The first of our weekly full day bush kindy sessions was held on Tuesday 8th June. We are constantly amazed by the number of ways that children become totally immersed in a rich variety of meaningful learning experiences at every session and it would be impossible to share them all with you. Through these blog posts, we will share snippets of our days in the bush. Little stories of the play that made us smile, the relationships that we saw blossoming, the ‘wow’ moments and the ‘I did it’ moments, the risk taking, and the building of confidence, the sharing of skills, the explorations of new experiences and revisiting of old favourites. We want you to share our passion along this constantly evolving journey, see what makes this such a special and meaningful experience for us as staff and our families, and explore with us the amazing learning that can occur across all curriculum areas during a bush kindy session.
Let’s build a shelter
An integral part of each bush kindy session in the parent involvement. We ask for a minimum of two full day parent/carer helpers for each session. At the beginning of the session they are led through a short induction by Lee. She explains the basis of our nature play pedagogy and the duty of care expectations etc. and then the parents join us out in the bush for the rest of the day. All of our helpers come with unique skill sets, some have an avid interest in native flora, some know a lot about the native animals in the area, some are great campfire cooks, and every one of them is an expert about their own child, who is always very excited to share the experience with them. Tuesday we had Will’s mum join us as one of three parent helpers. Tracee is a local scout leader and we are very excited to be able to tap into her knowledge base by having her share some of her amazing skills while she is with us. During the morning the whole group walked up to the dead forest. After morning fruit, the group dispersed out amongst the trees into small groups. Some were engaged in dramatic play, some sat and chatted about their own worlds, some climbed and explored, some created fairy gardens, and after exploring natural cubby spaces under bushes, one small group stumbled across the idea of building a shelter.
They started by laying a few sticks against a low branch and the beginnings of a small lean-to type shelter were obvious. Somewhere during the collection of sticks for this project a few large branches that looked a lot like the beginnings of a tepee were noticed, and the project turned to using this as a basis for creating a shelter. Tracee chatted with the children and few staff members as we collected branches. We needed to start with big long pieces to create a framework, then smaller sticks to fill in the gaps, then fallen branches with lots of leaves or twigs to fill in the smaller spaces.
There was weaving in and out of branches to fill in gaps, the addition of bark and weed to cover as much a space as possible. As the team worked together, slowly more children gravitated towards the structure. “We need a front yard” one of them decided, and a perimeter of branches was created. “And a fence” another decided. The fence required lots of helpers to find sticks, and measure them to fit against the branches.
There needed to be short pieces and long pieces, small pieces and wide pieces. A decision was even made by one child that the fence required glue to help hold it together …”look, I have glue for the fence” he called out to me with a huge grin on his face, hands full of sticky mud he had just dug from he damp ground.
It was added to the fence to reinforce it.
Some strategically worked on making sure appropriate gaps were left for windows, and bark was dragged in to cover the floor.
Hats were hung on hooks and discussions about what could be used to decorate the interior were had by a small group of particularly creative girls who had arrived to do their bit towards the structure.
Unfortunately the time had got away from us, and it was time to make our way back to base camp for a late lunch. It was about half way around that one of the children realised that they had left their beanie back at the shelter. Tracee backtracked to see if she could locate it, ( and we suspect, stand and admire the wonderful shelter that had been created 😉 ) but to no avail. So after lunch Nic & Janice took a small group back to the shelter to find the beanie. The children worked out which way we needed to go, and collected some treasures to add to the shelter when we got there.
Miss A thought her way back through where she had been playing earlier and managed to track down her missing beanie, tucked away in a little cubby hole she had been playing in.
We revisited the shelter and spent some time playing in there as well as adding to the miniature fairy garden world that had been started hours earlier.
There was time to reflect on the amazing numeracy skills we had seen in action as the children sorted, classified, measured, carried and maneuvered branches, talked about height, number, length, weight, shape and size, used language to describe direction and moved themselves and their branches effortlessly about the area without crashing into any one or anything…all this while they played and made a cool place to hang out in. We cant wait to head back next time and see if it has survived the wind, rain and kangaroos!
A million thank you’s will never be enough to our wonderful parents and families for supporting this program…we couldn’t do this without you all, and the feedback has been phenomenal – it’s reinforcing all that we believed Nature Connect could do and more.
Written by Nic