Nature Connect 2016 – Gathering places

Framed by the magical and alluring hues of an early morning rainbow, the tiny sparks of the fire flicker gently before greedily engulfing the dry kindling and pieces of wood above.  The crackling of the flames, the warmth of the fire, and the smell of toast cooking above the hot coals, send out an enticing invitation for everyone to gather around.

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The fire is the perfect place for us to gather together at our bush kindy home base.  It provides warmth, nourishment and a focal point to meet and discuss the days plans, move to another part of our day, or reflect on our learning.

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When we are out exploring the bushland, we tend to break into smaller groups and follow the leads of the children, but there are several times we come together as a group to share our stories, plan our days, and reflect on all the awesome learning we have been a part of.

Each session, once everyone is all geared up, tummies full and back backs on, we are off to play and explore in the bush.  One of the children is chosen as leader, and this changes at various times during the day.  Being the leader is a much coveted position.  Wearing the orange leader vest means you are the front of the entire group, and that no one should walk past you. You get to lead the way along the path, set the pace for the group at the front.  Already our children are quite familiar with a few of the paths we have taken, and very capable of leading us along them.

We spread out pretty quickly once we start walking. Some walk quickly, some walk slowly, and generally everyone wants to have a chat about EVERYTHING as they walk. This is something that we have repeatedly observed and reflected upon – being out in the bush provides an unhurried, diverse and rich environment for oral language development for all of our children (as well as host of other amazing learning experiences)  In addition it seems to give those children that are less verbally adept in the traditional kindy setting a much stronger and more confident platform to voice their thoughts and opinions.

As we walk we spread out a lot! Some children want to stop to touch and experience every tree, stick, flower, rock, puddle and plant along the way, and they can usually find a few friends to join them.

Eventually we find a place along the path to gather together once again.  Yesterday our little leader at the time picked the most amazingly beautiful gathering place for our morning fruit time.

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Just as the local indigenous Peramangk people would have gathered and shared food and stories, today we chose to share a story with the children as we enjoyed our snack.

Although not a local dreaming story, we chose to share Tiddalick with the the group. The children were very engaged and it was a really special experience to be part of.

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Our next gathering place was at what has become known as ‘the birthing tree’   When the local indigenous people were in this area, they would have used hollowed out trees such as this one to shelter in if needed when they gave birth to their babies. We talk to the group about this being a special and quiet place, and they respect this as they move in and around the tree, exploring it and it’s surrounds.

As our leader decided to get the group moving again, there was the discovery of an obstacle on the path.  Another giant puddle!  With many children already experiencing the feel of wet socks in their boot there were those that chose to try and skirt around its edges, and those that decided straight through the middle was the only way to go!   There is only one way to learn that even with waterproofs and boots, there is still a limit to how deep a puddle you can jump in or walk though before the water makes its way into your boots anyway….experience!

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It’s also a good reminder of why we ask everyone to have a spare pair of dry shoes, socks and pants back at base camp!

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Our program is a full day session, and so we make our way back to base camp for lunch and rest time, before another play time in the bush in the afternoon.  It’s a long, full on day and some of our children still require a sleep. We acknowledge the importance of this and chose to provide a warm, dry place for them rest, and a staff member remains with those that choose to sleep.

Our bush kindy program provides many of opportunities for staff and children to spend time as a whole group, as small groups, as well as one to one situations. We highly value the reciprocal relationships that are being built and nurtured as part of this program. Our data collection analysis and daily reflective practice is showing us that our  relationships with children are already being deepened and expanded by revisiting weekly and spending extended periods of times in nature.  We are also noticing the amazing connections that the parents and grandparents that spend time out in the bush with us are making with our program, and how they quickly begin to notice and appreciate all the learning that is intrinsically woven into the children’s play experiences.

Written by Nic

There may be some photos that are showing as not the right way.  Im having a few technical issues moving between iphone/ipad and a windows computer atm.  Apologies if they are not showing correctly on your windows devices. Im working on sorting it out!

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The Literacy and Numeracy indicators and the EYLF framework are documents which guide our program, reflective practice, documentation and reporting. They provide guidelines to achieve best practice and high quality learning outcomes across all early childhood settings.

Links to the Literacy & Numeracy Indicators in the learning highlighted in this post

Literacy Indicators 2. I engage with texts to make meaning

Literacy Indicators 3. I use language to connect with my world

Literacy Learning processes: creating and making meaning; communicating

Numeracy Indicators 1. I explore and understand my place in the world

Numeracy Indicators 4. I measure and compare my world

Numeracy Learning Processes: Patterning; Reasoning; Generalising; Noticing; Comparing; Communicating; Sorting; Visualising; Wondering

Links to EYLF in the learning highlighted in this post:

1.1 Children feel safe, secure, and supported

1.2 Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency

1.3 Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities

1.4 Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect

2.1 Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation

2.2 Children respond to diversity with respect

2.3 Children become aware of fairness

2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment

3.1 Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing

3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

4.1 Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity

4.2 Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating

4.3 Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another

4.4 Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials

5.1 Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes

 

 

 

 

 

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