The Cocoon Update
We are enjoying a fantastic year so far in the Cocoon group with the children growing as individuals and as a community of peers. It is hard to believe we are halfway through term one already. In beginning our year together, we have focused on building a positive sense of who we are within the Cocoon group, the Minimbah Woodleigh community, and the broader community. One way we have done this is to understand the meaning of the Woodleigh leaf found on our uniform and around our school, which represents the Woodleigh values of Respect for ourselves, Respect for each other, and Respect for our environment. In the morning meeting, we invited the children to think about what the leaf means to them. We asked the children, "Have you noticed the leaf on your uniform? We wonder what it means?"
"You have the Woodleigh leaf, so you know you are from here. It's important to have the Woodleigh leaf because your parents invited you to this school." Ollie C
"Be nice to other people in the world." Felix
"It tells us we are Woodleigh." Lewis
"That's my Woodleigh leaf, so I know it's mine." Harriet
"It's four-year-old Kinder. It's the Cocoon. That's the leaf you choose to come to this school. Look after each other and the country." Kai G
"You do kind things. Give someone a flower." Ollie W
"It's a Boon Wurrung leaf." Jordyn
"We all belong in the Cocoon." Ollie C
As a symbol of belonging and participation, we collected some beautiful Eucalyptus leaves, looking closely at how they were all different, but all from the same tree, noticing that we are all unique and part of the same group. In a dance with Ms. Wong, we explored through movement imagining being a leaf, moving in the breeze, floating, and falling gently to the ground together. We creatively expressed the beauty of our leaves through the languages of paint and threading. Miss Harris, our art specialist, facilitated our thinking and planning to create a mobile to display our leaves together in one place. We shared the storybook Respect, by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson as a provocation to go deeper with our learning about Respect. Our Woodleigh leaves have become very special to us.
Many children have shown a strong interest in drawing, writing cards, letters and making storybooks. Our communication space is set up with materials to encourage and support the development of emerging literacy skills. Children's experience with writing and creating texts is an essential avenue for self-expression in early childhood. These experiences also help precursors to their later reading and writing development.
"Children need continuous experience in writing. They need the chance to experiment using what they know about writing and the opportunity to apply and practise their developing skills and knowledge. The opportunities to write should be available during free play." Fellowes and Oakley (2014, p.358)
Writing experiences provide endless opportunities for developing children's art as well as written expression. Another benefit of encouraging drawing as emergent writing is that it can act as an anchor for children's ideas as they begin to experiment with letters and engage in experiences.
"A book with pages. A book without words. You have to look at the story to know what the words are because you have to imagine the words." Sophie
"You write them." Jordyn
We value drawing and making time and space for children to engage in meaningful and purposeful drawing experiences that can facilitate emergent written expression. Recently, a small group of children used writing to make signs for the fish and chip shop,' and several children drew plans for the ball runs outside.
Over the year, we encourage the children to recognise and write their names in authentic ways. It is a process whereby the children are supported to "sign-in" when arriving. It can begin with placing an item on their name/face to show they are here to eventually writing their name independently.
"Children are effective communicators when they experiment with ways of expressing ideas and meaning using a range of media and begin to use images and approximations of letters and words to convey meaning." Early Years Learning Framework.
"In natural play spaces, there are opportunities for children to experience relationships of belonging with nature and to capture moments of being in nature. Natural outdoor spaces also offer agency, essential to becoming socially active and empowered participants in a rapidly changing global environment. Such experiences are critical to shifting ways of thinking and acting for a sustainable future." Sue Elliott.
Creek Day is a highlight of our week and much anticipated by all. The creek is a unique wild place that the children come to know, understand and appreciate. They know where the best tree is to climb, the deepest part of the creek that is not safe to go into, the creek's role in making the best mud balls with the right amount of wet and dry sand.
The creek is challenging and offers each child a myriad of possibilities to extend themselves beyond their comfort zone in a safe way. The creek day's rhythm provides a sense of security and predictability. From arrival when we hang up our bags to our hide and seek safety game, times for snack and lunch under the Whispering Willow tree, times to work and be active, times to relax and be slow, and time to leave and return to base camp. Rituals around getting physically and mentally prepared for the outdoors plays a significant role. Our clothes reflect the weather conditions and allow us to be comfortable no matter what the weather. The action of putting on gumboots, coats, beanies, sunscreen, and backpacks prepares our minds for embracing the outdoors.
Our creek book connects us to our experiences and memories at the creek through highlighted photos, children's drawings, and other relevant information. It is a reflective living document that the children, educators, and families can revisit by sharing what happened.
CATHY, RACHELLE, KELLIE, MILLY & LISA