As we spend our days together, wandering (and chatting), playing (and chatting) sitting by the warmth of the fire (and chatting) all while soaking up the natural beauty of Bushland park, we are very aware of the fact that our children are immersed, not only in an environment rich in oral language, but one which is also abundant with the symbols and signs they have begun to decode and recognise as part of our written language.
There are the obvious signs that are scattered around the park, signs telling us the rules, and which paths to follow. We read them and learn that not only do letters join together to form meanings, but there are also symbols such as arrows and circles with a cross through them which also convey meaning. These are often a topic of hot discussion as children debate their personal theories as to what these represent. Some believe the arrows pointing up show us the way to go along the path, others believe they mean stop and look up into the trees to see what you can see. Many have equated the colours of the arrows with the colours of the trails marked on the map by base camp and come to the conclusion they each show a different direction to stay on the various paths. There are those children that have also hypothesised that the red arrows mean stop if there is a fire. As you can see, one small arrow can be interpreted in a million different ways and the children continuously work towards creating meaning from them. Meanings which all make sense in the context of where each sign is situated. As you can probably tell, we encourage their curiosity and hypothesising about what they might mean. All of their answers are legitimate and made with a sound knowledge of how a symbol works to convey a meaning. They are contextual and make sense of the environment where the children are seeing them.
There are also an entire park of natural formations children are always noticing look like letters and numerals. Sticks, trees and rocks form familiar letters and children can often be found creating letters with sticks, writing and drawing with fingers or sticks in the mud, or scratching ‘writing’ into a fallen tree branch.
Even the patterns left by bugs in the underside of bark often have familiar shapes that conjur the image of written language and text in the children’s minds. Their tiny fingers trace the rough patterns, developing pathways in their brains to assist with forming the shapes and practicing the skills that will soon see them become writers.
There is also the invitation each morning at our gathering time for children to use their literacy skills to reflect and plan their their day in the floor book …. They start recording things they have already done as well as being encouraged to think about, discuss, plan and record what they would like to do at the days session.
We hope that through these blog posts we can share with you lots of the amazing learning that occurs while we are at kindy, and highlight the rich and authentic experiences we see children having access to in the bush. We see it as an amazing opportunity for developing children’s learning dispositions, promoting intellectual stretch, and increasing literacy and numeracy development in a real and meaningful way. It is also a chance to be challenging ourselves as educators to observe, extend, document and share all this learning with our families and community. We want you to share in our excitement when your child tells you all they did all day is play. We want you to know how truly special and highly valued that play is, and recognise all the skills children are developing and learning as part of it. Play is giving them the solid base they need to set them on the journey of becoming life long learners.
Written by Nic
PS We LOVE getting your comments and feedback on our blog posts! Please leave a comment if you have stopped by to read about our journey. If there are any questions you have or thoughts about topics you would like to have considered for future blog posts let us know and we will see what we can do 🙂
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.
Literacy and Numeracy indicators links to the learning highlighted in this post
Literacy Indicator 1. I represent my world symbolically
Literacy Indicator 2. I engage with texts to make meaning
Literacy Indicator 3. I use language to connect with my world
Literacy Indicator 4. I understand the language of my world
Literacy Learning processes: creating and making meaning; communicating; encoding and decoding
Numeracy Indicators 3. I analyse, read and organise the data in my world
Numeracy Indicators 4. I measure and compare my world
Numeracy Learning Processes: Patterning; Reasoning; Generalising; Noticing; Comparing; Communicating; Wondering
EYLF Links to the learning highlighted in this post:
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
2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment
3.1 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
5.2 Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts
5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media
5.4 Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work