4-5 yo group May
We've had a great start to term 2 with everyone more settled and knowing how our day goes, knowing what routines are when, who the children are, who they feel most connected to, who they would like to make friends with and generally more comfortable which naturally reduces the tensions and anxieties that occur when either changes occur in a known environment or when you join a new community. It's always comforting for Janet and me to see the transition and then the transformation when everyone is more settled. This doesn't mean that all is running smoothly for all children, it's just a lot more predictable for all.
In observing the children's interactions with each other, we have noticed that quite a few of the children would benefit from more support of an adult in their play. So we have planned to guide the children's play by being more involved in their group dramatic play or imaginative play where it would be helpful. Being involved in their play ideas can be a bit tricky!! Being aware of the level of support each child benefits from, either introducing an idea or following a suggestion by some children, do you start the play or wait for it to evolve, do you interject with your own ideas, when are you taking over or not engaging others, can you allow others to join the play or do the children decide how many can join in, when to be a bystander in the play, when to lead or follow and when to leave the play depends entirely on each individual child. This is a 'socio cultural approach' to learning where the children interact with either peers and/or adults to further their learning.
So far we've set up cafe outside and had a crocodile game where 8 children played at being crocodiles. We had to choose our own names, swim around and look for food, have a sleep, eat more food and swim some more. The cafe began with building the cafe using the large wooden blocks, setting tables, finding the tea set for plates and cups and getting the basket of coloured blocks to use for food. We had a chef and waiter and lots of customers. Both games were very successful with more involvement by children who may play alone or in very small groups of 2 children.
The restaurant indoors has been very stimulating of more dramatic play by children who may not play in the house type play. We have maintained a babies section next door to the cafe to continue that type of play for those who love the house type theme.
The animals and dinosaurs continue to be extremely popular so we have used the dinosaur interest to create a new imaginative play space that incorporates dry sensory play of fine gravel. Some children prefer dry sensory medium to the messy, so by adding gravel it meets the needs of the children who prefer non-messy play.
Others who crave the messy we will introduce more fingerpaint and other messy mediums.
The children's fine motor skills particularly developing the thumb and index fingers which are used in cutting and correct grip of a writing implement are being developed through threading, eye dropper painting, printing using a peg on the sponges, play dough with pipe cleaners to push into the dough, cutting a thin strip of paper to use in mosaics to make an Aboriginal flag, Peggy beads and construction sets.
As well as developing the finger skills for writing, we are working on the large muscles in the shoulder and upper arm which impact on the writing too. So the obstacle course meets this need as well as general strength, core muscles, balance, body control and other aspects of general co ordination. All children are participating before we go inside to sit on the carpet for story and relaxation in the middle of the day. By developing the body physically this in turn impacts on the children's ability to sit and concentrate. It helps integrate their muscles and build connection between both sides of the brain which allows the body to maximise learning.
We have introduced a relaxation session in the middle of the day before lunchtime to calm and centre our bodies and thought processes. By resting and switching off for a short period it restores the body and mind, allowing the mind to wander and create. The children have responded very well to this experience and are able to lie quietly and very still for a short period of time. Long enough for some to start yawning!!! We are encouraging the children to bring a small pillow to kinder, to leave at kinder, for this time.
I’ve looked through the photos from when I was away and there have been some exciting activities and developments happening. The children certainly enjoyed Anne’s new songs and mat times and extensions and additions to the program. She enjoyed her time at Belgrave too.
The restaurant was being used less and less so we asked the children what other ideas they had for changing the area into. We had “Floor book” discussions where the children talk about their ideas in small groups, we write them down for them and they draw a representation of their thoughts. The “Floor book” concept is a record of each child’s thoughts and ideas and is a concept designed and developed by a Scottish teacher Claire Warden. It is a great opportunity for each child to have their ideas spoken and discussed. We use a question either coming from the children’s thoughts and ideas or of information that we want to know more about what the children know and are thinking. So it’s very relevant and on topic for these children. So we asked the question “What could we turn the restaurant area into?” There were lots of suggestions ranging from an airport, a vet, a boat, and shops to the Eureka Tower. The two most popular choices was the airport and shops so the children “voted” on which of the two we would do first and the airport was chosen. Next we had an “airport meeting’ for those interested in making the airport. “What do we need in an airport and how can we make it?” The list is in the Journal book. The children then allocated who was going to make what and what they would use and how to make it and now we have a great airport with a walking tunnel an x-ray machine, boarding passes with numbered seats, trays for food and drink, pilots with a computer, a book shop and a café. We need a large box for a toilet in the plane if you have one or could get one for us please? We used stories, information books and the ipad to resource information and ideas for each of the suggestions made by the children.
Today I conducted a pre-survey for the “Drink Well – Eat Well” program we are beginning in Term 3. This gives an idea of how healthy the food & drink is before we start the program. We scored a 100% on the drinking part!!! And 76% for our food. More about the program later next term!! I wish it scored the rubbish content (actual rubbish not junk food I mean), as you are all amazing with the minimal amount of rubbish used for lunches. The reusing of containers is great.
We have also started a more formal gross motor program designed by the Dept of Human Services by a physiotherapist and a paediatric physiotherapist from the Specialist Children’s Services team. It was devised in the late 1990’s however it’s still very relevant. The activities in the Program have been chosen to ensure that Kindergarten children have an opportunity to widen their range of physical skills in preparation for the school playground. This is best achieved in the safe environment of the kindergarten. The program begins with a few weeks of introductory activities, a completion of a checklist which will guide the program planning for children and enrichment activities to further develop their skills. A post checklist will provide more detailed guidance should further support be required for a child. The program also includes a “home’ section for those interested. Please see me if you would like more information or the “home activities”.
3-4 yo group. May
We began this term in our own group, with 3 new children and their families joining the group. Welcome to Holly's family, Amelie's family and Andrew's family.
Some of the children were quite unsettled with the change and will take a few weeks of getting used to the different group. Being smaller numbers we will be able to support them well.
This age group naturally seeks adult input in their play. So generally where an adult is, so will the children be. After about an hour of settling in, we saw half of the group with Janet up one end of the room and the other half with Marion. Janet was either reading stories to 4 or 5 or helping at the making table and Marion was in the block area helping guide 2 roads being built with train tracks and houses and an icecream shop. The game began with two children wanting their own roads and not willing to join them or share the space to finish with both roads part of a city with houses, shops, and trains where 5 children were playing either together or next to each other.
This group love all the similar activities to the older group, painting, play dough, sand, water, collage, home corner and block area but play with the equipment in quite a different way. The main differences being the length of time spent at the activity, their skill levels, the level of interaction between the children and a higher need for adult involvement. So it's lovely to have a small group of children where we can have a high level of impact on their social interactions, their learning, their skill development, their language and their confidence.
The children are more and more settled now with their own group. At first they took a while to adapt to the change of the smaller group and now we see connections happening between the children through their play, often with them asking another child to play… or just joining in next to another child playing the same game which gradually becomes one game. We see this a lot, particularly in the block area and the dramatic play area, where children are playing their own game and another child plays next to them. They begin observing each other, commenting on the other’ play ideas, copying them and then joining them together. So we have 2 train tracks that end up being a large train track or a building joins onto the train track. It’s wonderful to watch the social transformations by the children.
The children have enjoyed the slime, fingerpaint and the new soft gold playdough developing their sensory and fine motor skills through these activities. The scissors added to the play dough help develop early cutting skills by using the blue handled “training” scissors. These allow for the cutting action and naturally spring open ready for the next snip. They don’t have finger sections but use the whole hand to practice the open and shut action needed for scissors. We offer the finger scissors at other activities too for those who have developed the individual finger strength required for using scissors!!! It can be very technical when you’re 3 or 4 and wanting to use scissors!!!!
We had our Open Day… thank you to the families who helped with the organisation, the cleanup and yard preparation, and coming along on the day. It’s always great for other families to talk with current families about the kinder, the program and the staff, to see if it suits their ideals of a kinder for their child. Quite a few families were interested in starting their 3 year old children soon so our little group is slowly growing.