Nature Connect, Bush Kindy … the journey begins for the bugs group

After already spending two days in the bush, staff were comfortable and excited to welcome the bugs group to our home base on Wednesday morning.

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Their excitement and enthusiasm was evident as they milled around the fire after slipping on their red I.D vests, and cooked toast, chatted, and socialised to start the day.

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We always suspected the launch of the program with outdoor kindy week would be a great spring-board to the ongoing building of strong relationships between everyone and everything involved.  Once again we saw this immediately. We have already spent a full term with these children, building relationships and trust with each of them, getting to know them and all their wonderfully quirky and unique ways, their strengths and favoured learning dispositions.

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They have established their place as part of our kindy community, and were able to transfer all of this with relative ease to another setting, slipping into the new and exciting challenges of bush kindy like they had been there before.

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There was time for being alone….

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Time to explore….

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Time to nurture existing friendships…

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And time for new ones to blossom….

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Time to challenge ourselves….

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Time to explore the vastness of the park…

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and time to notice the little things…

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Our days were filled with such rich language and learning experiences.  Robins vast knowledge of flora, fauna and tradition cultural elements of the area provided the children with a constant fountain of knowledge, a base on which to expand and construct new ideas, research and further our knowledge, question and hypothesise as we continue to revisit the park and become more familiar with all the wonder it contains.

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We began our learning about some basic bush skills, how to cooee…

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how to lead a group…

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and how to follow others safely and patiently…

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We named some of the parts of the park that have already started to become special to us. The dead forest…

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the drumming log…

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the dinosaur forest…

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the quiet walk…

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the catchy bush, where there are prickles to be very careful of, and the melting bridge…

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The roley poley hill, that is covered in 1pm flowers, and the very popular troll bridge…

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The kindy log…

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and the special tree…

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Robin told us that aboriginal people may have used trees similar to this burnt out one to shelter and have their babies in. The children were very gentle and respectful as they explored the tree and seemed in awe of its possibilities…

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Our days were filled with laughter, fun, challenges and excitement, and we all slept soundly each night. The launch of our Nature Connect pilot program with a full week of outdoor kindy was everything we had hoped and so much more. The children amazed us with the prior knowledge they bought with them about so many things.  We had experts on mushrooms, dinosaurs, shelter building and the anatomy of kangaroo skeletons.  Those that could climb with the nimbleness of cat, and some that would notice the tiniest of things as we walked along.  Those with astute ears that picked out different bird calls, and some that noticed the vast array of different animal dung along the tracks.  There were discussions about what may have made diggings near the base of the tree – a rabbit or a fox perhaps?  and much hypothesising about the cause of the bendy trees or why some trees had died, and how old they were. Some were fascinated by the tiny insects and the evidence we could find in the bark and leaves of their presence.

As our weeks has drawn to a close, it is time to spend time reflecting on our experience, planning from our observations, and involving our children and families in the ongoing planning cycle that is part of our program.  We seek feedback, we discuss at length the successes and challenges of our days, and how this will affect our practice in the future.  We continue to look ahead, dream big, support each other, and rally community support and awareness as we move forward with our new and very exciting program with our families.  We will now be spending one day a week at Bushland park (each group will visit one day a fortnight), revisiting and extending on the play experiences of the last week. We thank all the parents, volunteers and visitors that have supported us over the past week, and who’s continued support will be an essential part of the program’s success.  We look forward to what is to come and where the children will take what we are offering them, what they will teach us, and the possibilities they will find to make the park and the program their own. We all move forward one step at a time, learning to be learners, building strong reciprocal relationships with each other, the environment and the wider community.

Written by Nic (thanks to our staff and parent helpers for all the awesome photographs!)

I thought I would leave you with a few words I wrote and shared with our parents at the beginning of the week as we embarked on the launch of Nature Connect ….

Like the fist tender leaves of the bracken fern slowly unfurling as they finally manage to push their way through the tough crust of the earth, Nature Connect has been taking form, unseen until now. It has been developing, waiting for the perfect conditions. The inspiration of our staff conference in NZ providing the final push to allow it to make its way to the surface and begin to see its leaves unfurl as we begin to realise its full potential in linking our children to nature and all the untapped wonder that it holds as a powerful and engaging learning environment.

Our Bushland Park is about to be filled with the sight of unfurling bracken ferns and will always provide a symbolic link to our time in NZ where the unfurling fern is such a powerful symbol imbedded into the Maori culture. We were inspired to think big, follow our dreams, take risks, and push boundaries to provide our Kindy and community with the most amazing off site nature based program we could envisage. As we launch the 2015 pilot program with Outdoor Kindy week, we are excited at the prospect of all the learning opportunities we believe that spending an extended time in nature will facilitate. The strong reciprocal that will be developed between children, staff, families, the wider community and Bushland Park. The challenge to collect and share data that supports and validates our previous experiences about the way that children’s learning across all curriculum areas can be inspired and supported through their exploration and engagement in nature on an ongoing basis. The opportunities to extend our knowledge base about cultural heritage and conservation issues specific to our local area through the ongoing involvement of those willing to share their own passions and expertise with us.

Just like the ferns first delicate unfurling leaves that instinctively spread and grow, becoming more resilient and at one with their environment every day, we hope to nurture our program, embracing all the awe and wonderment that our environment has to offer. Immersing ourselves in the changing seasons and all different experiences they can offer us. Always being open to new experiences, constantly reflecting upon our practice and providing a supportive culture of risk taking, revisiting, developing strong connections, resilient relationships, and the many other skills and learning dispositions that allow us to all become successful lifelong learners.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  • April

    Beautiful words to finish what I can only imagine to be an amazing week.

  • April

    Beautiful words to finish what I can only imagine to be an amazing week.

  • Janice

    Thanks for summing the amazing week up for us Nic, beautiful words and well written. It is forward for us now as it will be impossible to go backwards after experiencing such an inspiring week. Nature connect has taken flight.

  • Janice

    Thanks for summing the amazing week up for us Nic, beautiful words and well written. It is forward for us now as it will be impossible to go backwards after experiencing such an inspiring week. Nature connect has taken flight.

  • Jen S

    Bush kindy and the launch of Nature Connect has provided a wonderful experience and a world of opportunities to my daughter. Of course there has been the sheer delight of spending 2 days in such a beautiful location, but as I reflect on my observations I realise there has been so much more.
    The learnings that I heard about immediately like the ‘special tree’ and its cultural importance to the indigenous people, and the many fungi found in the park, have been fantastic. However, I have been amazed by the number of life skills I have seen developing in Em. She talks about ‘good choices’ and applies the principles of risk assessment when deciding whether or not to proceed. Team work, mates and looking out for others seem to be at the forefront of her mind.
    These essential skills and approaches have been being instilled over time, but I believe Nature Connect has provided the opportunity for Em to apply these concepts in a unique and exciting environment. This has made them ‘real’ for her.
    Thanks to the amazing staff for making this happen and for reminding me about the wonder of learning and how rich the experience can be!

  • Jen S

    Bush kindy and the launch of Nature Connect has provided a wonderful experience and a world of opportunities to my daughter. Of course there has been the sheer delight of spending 2 days in such a beautiful location, but as I reflect on my observations I realise there has been so much more.
    The learnings that I heard about immediately like the ‘special tree’ and its cultural importance to the indigenous people, and the many fungi found in the park, have been fantastic. However, I have been amazed by the number of life skills I have seen developing in Em. She talks about ‘good choices’ and applies the principles of risk assessment when deciding whether or not to proceed. Team work, mates and looking out for others seem to be at the forefront of her mind.
    These essential skills and approaches have been being instilled over time, but I believe Nature Connect has provided the opportunity for Em to apply these concepts in a unique and exciting environment. This has made them ‘real’ for her.
    Thanks to the amazing staff for making this happen and for reminding me about the wonder of learning and how rich the experience can be!

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