Worry Dolls – a problem shared is a problem halved

Worry dolls have been all the rage in a most positive way at Cire’s Out of School Hours program at Yarra Junction.

With some help from the educators, the children have been making worry dolls partly as a way to vocalise and or offload any of their worries, as well as being a creative activity and one that exposes them to other cultures.

The children put a lot of creative thought and effort into how they wanted their worry dolls to look such how the facial expressions they drew and the hair colour and length, with some giving their dolls long locks so they could be trimmed.

The activity was quite timely, particularly for one child who has been afraid to go to school because of problems with other children. The activity gave the child the confidence to share her troubles and talk with educators about solutions. The child loves the worry dolls and plays with them daily.

The Yarra Junction group has extended the experience of making worry dolls by making beds for them and providing blankets.   They even asked the educators for more blankets as there weren’t enough to go around.  The educators have bought in their crochet hooks to make the additional blankets.  There are plans to make cosy pouch beds from felt for the dolls.

Worry dolls are tiny handmade dolls, traditional to Guatemala. According to Mayan legend, worry dolls ease our fears and anxieties. Before a person goes to sleep at night, they tell the doll all the problems that have been worrying them and then tucks the doll under their pillow. While the person sleeps, the doll takes all their worries away or gives them the gift of knowledge and wisdom so, upon waking, they know how to solve their worry!

They say a problem shared is a problem halved. Worry dolls provide a beautiful way to ease one’s worries.

It has been wonderful to hear from the parents that their children are going to be with the worry dolls and taking comfort in having them under their pillows.  One of the worry dolls even had an adventure, mysteriously finding its way under the child’s bed. There was a great hunt in the morning and big hugs from the child when the doll was found.

The children have taken a real interest in the dolls and are working cooperatively to help each other create their own individualised doll.  Some of the children are starting to make families of worry dolls

Pat Leembruggen

Cire OSHC coordinator, Yarra Junction

Mother Goose fun in the Upper Yarra

Mother Goose fun in the Upper Yarra – Parents and children in the Upper Yarra will benefit greatly from a Parent-Child Mother Goose Program to be launched at East Warburton, Millgrove and Yarra Junction in July.

The program has been made possible by the generosity of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust which has provided funding for a three-year period.

Parent-Child Mother Goose is a particularly engaging program which strengthens attachment and interaction between parents, carers, youngsters through the pleasure and power of thymes, songs and stories.

Through the program, parents gain skills and confidence that help create positive family patterns during their children’s crucial early years. At the same time, children benefit from enjoyable, healthy early experiences with language and communication.

Parents and carers learn a wide range of material which they can use in their daily lives, such as rhymes, songs and lullabies to settle and soothe babies, rhymes to support daily routines of bathing, feeding, dressing and nappy change and others simply for the pleasure they bring.

The program is enjoyable and fun, and is available to participants free of charge. It will be held weekly during school term for parents/carers and their children aged up to five years.

Cire Community Development Manager, Lynnie Kennedy, who has an extensive background in early years education and development, said the program would be a tremendous boost to what is currently available to young families in the Upper Yarra.

“It is enjoyable and fun, and free of charge,’ Lynnie said, adding that specially trained early childhood educators facilitate each group.

The sessions will be held at the Millwarra Primary School campuses at Millgrove and East Warburton and at Yarra Junction Community Hub. Interested participants should contact Cire on 1300 835 235.

Cire has a great track record of delivering playgroups which benefit parent and carers as much as their children.

Our Gumboots program is a quality and relaxed supported playgroup led by a qualified early childhood educator and at the following venues:

  • Upper Yarra Family Centre, 2444 Warburton Highway (corner of Hoddle St), Yarra Junction on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 11.30am.
  • Badger Creek Primary School, 139 Badger Creek Rd, Badger Creek from 9 am to 11am on Wednesday mornings.
  • Little Apples Playgroup at Gladysdale Primary School is also part of our popular Gumboots program on Tuesday mornings from 9am to 11am.

Participating families are asked to make a gold coin donation.

The Helen Macpherson Smith Trust was established by Helen Macpherson Schutt (née Smith) in 1951. On her passing in 1951, Helen left £275,000, the majority of her wealth, to establish a perpetual philanthropic trust to benefit Victorian charitable institutions. Launched as the Helen M. Schutt Trust, the name was changed to the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2001 to acknowledge the Macpherson and Smith families as the prime source of her legacy.

Since it was established, the trust has distributed $113 million to a wide range of Victorian charitable institutions and a diverse range of projects benefiting Victorians.

HMS Trust

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.

Taking a walk in the shoes of a room leader

My name is Taylor and this year I became a Room Leader. Over the years I have been an Educator at Occasional Care, Outside of School Hours Care and assisted in the 3 year old room. After completing my Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care through Cire in 2017, I am now leader of the Toddler’s Room for 2018. Looking back on my time here at Cire, becoming a Room Leader has been a fantastic experience.
I came into my current position as Room Leader with enthusiasm as well as nerves, stepping up into a higher position and taking on more responsibilities. I am lucky enough to have a great and supportive team around me, who help me each day. Becoming a Room Leader was exciting; I was ready to use my creativity and knowledge that I learnt through studying with Cire Training and ready to apply it all into the curriculum, to foster the children’s learning.
This year, I have found confidence moving into a position that had more responsibilities and I am ready to show what I can do and share my ideas.  When the children build secure attachments and have a sense of belonging they develop a strong sense of identity. It is important to build these attachments and relationships with the children and with their families.
Supporting children to become socially responsible and respectful contributors to our world is very important to me. By way of showing this, I have implemented more sustainable practices into our everyday curriculum, giving children opportunities to become involved in their world such as recycling, gardening and much more.
Fostering natural curiosity and the desire to investigate through play is essential for children to be confident and involved learners. This year we have implemented bush block visits, at least once a week, into our curriculum. The children are enthusiastic about our adventures to the bush block and are always asking when our next adventure will be. While we spend our time in the bush block, the children are able to learn and gain respect for our natural environment, as well as expressing their own wonder, interest and curiosity. The children are able to take considered risks while engaging in play and are able to cope with unexpected changes. We are able to problem solve together and contribute to group outcomes as we explore and engage with each other through play.
Overall, I believe the children are able to use their imagination to create their own experiences, which emerge from their own ideas, in addition to feeling happy, safe and connected to their world. Children that are encouraged to project their ideas and contribute through play become more effective communicators.
In our toddler’s room, we based our curriculum on children’s interests and on their needs, giving the children a voice in their day to day routine while being in care at Cire. We give children choices throughout their day, such as progressive meal times and optional rest times.
I believe it is important to encourage children’s independence by allowing the children to take considered risks through their play. It is also important to openly share their ideas and communicate their needs with trusted educators and peers around them.
We learn through playI have created displays that are located on the walls leading up to our room. The first display is called “We learn through play”. This display is made up of the Early Learning Years Framework, giving families a visual on how we use the framework through our day to day curriculum through the use of photos of the children engaged in the activity.
The benefits of play
We have a display of “The benefits of play” which outlines the benefits of the experiences we set up, explaining what learning the children are doing while engaging in these experiences. This gives our families a chance to understand our curriculum and how each experience has meaning and what learning their child is gaining.
We also have “Our sustainable year”. Our sustainable year project shows our families the monthly calendar we use to highlight our sustainable practices carried out in our day to day curriculum. Through our sustainable practices we develop an understanding and respect for the natural environment and the Our Sustainable Yearinterdependence between people, plants, animals and the land. This gives a chance for families to see and understand more about sustainability and see what we are doing in our curriculum in contributing to sustainable practices.
Overall, becoming a Room Leader has not been as challenging as I first thought, as I came into this year filled with the excitement and nerves. I have a wonderful and supportive team around me who are always willing to give me their help and time to guide me through each day. I am very enthusiastic about continuing to implement different ways of doing and being with the toddlers under my care. They are very curious and have a great desire to investigate and I hope I can continue to foster this learning through a range of experiences.

If you would like to know more about Cire Children’s Services or would like more information on our Early Childhood Education and Care training courses call 1300 825 235.

A popular tune sparks imagination

Over the last few weeks, we have had a growing interest in catching the bus and buses in general. When my friends began singing “The Wheels On the Bus” on a daily basis with no prompting, having lengthy discussions of themselves and siblings catching the bus, I knew we were on a path of genuine interest and limitless learning potential!

During a sing-along one afternoon I sat down on a chair and begun the motion of the song, immediately everyone in the group quickly mimicked my actions by grabbing their own chairs and lining them up along mine. Before I knew it we had a bus made simply from chairs and imagination!
Inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of the 3 year old children I located a large table which we safely upturned and placed the chairs in, the sheer attraction and response to the somewhat basic bus were overwhelming!

A popular tune sparks imaginationThe children were delighted with this simple bus, but discussions quickly followed on how to extend the functionality and appearance of the bus with many ideas being shared. We decided the best way to start would be to find a way to attach a roof. We did not have any suitable materials to build a roof so we wandered over to the kinder room to see if we could find something that might work. I spied some long cardboard tubes and asked if we could borrow them, so the children and myself carried them back and erected the tubes over the legs of the upturned table thus creating a structure for lay the roof! We placed material over the tubes and fastened them with pegs. The children were so proud of their construction efforts, knowing they had collaborated and problem solved using their innately clever brains.

“It needs a roof” – William

“How can we make doors?” – Lilly

“I’m going to drive the bus” – Josh

“Can I help do lights?” – Sophie

“I’m going to the shops” – Parker

“I need to take baby” – Heidi

Over the next few days, there were many play episodes involving our bus,including trips with babies and going to the shops with handbags. Not long after the discussion of bus improvements came up and the children suggested doors and walls on the bus so a call out to parents asking for recycled materials such as cardboard and plastics was in order. We received a big donation of cardboard from a parent and we began the process of painting and attaching. The children decided that they wanted a yellow bu

A popular tune sparks imagination

s like the ones they saw on television so we used roller brushes to paint the many sheets of cardboard. Once they had dried we attached them to the upturned legs of the bus using lots of sticky tape thanks to the help from the children. We cut out windows and doors and over the next couple of days, we attached a windscreen, headlights, steering wheel and windscreen wipers! It didn’t stop there, every bus needs a bus stop so we created one using fake grass, traffic lights and a stop sign.

We have decided to continue our work and play on the bus as an ongoing project and on Friday we upgraded the roof and added scenery around the bus to create a lovely view for our little travellers.

This project has provided us with numerous learning opportunities such as social development from negotiating and understanding roles, gross motor and spacial development from navigating the space, literacy from the songs sang involving the bus, counting passengers, creative expression and sense of self and community from valuing the children’s input and ideas. I can’t wait to see where this learning journey takes us!

If you would like to know more about our children’s services or seek information on early childhood education and care training courses call 1300 835 235.

Books to get off to a good start

In February 2018, Cire Services were fortunate to be the recipient of a $200 donation from Wandin Rotary that was to be utilised for the purchase of educational products for the children from the Yarra Junction Children’s Centre. Both Cire Services and Wandin Rotary acknowledge the importance of literacy and language development in pre-school children and what better way to contribute to the children’s learning journey than through the magic of words.

Literacy is a key part of a child’s development. Talking, singing, playing sounds, word games, reading, writing and drawing with children is a fantastic way to set up sound literacy skills. Activities such as reading together, playing with rhyme and sharing stories can all assist in a child’s early literacy journey. These skills will prepare children for primary school and for the learning road ahead of them.

On Thursday 8th March, Mr Warwick Bisley from Wandin Rotary attended the Yarra Junction Children’s Centre to present a collection of children’s books for the children to enjoy. Selected from the shortlist of books for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2017, which were aimed at promoting “quality Australian books that help children get the best, most literate start to life”.

The books were selected from three award categories: “Birth to three years”, “Three to Five years” and “Indigenous children”. A total of 12 books were purchased. Some of the donated books included:

  • I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You- Kate Ritchie (Hannah Sommerville)
  • At the Zoo I see – Joshua Button and Robyn Wells
  • Animals in My Garden – Bronwyn Houston
  • The Ricker Racker Club – Patrick Guest(Nathaniel Eckstrom)
  • Mad Magpie – Greg Dreise
  • Hello to You, Moon – Sally Morgan (Sonny & Biddy)
  • 1,2 Pirate Stew- Kylie Howarth
  • Colours of Australia- Bronwyn Bancroft

The children were fortunate to receive a special treat when Warwick stayed to read one of the donated books. All the children enjoyed listening to the story and admired the colourful images and afterwards Warwick was invited with the children to enjoy a yummy morning tea.

When asked about the books, some of the children expressed their thoughts.

Charlye-Rae said “I think they are great”, Sam described the books as “cool” and Matilda told her teacher “My mummy and Daddy would love them”.

In appreciation for the special gift, the children presented Warwick with a thank you card then a tour of the centre. Warwick described the centre as:

“One of the best preschools he has seen in Australia”.

We would like to express our thanks to Wandin Rotary for their generosity. We look forward to children enjoying the books for many years to come.

if you would like to know more about Cire’s Children’s Services click here or call 1300 835 235. Cire also offers tours of our centres located in Mt Evelyn and Yarra Junction.



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.