The term has flown by in a whirlwind, but it has been a pleasure to observe the children settling into the environment, watching their self-confidence grow and their explorations become bolder. Over the last few weeks, we have had a fantastic native wildlife incursion, beautiful expressions of belonging around our Harmony Day celebrations, and seen many rich examples of play across the Early Learning and Bush Kinder settings.
PYP Units of Inquiry
The Early Years program of inquiry comprises four different Units which are offered throughout the year:
- Who We Are
- Sharing the Planet
- How the World Works
- How We Express Ourselves
While we are introducing these units one at a time, they are designed to run throughout the year. This will allow us to revisit our investigations and follow the children's interests in our programs while honouring their right to learn through play and have voice, choice, and agency in their learning. As projects and investigations unfold with the children's interests, we will return to the relevant units.
For example, each time we celebrate a birthday or special family news, we will extend our learning through our "Who We Are" unit. An interest in plants or animals might allow us to build on our learning through "Sharing the Planet."
Sharing the Planet
"Exploring the natural environment leads to discoveries."
An inquiry into:
- how we can explore nature
- how people connect with nature and Country
- our responsibility to, and for the natural environment
We introduced our Unit of Inquiry, "Sharing the Planet," during the last few weeks of term. This unit sits alongside "Who We Are" and will run throughout this year. Our early learning experiences have related to ways we can explore nature in many ways, including sensory play, creative art with natural materials, and engaging in active or risky play as we connect with the Country.
Next term, we will continue this unit and plan to provide a wide range of opportunities for the children to investigate ways we can be caring, show respect for the world around us and discover an appreciation for beauty in nature. Learning experiences about the impact we can have on the environment will also offer the children a chance to learn about their responsibility for the natural environment, take action, and discover how they can make a difference in the world.
The three-year-old Group has had a busy time completing projects to end the term. We can't wait to show everyone the belonging branch we have created using the clay leaves each child made to display their name. Grouping our leaves have created a beautiful piece of work to show that we are one Group and we all belong.
One of the highlights of the term was the Harmony Week celebrations. We took this opportunity to look at each of our family backgrounds and share memorable and unique things with our family. The children enjoyed bringing in maps that they had completed with their families and sharing them with their peers. We also explored special items that the children had brought in from their homes and discussed how different things were used in other parts of the world. It was a fantastic way for the children to relate to "Who We Are" on a very personal level.
Another celebration day was our Fancy Hat Parade on the last day of term. On this day, we used the stimulus of a bird's nest and discussed how birds use nests to protect their eggs. We created our nest-like baskets to hunt for painted gum nuts in our yard and cover the delicate bath fizzers we made as Easter gifts. We ended the day with a parade of the Fancy Hats that the children had made with their families.
We look forward to many more celebration days next term.
Bush Kinder has undoubtedly been the highlight of the term. Although we have only been to Bush Kinder a handful of times so far, most children are discovering with delight the opportunities for play and learning that space provides. Initially, there has been lots of tree climbing, hide and seek, and making or using cubby spaces. Groups of children are creating narratives around rescues, emergencies, and discoveries in dramatic play. Some children are very interested in the natural surroundings, the insects, tree sap, and natural treasures they find, such as feathers. To further encourage children's connection to the land, we are inviting Lionel Lauch from Living Culture to visit us next term, who has a vast knowledge of local flora and fauna from the First Peoples' perspective Bunurong/Boon Wurrung Peoples. We can't wait!
Whether in the ELC or at Bush Kinder, Penbank's location provides an abundance of natural items that are fantastic for use in play. Stick play is one type of play that has been consistently explored by the children this term and has led to constructive discussions about the safe use of sticks and clear language regarding appropriate play choices.
As mentioned, we have seen rich examples of play and learning, which has included groups of children coming together to share ideas, build, create and problem solve. It is truly heart-warming to observe children as the play unfolds and develops, and as teachers, we work hard to give support where needed but to stand back as much as possible. In the last few weeks of term, examples of these times have been in the block corner where children created a 'world,' in the sandpit to dig the 'biggest hole ever' and in the home corner, as children negotiate and take on roles to support play.
We have been enjoying playing structured games too, with many children playing bingo and the 'shopping cart' game. Simple board games such as these provide opportunities to watch others, take turns and practice being a good sport. We have also introduced the always-fun 'lycra' song, where we have to work together to make the most of the stretchy lycra, and all enjoy it together.
A few weeks ago, we introduced box construction which the children are loving! A common theme has been constructing robots, stemming from an interest in how robots can help us. As children made their robots, we recorded their words to display the finished items, which are now on display. Some children drew a design for a robot, and still more helped put together and decorate a big cardboard robot.
Please restock your child's bag with a named set of warm clothes as we enter the cooler months. Please bring in a named pair of gumboots to leave at the centre for those who have not done so yet.
Loose Parts Donations
We are currently looking to restock our yard of loose parts for the building. In particular, we are after donations of milk crates, bread crates, small tyres, and cable reels. If you can provide any of these items, we would be very appreciative.
Also, we would appreciate any cardboard boxes and other unique items for our construction table.
As it has now been 12 months since we introduced the Seesaw communication platform, we are currently evaluating its use to ensure that learning is being shared with families effectively. We feel it is essential to review this as part of our Quality Improvement Plan. Any changes to the way Seesaw is used will be communicated to families in the coming weeks.
We are looking forward to term 2 with gusto. Mother's Day will be upon us before we know it. Watch this space for information on our ability to host Mother's Day celebrations. I will also let you know as soon as we can have volunteers back in school and start a parent-helper roster for both the ELC and Bush Kinder.
We wish you and your families a lovely and refreshing Easter and term break. Have fun!
MEL, TRACY, CADI, SALLY, DEBORAH & LISA
Early Learning Teachers