teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘beauty’

I went on holidays for 2 weeks and it was a fantastic break. I know that the girls in my room worked extra hard to share their knowledge of our kids whilst I was away. It’s hard for anyone to walk into a room and truly understand the dynamics of it. But they survived. πŸ™‚ Coming back, I was greeted with hugs and excitement. It really is awesome to feel that connection with the kids, to feel like *I* belong. All those elements of EYLF that we’ve been working on, coming full circle to include us!

I also got to come back on Halloween – which I love! Any excuse to dress up! I’d been on holidays for Diwali,Β  so wanted to do something different for this dress up day.

I stayed up making paper flowers, a skill which will come in handy for Remembrance Day, and checked out the sugar skull faces from Mexico. Normally on Dress up days, I face paint the kids in all manner of superhero, fairy, animal inspired wonder. But on the 31st I had heaps of requests for sugar skulls πŸ™‚ I felt it was a wonderful direction for my class to take, and they all looked superb as they ran around.

Sharing in the many cultures of the families at my centre just became all-that-more real to me, because I was able to bring a part of my life to them. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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A Treasure Trove of Connections!

As many people working in Long Day Care Centres will tell you, we love our sandpits. Unfortunately that also comes with the job of keeping the sand IN the sandpit. Not travelling around in buckets to be dumped down drains or poured on to the cement or carted around in trolleys or trucks, leaving little trails to be swept up by staff.

So when I saw an enormous pile of sand that had obviously been distributed there and then forgotten, it was off to fetch the dustpan and brush before it became a spread too large to clean up quickly. However, as often happens, I was waylaid by more important matters with children and parents. No drama really, that’s what I’m here for after all πŸ™‚

By the time I returned to the sand puddle, it no longer looked likeΒ  a discarded mess to be cleaned, but an important piece of art and communication.

So I stopped what I was going to do. And instead asked the children nearest to it, what had they been drawing.

“A treasure map!”

“You start here but have to go to the bridge and fight monsters”

“And use a boat!”

“You need a sword! *schwiiing*(sword being pulled out noise)”

“This is where you walk over the mountains”

“This is the treasure!”

“But more monsters and then you get the jewels”

 

My lovely Boy was eloquent and explanatory about their map. My beautiful girl was able to relate the whole thing back to “Playing Link on the computer with my brother”

What an important connection between home, care and friends had just happened here! And to think, if i was quicker at sweeping it all up, I would have missed such a fantastic opportunity to expand on this Treasure Map Role Play! So, Brooms away and off I went to collect paper, crayons and coffee tinted water.


As I came back with my arms full of art supplies, a decent sized group trailed after me like I was the Pied Piper πŸ™‚ Luckily, I’d figured this would happen, so had bought out lots to share!

We all sat around the sand map and let S and A explain the story again. Each child took a page and a crayon and began drawing their own treasure maps.

Knowing that coffee water could stain paper, but hoping not to make a bigger mess, we moved to the sandpit to finger paint on our maps. The first few to try were upset that some sand had gotten on to their art, but I excitedly explained that now their treasure maps looked like they had been buried for a long time! Soon, everyone was finger painting and then pouring sandΒ  on their pictures, followed by a shake and a display!


So I didn’t clean up the sand that day. But what I did do was far more important. So next time I see a random sand pile in the yard,I plan to stop, look and think ‘How was this important to someone today?’

Awash in a sea of colour

I love it when the sun shines but doesn’t make us sweat. I love seeing ideas shared between workers. I love seeing smiles on kids faces as they see us valuing their product.

Years ago the centre I was at was going through accreditation and one of the complaints she had, was that we weren’t “respecting the children’s art” enough. Her case in point was that one wall had all the children’s art mounted on different sized pieces of paper and put up in a wobbly line. As opposed to mounted identically and presented straight. Just to be clear. This is not what I am talking about. I’m thinking about how often the children will ask me to take a photo of them, their artwork, their building or a favourite toy. How this new generation recognises that photos are a keepsake, often more so than the art they take home.

I know I try to get the art we do for displays to go up straight away, to show the kids it’s theirs and it’s fantastic and it’s here. If it’s artwork to go home, I want it in their bags as soon as possible to show their families. But it’s not often we get to create the display as the children create the art. Which is why I love fence painting πŸ™‚

I still fully believe in the value of the process, the learning that comes from exploration and repeated use of new or familiar mediums. The up-scaling of skills as kids begin to form pictures or differentiate between colours, spaces and techniques.

These lovely large papers are free from any architects office, it’s printed on one side with building plans (fun for colouring in or map making) can completely blank on the other. We are lucky enough to get rolls and rolls of it from a family at the centre, but I have been known to approach nearby architects to rummage through their paper waste πŸ™‚

As the paintings are declared ‘done’ they are left on the wall to dry and be admired, owned and attached to. They create a gallery of communication in a sea of colour. They make us aware of our own abilities and open us up to ideas from our peers.

In fact, it prompted the idea that we should do this activity in the days leading up to our end of year party so that the parents have something to focus on and our children have something to show off and we have something to ‘prove our worth’ – plus it just looks really pretty πŸ™‚

Shhh, don’t tell! But sometimes, working in Childcare is REALLY fun!

 

One of the things that every good boss should tell you, is that you really need to look after yourself. Some days at work can be stressful and demanding, but when they’re not, ENJOY them! Stepping back and letting yourself play in the now is as rewarding for the kids as it is for us.

I could see the kids in the sandpit were starting a game of burying their toes in the sandpit. Unfortunately, the recent rains had made the sand cold and it was closing in on the end of the afternoon – so I took the bullet for them πŸ™‚

I offered myself up as the one to be buried, so that they could keep their shoes on and their bodies warmer. It took no time at all for them to grasp the game πŸ™‚

You can see one die-hard fan of being buried on the left. There was no way that she wasn’t going to enjoy the sensation, so I let her. Together we became mermaids. Quite cold mermaids, packed in sand but happy none-the-less. You’ll also notice my toes poking out at the end. That’s because my friend in the stripy jumper wanted to be able to tickle my toes:) It was only when she offered to take off my hat and bury my hair that I had to start getting worried!

Although the insistence that I have large and perky ‘boobs’ had me worried that Disney may just be infiltrating our images too much! Then I remembered that just about every mermaid I’ve ever seen has been drawn in this buxom manner. Are there any older, wiser and saggier female mermaids out there? In The Little Mermaid 2 thereΒ  was an older mermaid. THey covered up her entire torso in a corset-like number and gave her perky boobs.


Between body image and some of the gyrating hips I see when we dance, I think it’s time to bring back in classics like the ‘shopping trolley’ and the ‘sprinkler’, cause heaven knows that my non-animated chest isn’t up for jumping about like Stephanie from Lazy Town!

Now it’s time to say goodbye…

Our little chickens have been through quite a lot this year. Surviving a night without their heat lamp on, one ‘prematurely hatched’ by a curious toddler and all the manhandling that comes about from growing up with 80 kids around you! Last time you heard about them, they looked like this.

We each took joy in watching them ‘peep’ and finally hatch. Interestingly, each chick I saw erupted into the world in their own way. Gently tapping their way out, quick exits and entries, slow and deliberate movements and the one I missed but loved hearing the story recounted about – the one who cracked their egg completely around the middle and pushed both sides out like a superhero escaping an avalanche!

I did however catch this little one confusedly making it’s way out, spine first.

Last year we had 8 yellow chicks and 2 black ones. This year we have 6 black chicks and 3 yellow (although if you count our premature hatchling, that could have made 4)

AS the chicks have gotten bigger and braver, so have the kids. The more they handle them, the more they learn to accept the skittish movements or flutters of wings whilst balancing.

We’ve even let them start to explore our bodies as we’ve learnt to sit still and quiet.

Some of the chicks have gained a bit of wing strength and can hop/fly as they travel along our bodies!

Some of us have even been gifted with the chicken making to the top of our heads! But most of us are just happy to get up close and say hello!

I’d really love to keep a couple at school for a bit longer, as the kids really enjoyed the visit from last years chickens.

New Yam Festival!

Technically the New Yam Festival is on Saturday, but as with all great weekend occasions, we make them fit into our week day experiences πŸ™‚

We started with a group time that introduced Nigeria, as a country, what a Yam was – and how I didn’t have one but a sweet potato was like it – what the difference was between potatoes and sweet potatoes, how and why the Nigerian people celebrated the harvest of their yams, hen I made a mask/headdress like the ones they wear for the festival and parade.

It all got a bit crazy after that, as I fitted hats, another staff member added double-sided tape (for ease of decorating) and the children moved on to a table which had and arrangement of leaves, feathers, flower cutouts and insect cutouts.

Once done, we grabbed out instruments, chose our leader and ‘tail’ then prepared to entertain the younger kids with our parade πŸ™‚

Straight down our yard, making lots of noise – no doubt having the centrelink customers on the other side of the fence wondering what was going on πŸ™‚

Into the koala yard following the balance walk along the sandpit and around the obstacle course!

We had one teacher giving out sweets to the children as we returned, in high spirits to our outdoor group time area – getting to make so much noise and showing off our creations was an invigorating experience!

Our wonderful cook had gotten right into the theme and created two sweet potato dishes for us, one a roasted savoury number, the other a sweet concoction of melted marshmallow and boiled vegetable! The majority of children enjoyed both dishes, with some making their way up for seconds of their favourite dish πŸ™‚

Of course the best thing about wearing crowns in getting to keep wearing them during play! Interestingly, the boys wore them, while a few of the girls allocated characters to them, the two that stand out in my memory are a fairy and Princess Fiona (from Shrek)

The craziness of busy we felt as teachers was probably due to us normally having a fairly calm morning time that allows for small group play and individual interactions, so getting everyone together at once for art activities and big noise was definitely not normal for us! However, the children coped well with most able to self-regulate their hyper activity to move on to productive outdoor play.

In the late afternoon, I grabbed an African tambourine and donned the headdress then began a rousing game of chasey and hide ‘n’ seek, beating my Tambourine slowly as I crept along the yard, shaking out my headdress for emphasis on ‘looking’. As I approached the hiding places, I let the bells ring more and sped up the beat of the drum so that the kids had an aural sense of anticipation of being found. It was fun, it was exciting and it was hard work wearing that headdress – I might need to trim a layer in front of the eyes for more play on Monday!

It’s Electrifying!

I feel like so much has happened in the last week! I haven’t written any posts because I had a surprise visit form a friend I haven’t seen in over a decade πŸ™‚ And as everyone working with kids should know, it’s important to look after yourself and not try to do everything at once. However, I was still taking pictures and still thinking of what I was doing and what I wanted to write about.

I was enthused last month to rediscover the joys of maths with my Kindy Kids, and seeing their interest and enthusiasm fuelled a new learning area – Science and Discovery πŸ™‚Β  As it often happens in my life, when I think I’d really like to find something, the universe lays it out there for me. I was taking a detour through Kmart and happened to pass a small display of Plasma Balls. I know these are fantastic and ended up buying one for school and one for home. For those of you not familiar with them, they are usually glass balls filled with a specific mix of invisible gases that show up the electric charge being sent out by the centre unit. (google it for a more in-depth analysis!) They react beautiful when your hands, fingers and noses touch the outer ball, with the free running electrical currents coming in to focus on your touch.

Here you can see a child’s hand illuminated by the electrical connection.

The stream of ‘lightning’ will follow your fingers and share its energy between different points, if more than one hand is touching the globe.

Which is just as well really, because this previously ‘dead space’ in my classroom, is now a centre for sharing space, hypothesising and exploration!

Because of the lightning like effects, it has opened up discussions on weather and thunder, asΒ  well as the opportunity to ‘play’ with electricity whilst learning to be respectful of it. Which comes in handy when we want to explore the effects heat has on popcorn. We used a large electric frying pan (something I’d not done before) because it had a larger surface area for the kids to see how the popcorn reacted. It was a lot harder to shake the popcorn around in, so we did end up with more uncooked popcorn and burnt pieces than I am used to! The kids were more than forgiving as they eagerly lined up to be taste testers!

Figuring that most children would be able to connect to popcorn as a savoury we opened up our taste testing with plain popcorn, then salted, then icing sugared and finally a batch with a cinnamon-sugar topping. Smelling the ‘raw’ ingredients and connecting those to flavours and previous knowledge lead to a great discussion!

Applying the toppings is always fun and filled with complex physical skills as well as intrinsic learning – but we don’t have to tell them that πŸ™‚

Sifting and shaking take different skills, but ones that many of the children already practice in the sandpit.

I’d love to end this with a group shot of happy children trying our the flavours and picking their favourites – but it was a busy time and the camera was less important than sharing discoveries and seeing what flavours we preferred. Salt came in a solid first place, with icing sugar a close second. The Cinnamon mix was dead equal with the plain – both having only two people who counted it as their favourite…despite this, each bowl was empty at the end of the experiment! Which means it was a rather successful event, yes? πŸ™‚