Our trip to Africa

This month our early learning educators have been coming up with some really creative ways for children to learn through interactive play. One that stands out is the airport they set up with the children to teach them about travel.  This was inspired by a recent holiday that one of the children had been on with their family. Through their experience, we extended and created our very own aeroplane that could take the children on their very own holiday. The children used an old box and sat down as a group and painted the box using brushes, their hands and even their feet! The children really enjoyed the sensory experience as well expressing their creativity!

Once the box was dry we went on to add different pieces our plane was missing, through group discussions, we talked about what our plane needed. We discovered we needed wings as well as engines to fly our plane. We then set off to find a pilot for our plane, which we found and was named appropriately by the children “gorilla pilot”.

We hung our aeroplane from the ceiling and the children were very excited and enthusiastic to show their achievement to their families as they came to pick them up that day.

“The plane is flying”- Ollie.D

One of our toddlers Ash asked, “Taylor, where is our plane going to fly?” This sparked our conversation and curiosity about our world. We went over to our map and Taylor asked Ash “where do you think the plane is going to fly today?” He looked at the map and pointed to Africa. We used our iPad to look up Africa on the map and to see what we could find in Africa. This generated an abundance of interest because Africa is full of exotic animals. Serengeti, which is located in Tanzania, was selected so the hunt was on to find animals that from that part of the world. Using our iPads we were able to locate and learn about the animals we found. We observed the animals and then everyone participated in discussions such as how they looked, what noises they made and other interesting facts. David Attenborough would have been impressed!

“The gazelle lives in the Serengeti in Africa”- Ash

The children became very curious about the animals that lived in Africa so we also set up a small world experience with African animals. Through these activities the children have been sharing knowledge with each other, has sparked their curiosity about the world and created new conversations and discussions about their findings.

Through our music and movement, we have also explored the sounds of Africa. The instruments came out and the children enjoyed listening to the different style of music and multicultural experiences were shared by all.

Through continuing on with our around the world project, the children are able to connect with and contribute to their world as well as showing they are confident and involved learners. This has also promoted a strong sense of identity as we have also discussed where in the world we live.

“I live in Australia” – Rhiver

Next week we plan to fly our plane to a new destination in the world. The children will decide where we go, what we expect to find there and what music is part of their culture. The fun continues through the learning at Cire Childen’s Services.

If you would like further information about Cire’s early learning programs, click here.

Creating Wildlife Habitat

Conservation of habitat is important to protect indigenous fauna and flora and help preserve biodiversity and endangered species. All too often humans impact on the habitats of local wildlife, either knowingly or in ignorance, with a detrimental effect on population, biodiversity and species. The Yarra Valley is fortunate to host myriad fauna species and here at Cire we take our obligation to preserve and protect wildlife seriously too. One of Cire’s core values is to protect the environment in which we live.

Recently the severe windy weather caused some concern on the safety of a few dead but standing messmate eucalypts at our Yarra Junction campus. The canopy weight of the trees was causing movement of the tree roots in the ground and causing them to lean and eventually fall; and large limbs were regularly dropping.

Did you know that it takes 200 plus years for natural hollows to form in dead trees? So with some ingenuity a group of environmentally conscious Cire members set about to see what could be done to preserve the trees as a habitat source rather than removing them in total.  It was decided to remove two thirds of the height, which entailed the bulk of the canopy and weight, to allow root stability and also create manmade habitat holes in the standing trunk butts.

Possums, bats and birds had all been seen regularly at the campus and the diminishing habitat was of concern. We brought in experienced tree climbers to remove the dead canopy and limbs which left tree butts approximately five metres high. The climbers were highly skilled and very adept in wielding chainsaws from great heights as well as creative in habitat design.

Trees were selected for access and proximity to other trees and vegetation as well as protection midst the stand of trees. This was to ensure that animals could move easily between trees, have a food source, be protected from predators as well as feel secure when at rest.

The results have proven early successes with a brushtail possum moving in within a week and a variety of parrots eagerly inspecting the man made hollows. The bat hollow is yet to show signs of occupation, but we are hopeful.

The extensive tree works was done by Arbortrim as a training exercise for students with newly acquired skills and resulted in great outcomes for our local animals and birds.

The accompanying photos show the skills of the arborists, the process to create the hollows and the end result. After the weighty canopy was removed and the tree butts were made safe, a slice of tree trunk was removed at an appropriate height, the hollow was created with a chainsaw and a cover plate screwed back over the hollow. Three habitat designs were created: one with a top entry, a side entry and a bottom entry – especially for bat habitation.

Cire is proud to care for our environment and consider all options in support and retention of bushland and preserving the natural habitat for our indigenous fauna.

A farm experience for the Badger Creek Crew

On the first day of the Easter Vacation Care Program, Badger Creek Vacation Care set off for a day in the sun to Chesterfield Farm. This excursion is in line with framework used in Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) to foster interaction with animals, which was encouraged not only on the excursion, but also in the Badger Creek OSHC environment.

The benefits of having animals incorporated into the education programs in Cire’s Children’s Services, is to help children form relationships with pets and animals and to help develop a caring attitude and skills such as nurturing, responsibility, empathy and improved communication. Having a pet in a child care environment enables children who are not otherwise exposed to animals to learn these skills. The pet can become part of the daily educational program and can lead to activities and learning about other animals. Badger Creek OSHC and Vacation Care have a pet Blue Tongue lizard named Harry, who is part of the daily program and each child has formed a very nurturing relationship and takes responsibility to ensure he is cared for daily.

Chesterfield Farm, located in Scoresby, dates back to the mid 1800’s, but has only been open to the public since the mid 1990’s. It is a working farm and includes presentations of cow milking, sheep dog work and sheep shearing, demonstrating to the public the goings-on of farm life.

The bus ride there was very loud as everyone was very excited about what farm animals they were going to see. When the Badger Creek crew arrived they all lined up in a straight line and followed educator, Crystal inside. The animal nursery with all the baby lambs, goats and calves was their first place to visit. They were able to walk in and pat the baby animals, but were unable to feed them, as they were all on a special diet.

They were then all able to go on a tractor ride around the whole farm which was really exciting. The children got to see ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, ostriches, emus, red deer, fellow deer, kangaroos, goats, camels, sheep, cows, pigs and dogs. There were also chickens, and a lot of different types of birds. Chesterfield Farm is on over 200 Hundred acres of land and all the animals are very well looked after.

Charlotte, Ashlee, Lily, Archie and Rebecca all got to hand feed the deer. Zoe, Amy, Lily and Olivia got to feed the camels and Crystal was the only one behave enough to hand feed the ostriches. The animals were all so friendly and took the children all by surprise.

The second last stop before heading back onto the bus was the Sheep Dog and Shearing Demonstration. Bridget the short haired Border Collie showed the children how clever she is. She was able to show the Badger Creek children that she knew her left from right and that she could round up the sheep very quickly. The demonstrator, Les showed the children how to shear a sheep and taught the children that doing 2 hours of sheep shearing is as strenuous as playing a 4 hour AFL footy game.

Badger Creek Vacation Care chose Chesterfield Farm to provide the children with an understanding of the world they live in and to expose the children to life in the Yarra Valley. In the Yarra Valley children are often exposed to wildlife and domestic animals. This excursion helped to teach the children one of the key frameworks ‘to broaden their understanding of the world we live in’. Not only did the Badger Creek children learn from this excursion, but they all had a wonderful day too.

Cire Children’s Services Vacation Care Holiday Programs run throughout the year during the school holidays. Be sure to check out our programs that will be coming out in June for the July holiday period.

It’s never too early to learn about animals…

Last month we were lucky to have a visit from Debbie of the Mt Evelyn Vet Clinic. Debbie ran an exciting program for the children called PetPEP (Pets and People Education Program) which is an initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association throughout Australia. PetPEP teaches children and the community about responsible pet ownership, safety around animals, healthy living (pets and people), welfare of animals and animals in the community. The program helps integrate responsible pet care messages into the classroom, to teach our next generation about the responsibilities associated with owning animals and how to behave safely around them.

Debbie brought her gorgeous little one year old dog Hugo in with her to demonstrate to the children how to behave around animals. Debbie taught the children about the difference between friendly, scared and aggressive animals, and how we should (or should not) approach them safely. After this, she taught the children the safest way to approach a friendly dog and ask their owner if they could have a pat. They all got to give Hugo a pat which he lapped up of course. Hugo then  showed us some tricks which had smiles all round. Once all the serious stuff was over the children jumped at the opportunity to dress up and role play as Vets and Vet Nurses, fun was had by all.

To find out more about the PetPEP (Pets and People Education Program) click here.

UYCH Community College offers Certificate III in Animal Studies, click the link to find out more.