Welcome back to the ECC!
It is lovely to be all back together again! We were very excited to return to the ECC, especially to reconnect with our friends.
We are sure many would agree; there was a feeling like that at the beginning of the year. Many mixed emotions were evident from teachers, children, and families, which was expected. We are incredibly proud of all of the children. They have shown fantastic resilience, courage, independence, and responsibility, a credit to you, the parents. They were well prepared and understood the many changes and differences in the centre and program.
Despite a few tears and nerves, the children have adapted well to saying goodbye at the gate and adhering to hygiene routines. We feel that for them, this experience highlights their capabilities and hope you feel the same way too.
Thank you for all your support, encouragement, and communication with the transition back to school. It's been a process that we have all had to navigate as best as possible, and we all appreciate the trust you have had in the school and us.
A note from Emma
I would also like to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to Rachelle, Kellie, Milly, and Lisa for all their support throughout the Continuous Leaning Plan. Kellie and Milly did an outstanding job in the centre with the children who attended. They managed the cleaning, hygiene, and social distancing with care and efficiency, all the while providing an engaging and supportive program. Rachelle was a massive support to me during the online learning, from joining zoom meetings, responding to posts on See Saw, and generally supporting me throughout an unfamiliar period. As always, Lisa provided guidance, support, and care to us as educators and to the children and their families.
We have happily welcomed Theo and his Family to the Cocoon since returning after isolation. Theo has moved from Woodleigh, Penbank Campus to the Minimbah Campus, and has settled in extremely well with our group. The children have been welcoming to Theo and are fantastic role models, supporting him with our daily routines and showing him around.
Unfortunately, Gabriel and Lachlan have not returned to the Cocoon. We wish them both the best at their new preschools. We hope that we will invite them and their families back to the Cocoon to say a proper farewell when possible.
Revisiting our Unit of inquiry, "Who We Are."
Since returning to the Cocoon, we have found that it was essential for us to reconnect. During our morning meetings and while we are at play, we have been thinking about ways to be safe and happy at school, show respect for each other, and contribute to our community. Revisiting our Unit of Inquiry "Who We Are" has been a fantastic way to support the children's sense of identity and belonging as they settle back into life in The Cocoon. In particular, we have been exploring our relationships with each other and our wellbeing.
What might you say to a friend if you would like a turn?
"Can I please have a turn after you." Charlie
"You can't take things from people they may get sad." Scarlett
"Please, can I have a turn?" Billie
"If people snatch, you might feel sad or angry." Jack
How can we feel and be safe in the Cocoon?
"Not tripping over." Barney
"The teachers make me feel safe." Noah
"I feel safe when I'm happy." Hunter
What makes a good friend?
"Playing a game together and a puzzle." Lara
What does the Woodleigh leaf on your uniform mean?
"That is a Woodleigh day." Isla
"It means respect. Respect for others, don't hurt them." Brandon
"Pay respect to the environment." Scarlett
"Help the Elders." Barney
"Your Woodleigh leaf is very important." Amelie
Children become strong in their social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing
"Sharing the Planet" Unit of Inquiry
During the Continuous Learning Plan, we began our new Unit of Inquiry. Foundations of the Unit were developed during this time, and we have returned with interests and areas to focus.
Our line of inquiry into 'how people connect with nature and country' was further explored last week when we recognised and celebrated Reconciliation Week. The theme this year was 'In this together.'
First Nations Culture is integrated into our everyday program. However, throughout the week, we placed significance on building relationships and creating a community that values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, history, and culture.
Each morning we Acknowledge the land that we meet and play on and the custodians of the land. The children have begun to learn a few words of the Boon Wurrung/Bunurong language, which we include in our Acknowledgment.
'Bik' the land.
'Wirra Wirra' the sky
'Barney' The waterways
We also looked at a fantastic website with an interactive map, which illustrates how many mobs Australia has and languages spoken. The children enjoyed finding our local language and listening to audio and videos from Elders Carolyn Briggs and Fay Stewart. We were interested in hearing other languages and will revisit the site. You may wish to have a look with your family and listen to languages from different places around Australia that you may have visited or have family and friends.
We read the story "Sorry, Sorry' which tells one story of what happened to Australia's First People. The children were interested in the relationship between newcomers to the land and the First Peoples, asking questions about what happened and how they treated each other. We discussed at length what it meant to feel ashamed and how to apologise.
Inviting Wildlife to our garden
While we were away, our back garden received a little makeover in the form of a new path and garden beds. We have Helen, our fantastic maintenance and all-round handy lady, to thank for this. The children we quick to explore the new area and develop some ideas of how they could further enhance the space.
"We can plant flowers and plants for the bees and birds, and I could ask my mum and dad for some plants." Maya
"If you want Panda's, you need bamboo." Noah
Would we get panda's here?
What animals would we like in our garden?
- Birds – Brandon
- Kangaroos - Noah
- Bugs - Jack
- Spiders - Shreya
- Lizards - Theo
- Bunjil and Waa, we could invite them to our garden what would they like? Harper
- We could make some sculptures - Noah
- A bird nest or a bid house - Harper
Building on these reflections, the children have been designing a variety of ideas to invite Wildlife to our garden:
- Bug hotels
- A playground for the birds
- Spider tunnels
- Lizard homes
An inquiry into how caring for the natural environment influences our understanding of it and ourselves. (Sharing the Planet UOI)
Wood and natural materials have been a medium the children have been drawn to in developing their ideas and plans.
We are hoping to provide a range of materials for the children to utilise to create their playground. If you have any pieces of timber offcuts, natural materials, or recyclables that we could put to use, we would love to have them.
Usually, we would also ask for parent involvement, as we are certainly not experts when it comes to building! If you or a family member has any skills in this area and has some spare time, we would love to arrange a zoom meeting to ask for some advice.
Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment
Exploring rock paints
As part of our inquiries into how caring for the natural environment influences our understanding of it and ourselves, we have been exploring ways to create our art materials using natural materials. The children have been very engaged in exploring the sensory element of making paint from rocks.
"Why don't all rocks crush?" Charlie
"Some must be harder in the middle than others," Brandon
"What colour paper does it show up on better" Brandon
"I think it will be the black" Maya
"Yeah, I think it's definitely better on the black," Brandon
The children notice the natural world around them and make observations through shared small group conversations.
"Do you think it would stand out on other coloured paper" Charlie
"We could test it out and see" Rachelle
The children could test their ideas and develop theories about their findings. Producing a wide range of observation and thinking skills as they worked at the activity.
There were many discoveries made, including looking at the form of different substances and how things in nature can change due to human impact, such as putting pressure on the rocks.
It was fascinating to observe the children add different amounts of liquid and find out how it can change the paint's colours and textures.
Creating our paints from nature has allowed the children to connect with the environment around the ECC. We have noticed their growing awareness of the different animals living in our space. They noted several birds in the back tree and considered their impact on the earth if we took on more and more nature to create things. It has been productive, authentic learning and is something that you don't truly understand when pouring paint from a bottle
Exploring the science of light and shadow
The glorious winter sunshine has provided the perfect opportunity to explore the properties of light and shadow. Many of the children have been interested in experimenting with different ways to make shadows and discovering how they can change shadows by blocking the sun.
"The sun is not seeing your shadow." Scarlett
"The sun is beside you, so it is seeing you over there." Isla
"You move your body where the sun can see you. Your shadow is always with you. See how it's always moving when I move my body? Look, it's underneath me Charlie, can you make your shadow go beside you?" Isla
"Wow, this is strange, so weird! Charlie's shadow is in front of him, and mine is behind me. Crazy!" Isla
Insert images of outdoor shadows
An overcast day presented us with a new provocation for learning.
Where have our shadows gone?
Why can't we see our shadows today?
Can we make shadows indoors?
We introduced artificial light to this inquiry, providing the children with torches and our overhead projector to experiment. They continued to explore ways of creating shadows by blocking the light with a range of different materials, noticing shapes and movement as they played.
The exploration of shadow puppets was a natural extension of the inquiry; the children were engaged in the creation of their puppets, songs, and stories. We plan to build on this interest next term and look forward to many fabulous performances!
We wish you all a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable holiday break. Take care, and enjoy being with your family and friends again. We look forward to seeing everyone in Term 3!
EMMA, RACHELLE, KELLIE, MILLY & LISA