teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘anti-bias program’

Cooking with the Babies

Live and Learn right 🙂 We all make mistakes, plan an activity and then go ‘Uh Oh, I should have expected that!’ From not having enough towels or washing water after an exuberant finger painting activity, to not allowing the space for drying or displaying the fantastic large collage or art pieces!
I had a new one this week.

The Babies are making salt dough hand prints for end of year gifts. I was covering a shift in their room and asked to whip up a batch of the dough and see if I could get any hand prints done. 

No probs, thinks I! I can even get the babies involved with this!

A bit of pouring and mixing, they will probably try to taste it, but it’s all plain ingredients and Ok 🙂

I was truly impressed with the way the babies handled it, taking turns and eager to try for more!

What I didn’t plan on or think about was  Pavlov’s effect. Sitting the children at their regular eating table, offering ingredients to play with and then not prepping any food for afterwards! Oops. One hungry little batch of babies waiting for the immediate love of whatever they had just mixed! Big Oops!

A very quick snack of biscuits to tide us over as we sat among our floury mess and a big *headdesk* moment for me!

Of course babies appetites would be stimulated by the smells of cooking, of course their table means eating, how could I have missed this?

At least the activity went well, the presents were made, the babies were fed and smiles were all round!


Awsome Assistants need bigger and better Job descriptions!


I’m thinking my Tegan needs to be called ‘Super Awesome Girl’ or maybe ‘The Wonder Wizard’, ok so they need some work, but I just want to share this with you.

Today, I started halfway through the day so that I could have time for morning appointments and such. I thought I started at 12:30, but I was meant to be there at 12. Not feeling fantastic after I realised this, I entered my room a sorry mess. However, my team let me know it wasnt’ a stress and then shared a little secret with me.

They’d declared today ‘Cleaning Day!’ and all the kids got involved in washing, sweeping and cleaning our outdoor area!

Mind you, some washed as they swept!

Others polished their favourite toys,

while some avoided the water altogether!

Awesome, productive, eco-friendly ‘water play’ on a sunny but cool day!

Don’t you wish your team mates were Awesome like Mine 🙂

Balancing the load

One of the great things about working in childcare is that you are constantly reviewing your own bias’. We get opinions of experts, we hear from our peers and we share ideals, but when it comes down to it, it’s your own Bias’ that are most important to understand and learn to be flexible with.

Each and every childcare environment should be inclusive of sex, race, belief and ability. We are taught (and learn that it’s best) to leave our play spaces open – if boys want to dress up in fantastic fabrics and role play with dolls, we’re cool with that. If the girls want to get muddy in the sandpit as they dig with trucks or role play with dinosaurs, we’re cool with that. Often more so than the parents.

But children really do have their own agendas, their own favourite places to play. And that’s OK. If a girl is intent on carrying a baby doll with her everywhere, I’m happy with her doing so, exploring and working with her baby alongside. If a boy needs the physical feedback he gets from riding bikes, moving fast, kicking balls, let him have it!

The kids will express to you how they need the environment to change. Through increasingly diverse behaviours we’ll find ourselves wondering “What am I missing?” When in fact it’s the environment that is missing something. The challenges we need to take on are recognising the kids needs, interests and strengths so that we can include these in our daily environment and scaffold their learning with new opportunities.

There are so many educators and journalists have opinions on how to do this, but once again, it’s up to you. Challenge your bias’ on what is appropriate play and see how you can get the boys into the art areas. Rolling cars and big trucks through paint, using Ben 10 colouring in to scaffold pencil grips and skills, using house painting brushes to water paint on the walls and cement, just the tip of the iceberg. Adding materials,dolls, furniture or animals to the block area so the girls can create and learn about spatial awareness and balance.

I know this sounds kind of obvious, but this week I had an epiphany over one of my little men. My classroom has been female dominant for so long that his needs were not fully being met in our indoor environment. How did I not notice this? His behaviours were a form of communication, a connection, reaching out to me to tell me that he needed something more. Now my challenge is to change-up what I’m doing and see how he reacts to it. To watch how he uses the resources to see how I can better suit our environment to his needs.

It’s not going to be quick or easy. in fact, I think I’m going to be getting it wrong a few times first! But that is far better than doing the same things over and over again, yet expecting different results. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out I’d quickly go insane like that, but he did phrase it well 🙂

Cutting along the bias

One of the things we are confronted with everyday in childcare are bias’. How we react to others, how we help children interpret their own and ensuring that we both understand the families personal choices as well as helping parents and carers understand where we are coming from.

The other day we had our make up day. This can be quite confronting for some families – especially so for Dad’s opinions of their sons.

Likewise we can have parent’s upset because their little girl comes home with bruises and scrapes from climbing, running, building – instead of a bag full of artwork like their big sister.

What had me thinking about this was watching the ‘Koala’ kids cooking. The age group is 2 years old to 3 and a half, so their abilities and interests vary. The connections they make to each other and the resources vary greatly. The way they play with the equipment you put out is influenced by the particular individual or groups of children attending the activity. Because not all of them are talking yet, their play is far more interpretive. They are literally showing  your how they understand the world around them. what they connect when they look at the play area you have out, to what they are aware of.

Originally the ‘home corner’ table was set each morning with sparse plates and all the foods in the kitchen, gradually more food was added to the plates and the table until it looked like we were expecting a medieval feast!

It took one comment, from one of our fantastic Koala room girls, for  me to notice that we didn’t have saucepans or different textures of household objects; wooden spoons, metal whisks, plastic spatulas – it was all plastic. Was this because we saw it as a play area instead of a learning opportunity or because we didn’t trust the children, ourselves or the value of these items? Wow. I couldn’t believe I’d been so biased that the questions had not occurred to me, until *that* innocent comment!

So off to the local Op Shop I went. Disappointed to find only one small pot for sale and very few utensils at all. I tentatively asked the girls at the counter if there happened to be any more pots available and what followed was one the most exciting op-shop experiences in my life! I won’t go into details now, but I ended up walking away with a carton of saucepans, various utensils, bamboo steamers,  many cane baskets, kids costumes and a box of lego!

Hoping that the new additions to home corner would create more interest and extend the connections between the children’s knowledge, the opportunities for learning and the bonding between staff and children, we changed up the area to allow for more space, but also to set a boundary for play (so no stray pot pans wandered off to cause damage to peers and windows!)

The initial layout had 4  pots with a utensil  each and a collection of cotton balls inside. The area soon became so popular, that we bought out the other saucepans and utensils! The children showed us their understanding of hot, of sorting, or space and complex motor skills needed to hold a pot and stir at the same time. Their imaginations engaged their peers and their educators in play.

Dinners, food and even marshmallows were being cooked and served up! We needed to add another table as the play gained momentum and more children were served meals and drinks.

The success of the area was valued through the positive interactions between carers and children, the engagement the children showed when accessing and extending play in the area and the engagement other children could enjoy in various other areas of the room. Without a doubt, the area will be tweaked and refined to reflect the growing involvement of the kids, but it’s one I’m hoping to walk through without the blinkers of unrecognised bias’ on!