In recent months the children in Gorton House preschool have continued to show great enthusiasm for campfires, and now barely a week goes by without a fire or two lit and a gathering ensuing.
Afternoon fires have been quite popular, which have been made even more special as this is the time that many families start arriving to collect their children. It has been so rewarding seeing the joy not only on the children’s faces, but also on those of their families. Families walk in to see their children gathered so happily, and very safely, around the fire, taking turns to toast marshmallows, bread or whatever else educators have managed to forage from the kitchen.
The children are so excited to share these delights with their families that they eagerly toast items for their family members and watch with glowing eyes as these are devoured—such a lovely sight!
The centre has had several ‘Friday afternoon fires’, and on one night one family was heard to comment “Such a perfect way to wind up the week”, and another to say “This is so nice, a highlight”. Educators were told that some family members look forward to these experiences on collecting their child just as much as the children!
Recently, a parent who was inspired by an afternoon campfire collaborated with educators and returned a couple of weeks later to cook ‘S’mores’ on the campfire with the children. Both the parent and her child were so excited about sharing a traditional treat from their native homeland of Canada.
While on a trip to the goose paddock to gather firewood for another campfire, one child stated, “We want to light a fire at night, so we can see the fire glow”. Everyone present agreed this was a great idea, so they kept the fire going well after it was dark.
Educators have also been intentional (and experimental) in exploring the many foods that can be cooked on campfires— they even tried apple, and many of the children were delighted. “It tastes so sweet”, two children grinned and commented, sharing their observations with everyone around them. Another beautiful afternoon winding down ritual has been discovered in Gorton House preschool and they love it!
With the chilly weather upon us, educators and children in Johnson House preschool have been incorporating ways to warm up their bodies into the daily program. Educators have been teaching the children a variety of exercises which not only keep them war, but also keep them fit! They have been discussing the importance of stretching and exercise, and practising stretches regularly to help build up the children’s confidence and knowledge. Teaching such concepts helps the children to enhance their physical wellbeing which contributes to their ability to concentrate, cooperate and learn. As the children become more independent they are taking greater responsibility for their health, hygiene and personal care, and becoming more mindful of theirown and others’ wellbeing.
This week Murray House infants’ room welcomed some new families. To support these families to feel comfortable, and to help educators to get to know them, the new families were invited to visit the centre. The visits have been valuable for both families and educators, and have provided opportunities for families to become familiar with the centre’s values and practices, and the programs the centre provides. These visits have also been great opportunities for educators to begin to develop relationships with new families and for families and educators to share information to support a smooth transition from home to the new learning environment.
The Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) states that it is important that educators support children to experience a smooth transition between home and the early childhood setting, and educators believe that this is more efficient when families and educators work collaboratively.
Murray House’s educators hope that their new families are feeling welcomed, and they look forward to working with families to create the best transition for children and ensure they feel secure and safe.
Murray House toddlers’ room educators extend a warm welcome to all of the new children and families who have recently joined them. To help new children to feel supported and included, and to develop a sense of belonging to the Murray House community, educators have been facilitating many small group experiences with story books and felt board stories throughout the day, and inviting new children to join these.
One of the books that the children enjoyed was ‘I will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato’ by Lauren Child. This story helped educators to talk with children about ‘everyday foods’ and ‘sometimes foods’, and about making healthy food choices. This was extended upon with a fruit cutting experience in which the children learned to wash their hands before handing food, and how to cut the fruit while following verbal instructions from educators. During this experience the children engaged in discussions about healthy food choices, and had opportunities to develop their persistence and fine motor skills.
This week educators also intentionally fostered children’s fine motor development with various experiences such as cutting magazines with training scissors, completing shape puzzles, using manipulative toys and painting with variously sized paint brushes.
Over the last few weeks educators have also been teaching children to identify and name feelings, and this week they extended this learning further through a ‘feelings’ matching game. As the children played this game with their peers they named and shared their understanding about feelings with each other. This game supports children to develop emotional vocabulary to help them to talk about their feelings.