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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
We mixed some water with the sand and then tried again. It worked. He was so excited. He then made about twenty of them. He couldn’t wait to tell his parents. Now, if you were looking on, you might think that all he did was ‘play’ in the sandpit for twenty minutes. But it was so much more. Whether you have a clamshell or a mega sandpit like I have, there are so many opportunities and so much fun to be had. Yes it means you have to vacuum the floor in the house a lot more, but trust me, it’s wor th it. Just make sure you cover it every night - there’s nothing worse than discovering a cat has used your sandpit as giant kitty litter. Over the years, we have also transformed our garden so it is now a ver y tactile, inviting, wonderful garden that allows the children to explore and learn about their environment, sustainability and to have fun. We have introduced native plants, a vegetable garden (that the children help me maintain and eat from), compost and a worm farm. They have created an area they call ‘the jungle’ where they love playing with dinosaurs, animals and trucks amongst the shrubs, leaves and, most importantly, the dirt. For a while that is where I stopped. And then EYLF inspired me to do more.... It all started when we had to re-locate our vegetable garden as the harsh summer sun was not very kind on our plants. Then there was this ‘space’ that was just asking for a ‘nature play’ area. Yes we could have planted it with natives and put a garden edge on it, but that would have been no fun at all. When creating fun, inviting spaces for children, you really have to stop being an adult for a while, get down on your hands and knees and think back to when you were a child and what it was that you loved doing in the garden. For me it included some key things: • dirt • water • sand • sticks, leaves and branches • tree stumps • a creek bed (but clearly that is not going to happen in my FDC environment) • friends • imagination. The best thing about creating a nature play area in your day care environment (or family home), is that it doesn’t have to be expensive or large. You can work around whatever space you have and use as much or as little money as you’d like. Some of the things we did include: • a mud pie kitchen • a truck and dirt area • an outdoor classroom • a tepee • water • fairy garden and dino land. How to get started: • The mud pie kitchen. All children need is a table or bench, some old kitchen pots, pans, bowls plates, utensils and some dirt and water. If you don’t have anything old to use, a trip to the $2 shop can pick you up some great bargains. One of my children’s most favourite things to use in the mud pie kitchen is a recycled milk bottle. • The truck and dirt area. It’s simple - trucks and dirt. By setting up an area for digging with trucks, it helps to stop your beautiful flower garden being dug up by the digger of a truck. Trucks are also fun to push around the entire nature play area. • An outdoor classroom. I was lucky enough to find some amazing tree trunks on a roadside collection. They have now been recycled for use in our outdoor classroom. The children love them. We have 5 of the smaller ones nestled under a tree and a blackboard. They are used as seats but also to stand on to perform, to jump on, to balance on, to put toys on and sometimes to just sit and have a quiet chat. • Our tepee. Initially I made the structure out of bamboo poles held together at the top with a strong rubber band. When we first made it, we covered it with branches from a palm tree but now we have made a canvas cover for it. Both are equally fun. It’s personal choice really. The tepee is a great area for the children to hide away, read a book, chat, play with toys, or just play with their friends. • Water. I am yet to meet a child who doesn’t love playing with water. We have a hose set up so the kids can get little bits of water when they want (unless of course I turn the tap off ). But the best source of our water is rain. We love finding water in little containers that we have set up all around the garden. This water gets used to make homes for animals and making mudpies in the kitchen. • Fairy garden & Dino land. We purchased a few cheap pots and filled them with soil and grass seeds. On one we made a little fairy house out of wood and planted a pretty flowering plant, we sprinkled some fairy dust and tiny little fairies arrived. In the other we added some rocks and a big leaf plant. We bought some cheap little dinosaurs from Kmart and it was an instant success. Now add a little water and sunshine and then these pots came to life... The grass grows in the pot and creates many learning opportunities. One of our favourite things to do is take some scissors outside and trim the grass. The size and type of outdoor space you set up for your children really comes down to how much area you want to use, and what resources you have available. The most important thing is to stop being an adult for a while, get back in touch with your ‘inner-child’, and have fun. 11 Reference: Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra: Council of Australian Governments and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SUMMER 2013 - ISSUE 53 reflections.issue53_Layout 1 11/11/13 2:27 PM Page 11
Reflections Magazine Issue 52
Reflections Magazine Issue 54