The Children’s Interests in the Program this month: our biggest one at the moment is the “cruise ship”. We are still working through the children’s ideas for dramatic play themes indoors to replace the Home Corner. So far we’ve had an airport complete with an x-ray machine for baggage, screens for your seats and blankets, food service and drinks and the pilots with lots of computers in their cockpit, a lolly shop with beautiful homemade lollies, salt dough gingerbread people and the excitement on the last day of the shop when we had “real’ lollies to eat, and a library with a conveyor belt for return books, computers, reference books as well as story books, a café and a sliding door to enter and leave the library.
Each time we have a new concept we have a “Meeting” about the topic. Those who are interested come to the meeting and offer ideas for what needs to go into the theme. So, when we had our meeting about the “boat” concept we looked at various types of boats on the iPad from rowing boats to speed boats and ships and yachts. The child whose original idea it had been to make a boat was able to choose what type of boat we made… he chose a motor-powered boat. The children then voted between a ship and a small speed boat. When we vote, the children choose which group to sit in and we count the numbers in each group. Majority wins. However, because the other group has missed out on their idea, the group who “won” acknowledges the others’ loss by saying “Sorry… maybe next time you will get a turn”. We have transferred this concept into many areas of the day and program too, so they are practicing not getting their way and what to say to the child who misses out. (This helps by acknowledging the feelings of others and helps build resilience.)
So, the ship was the item. What sort of ship? One child suggested a “cruise ship”. So, we looked at cruise ships on the iPad. Do we want a cruise ship? Yes……What’s on a cruise ship? The children used the photos to stimulate their ideas and draw on their own knowledge and concepts of a ship….We need …….”a café (we always seem to have a café!!!) with ice-cream, pizza, chocolate cake, fruit and veggies, fish, and milkshakes, a movie theatre, a party deck, toilets, control centre for the captain, life rafts, a pool, mini golf, an anchor, flags, steering wheel, seats, bedrooms with a fridge and freezer so you can sit in bed in your bedroom and eat, have a drink and watch TV”. The children selected what they would like to make and asked another child to help them and got to and made our “cruise ship”. So now we have Minions playing on the theatre screen whilst Rock and roll music blasts out on the party deck with flashing lights and streamers. If you need the toilets there’s a urinal for boys and a sit-down toilet for girls, both with pictures so you ow which is which!!! And every so often the captain calls over the loudspeaker … “Abandon ship…… we’re going to sink” so we all make our way to the life rafts. The café serves pizza and milkshakes and if it’s all too much you can retire to your bedroom and watch TV in bed. There is so much learning happening through partnerships and sharing of ideas and play spaces…. It’s wonderful to be a part of the children’s learning and putting into action their thoughts and ideas…. all coming from self-initiated plans and thoughts.
Other interests have been the “bad robber” or baddies that the superheroes have to chase and catch or police, animals or children being hurt and having to go to hospital for bandages, slings, and crutches (spades) and a stay in hospital, houses with TVs, carports, garages and outdoor areas, the gymnastics swing provides a great sense of achievement for those who have succeeded or have persisted for months to achieve, Minecraft weapon making, sticks for weapons within a game, sensory play in the mud pit overfilling the hole that overflows into the playground, making trenches for it to follow and end up in another pool to jump in, sand pit cakes, ice-creams and traps for baddies to fall in to, making treasure to hide in the sandpit….. and the list goes on. These have all come from the children’s own ideas. We constantly find and provide resources to support their learning and ideas.
Within all of the play there are always negotiations that the children benefit from extra support from adults. Sorting through what happened….. what else could you have done, ……apologising for inappropriate – usually physical- means of solving a problem, ……. practicing verbal means of solving problems and then support with turn taking.
The children have also benefited from our incursions of “Responsible pet Program where they learnt to “read the behaviour of a dog”, when to approach and when to leave the dog alone, how to ask to pat a strangers dog and what to do if an angry dog approaches, Life Education – Staying Safe Program, which taught us about safety in cars, on the roads – where is it safe to cross, holding hands and being with an adult who cares for you, safety at the beach and safe use of medicine’s- always let a grown-up give you medicine, never do it yourself. The excursion to the Belgrave Library, not only involved learning about the library and having stories read by the librarian but safe walking within our community- looking before we cross a road, holding hands when we’re out and about and staying with an adult. (A recent Road Safety Program I attended informed us that in terms of the children’s brain development, children don’t independently put in to practice road safety rules until they are 9 years of age!! So they need constant reminders and someone else responsible for them at least until then.)
And the chickens have been observed, held and enjoyed by both groups. “They are so cute and soft”! Some children are making the connection between the food we eat and the animals. “So does the chicken we eat come from real chickens?” raises deeper questions of life. The death of 2 chickens also adds new discussions about death and life cycles too.
The younger children (3-4 year olds) have enjoyed many sessions of babies, bathing dolls, feeding them, dressing them, making food and putting them to bed. Sometimes the dolls are taken for a walk to go shopping or to the park. The children are very involved in their art type activities of paintings, collage, finger painting, drawing, and love the play dough. We have added scissors, knives and pizza cutters to the dough to encourage more fine motor development as a readiness skill for cutting with scissors and more complex drawing. Threading, whilst also developing the children’s eye hand co-ordination, is also working on their fine motor skills of a pincher grasp and strengthening their thumb and index fingers. These are all skills that help develop the fingers ready for the tripod grip (correct hand grip) for holding a pencil or writing/drawing implement. The children have repeated these types of activities over and over and over and over…… never seeming to tire of them. Then we introduce another activity and that becomes the favourite.
At the moment the children are enjoying the stamp shapes and stamp pads creating lots of pictures using these.
They love their group time of songs and stories and sit very attentively listening to the stories. As it is a small group, we have formed very close relationships with each of the children and it’s lovely to see and hear them having wonderful conversations together at the table at lunch time or during their play. I think this is a great benefit of a small group, where the children get to know each other very well, we have lots of time for them, the day is quite relaxed and the language is so rich. We have time to help and support them through any negotiations about turn taking with equipment or play spaces and time to join in their play. I met a friend who teaches in a 3 yo group which has 22 in the group. She says she’s exhausted after the day and its mayhem. I felt very privileged to have our small group and the joys we all share. It reminds me of a quote I saw……. “How is it possible out of all the children in the world… we got the best ones?”