teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘sound’

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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!

I love it when a plan comes together!

The classroom environment is a huge part of the children’s learning. We often think of spaces for quiet, soft, noisier, building, small group, large group, individual play and off course art work. WE make beautiful displays of the children’s art work, we theme walls to role play areas, we look at passage ways between areas to try to minimize running lines and maximise children’s ability to concentrate on tasks.

Sometimes we see going outside as a bit of a relief, a place for the kids to run off their energy and for us to chill a little as the messes are meant to be there, the areas are laid out for them and the running rules cease to exist.

Since moving into the Kindy room, my outdoor area has kinda stumped me. It’s a long yard of cement and astro turf. We added the \’jungle\’ but the yard seems more bare because of it! I keep looking and trying new things, tweaking bits, but I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to have to do a bit of an overhaul on it. Some things just won’t sit well with me until I do. I want it to be more of an outdoor classroom than just a yard. I’d love a workbench, with hammers and nails and glue and goodies to work with. I’d love to create a swirly walkway path that is covered in Arches of plants, with large rocks and small pebbles. I’d love the path to end at our dividing fence to the Koala yard and have little tubes of pipe for us to ‘post’ toys back and forth, use as telescopes and as foghorns. I’d love my jungle to be filled with real living plants and not just off cuts. I want a wall off herbs and flowers that we can care for and eat. Most of all I want the yard to be an area that excites and entices exploring and play. I want the thought that goes into the inside program and design to go into my outdoor area. But I also know that I have to start small.

I’d like to see areas for role play, gross motor, music, science and environments all work together in an easy and relaxed setting. So I’ve started small, on things I can change.

After a few days trying out different ways to make this work, I finally pulled it together from op shop and cheap shop buys! A pulley system!

With wooden ‘coins’ cut from some of the larger branches I acquired for our ‘jungle’ to use as weights. They really aren’t heavy at all, which makes me feel better about the safety of the area if someone tips the bucket on their own head!

My co-workers loved it – as did the kids! they started cheeky games with each other to pull the buckets out of reach, they held onto them to create more weight, they raced each other to fill them up. All fantastic learning opportunities for maths and science skills without me saying a word!

You know,  a few kids even clocked themselves on the head with the bucket or tipped wood coins on their toes, but not a sound of complaint was hears! Instead it was giggles and surprised looks. They’re learning resilience and testing hypotheses without even knowing what the words mean! I’m looking forward to this becoming less of a ‘new thing’ and more of an experience that the children drive and create themselves 🙂

Here’s another thing that I’d picked up a long time ago. Xylophone pieces that were mounted individually. I believe someone was throwing them out because there is not a complete set. I’ve had them at home, not knowing what it was I wanted to do with them, watching my kids play with them and ignore them. When I started thinking of permanent musical structures in my outdoor area, these quickly came to mind (along with some other things I’ve been sitting on, but I’m yet to figure out how to make them work successfully) A few cable ties later, borrowing sticks from our indoor musical kit, and voilà! A beautiful sounding musical pole!

I thought I’d add this pic in, because I found it so amusing when I figured out what he’d done…. can you see the stick is actually being held in the hand of one of our action figures (no, I’m not sure what happened to the rest of him either!) And E is using the action figures hand to make the music! So impressed with his spatial awareness to figure out that the stick would fit in, guess everyone needs a helping hand every now and again!

Sound and Reason

I recently came across this quote, but I’m not sure where it originates from….Kids need to hear it AND see it AND do it if you really want them to learn it. When looking at sound and noises, it’s hard to separate sound from noises. So we incorporated the two together!

I’ve been telling the ‘draw and tell’ of Bibbles the dog for a long time, since I’d seen how positively the kids reacted to it when I first saw a colleague do it! We extended on the echoes and interest in this story, by re-telling the story of Katie and The Giant, but with a more Australian twist and echoing across the mountains/over our fences “Stop throwing stones! You could hurt me!” The kids really love being noisy, and I love how well it can be a positive part of story telling 🙂

The flip side of those group times, are these. The quietest group times around. Here’s my fantastic colleague teaching the kids how to listen for the beeps, so they know how to turn the pages at the listening post. Serious silence in the room – it was kind of spooky actually!



As a hands on ears on activity, we tried to find new ways to hear. This is us testing out echoes and how loud our voices can sound when we whisper! As long as our ears are in past the rim (and no body parts have crept in) you get a great sound. I could have kept my head down there with these kids for ages!

The kids tried tapping sticks to see what sort of sound they got – interesting experiment really! IT also showed us the limitations of our courage as they tried to lean in to pick it up off the floor. The distance was greater than they could reach, but bending over half way into the tunnel was a brave feat!

We even set one up in the yard to see how it worked outside! While our sounds were trapped in the tunnel, the tunnel also worked to block off sounds from the yard.

Of course what would Kindy be if there wasn’t some noise! Like these vesuvelas and paper tubes enriching our singing?

Or creating a fantastic honking sound!


It seems that seeing really is believing!

And as we all know, when one good idea takes hold, spreading the word is quick and easy…

After all, what’s the point of being able to hear, is we aren’t really able to communicate!