Story by Educator Russell
The children in Gorton House toddlers have been capitalising on a break in the inclement weather to reinvigorate our garden. With spring coming into its own and rearing its sunny head on a more regular basis, we thought the time was nigh, so we dove right in.
Our conversation started with our intentions and some talk about why we need to remove weeds and unwanted growth. Several of the children were able to relate to this and mentioned that they’d done some weeding with either mum/dad or grandma/grandad (or some preferred derivative of these names). As an added bonus, we got the chance to discover and observe a few snails and worms along the way. This was not only of great interest to the kids, but we could also chat about how healthy the soil was because of the presence of these creatures.
The cleaning process was no small task, but we got there with the help of some of our always welcome and helpful Corporate Volunteers. From there we spoke about what we might plant over the coming weeks. We settled on cucumbers, chia seeds, parsley, eggplants and maybe some basil (I don’t have much luck with basil though).
Importantly, it seems that the kids get just as much out of talking about what we’re going to do as they do by diving in hands first. I really think they value the process, and this helps to establish and nurture a sense of ownership of the project. They’re a very green mob the toddler kids, and it will be interesting to see how things play out over the coming weeks.
Story by Senior Occupational Therapist Justine
The children recently had a great time using these ‘Zen Water Art Canvases’ at Johnson House preschool. These canvases are inspired by the Zen idea of “living in the moment”. All it takes is dipping the brush into a bit of water and off you go! After a few minutes, the canvas is dry again and you can start over.
This particular style and process of painting not only inspires endless imagination, but it is also incredibly calming. Mindfulness is an evidenced-based practice, with a vast amount of research having been done on the effect it has on the brain. Mindfulness engages the parts of the brain that help us to regulate our emotions and create a sense of safety. Mindfulness also helps all parts of the brain to work together as an integrated whole.
At Johnson House preschool we are always looking for ways to embed mindfulness into the program, and these Zen canvases were a lovely way to spend some time focusing our attention on the present, rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven to: decrease stress and anxiety; increase self-awareness; bring emotional balance and stability; and allow compassion and empathy to grow.