At Flinders we talk a lot about play. Play underpins our Philosophy, pedagogy, and assessment and planning cycles. Play is fundamental to children’s learning and is emphasised in the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standard.
Play can basically be defined as anything children choose to do independently, which leaves the concept of play-based learning open to a wide range of interpretations. This can leave people wondering; what are children actually learning?
Learning is a highly individualised process, and it can often take a great deal of time for it to become clear. Babies playfully investigate everything they encounter, often by mouthing or otherwise touching. Play for toddlers continues to be primarily a sensory experience; the texture of paint is perhaps more valid than what images children can paint. As children grow, play becomes thematic and imaginative.
When children are supported to investigate, explore and wonder through play, and when they are supported by intentional educators, the sensory play of babies eventually becomes the careful and purposeful enquiry of the five-year-olds currently transitioning out of Sturt House. Here are some examples of their garden discoveries, explored through the context of playful inquiry.
We have found many exciting things in the garden this week! Here are a few…
The children thought it could be a “baby lizard.” S thought that it could be a baby “blue tongue lizard.” We researched skinks and geckos. Our research told us that skinks can blink, while geckos cannot. Skinks have full eyelids that enable them to blink to keep their eyes moist and clean. Geckos have fused eyelids and use their long tongues to lick their eyes, which adds moisture and removes debris. S wondered “so when they sleep, they have their eyes open? And when they are dead their eyes are still open?”
C identified this as a “caterpillar.” C and several children thought that it could be “poisonous” due to its bright colours and furriness. H tested to see if the caterpillar had “sticky bits” by holding the leaf upside down. He found out that it “had grip!”
C identified this spider as a “huntsman.” B wondered about “what spiders do.” He thought they like “spinning webs, swinging on the webs, hiding somewhere.” It was very still, and we wondered why this was. P thought that it could be “dead” and C thought it could be “scared.” After researching different types of huntsman, B thought that this huntsman could be an Australia Grey Hunstman because it is grey and “its legs are long.