It’s been all about nature lately in Johnson House. From nature walks to using natural materials to develop and create artworks, the children have used nature to extend their learning. The natural environment has brought about many opportunities for the children to sort and categorise found materials, to work independently and collaboratively with each other to discover and create, and to use their imaginations to spark creativity and curiosity. The children used natural materials to create portraits, worked on communal artworks using the items they found on their walks and also practiced weaving using natural materials. It was a great way to experience the many benefits of the natural environment and the opportunities it has to offer.
The children in Murray House toddlers’ room have been particularly interested in developing their jumping skills. Educator Alisa has followed this interest through a series of songs such as ‘Jumping Jack Man’ and ‘Jumping Star’, which were introduced to the children by Aunty Karen, a former educator at Murray House. A rectangular bread crate was placed in an open space to act as a stage, and the children sat on a bench and waited for their turn. Alisa then sang ‘Jumping Jack Man’, changing ‘Jack’ to the name of the child whose turn it was. Each child had a turn to stand in the middle of the crate and to jump up and down and put their hands out as suggested by the song. The springiness of the crate made it possible for the children to bounce up and down and reinforce their jumping skills. Alisa also sang ‘Jumping Star’, where children jump and down again while they their hands are raised up high to reach for a rainbow. The children also celebrated their jumping skills alongside their peers by jumping up and down on the concrete.
The children continue to gain confidence in their ability and to jump on their own without the aid of the springy bread crate. By setting up hoops to be ‘lily pads’ and singing the song ‘Der Galumph’, the children mimicked the movements of a frog as they leapt from one lily pad to another. With frequent practice, the children are gaining mastery of jumping. They have learned to bend their knees first before lifting their feet to jump and how to land back down safely. Experiences like these build children’s strength, balance and coordination, and also foster their emerging autonomy and perseverance.
The children in Murray House have also been enjoying playing in the garden outside the playground. They love getting involved in messy play with the dirt in the garden and exploring the natural environment as they walk in between the trees and branches. To help them explore this further, the educators in Murray House invited a group of children to plant some flowers in our giant pot. The children all seemed curious and excited about this learning experience as they all participated in the planting process by sprinkling the seeds and watering them in. To make the learning more meaningful, the educators led a discussion about the importance of caring for the plants that they were planting. Educators are looking forward to seeing the flowers growing and to see the children become more closely connected to the natural environment as they visit plants every day to water them and notice the changes as they grow.