Month: May 2013

Making our Mark

After viewing the Hundred Languages of Children exhibition recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about visual art and mark making. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the significance of children making their mark, be it through writing their name, drawing something that is important to them, or simply and quite literally “making a mark.” The other morning a parent came into Preschool House and noticed Perry working in the art space. He was painting with dye paints on the upright easel and at the top of the page he had written his name. “Oh, look!” the parent commented; “He’s written his name!” She was right, of course, he had written his name. And this got me thinking. The art space tends to be the place where children first learn to ‘make their mark’. This is the space where educators and adults demonstrate, over and over and over again, the importance of putting your name to something. It may be one of the first places children discover what their name looks like; not just what it sounds like but what the letters  look like when written down. This is a powerful lesson. Not only does the naming of a child’s work give them a sense of ownership and value, it also teaches significant literacy concepts. Sounds have a concrete connection to symbols. Many people understand the symbols in the same way. So the educator who puts away the dry paintings at the end of the day may not always recognise the individual artisticRead more

Winter Outdoor Play

Over the last couple of months in Preschool and Sturt Houses we have been preparing for winter and our winter outdoor play program. We developed and implemented this for the first time last year to great success, and are eagre to start again. It’s amazing to see the incredible learning and engagement that takes place in the winter gardens; a special kind of magic happens. I’ve been reviewing all the documentation from our journey last year and it’s been brilliant to think about it all over again. You can have a look at our story here: As I reviewed our story, I decided to revisit the video that kind of started it all; Unfortunately, you can no longer view the whole film, however I have very clear memories of watching it over and over last year as we developed our plan. After this version cuts out, the original film eventually documents the children’s journey as they climb to the top of quite a significant mountain. When I watched this video for the first time, I was struck by two things. The first was the concept of “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” which is not the standard way of thinking in Australia. We are spoilt for good weather and tend to forget that compared many parts of the world, a winter’s day in Adelaide is quite nice! This is the idea that underpinned our planning as we developed our winter play program; no badRead more

Environments for Learning – Outdoors

A natural progression from a discussion about indoor environments is a discussion about outdoor environments. There is something special about outdoor environments for children; a special kind of magic happens when children play outside. Research shows us that children play outdoors much less now than their parents did when they were growing up, so access to outdoor play is particularly important for contemporary children. At Flinders, we take outdoor play seriously. Really seriously. All our buildings implement indoor-outdoor play and our philosophy clearly states our intention to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. But why? Why do we commit to playing outdoors for such a long period of time? And further, why do we commit to playing outdoors for such a long period of time in natural environments? Why do we have gardens? Why do we have trees and branches and logs and stumps? There exists currently a huge gap between research and practice in regards to natural outdoor environments. Drive past many early childhood services and you will see plastic resources, plastic matting, level surfaces and artificial sources of shade. Well-intentioned focusses on safe environments for children sucked the life out of many early childhood settings, leaving us with generic, dull, “safe” settings. What wasn’t predicted by these well-intentioned decision-makers was the long term impact on children’s ability to independently assess risk and hazards. Or the burns children have received from plastic matting as it overheats in summer. Or the potential behavioural issues that can present when children areRead more