What’s been happening in the Sea Turtles (Pingin) room since our last blog?
Time flies when you’re having fun, as the saying goes, and we have grown so much in the meantime.
We have created our own garden outside, planting different vegetables and flowers which we nurture on daily basis. We did experiments with planting beans in plastic bags and cotton wool, sticking them on our room windows and excitingly monitor their growth each day.
We have learnt sign language and are incorporating it into our daily activities which makes them more fun and memorable.
We meditate at least three times per week, practice breathing techniques with ‘milkshake breathing’ and enjoy BRAIN GYM activities which integrates our left and right brain.
We have divided our main learning group time into two smaller groups for more focus and individual attention. It has been very beneficial, and we are already seeing beautiful results in children’s learning progress. It’s always busy but never boring in our room, that’s for sure!
LITERACY AND PRE-WRITING ACTIVITIES MADE FUN
We are creating our own unique, Alphabet movements with every letter we learn and write each week.
Children relish the opportunity to move their bodies and what better way than with learning the alphabet. Involving them with creating the actions also helps them retain the knowledge.
As Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Involving the children also gives them a sense of pride.
Name recognition has been our usual morning routine, where children seek out their name on the mat and sit on it.
We have come in leaps and bounds with lots of children recognising their friend’s names too. Pencil grip has been our major focus in the last months, participating in lots of fun and innovative activities such as laminated worksheets, chalk board on our veranda, tracing letters, words and even sentences. Pencil grips are a work in progress, almost every child holds the correct pencil grip, ask your child to show you the special way to remember. We love witnessing children helping each other on the correct pencil grip, when one of their friends have forgotten.
Reading time is our special time and children love a good story being narrated. Reading aloud helps children hear sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills. Quiet autonomous reading, teaches children to value books and stories and sparks their imagination as it stimulates curiosity. Children often get so engaged in stories we read, it’s important to support critical thinking, by questioning their thoughts on the main idea of the story and learning the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’.
LEARNING NUMERACY THROUGH SENSORY PLAY
Children are mastering their counting skills and number recognition. We incorporate counting into every possible activity, even when getting the children’s attention. The name of the game is to count how many claps, the trick is, you need to be listening to hear it. It’s how we test our listening skills.
We have also been focusing on counting with objects such as plastic bugs, pom poms or smooth black pebbles that also offer children a wonderful sensory experience.
Play dough has been on our learning list of activities every week as it strengthens children’s hand muscles and develops hand-eye coordination. It is a calming, creative exercise that children flock to.
Laminated counting cards and shapes puzzles are encouraging children’s problem-solving skills. They love puzzles and after they’re finished often display them with sense of pride. We have also focused on new shapes that we have added into our weekly learning program.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Tuesdays are always reserved for learning how to be resilient and developing our emotional intelligence.
We run the Resilience program at least once per week but it’s essentially embedded throughout the entire curriculum.
We have been focusing on different topics, such as kindness, recognising feelings (happy, sad, frustrated, angry, jealous, etc), learning what is respect and how to express gratitude.
Fostering Stress Management skill sets
A Handful of Quiet. This practise is the most innovative meditation developed by Thich Nhat Hahn as part of the Plum Village community’s practice with children. Each month we dedicate to a different pebble, creating our own meditation pebbles. We started with the Water Pebble Practice, which inspires calmness. This month it’s the Mountain Pebble Practice, which inspires strength. Next month will be the Flower Pebble Practice, which inspires fresh perspectives and the final pebble is the Space Pebble Practice. Space inspires exactly that! creating space in the mind. Children paint the pebbles themselves and draw on the symbol. We use them before our rest time to calm down or even during our circle time. That’s what brings us closer, teaches us how to breathe and be patient. Children respond to pebble meditations very well.
Stop, Breathe, Squeeze Communicate is one of the main techniques we teach. We have created our own stress balls, using rice and balloons, as a positive way to channel negative emotions.Children are encouraged to squeeze the rice balls, whenever they feel they need a time-out or just to let go of bad feelings after a stressful situation. It’s not easy to be 4 years old for sure! Touching and squeezing soft stress balls calms children down and relieves stress, their breathing gets calmer and they get a better focus. Managing stress and anxiety is a life skill, these children have solid foundations now and can carry these techniques right through life and adapt them as they go.
Teaching Kindness, is how we teach children compassion.
The first step in kindness for a young child, is helping. When children are kind and compassionate, they are more aware of the suffering of others, and as they grow, it can guide their actions and behaviours in positive ways. Being a caring and compassionate role model is the best method for teaching your children kindness and setting a good example is key to getting them to apply these values to their relationships and interactions. We weave lessons of kindness into our daily routines with a kindness jar and encourage children to monitor their own personal Kindness Trackers.
MOVEMENT AND YOGA
Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination and body awareness.
In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them.
Yoga in Sea Turtles room offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen. Yoga for children is quite different than yoga for adults. We use yoga asanas as a springboard of exploration of many areas – animal adaptations and behaviour, music and playing instruments, language and storytelling, games and dancing. Together we wove stories with our bodies and minds in a flow that can only happen in child’s play. When they stretch like a dog, balance like a flamingo, breathe like a bunny, or stand strong like a tree, they are making a connection between macrocosm of their environment and the microcosm of their bodies. We try to learn stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection and well-being.
Children also focus on developing their gross-motor skills with intentional obstacle courses in the big yard and balancing beams in the sustainability yard. They enjoy their free time with bike riding, ball sports, sandpit play and running, every afternoon after rest time.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
We run our Indigenous program “Empowering our Youth” every Thursday, honouring our Heritage and uniting our children as one. We narrate stories, learn a new word from our Kumminberri tribe every week, learn songs and paint.
Every week, we use our talking stick while sitting in a yarning circle taking turns and holding space for others while they speak.
So that the children could incorporate this ritual at home, we made our own talking sticks from carved wood, dot painted them and adorned them with feathers. The Children proudly showed them to their siblings and families after a very special ceremony. We sat in the yarning circle in the sustainability yard, played musical instruments, clapping our name in syllables and singing songs, while each child was presented their own beautifully decorated talking stick, made in class.
Children are mastering their knowledge of all the numbers from 1-5, which are Yabru, Bula, BulaYabru, Bulabula and Dunngunn. We are incorporating them into our daily counting routine and have also dedicated our numeracy wall to them with creating dot painted handprints as a presentation of the numbers.
Our Indigenous Thursdays are always very creative, either with our artwork that we often display on room walls or singing and playing on musical instruments. Children love to listen to Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and discovering diversity. We have also celebrated this year’s NAIDOC Week with many beautiful activities to support diversity and show respect towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have learnt a new Indigenous song ‘Inanay’ and together with children from other rooms, sang it as an ending to a beautiful NAIDOC inspired week.
Till next time,
Miss Vesna and Miss Caitlyn