Saturday, February 12, 2011

Curiosity the fuel of early childhood. Curiosity the fuel of life.

What a powerful phrase to capture what learning is for life.  I was reading "Junior Horizons" (Vol 11, No. 1) when I came upon this article "The fuel of early development- Curiosity".  I know that as a teacher and learner alongside 3 and 4 year olds that my learning happens everyday in many different ways and the cycle of learning never stops.  At Nayland Kindergarten we want children to be motivated to be curious and be motivated to learn, so providing opportunities for them to explore is just part of what we do.
Children are curious social beings, they explore, question and wonder and the more often they are able to explore and discover the more they will repeat the process.
This week settling back into kindergarten after a long time away took a little bit of time and with the support of the teachers and their peers.
Providing tactile, sensory experiences in groups is often the way to reconnect children with the environment and their peers and teachers and stirs their curiosity to engage.

Exploring oobleck provided just that opportunity!
There was a number of learning opportunities happening as children were observing, exploring, experimenting, measuring and testing their working theories about how this material feels.     This is science in action, as mixing water and cornstarch does something unusual when mixed together - (try it out at home -google Oobleck)
The substance becomes a liquid, but when squeezed in your hands, it becomes solid. Two things commonly cause this type of change—temperature and pressure. You can
roll Oobleck into a ball, but when 
the rolling stops, it will become a
liquidy mess!  As the children experimented the adults were exploring it as well, curiosity is the fuel of life as it starts from birth (or before some might suggest) and children will continue to be curious if we value it.  We started with one bowl of yellow oobleck and one of blue and before long the children had noticed it changing colour and yes we did dye some children green for the day.  Oh and some adults too.
The next day the children experimented with white oobleck and then we turned it into finger paint with some hot water.
 The following day the children returned to the water play area where they saw the bowls set up again and they were soon settled and busy.
Settling back into the kindergarten had taken no time at all and the conversations and explorations going on were just magic.
So what was some of the learning?
Water, finger paint and oobleck provide children with opportunities to understand basic science concepts such as gravity, color, water pressure, movement and properties.
They are developing maths concepts as they explore weight, volume,measurement, counting,
shape and size, classifying, and explore their
own physical capabilities.
Literacy concepts are explored as children
use language to describe their experiences and
add meaning to their hands on play. When teachers work alongside children as they explore sensory experiences and the many concepts associated with it,  it relevant and meaningful which makes it powerful learning for children and adults.
Curiosity grows confidence in social learning and   it may just lead to a cafe starting up in the sandpit alongside, with baking and making coffees (don't you just love our wonderful Nelson Cafe culture) and exploring maths again as they explore the value of money.  $10 for a slice of cake or $1 for a flat white- I will be back to have a coffee that is for sure.

A new start to the year!

Coming back to kindergarten before schools
start means that many of our ex kindergarten children come to play with their siblings.  This not only supports their younger brothers and sister to settle back in after 5 weeks away, but it also means that they  able to return to some of their favourite places to play.

They are great role models for our younger children, showing them how to be creative with the materials available.  Sydney, Jake and Connor were all part of our visual art research and art exhibition in 2008/2009 and they were often our teachers as we were the learners.  There is a culture of "children as teachers" and "teachers as learners" embedded in our kindergarten  programme and this is evident throughout the kindergarten environment.

What's happening over the fence? When we arrived back on day one the walk way to kindergarten had been dug up, although a little inconvenient, what a wonderful learning opportunity. We watched the The very friendly road workers showed us their skills pushing the concrete around until it smoothed out to make a new entranceway.  Never let a learning opportunity go by.  
There has lots of activity on the pedestrian crossing this week, as it is now controlled by volunteers and Nayland College to improve the flow of traffic and keep our children safe. 

It is all about community!

We started the year knowing that the ECE funding cuts were about to kick in on the 1st February and how this would impact on kindergarten and our families.  Once again our amazing families have come together as a community to share resources, time and ideas, as to how we can work together to minimise the impact.    
The hum of a community working together is like no other and the sharing of items and food donations is just astonishing.  So again thanks to our fantastic community of children and families.
The teachers have been planning how to get to the fish market in Seattle to live the "Fish Philosophy" (check it out- just google "Seattle fish market"), but we don't need to go now because we know that we have our own "Fish Philosophy" market at home.

Over the holiday period families supported us by repairing and sewing new dress ups, repainting and remodelling some of our furniture, topping up our sandpit (which was very low and required a big truck, digger donated by Kyle Whiting Contractors and sand donated by Fulton Hogan- a huge saving to the kindergarten), new noticeboards were made with board donated by the MDF plant, and material donated by Hubbers Furnishings.  It was really helpful to have families taking turns checking in on the kindergarten over the 5 week holiday break to water, mow lawns etc. 

Thanks to everyone who pitched in to help us out - it is all about community.


Yes we can!

The Nayland swimming pool is about 100 metres away and we have been talking about taking small groups of children swimming for over a year now,  it seemed quite a tricky thing to plan as we needed 1 adult to 1 child in the water at all times.  But once again our amazing families jumped at the idea and within days we had it organised and were ready to go.     
What an amazing morning of fun, laughter, peer role modelling and bucket loads of courage and lots of learning for all of us.  Can we do this again and again "YES WE CAN!"  What a wonderful way for children and adults to get to know each other in a different learning space, and for children to be our teachers.  
Next time we could bring more than 10 children as  the pool could accommodate at least 20 children and adults.

Thank you to all our families for always making yourselves available to support as we explore our community and find out about what children and families do outside kindergarten.

I do not like to admit it but it was my first swim for the season, and with the temperature at about 26 degrees it was like having a bath at 10am in the morning.                                                                              
We will have to return to practice all the new things we had learnt for the morning like going down the slide, jumping off the edge and going underneath the water.  I am sure the others will want to come now they have heard about our amazing morning.