Author: Flinders University Childcare

A Map of Sturt House

Mapping has been an interest for many of the Sturt House children in 2018.  It started with ‘hide and seek with maps’ the year before in Preschool House and grew into treasure maps, maps to go in adventure backpacks, maps about Nature Play, maps of Flinders, maps from holidays and maps found in books.  We explored maps in many ways; their curiosity never satisfied. In late October, educators posed an invitation to the children; could we make a map of Sturt House?  Out intention was to bring together several ideas; mapping and collaborative work as an extension of the virtue of cooperation.  We discussed the idea with the children and one child suggested that we could make the map ‘so that the Preschool House children would know how to get to Sturt House’.  This idea consolidated the project by introducing the notion of giving, our final virtue focus for the year.  And so, the project; ‘A Map for the Preschool House Children Coming to Sturt House’ began. The project presented many problems for the educators and children to solve. How were we going to coordinate all the children’s contributions? How were we going to keep the map roughly to scale? What materials should we use to make the map? We decided to use Google Earth as a starting point; projecting the image of Flinders onto the wall for the children to explore and ultimately trace. This tracing gave us the structure for our map and now we were ready to addRead more

On Wednesday night……

On Wednesday night the darkness fell at Flinders and hundreds of tiny sparkly lights began to shine. Then slowly and quietly but with a buzz of excitement many, many children and their families began to arrive. Up the path they travelled, whispering, laughing and eyes sparkling.  Preschool House and Toddler House were having a Festival of Light. A gathering of all. This had been many months in the planning, the children have been thinking and working and discovering all things light. We had worked with light boxes, torches, rope lights, black lights, florescent light, fairy lights and snake lights. We had discovered shadows and natural light. Again and again we had revisited. The Preschool children had worked with the Toddlers and the Toddlers had shared their learning with the Preschool children and on this special night, the night of the Festival of Light, as a community of learners we were going to share all we discovered with our families. So now as the Toddlers wonder where the ‘party’ has gone? And the Preschool children ask “when we will be having another light festival?” We know it must have been a night that won’t be forgotten for a while. It was amazing.    

The Youngest Citizens

The youngest citizens at Flinders are the babies. They watch with interest the comings and goings on the path from the veranda of Baby House. They enjoy the experience of walking the paths of Flinders. They like being helpers with visits to the office, the laundry and other houses as well helping to water the gardens. These have become regular occurrences. Flinders has a strong focus on sustainability, the importance of caring for our world is imbedded into the Early Years Learning Framework as well as Flinders policies and procedures. The educators at Baby House have asked how babies could be more involved and how a sustainability focus could become part of the practice and rhythm of Baby House. So grew the daily ritual of visiting the kitchen and emptying the food scraps into the compost bin. The Baby House children and educators are paving the way to a more sustainable Flinders. The children respond with joy and excitement by being involved in the process of visiting the kitchen to dispose of the scraps. The ritual explores the path and surroundings, viewing the kitchen herb garden and observing the growing that is occurring there. We watch out for visiting birds taking a bath or looking for a worm in the garden. The opportunity to test our physical skills using the stairs to reach the kitchen, carrying the buckets and bags up the hill and practicing our walking down the hill to Baby House. We share daily stories of the adventure,Read more

The Flinders Food Forage continues

This year at Flinders we have made a commitment to improve our menu by developing the nutritional value and taste sensation of all the meals offered, incorporating more whole foods and a more inclusive approach to the provision of allergy meals. Food is central to so much of what we do as humans and our children have a right to learn and experience a healthful and positive food culture here at Flinders. Hand in hand with a positive food culture comes an understanding of where our food comes from and how it is produced, preferencing sustainable practices where possible. Making all this happen has been an exciting time. Involving all stakeholders; children, families, our kitchen and administration staff, director, assistant directors, educators and food suppliers has required dedication, time, communication and quite a bit of trial and error. The children have been looking at, feeling, smelling and tasting the new foods from our trial menus. Some dishes have been received really enthusiastically. Tom from Sturt House said when tasting the Sushi platter for the first time ‘It smells just like at the shop!’ and Alex from Toddler House said ’What’s this?’ about fifteen times as she looked at, picked up, smelt, felt and then tasted each one of the fifteen different ingredients she could choose from the Create Your Own Noodle Bowl dish platter. Other dishes have slowly grown on the children with some, like the Bircher Muesli, for morning tea, becoming new favourites. We have had time to tweakRead more

What is identity anyway?A journey at Sturt House

The Early Years Learning Framework tells us that “children learn about themselves and construct their own identity within the context of their families and communities” (pg. 20).  This year we have been on a journey to express our identity through the making of a flag. The interest in flags arose from a small group of children who started to make flags following a child sharing a description of their families Chinese New Year celebration.  It was at this point that educators realised we have at least thirty nationalities represented at Sturt House this year! During this inquiry the children made a number of flags and made flags in a number of different ways.  Flags were made in miniature with matchsticks and sticky tape, flags were drawn and flags were painted.  The children enjoyed working in different scale and then began with much excitement to work more collaboratively as they painted large flags on material with acrylic paint.  Then the Educators wondered if we could make a flag to represent who we are, a Sturt House Community Flag.  We took this suggestion to the children and they immediately took up the idea and began brainstorming what would be on our Community Flag.  We wondered what colour represents Sturt House?  What symbols?  What is community?  We invited the children to draw their ideas. Through this journey the children have been thinking deeply about who we are as a community.  During a discussion the phrase “a together group” was coined. It came aboutRead more

‘Don’t Keep History a Mystery’; a story of Reconciliation and Community

  ‘How the Birds Got Their Colours’, ‘Going for Oysters’ and ‘The Rainbow Serpent’ are just a few of the Sturt House children’s favourite books to share at group times. Educators intentionally include a diverse range of books written by and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples in our program. They are great books that engage the children’s imaginations and sense of inquiry. When Reconciliation Australia invited us to learn, share, grow and explore history hidden just beneath the surface, this National Reconciliation Week, educators thought of a book that hadn’t been shared yet; ‘Stolen Girl’ by Trina Saffioti and Norma MacDonald. This book tells the story of Trina’s maternal Grandmother who was taken from her family when she was very young. We decided to let our families know that we were going to read this book with the children as we thought it may evoke strong emotions and wonderings, to prepare the families to support the children with this. One of our families replied and suggested that the children of Sturt House could collect some flowers and foliage that they would then take to the statue of the ‘Grieving Mother’. This statue is at Colebrook Reconciliation Park, a five minute drive up the hill from Flinders. The park lies on the site of the former Colebrook Training Home, where approximately one hundred and thirty six Aboriginal children were housed after being removed from their families under government policy. We read the book each day of the week. TheRead more

The Great Foodie Forage

Over the past four months a Flinders Educator has been taking part in The Great Foodie Forage. This has involved foodies, cooks, educators and service directors from all around Australia engaging in an online program covering children’s health and well-being, sustainable practices, horticulture, fresh, creative and cost effective cooking, and making the role of menus and subsequent documentation far more visible and meaningful. This culminated recently with the inaugural forage tour, where fifteen participants travelled from all around Australia to Adelaide for the week. As the only South Australian in the group our Educator felt proud of Adelaide’s beautiful and food-rich culture and our sustainable practices. Highlights of the tour were many but here are a few; A visit to the children’s garden at the Botanic Gardens, a wonderful spot for children to learn about seasonal gardening and sustainability Cooking classes and challenges in the Barossa Valley to develop an understanding of seasonal, regional produce and the marketing of produce and food Driving with the Oz Harvest van attending pick up and drop offs. Oz Harvest in Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, collecting quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivering it directly to more than 1000 charities supporting people in need across the country A presentation by a communications professional about strategies to enable the telling of your early childhood setting’s food story Taking a look around Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre and learning about the establishment of their ‘Giving Garden’ A half-day session titled Management of Dietary Needs ofRead more

Children as Citizens – Building Connections

As a part of our project, Children as Citizens, Children with Rights, we are focusing on what it means to be a citizen at Flinders. In learning of our inquiry, one of our students on placement has been inspired to look more closely at how we can build community between our youngest and oldest groups of children. After much preparation and thought, she began by taking small groups of Sturt House children to visit Baby House. “This is the first time I have ever held a baby’s hand!” Then, after a few visits, some of the Baby House children began to visit Sturt House. “We need to walk slowly with the babies.” Being a citizen at Flinders means being welcome in all our Houses, and being able to build relationships with others. It means focusing on the pathways that connect us, rather than the fences and roads that divide us. It means being supported to engage in meaningful ways, whether that means slowing down to someone else’s pace or bravely reaching out to touch the hand of another. What does being a citizen at Flinders mean to you?

Community Arts Project – Across the Road

Sarah has moved across the road and begun working with the May Mills, Preschool, Toddler and Baby House children to complete pieces for our Community Arts Project. The children continue to work with paint, collage and metal etching. As the colours and combinations emerge in their circle forms, we are beginning to wonder how it might look as it all comes together… We are inspired by nature, pattern and line.

Landscapes of Identity

Recently four of our educators attended the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange biennial conference; Landscapes of Identity. We listened to two educators from Reggio Emilia in Italy, Maddalena Tedeschi and Maura Rovachi, speak passionately and thoughtfully about the progressive approach to early childhood education they are a part of. The conference was two and a half days of challenging, progressive, insightful, inspiring, and at times uncomfortable perspectives on early childhood education. We were challenged to recognise and reconstruct the identity of the individual within the context of the group We were inspired by the incredible connection to community displayed by children, teachers and schools. We wondered about the power of documentation to not only make learning visible, but to be the foundation for new learning. We questioned our professional identity – “Who am I? Tell me that first” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland). Who are early childhood educators anyway? What will we do with the residual questions, wonderings, inspiration? We don’t yet know. But we are somehow changed. Above all, we walked away with Maura’s words resonating; “We can become a virus, infecting others by changing our point of view.” So let’s go viral…