlers.
Story by Playgroup Coordinator Rebecca
At playgroup this week, we placed toy insects in water and froze them, making learning about insects even more exciting and meaningful for the children. This activity helped the children to practice their language skills and increase their vocabulary as they discussed with others how to free the insects from the ice and what tools could they use to ‘rescue’ them.
As you can see, the children pictured here are studying the insects intensely; maybe they are wondering about the colours of the insects or how many legs they have? The ice has helped the children to slow down and take time to explore.
This is an activity that is super easy to replicate at home—just use any object that your child is interested in. Incorporating ice into their play is an excellent way to give your child a fun and stimulating sensory experience.