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Inspiring Curiosity

At Cire Children’s Services, we always encourage our kinder children to have a keen interest in all things, from plants and the environment to animals and insects. You never know where a child’s curiosity will take you. Throughout the year the fascination with insects has steadily grown, but little did we know looking at different insects in the garden would begin something unexpected. It started simply with the discovery of a large leopard slug, which we the named Sally.Leopard Slug

Sally was discovered during a yard exploration. The wonder and curiosity were immediately obvious and the rest of the afternoon was spent observing Sally and creating a habitat for her in our room. Originally she was housed in a large glass jar and then graduated to an enclosed fish tank. There were so many fascinating facts about this unusual character to learn. Did you know that they are partially carnivorous, feeding mostly on carrion which is decomposing flesh and other slugs, or that they enjoy munching on the occasional bit of dog food? We also observed its breathing hole, body patterns and method of movement and how the leopard slug is a beneficial insect to have in your garden.

Through Sally this opened up the discovery and interest to explore the insect world exponentially, moving from slugs to their relative, the garden snail.  The children began their snail expeditions, slowly collecting enough snails to establish a small population for our now flourishing snail habitat. It was decided to differentiate between the snails using a well-tested method…nail polish! During our research on the terrestrial gastropod’s, we discovered that this was a safe and easy way to tell them apart. Each original snail was given a colour and named by the kinder children.

Using technology and close observation we discovered that snails could hibernate for up to 2 years, and to stay moist during hibernation a snail seals its shell opening with a dry layer of mucus called an epiphragm. Did you know that a snail can live for up to 12 years?

Kinders-with-snails
Through caring for our new pets we found out they much prefer leafy greens like lettuce and cauliflower leaf scraps. We observed the way they eat, slowly but continuously munching on greens until the leaves had completely disappeared. We were even able to spy the snail’s tiny mouth moving and cutting holes into the leaves.The research was conducted as a group, learning together that snail’s eyes are located on tentacles attached to the snails head, that they use a “foot”, one long muscle to move about and that the snail must be kept moist, to help them to maintain their mucus coating.

The children feed and spray the snails with water almost daily and regularly removed them from the habitat to interact with them.

Snail

All the children have become good little snail carers being responsible and accommodating to their needs, which was evident when 2 large batches of snail eggs were laid. We had the joy of monitoring the eggs and watching as teeny tiny snails hatched and emerged from under the rocks where they were laid. Our baby snails are now fast catching up, growing to their parent’s size. This experience, driven by the children’s recognisable and passionate interest has provided us with countless intentional and unintentional learning opportunities. We have developed a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world, have had the pleasure to observe the snails full life cycle, the responsibility of caring for another living creature and opened other exciting interests and learning pathways. I can’t wait to see what the children’s curiosity inspires to pursue next.

For further information and 2018 enrolments for our 4 Year Old Bush Kinder Program call 5967 2776 or click here.

Funded integrated kindergarten program – the benefits

We all have busy lives to live, whether it is work commitments, family obligations, or even that specialist appointment we often see ourselves as time poor. When it comes to kinder for our little ones, it’s hard to make time work for us. Not every family has the flexibility to attend an everyday sessional kinder program. This is where funded integrated kindergarten programs can help.

Funded integrated kindergarten have been introduced to long day care services to assist families who are unable to attend a sessional kindergarten program.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Flexibility to choose when you drop off and pick up your child
  • Convenient opening and closing times, giving you plenty of time to get through that busy traffic, morning or night. No need to organise drop-off or pick-up times with work, family or friends

Your children also get to experience a full day with a set kinder program. Most sessional kindergartens generally only offer a short day program; whereas children who attend an integrated kindergarten access the program all day long, assisting in better preparing your child for the longer days when they start school.

One question you may have is: Does my child have the same access to qualified teachers as a sessional kinder? And the answer is, yes.

A fully qualified kindergarten teacher is there supporting your child through their learning; and when it’s time for interactive play, your child will continue their journey with the aid of children’s services educators.

Another bonus is having a cook on premises who prepares all meals for the children. Meals are made according to dietary requirements, just in case your child has any food allergies. This means no packing of lunch boxes; which saves you time on those hectic mornings.

We all love receiving those special works of art from the creative minds of our children to keep for future memories. So at the end of each year, your child will receive an individual portfolio of all their learning experiences. This special portfolio gives you the opportunity to see the ins and outs of their daily kinder life. Group activities, incursions/excursions, photographs, and experiences learned are just a few events that are covered in on these keepsakes. Your child will love looking through their portfolios and reflect on what they have learnt and have shared with others in their community,

Opportunities to go on regular excursions happen throughout the year, some of the places include the local library and community garden. In Yarra Junction we have a Bush Kinders which offers a curriculum where children get to learn about the environment and experience the great outdoors on a bush block to encourage imaginative play.

Government endorsed transition statements are completed for your child’s new primary school prep teacher and a school readiness program is also run during term 4 in preparation for the transition into primary school.

The fees for funded kindergarten are incorporated in the service fees, so there is no additional cost to you. You can also claim Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) as the program is integrated into the long day care services.

The government stipulates that a child must attend fifteen hours a week to meet the criteria for funded kindergarten. Cire Children’s Services funded kindergarten programs run for 7.5 hours a day, 4 days a week, with the kindergarten teacher planning the curriculum on the 5th day. To meet the criteria, a child can attend from 2 days to 5 days.

If you would like further information on Cire kinder programs and childcare services, click here to learn more, or you can contact to organise a tour on 1300 835 235.

Journey into nature

Starting in early March, Rebecca and Claire, two Early Childhood Educators with Cire Children’s Services began a 6 session exploration of Nature Pedagogy.

Pedagogy is described as “the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching” (Collins Dictionary) and Natural Pedagogy is described as “An understanding of our sense of belonging to land, our sense of working with nature. There is a pedagogical shift when you move outside into nature… it’s learning with nature, not just teaching about it.” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant.

The Nature Pedagogy course is run by the knowledgeable and passionate Claire Warden, an International Educational Consultant who has had many years of experience working with children, professionals and in the outdoors. Claire Warden is a recognised author of more than 20 books, has started her own nature kindergarten in Scotland and is involved in many community projects and organisations.

Rebecca, who is the pre-school teacher for the four year old kindergarten group at Yarra Junction campus and Claire the kindergarten assistant, are attending the course to further their ability to implement the natural environment into their curriculum and to learn how to engage children (and themselves) in the beauty, awe and wonder of nature and beyond.

“Nature is a powerful teacher” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant

The first two sessions held in March explored concepts like working with hand tools such as whittling tools, saws, files, sandpaper, hole punches and hammers. Rebecca and  Claire learnt how to make cordage, the art of weaving and how to bind materials together using rope/string. They examined a Risk Benefit Assessment and looked at the advantages of positive risk, and how to encourage children to be responsible for their own safety.

“We learnt that when children are provided with the right level of risk in a supervised environment they are encouraged to learn to assess their own skills and match them to demands of the environment. In turn, children are able to think for themselves and assess risks appropriately, subconsciously or consciously asking themselves “how high can I climb this tree?” “Will this log hold my weight?” “Can I jump that distance” etc. Risk is important in developing these skills and furthermore help children to develop resilience and confidence.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire engaged in discussions about the need to explore the ‘great beyond’ and move past the indoor environment, in order to further children’s understandings of the natural and constructed world.

“It is important for children to engage in the natural environment as it instils a sense of awe and wonder which cannot be found in the material environment. Sensory elements in the natural environment encourage children to use all of their senses when investigating the world and the benefits of physical play it is well known – which is also stimulated by natural outdoor play. The natural environment helps us to connect to the environment and concepts such as sustainability, environmental awareness and action.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire also explored concepts such as territories, and looked into the art of cubby building and encouraging children to become hands on and advocates in their learning journeys.

Rebecca and Claire have absorbed and learnt an immense amount from the Nature Pedagogy course in the first two sessions and are very much looking forward to the remaining sessions to be held later in the year. These sessions will cover natural elements including sand, mud, clay, puddles, wind, light and shadow, feathers and flight and demonstrate how these elements can be used in an experiential basis in the kinder room or classroom to encourage and inspire learning.

For further information about Claire Warden, Educational Consultant click here

Cire Children’s Services Yarra Junction 4 year old funded bush kindergarten is now taking enrolments. For further information visit our Children’s Services page and also keep your eye our for the Yarra Ranges Kids magazine (due out end of this month) for a featured article on the benefits of the program.

Kindergarten – a child’s garden

Take a moment to imagine the kindergarten world: letters, numbers, and stories, sharing blocks, puzzles, play, paint and play-dough. Imagination and creativity fills the air. As you talk with your child about their day and celebrate their best effort on the work they do, remember that kindergarten is a “child’s garden.” Many times the process is more important than the product, and learning is accomplished by doing, touching, and experiencing.

Kindergarten has many benefits and plays an important role in your child’s educational journey, these include:

  1. Social skills, like how to play with other children in a calm, sharing and rewarding way
  2. Self-awareness and respect for others
  3. Emotional skills, for example understanding their feelings and considering others
  4. Language, literacy and numeracy skills, such as reading stories and counting objects
  5. Participating in group activities, such as talking, drawing and making things together with other children their own age
  6. Making new friends
  7. being exposed to new ideas and concepts

You can find out more by visiting the Victorian Government Kindergarten Benefits webpage.

Bush Kindergarten 

A Bush kindergarten is a type of preschool education for children held outdoors in the natural environment. In many forms of weather, children are encouraged to take the lead in playing, exploring and learning in a natural environment.

“Imagine a place where the carpet changes every day, the ceiling is a myriad of different colours, light, shadow and movement. The feelings and movement completely surround you, sometimes breezy, sometimes cold, others warm. Unexpected wonders fly by, sometimes full of colour and sometimes full of noise and movement. If we really want children to thrive we need to let their connection to nature nurture them.” Claire Warden Educational Consultant and primary advocate for nature play.

UYCH Bush Kinder program is based on our beliefs of:

  1. Children having uninterrupted time to play in natural environments with open-ended materials allows them to engage in a range of activities that foster their development and learning, encouraging them to become flexible thinkers, develop self-confidence and independence.
  2. Children develop strong connections with nature and sustainable practices, developing a deeper awareness of the impact the environment can have on them and future generations.
  3. Through play in a natural environment, children are able to learn through their own curiosity and willingness to explore their surroundings, becoming involved learners they develop a stronger sense of achievement when completing tasks and making new discoveries. This helps children to have a more positive sense of them, giving a stronger sense of identity and enhances their self-esteem.
  4. Physical skills are enhanced and developed in natural outdoor settings that provide multiple affordances through natural and open-ended materials. This allows for children to increase the coordinated functioning of the central nervous system, aiding in balance, control of body movements, dramatic gains in motor coordination as well as supporting connections between the cerebellum and cerebral cortex which supports thinking, memory, planning and language.
  5. Children are provided with opportunities to develop risk assessment skills through play in the natural environment. Through this play, children are able to engage in challenging experiences that acquire confidence, achievement as well as an awareness of limits and boundaries.
  6. The play is child initiated and is based on their thoughts and ideas. This form of play is used as a platform for intentional teaching by educators and allows for children interests in the natural world to be continually explored and built upon with the children being active participants in their learning and development.
  7. Through the bush kinder program, children are able to develop attitudes and dispositions about the natural world as well as each other. Social development is enhanced through children being provided with opportunities to explore their thoughts and ideas with their peers, developing relationships with others based on respect for individual identity.

The bush kindergarten program scaffolds the children’s understandings of our local history, Australian folklore and Indigenous culture. It enables the children to engage in outdoor spaces with plants, trees, rocks, mud and water to invite open ended interactions, spontaneity, risk taking and a connection with nature.

If you would like to know more about UYCH kindergarten programs click here.

Story time enjoyed by all

The children of Mt Evelyn UYCH Children’s Centre love having story time and this year we have been lucky enough to have continuing visits with Beck from Eastern Regional Library’s Outreach Flexi-van Service. We discovered this service at the end of last year and due to it’s popularity we are now approaching one year.

Beck has been a huge hit with the youngsters and they look forward to her visits every second Tuesday, during school terms. Stories are theme based to ensure the children get the most out of each book title, and sometimes include a puppet play. Beck often brings along fun activities to follow up, such as colouring or cutting and pasting, which have relevance to the stories she has read. The children are very enthusiastic when it comes to creating projects from the storybooks and characters featured in them. The children are then encouraged to choose from a selection of brand new library books that they can borrow to enjoy between visits.

Studies have proven that reading to children at any age, but particularly 4-5 year olds, every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life. We read stories to the children every day at the centre, and we hope that this will help them to foster a lifelong love of reading.

This program has been a great success and we would like to extend a big thank you to Beck and Eastern Regional Library’s Outreach Flexi-van Service for your ongoing support to the children of Mt Evelyn UYCH Children’s Centre.

For further information regarding our Children’s Services in Mt Evelyn and Yarra Junction visit our webpage.

Bush kinder – planting for our future

The Yarra Junction UYCH Bush Kinder have been busy little green thumbs, and the weather did not deter them at all; Dressed in their little red rain suits, gumboots and with determined looks on their faces they began planting for the future. Their task was big, very big, they had to plant 300 trees and shrubs indigenous to Yarra Junction as a part of the Ribbons of Green Program.

This initiative was part of the Yarra Ranges Shire Ribbons of Green program, which encourages local services to offset carbon emissions through the planting of indigenous plants donated by the Shire.

The team led by Simone, our sustainability leader, and Ian, from UYCH maintenance managed the project by helping the children plant and learn about the importance of nature and the role it plays from an environmental perspective.

UYCH used these plants to help revegetate our bush block which over the past term has had much work done. Through participating in the Ribbons of Green initiative our service has been able to provide our children with opportunities to learn about local indigenous culture, sustainability and develop connections with nature.

The children helped to dig the holes and plant the different types of indigenous plants, trees and shrubs. The rain didn’t deter the children from planting and as for the mud, well that became the headlining act as the children had plenty of fun. This is what some had to say;

“We’re gonna plant the plants not kill the plants.”

“I’ve got my working boots on just like Ian.”

“I am a good digger.”

“I like flowers, not grass.”

The Yarra Junction Children’s Centre would like to thank Benn Sheffield from the Yarra Ranges for all his help in organising the Ribbons of Green project.

The UYCH Bush Kinder is a great way for your children to start their educational journey. For further information call 5967 2776.

UYCH Bush Kinder learns about Anzac Day

You’re never too young to start learning about the importance of Anzac Day.

Image of the UYCH Bush Kinder kids looking at the 2015 Anzac display

Even Superman was inspired by the Anzac Day display.

The UYCH Bush Kinder Anzac Day program is now in it’s second year. Each year we display photos of reletives who went to war so the children can visit the wall and learn about the people in the pictures. This builds awareness and gives Anzac Day a personal perspective for the children to relate to.

It doesn’t stop there the week leading up to Anzac Day is full of questions as their growing minds learn all about the brave men and women who fought for our country many years ago. Last Friday the children had a visitor from the Upper Yarra Returned Servicemen’s League (RSL), Mr Reeves who volunteered his time to give a talk on Anzac Day and what it means to people in our community. During his visit Mr Reeves read the children a book and showed them war memorabilia. The children were very enthusiastic and had many things to say about Anzac Day, Mr Reeve’s talk and of course Anzac biscuits”.

 

 

“Mr Reeves talked about lots of things; he talked about war and even about Simpson and his donkey and everything. He bought a hat and a jacket” Meisha

“Mr Reeves talked to us about a war and read us a story about Anzac Day. He showed us his helmet.” Ayla

“He read us this story. I gave Mr. Reeves a rosemary and Meisha gave him a piece of paper to say thank you” Heidi

“I went in the morning and didn’t have a badge but now I have two badges” Lochie

“They have biscuits named after them” Benjamin

“He taught me we get up early and it is still dark (Dawn Service)” Clair 

“I have one Anzac badge I got from my cousin, just one” Sam

“We made Anzac Day biscuits and you put poppy’s around the soldiers (War Memorial)” Miami

Mr Reeves then had an opportunity to speak to our educators to offer feedback on the program. He was impressed with the children’s knowledge of Anzac Day and cannot wait till next year’s visit. UYCH Family and Children’s centre would like to thank Mr Reeves for his time and appreciate the knowledge he shared with us all. Lest we forget.

Feel free to comment on this article we’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to know more about our Bush Kindergarten please contact our Family and Children’s Centre on 03 5967 2776.