The Cocoon Update

Thank you to all the families who have engaged so positively with our Continuous Learning Plan during this extraordinary and challenging time! We have loved seeing the fun and learning that your families have participated in over the past few weeks. There are certainly some creative and enthusiastic people in our community! We would like to thank the families who have brought their children into the centre over the past few weeks. We appreciate your patience and respect for social distancing when dropping off and collecting your child. The routine has been a little different; however, everyone has adjusted to the changes very positively!

Returning to the Early Childhood Centre

Please note that Monday 25 May will be a pupil free day. This allows us to prepare for the reopening of the school for all student ECC–Year 2.

We are looking forward to a return to school for all our Early Learners from Tuesday 26 May. We will have a more significant number of children and staff on-site from this date. For hygiene and safety reasons, there will be some changes to drop off and pick up procedures, and where possible, we would like to stagger times to reduce the number of families waiting. If you do not have other children attending the school and it is possible with your work commitments, we would appreciate you arriving 10 – 15 minutes earlier at the end of the day, please.

Families will receive more information regarding drop off/pick up, hygiene procedures, and social distancing for adults while at school. Within the centre, we will be implementing additional cleaning of surfaces and equipment to ensure we maintain a safe environment for both children and educators.

Wherever possible, we will be working in our outdoor spaces and limiting the use of table-top activities, equipment, etc.

Our current Unit of Inquiry: Sharing The Planet fits perfectly with outdoor learning and exploring in Nature. It means that most of our time will be spent outdoors in the fresh air, probably the healthiest, safest place to be in the current situation!

What will you need to bring when we return to school?

With our youngest learners, there'll be some differences between the ECC and the school. Children will not be required to bring a pencil case to school; instead, a selection of materials will be made available for art and craft experiences. These will be changed and cleaned regularly as per our cleaning schedule. 

We will be spending lots of time outside, in all kinds of weather, please ensure that you send along with a warm coat and a hat/beanie for extra warmth every day. You may also like to consider adding an extra layer under your child's uniform (such as a skivvy or long-sleeved t-shirt) on cold days – thermals are great if you have them!

Please send along a clearly labelled spare change of clothes appropriate for the weather every day (including socks and underwear). It's also helpful if you can pack this in a waterproof or plastic bag, please!

Please ensure that you send along with a clearly labelled water bottle – we are trying to avoid using drinking cups, which may get mixed up.

Useful items to collect:

  • We require plastic bags for wet/dirty clothes to be sent back home in! Please save and bring in your bread bags, plastic shopping bags, etc. We will put them to good use in the Early Childhood Centre!
  • Caring for our planet and reusing/recycling will be a big focus for our Unit of Inquiry this term. 
  • Please collect and bring along items to be used in art/craft, construction, and loose-parts play. We love receiving collections of things such as bottle tops, jars, small boxes, cardboard, corks, off-cuts of softwood, beads, buttons, gum-nuts, seedpods, etc. 

Unit of Inquiry: Sharing the Planet

Over the past few weeks, we have continued to develop our new Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet. 

Visits to the creek for the children on-site and lots of time outdoors for those at home has offered a wide range of opportunities for learning and play.

In particular, the children have engaged in exploring trees and using natural materials to create art pieces.

Exploring Trees

The children have shown a keen interest in trees, and during a live lesson with Emma, they took some time to observe the trees in her garden carefully. It was interesting to see the children relate this experience to their environments at home—many of them making connections to trees and plants in their gardens.

What makes a tree interesting? 

"We have a lemon tree, but it has green lemons." Isla

How long will it take for the lemons to turn yellow?

"One hundred days" Isla

What can grow on trees?

"Gerald told me they are banks (banksias) … That looks like mushrooms." Isla
"They smell disgusting, I have seen them at Pearl's kinder, and I smelt them." (Hughie knows about Banksias too!)
"We have lots of trees with insects, spiders, and wasps, we have lots of trees all around." Hughie
"That looks like mushrooms." Isla
"You can't just touch trees with mushrooms as they could be poisonous you have to look at google first" Harper
"Birds live in trees and possums" Shreya
"Possums live in trees" Kai

Discussing how to know if a tree is alive or not

Emma shows the children a tree that has fallen over is still growing green leaves and another tall tree with no leaves. 

"That tree has seeds inside it, that why it's growing. The other tree doesn't have seeds on it, so it has no leaves." Byron
"It's an alive tree because it's in the ground."

What do we know about trees? 

"They are brown and green" Isla

Are all trees brown and green?

"Yes" Noah
"Yes, no, just a little. Some have teal, yellow and blue." Isla
"Green and blue. Kai
"We forgot grass" Isla
"Do all trees grow in the grass?" Emma
"Yes" Isla

Can trees grow inside?

"Yes. We have the gratitude tree" Kai
"I do … It's the gratitude tree" Noah
"There's a trap plant that eats insects," Isla

Investigating Trees in Nature

When asked, 'What is Nature? ' Trees were one of the most common answers. This week we are going to investigate a tree, starting today. Below is a link to the Reggio Children website, it is an amazing website with' inspiring creations from the infant-toddler centres and preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. This project provided an excellent provocation for thinking and observation, offering the children with an insight into an exceptional investigation of drawing Trees. It's an outstanding and very inspiring showcase of children's creativity and capabilities, which you may like to revisit with your child.

After watching the video, the children from The Cocoon were asked to choose a tree to investigate and draw. They have been encouraged to take their time and even continue to draw their tree over time. We have been amazed by their initial observations and detailed drawings. We will be revisiting this inquiry in the weeks ahead!

"I am drawing where the leaves are attached" Amelie
"The wind makes them fall." Charlie
"What part of the tree is that?" Emma
"The tree trunk."
"I have a Woodleigh leaf." Charlotte
"I am going to use a piece of paper" Harper
"How do the leaves attach to the tree?" Emma
"They just grow on it" Harper 
"They grow on the tree trunk" Amelie
"ECC went out into the school to investigate the trees did you notice anything growing on the trees?"
"Berries" Maya
"I can see Byron has got something?
"It is not an eating berry. They are purple and hard. They smell like nothing." Byron
"Do some trees grow things that you can eat?" Emma
"Yeah, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries." Byron
"Apples, Oranges, Melons." Charlotte
"Well mangos" Byron

"Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, researching and investigating"

(VEYLDF: Learning)

Exploring Beauty in Nature

We have been exploring the beauty in Nature and experimenting with different ways we can create using materials found in the garden. The children have enjoyed creating "Ephemeral Art" with Miss Harris in our Art sessions and have expressed their ideas and creativity using a wide range of materials!

"Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media."

(VEYLDF: Communication)

Insert image describing Ephemeral Art

Insert images of natural art 

Practising gratitude

This is our ECC Gratitude Tree. The children have helped create it using pieces of bark, sticks, and leaves collected from the garden and school grounds. Each leaf has a quote from one of the children about what they are thankful for. The children working in the centre helped to add the work shared by their friends working at home. It ensured that all the children in our class were represented. It was so special to see how much the children are thankful for, predominately, their families, pets, and friends. The children demonstrated a developing understanding of the concept of gratitude with a strong focus on their relationships. Since introducing the idea of thankfulness and appreciation to the children, they have been eager to discuss what they are thankful for that day over morning tea or lunch. We are proud of our children's value of the simple things in life and their growing confidence in sharing their thoughts about their families and lives.

We are looking forward to sharing the tree as a class when school returns and will continue to add things we are grateful for throughout the year.

"Children become strong in their social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing."

(VEYLDF: Wellbeing)

Celebrating First People's Culture in the Early Childhood Centre

In the weeks ahead, we will be investigating how people connect with Nature and Country by continuing our exploration of First Peoples' Culture. It will tie in nicely with the upcoming Reconciliation Week, which will is celebrated across Australia 27 May3 June. The theme for this year's Reconciliation Week is very appropriate for the current situation, "In This Together."

This will include some exploration and recognition of the Bunurong/Boon Wurrung peoples, the custodians of the land on which we live, learn, and play. 

Stay safe and well, and we look forward to seeing everyone back at school in the not too distant future!

With warmest wishes,

4 Year Old Classroom Teachers