We have had a settled but busy start to the term. The children are engaging enthusiastically in learning experiences related to our Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet, and of course, making preparations for our Mother's Day celebrations!
We have also welcomed Belinda and Allysha to our team as Allied Health Assistants from Peninsula Speech Plus. While they are joining us each day to support funded children, they are quickly becoming valued members of our team and are developing great connections with all the children in the group. We are thrilled to have them working with us and thank them for their contributions to our program!
PYP Units of Inquiry
The Early Years program of inquiry comprises four different Units which are offered throughout the year:
- Who We Are
- Sharing the Planet
- How the World Works
- How We Express Ourselves
While we are introducing these units one at a time, they are designed to run throughout the year. It will allow us to revisit our investigations and follow the children's interests in our programs while honouring their right to learn through play and voice, choice, and agency in their learning. As projects and investigations unfold with the children's interests, we will return to the relevant units.
For example, each time we celebrate a birthday or special family news, we will extend our learning through our "Who We Are" unit. An interest in plants or animals might allow us to build on our learning through "Sharing the Planet."
Sharing the Planet
We introduced our Unit of Inquiry, "Sharing the Planet," during the last few weeks of term one. This unit sits alongside "Who We Are" and will run throughout this year. Our early learning experiences have related to ways to explore nature in many ways, including sensory play, creative art with natural materials, and engaging in active or risky play as we connect with the Country.
This term, we will continue this unit and plan to provide a wide range of opportunities for the children to investigate ways to be caring, show respect for the world around us and discover an appreciation for beauty in nature. Learning experiences about the impact we can have on the environment will also offer the children a chance to learn about their responsibility for the natural environment, take action, and discover how they can make a difference in the world.
Our unit of inquiry, 'Who We Are,' has seen us learn about our families, cultural backgrounds, and the diversity within our learning community. Mother's Day was a brilliant opportunity to dip back into this Unit of Inquiry and celebrate all the extraordinary things our Mum's do for us!
Towards the end of term one, some children were interested in looking closely at a model of the planets. Thinking about the planets around the sun, we began to focus our attention on planet earth.
In conversation, Felix said, "The earth is going to break."
We wondered about this and decided to delve deeper into the children's understandings, wonderings, and responses about our planet earth.
We looked closely at the globe of the Earth and shared in conversations what knowledge we have about our Earth. A small group of children worked together to complete the giant planet floor puzzle noticing the planets in particular Earth. Google Earth inspired further thinking and wondering about Earth as the children moved the Earth around with their fingers. Many of the children have drawn and painted interpretations of Earth.
The greenery of the green is where we live. We found the ground. If you look closely, you find some blue. This ground that we are standing on came out of the sea. Lewis
The green is the tree. The grey is the mountains. The black is the ground, and the blue is the sky. Fletcher
The children reflected with the whole group sharing their drawings and thinking about our Earth.
The people are kind. They care and share and take turns. Harriet
I love it when the bird's tweet. I get excited when I see a bat. Kai G
We belong on Earth. Sophie
We all belong. We can hear the kids. Ollie C
We are nature because we live on this planet. Felix
We look forward to continuing to explore the children's sense of belonging to planet earth.
PLAY and INQUIRY in the ECC
"Children have an innate need to inquire into the world around them. To try to make sense of it and learn about it. Often this important inquiry takes place in children's play." Almon and Miller, 2011
Throughout our week in the Cocoon group, we provide time to let the children play. We actively promote as many opportunities as possible for the children to engage in unstructured, child-initiated play. Play is determined by the children's interests, wonder, and curiosities.
Play is a context for learning that:
- allows for the expression of personality and uniqueness
- enhances dispositions such as curiosity and creativity
- enables children to make connections between prior experiences and new learning
- assists children to develop relationships and concepts
- stimulates a sense of wellbeing." Early Years Learning Framework of Australia.
Through the conflict of ideas in play, a child's relationship with peers is transformed. They are occurring through listening to the point of view of others, deciding whether or not to change their viewpoint. In this way, children work together to solve problems, engage in theory making, and sustained shared thinking. This 'socio-constructivist' approach embraces differences of opinion as beautiful opportunities to invent and learn.
"Play is powerful and is the engine of learning in early childhood and as a vital force for young children's physical, social and emotional development is beyond question. Children in play-based Kindergartens have a double advantage over those who are denied play: they end up equally good or better at reading and other intellectual skills, and they are more likely to become well-adjusted, healthy people." Fiona Zinn
In considering the environment that best supports a playful approach, certain materials presented in a particular way can enhance a child's imagination, creativity, inventiveness, and Thinking. We call these materials loose parts. A loose part is any open-ended object or material that a child can; move, carry, take apart and put back together in various ways, combine and redesign with. These materials have no specific set of directions and can be used alone or combined with other materials. They can be natural or synthetic.
Recently, the children have explored loose parts on the light table designing concentric circles. At the creek, loose parts such as sticks, stones, leaves, mud offer many possibilities for the children to play with, imagine with, and create something with.
We consider with the children; what are the possibilities in the materials? What' other lives' could these materials have? What can we add to play to enable the transformation of ideas?
Several children have shown a strong interest in using Lego to invent Beyblades. We have been listening closely to the children's play, fascinated by the children's capabilities to use Lego to imagine and create something that spins around. We have offered different ways for the children to explore this further using drawing and blocks to build a Beyblade Stadium. The children involved have shared, listened, and negotiated the rules of the Beyblade games together, a great example of the 'socio-constructivist' approach to learning through play.
Social Thinking Skills
We have begun to incorporate social Thinking into our daily curriculum. Social Thinking is a programme developed by Michelle Garcia Winner that assists students in acquiring skills to consciously regulate their actions, leading to increased control and problem-solving abilities. Students learn how to use strategies or tools to assist in managing their feelings.
Social Thinking teaches students to:
- Think with eyes, observe and interpret emotional responses
- Understand perspective taking, that others have thought about them
- Follow a 'group' plan
These are some of the common phrases we use with the children, which you may find helpful to use at home:
Is this a big problem or a small problem? i.e., Is a small reaction or a big reaction needed in this context?
Can you change your plan? i.e., Can you be more flexible in your thinking and change your actions?
The 'plan' has changed. i.e., The daily sequencing of activities has been altered, and we need to act flexibly. It also helps children understand and process unexpected changes to their day.