Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The great outdoors

Liz and I worked incredibly hard designing the playground that would suit the philosophy of the service, the needs of educators, families and children, while still meeting all regulations.

The following images are of the playground when it was completed in early Feb 2011.  We are still aiming for a larger planted area of lush green, and a natural shade space over the sandpit.  There are so many areas of the playground that I love, the mud pit, dry creek bed, veggie patch - but by far the most enjoyable is the grassy hill.  There is nothing better than sitting on top of the hill with the children and having snack, singing, reading or watching the clouds roll in over the nearby hills and discussing the weather, or watching the native Kookaburra in the tree.
Our Mud patch

This space has been used as a book area, home corner, block area, office
Sandpit, dry creek bed and frog pond

We sank the slide into the hill and have a fantastic texture fence
which has various natural fibers in sections

The fence also has a large piece of perspex for painting, shaving cream and mud play

Hi-lo logs and seats along with our vertical garden

The path winds its way through the playground, we used different stone types
to add colour and texture to the experience

Monday, 12 September 2011

"From little things big thing grow........"

Ok, I know I'm being very keen posting twice in one evening, but we had so many exciting experiences occur during our program today - I just had to share.

It started out small. 3 boys playing in the sandpit, building on play from the last few weeks,
rolling and smoothing the sand to make a road.
"It has to be really really flat" said R as he directed A (child with shovel) to fill the small holes left in the sand. As A smoothed the bumps he had an idea " I fink (sic) our road needs a dam, a big dam wif (sic) water".
RI returned with one of our "loose parts" containers full of water and tipped it into the hole,
"hey the sand is thirsty, the water has all gone".

We discussed how we could keep the water in the dam, and after much discussion an educator suggested - maybe using a plastic bag? "Nah, that will make the water sick" said RI "plastic is not good for the water".  So Educator and In and J looked in our loose parts area, where we found some tarps. By now other children had joined the experience, and we decided the pond needed to be larger. With so many differing opinions, it was difficult to make a decision about how big and deep the hole needed to be. A few children moved off to dig their own holes
and eventually returned to help the group. We placed the tarp in the hole and placed
rocks around to secure the space.

More children joined in, and the large group worked together to fill the hole with water.

M and B decided that the pond needed ducks and chickens to swim in it, and went inside to the open collage area and made animals out of containers, and floated them on the water.


While visiting a student on placement a few weeks ago, I observed a similar activity to this one, set up in the play room.  I sat back and watched as children manipulated the tongs with one hand, or both, to pick up objects and place them in containers.  I reflected on the button sorting experience we introduced a few weeks ago, the children frequented the experience and obviously have a keen interest in sorting, classifying and organising objects.

L and C were drawn to the experience and quickly asked for more objects to be added.  Pom-Poms were added to enhance the play and add a little colour.

I'm really interested to see how this experience is explored, and I'm excited by the possibilities to extend and enhance the children's learning. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Cooking up a storm

While talking to the children over 'snack time', about what healthy choices they had in their snack boxes, many children pointed out the fact that they had helped Mums, Dads and Nonnas to bake healthy biscuits, muesli bars and bread.  At the same time my co-educator was experiencing a similar conversation in the home corner, as children 'cooked' and prepared meals.  Reflecting on these experiences after the session, we decided to extend this interest in cooking, including adding Cheese & Vegemite pinwheels into the program.

Small groups of children washed their hands and sat at the table listening intently as the experience was introduced.

Children were given the choice what to include in their pinwheels, then began spreading butter or Vegemite on the pastry before sprinkling the cheese on.

Not only did this support fine motor development and dexterity, but enhanced cognitive skills.  Pre-mathematical concepts were again introduced (thick, thin, long, short and measuring).

Sprinkling cheese on the pastry proved too tempting for some children, who decided that they needed to 'taste test' the cheese prior to using it.

Rolling the pinwheel again used many of the children's skills as they manipulated the pastry, trying to keep everything inside.

We introduced the concept of time into the program as children anxiously waited to see their pinwheels cooked and then wait long enough for them to cool so they could be eaten.

This was such a successful experience, I cant wait to add other cooking experiences into the program.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A bare foot Blog

I have just finished reading an article on the importance of allowing children (particularly infants) the opportunity to explore their environment bare foot.  Not only does it stimulate the senses and overall development of the child, but reconnects children to their world, lowering stress and anxiety, hyperactivity and helps to 'centre' children.   I was forced to reflect on the opportunities we provide for the children (and educators) in our early learning centre.

What better way to reflect then through photography?????

 Barefoot play is not only limited to the children but Early Years Professionals also.  Children are guided and encouraged to make 'safe' choices about where they walk while bare foot however ultimately the choice is theirs and we see it as an opportunity for the child to use ones initiative, learn and grow from the choice they have made.  Children are encouraged to clean their own feet and place shoes and socks on before leaving.  Access to buckets of clean soapy water, brushes and washers is always made available so the children can practice Independence skills.

* Note the only 'limit' we set for bare foot play is on cold, wet  or wintery days.  On these days children are encouraged to make a choice that will keep them warm and safe.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Playing with light

Last week, I.M. and a group of children designed and constructed a power station out of blocks, wool, tape and imagination. During the construction, staff overheard the children discussing properties of electricity, dangers and how it can be used.

This week, we have added an overhead projector to the program to extend on this interest of 'power, lights and electricity'.

 At first the children focused on the light plate, not seeming to understand that what they were placing on the plate was projected onto the wall

 Once they realised the play changed dramatically and they started to develop patterns, shapes and discussing sizes.  D.M. noticed that if he placed on object on the left of the screen it would be projected to the right of the wall.

Then the shadow play began with arms, legs and fingers

 Today we added some natural materials to the screen which, when projected looked like spiders.
I am interested to see where and how the children will evolve this play area.  We have had many wonderful in depth conversations about light and electricity as well as shadows, size and shape.