Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring Cleanin' Time!

My Side Kicks: Cat perched on paper towels = very helpful
(and  yes, that's a dog at door sniffing bum of other dog)
That's how we roll in this house ...

My pantry has been annoying me for some time now. Today, rather than simply putting things away, I pulled out a folding table, and took it all out! I grouped and sorted things into piles and then reorganised them and put them away. I then did the small cupboard next to the sink, then decluttered the spice rack and the bench top. I feel a strong sense of achievement today. A long weekend Sunday well spent. Yay me.
Next stop on this Spring extravaganza is my home office. I’m not happy with it. I have too many bookcases which worked well in my apartment – because I had a super wide entry hallway which could accommodate them. I don’t have that in this house. And with built in wardrobes in two rooms AND an antique wardrobe in the third ... where is all this stuff to go?!?!
I have a lot of books I haven’t read, and lets face it, probably will never read. I’m a library girl – you borrow them, if you get around to reading them? Great. If not, return. So, I will sort through them, and gather a pile to donate (hopefully a large pile!). And the magazines as well – I want to sort through the images I want to keep, and the rest can be used for art experiences!
They really do teach you to hoard when you’re studying to be a teacher/educator.
Well, no more.
I’d rather have room in my life for more life! (And Universe, I don’t literally mean more lives as in animals, I have enough of those thank you very much!)
Over & Out Brussel Sprout

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012. All Rights Researved.

Friday, September 28, 2012

These Were My Preschool Weakness

When I was in preschool ... I stole some bears. I loved that they were bears in different sizes and you could use them to play families. I loved that they were rainbow colours. My mother made me return them. I remember thinking I'd take them back anyway ... I don't know if I was defiant and stole them again, or I just had grand plans that I never followed through with ...

Either way, I loved me some rainbow bears.

Ah, the memories of my own early childhood.

(c) Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More "Natures" in our Garden

I was on my way out the door when I noticed something that someone had said. He’d said to leave it. “It” turned out to be a very young fledgling Noisy Miner bird. It’s a native bird of Australia. They hang out in mobs and screech at most other things: birds, people, cats ... just about everything.
So, I dropped my things, collected the tiny little fledgling and then tapped on the window of the staff room and proudly displayed my new little friend asking my colleague to go and get my other colleague.
While Colleague 1 was off getting Colleague 2 for me I wandered around outside and showed the parents that I had their baby safely (well, not sure if they’d agree about the safety element) – they were doing flybys ... It was then that I heard another baby chirp coming from the shrubs inside our gates ... There was another baby. So I gathered up the sibling and had two birds ... What’s that saying again about two birds in the hand?!?
So, when Colleague 2 arrived, I passed over the bubbas ... we decided to make them a temporary little nest should they want it and put it near the large pile of branches and plant prunings. We were going to bag them up – but thankfully we didn’t! We can use them to make a safer habitat for the babies should they choose to stay there.

There are feral cats about, but we also have to give the family a chance to raise their own young and to keep them within their community. Much like we do with children.
My colleague does wild-life caring so she’s going to keep an eye out on our little friends. It’s best that they stay with their family if they can – you can’t keep fledglings in a nest if they don’t want to! They want to learn to fly and climb and be independent ... just like all babies!
I will be able to put this into a little story to share with the children ... unfortunately we couldn’t share the babies with the children because we wanted to maintain the family connection with their bubs and not freak everybird out so much! If only Miss Five were here today to see the other “natures” that we found! I will certainly tell her all about it next week.
They came from across the road from a VERY tall Jacaranda tree:

Some of our children have noticed the nest in the tree across the street ... We don't have sight of it from the part of the centre the children are in, but we sometimes look from the front administration rooms ...
Hopefully this will have a happy outcome with their family for the little bubs!
© Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Caterpillar and The Spider

Today my gardening colleague and I took a few of our 'left over' children into our car-parking area (its fully gated and locked with only our two cars - don't panic!).
We were pruning our Geraniums and our African Daisy and our Hibiscus and whatever else we happened to have ...
We found a teeny tiny caterpillar!
And we also found a St. Andrew's Cross Spider but the photo wasnt the best and then my colleague accidentally pruned where the web was! We will go back and look to see if she builds again.
My student said to me "We found two natures" ... and we did ... the caterpillar and the spider.
I love, LOVE, gardening with children. I love helping to connect them with nature and life. And this afternoon was truly special. Watching Miss Five and her sister Miss Two using scissors to prune - snip at leaves in helping us ... discovering little creatures, admiring the flowers, learning about their names Echivera, African Daisy, Geranium etc ...
I loved watching Miss Two concentrate so much on snipping the leaves. While it wasn't the best outcome for the hibiscus - I was pruning it anyway! - she concentrated so hard! She was so proud of herself as she asked me to look at her work! She was developing her fine motor skills, her concentration, her hand eye coordination ... she was learning to care for plants and "give them a haircut" so that they will grow stronger, greener, healthier ...
I loved watching Miss Five pick flowers for Miss Apprehensive who didn't want to garden, but loved sitting on the safe sidelines where she could collect and guard the flower collection. She could pick the African Daisies off the plants we'd pulled up ... Miss Five was supporting Miss Apprehensive's choice to sit to the side. Miss Five was showing she has strong empathy for her younger peers, a skill she's developed as a big sister and a member of a strong cultural family.
Where to next? Well, I'm thinking we'll bring a few out in small groups to do some observational drawings of the plants we have. I'm also pondering letting them use our camera to take some photos. As we only have one camera for now - we have to guard it well!
We don't have many plants in our playground - but we do have a garden area which we have started working on. We are adding organic matter to the soil to prepare it for planting - its just too dry and won't hold moisture. We've got grand plans!
We are going to use some of the Geranium cuttings to grow new plants which the children can take home themselves and care for should they choose. This way we can share with the children how we can grow some plants from cuttings, some from leaves, some from seeds etc.
I'm going to strongly encourage the staff to take the children to our garden area more often ... It's been sadly neglected and once our line is fixed, we can hang out our laundry, start our compost, develop more garden beds etc ...
All on our journey to being more sustainable! I would love to see this be a daily occurrence!
This my friends is the EYLF in action ... it's relationships, it's community, it's purposeful activity, its learning through doing, spontaneous actions, caring for nature, plants, animals, creatures ... its part of being a team with adults and children ...

I had such a good afternoon. I just feel at peace with myself and the world, and I wonder if the children are at home feeling the same glow? They certainly seemed to have a glow about them as we worked.

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012  All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creative & Innovative Resource Design!

Home Corner BLING!

I like creating things for work. I really like being innovative and creative. Something that I have done for years and years – is make stuffed food boxes. I stuff them with shredded paper and then tape them securely shut. You can then use adhesive contact to wrap them in. This way they last even longer and are less likely to be opened by curious fingers and minds. I often stuff them =with= the children because this way – they know what’s inside and are less likely to investigate.
I have also made food bottles for years ... I have found at Kmart – a set of 3 small twist top jars which are BPA free plastic for $2 ... so a bargain I think! I’ve filled them with some food items (labelled on the bottom with the date) and then glued them closed with my small hot glue gun (put the glue around the inside of the lid and a little up the thread – then carefully twist on – wait til they dry and presto! Real food items! I am still toying with creating name labels with the bottles. I might, but then again, I might not!
Also I have been making food cans ... this is a =new= idea of mine! I had made them years ago using papier-mâché cans – but it was toooooooo much work ... I’m  lazy and need ease and convenience these days ... buy a smooth edge can-opener ($5 from Coles) which cuts the lid off a can but leaves a, yes you guessed it, smooth edge! Run your finger along it carefully to make sure it is smooth! Then I just put on a food label – then contact the label and then fold the overlap into the inside of the can just for extra protection. I leave the cans open - why not? They can then use them to feed people (I had a little not quite 2 year old feed me some cat food the other day, YUM!). Or they can fill them with spare parts (like bottle lids etc).
Some of these items are either “free” or easily affordable. They are made using items that might otherwise make it into the rubbish/recycle cycle with only one use under their belt ... this way, you can re-use and re-purpose items, then when they have lived out their second life with you, you can then recycle them! (minus the plastic of course).
The food bottles will quite possibly last for YEARS ... I have had some last for 10 years before I left them at a job ... It was time to start new. And I’m really impressed with the Kmart jars. Perfect size for little hands. And they really aid in imagination, are real items that they might be able to relate to – and it helps them connect food with food in different states of being (i.e. dried rice, dried beans, etc).

Also, something that we need to all consider - especially in light of the NQS - and their emphasis on sustainability and environmental awareness and the environment - this is the perfect thing for your service to do! If you do it with the children - you are also empowering them, discussing it with them, and helping them to be capable and competent contributors to their own learning space and materials.
So that is my newest sharing with you ... Go forth and create and innovate! AND feel free to share your ideas!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012    All rights reserved.