Early Learning Group News

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. We certainly have some creative and enthusiastic people in our community! We would like to thank families who have chosen to bring their children into the centre for their patience and respect for social distancing when dropping off and collecting at the end of the day. The routine has been a little different; however, everyone has adjusted to the changes very positively!

Returning to Early Learning

We are looking forward to a return to school for all our Early Learners from Tuesday 26 May. Please note that Monday 25 May will be a pupil-free day. It means that there will be no kindergarten for our 3-year-old group on this day. This time is used to prepare the centre and plan for a return to on-site learningThere will be some changes to our routines and procedures with a more significant number of children and staff on-site from this date. 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. 

This will mean that most of our time will be spent outdoors in the fresh air, which is probably the healthiest, safest place to be in the current situation!

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

  • We will be spending lots of time outside in all kinds of weather, so please ensure that you send along 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 really 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 is also helpful if you can pack this in a waterproof or plastic bag, please!
  • If you have not already done so, please send along a clearly labelled pair of gumboots to be left at the centre – we will be heading out for walks around the school on most days, so they will get lots of use!
  • Please ensure that you send along a clearly labelled water bottle – we are trying to avoid using cups that may get mixed up etc. 

Useful items to collect:

  • We need 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

This term, we have introduced our new Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet. It has been wonderful to see both the children and families embracing our learning with enthusiasm and curiosity. This unit of inquiry is rich in learning opportunities. It is providing the children with many experiences to take them away from screens and out into nature!

Central Idea:

We connect with our natural environment through our curiosities and explorations.

In our 4-year-old group, we began our new unit by exploring the concepts of connectionchange, and environment. They inquired into the question: "What is nature?" and reflecting on the ways we explore nature at home, in our community, and at Penbank. 

Building on our early discussions, we invited the children to do some exploring and collect some items of interest, sorting them into nature/not nature. This provided us with further information about the children's interests and curiosities, which included:

  • Beauty in nature and using natural materials in our artwork
  • Noticing a change in the natural environment
  • The weather – wind, rain, sun, seasons

As part of our investigations, we enjoyed pressing flowers and leaves and observing the changes over time. These were just perfect for creating special Mother's Day gifts! The children were also very excited to explore their special gift packs (both at home and in the centre) planting bulbs, which will be interesting to observe as they sprout and grow!

Our early inquires have also focussed on the weather. The children have loved investigating, predicting, creating, and testing their ideas, having lots of fun exploring and examining into:

How the weather impacts our environment, us and other living creatures

  • Ways to record the changing climate – creating charts and blocks to display the weather each day
  • Predicting weather and weather forecasts
  • Taking mindful nature walks, using all five senses to explore

Our 3-year-old children have shown particular interest in using materials from nature in their artwork. 

They have enjoyed using unique treasures from their gardens at home or found on walks around the school, to create collages and transient art.

They have also been thinking about caring for our environment by recycling and sorting our rubbish. This has included using recycled materials to create art and re-purposing our old texta colours to make their own water-colours, which were just perfect for our Mother's Day cards!

Our early inquiries have centred around the children's keen interest in insects. We enjoyed a fabulous "online incursion" with the Botanical gardens, which provided us with lots of new information and knowledge! The children attending the centre, have been fascinated by feeding our food scraps to the worms and investigating where the food goes, how worms move, and what they need to live. The children were excited to create their own worm farms and have been very engaged in observing the trails left behind as the worms move through the different layers in their jars.

Practising gratitude

This is our Penbank 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 why they are thankful. The children also picked leaves for our friends working from home so that their quotes are were also included. It was so special to see how much the children are thankful for, predominately, their families, pets, and friends. The children demonstrated a deep 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. 

Celebrating First People's Culture in Early Learning

In the weeks ahead, we will be investigating how people connect with nature and Country by continuing our exploration of First Peoples' Culture. This will tie in nicely with the upcoming Reconciliation Week, which is celebrated across Australia 27 May – 3 June. The theme for this year's Reconciliation Week is very appropriate for the current situation, "In This Together."

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

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

Early Learning Teachers