The Great Foodie Forage

Over the past four months a Flinders Educator has been taking part in The Great Foodie Forage. This has involved foodies, cooks, educators and service directors from all around Australia engaging in an online program covering children’s health and well-being, sustainable practices, horticulture, fresh, creative and cost effective cooking, and making the role of menus and subsequent documentation far more visible and meaningful. This culminated recently with the inaugural forage tour, where fifteen participants travelled from all around Australia to Adelaide for the week. As the only South Australian in the group our Educator felt proud of Adelaide’s beautiful and food-rich culture and our sustainable practices. Highlights of the tour were many but here are a few;

  • A visit to the children’s garden at the Botanic Gardens, a wonderful spot for children to learn about seasonal gardening and sustainability
  • Cooking classes and challenges in the Barossa Valley to develop an understanding of seasonal, regional produce and the marketing of produce and food
  • Driving with the Oz Harvest van attending pick up and drop offs. Oz Harvest in Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, collecting quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivering it directly to more than 1000 charities supporting people in need across the country
  • A presentation by a communications professional about strategies to enable the telling of your early childhood setting’s food story
  • Taking a look around Aldinga Beach Children’s Centre and learning about the establishment of their ‘Giving Garden’
  • A half-day session titled Management of Dietary Needs of Young Children which included cooking classes using high nutrient, low fat delicious recipes run by Sprout Training

and

  • a tour of the Adelaide Central Market and discovering interesting and culturally diverse foods

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Our Educator has come back inspired, and full of ideas and quite a few questions…

How can we empower children in their food choices?

Is there enough consultation with children about the provision of their food?

Are we putting as much nutritional value and taste into the food we are providing for children by using low GI food and wholefoods?

Are we aware of the sources for all our supplies; are they local? How far have they travelled to get to Flinders?

Are we communicating the Flinders food story in the best way we can to our community?

Yet again, we wonder…

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Children as Citizens – Building Connections

As a part of our project, Children as Citizens, Children with Rights, we are focusing on what it means to be a citizen at Flinders. In learning of our inquiry, one of our students on placement has been inspired to look more closely at how we can build community between our youngest and oldest groups of children.

After much preparation and thought, she began by taking small groups of Sturt House children to visit Baby House.

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“This is the first time I have ever held a baby’s hand!”

Then, after a few visits, some of the Baby House children began to visit Sturt House.

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“We need to walk slowly with the babies.”

Being a citizen at Flinders means being welcome in all our Houses, and being able to build relationships with others. It means focusing on the pathways that connect us, rather than the fences and roads that divide us. It means being supported to engage in meaningful ways, whether that means slowing down to someone else’s pace or bravely reaching out to touch the hand of another.

What does being a citizen at Flinders mean to you?

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Community Arts Project – Across the Road

Sarah has moved across the road and begun working with the May Mills, Preschool, Toddler and Baby House children to complete pieces for our Community Arts Project.

The children continue to work with paint, collage and metal etching.

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As the colours and combinations emerge in their circle forms, we are beginning to wonder how it might look as it all comes together…

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We are inspired by nature, pattern and line.

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Landscapes of Identity

Recently four of our educators attended the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange biennial conference; Landscapes of Identity. We listened to two educators from Reggio Emilia in Italy, Maddalena Tedeschi and Maura Rovachi, speak passionately and thoughtfully about the progressive approach to early childhood education they are a part of.

The conference was two and a half days of challenging, progressive, insightful, inspiring, and at times uncomfortable perspectives on early childhood education.

We were challenged to recognise and reconstruct the identity of the individual within the context of the group

We were inspired by the incredible connection to community displayed by children, teachers and schools.

We wondered about the power of documentation to not only make learning visible, but to be the foundation for new learning.

We questioned our professional identity – “Who am I? Tell me that first” (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland). Who are early childhood educators anyway?

What will we do with the residual questions, wonderings, inspiration? We don’t yet know. But we are somehow changed.

Above all, we walked away with Maura’s words resonating;

“We can become a virus, infecting others by changing our point of view.”

So let’s go viral…

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And so it begins…

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Our Flinders Community Art Project has started!

We are beginning our journey in Sturt House, working with embossing metal. We have chosen to use nature as our inspiration to explore line and texture with children. Nature gives children interesting and unique details to explore through art and their senses. Children are investigating the patterns in shells, leaves, corals, and transferring this beauty onto their small round canvas of embossing metal. We will continue to update you as our work progresses…stay tuned!

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From Little Things Big Things Grow (Thank you Paul Kelly): Pumpkin Fest…a Family Night

Back in early December last year, when the weather was hot and dry one Kent pumpkin seedling was planted in a raised garden bed as part of the summer plantings at Sturt House. We had wanted to plant more seedlings but that was all that was available from the garden shop on that day, and maybe that was a fortunate coincidence. When we returned from the summer break the garden bed was full of strong vine with tendrils spilling over the edge. Over the next four months it grew bigger and stronger, pushing through the garden fence in multiple directions and draping over the Westringia and Passion fruit bushes, creating magical nooks and crannies for the children to explore and play in. Flowers and then pumpkins were discovered. Daily reports of new sightings were investigated; three, five, no, seven pumpkins.

Research was needed. When should pumpkins be picked and how and how could we use them?

As the stems browned we harvested the pumpkins and placed them on the tin shed roof, eight pumpkins by this time, until we were ready to use them. The children thought it was a funny place to keep the pumpkins but that is what our research had advised us. Someone told us it reminded them of Malta where it is common practice. We began to cook with the pumpkins as part of our garden to table program; pumpkin scones, pumpkin soup and pumpkin pizza but….what to do with all the extra pumpkins (twelve pumpkins in total were harvested)? Educators decided we needed to celebrate this amazing harvest with our Sturt House community so ‘Pumpkin Fest… a Family Night’ was organised.

Children and Educators worked hard to prepare. An invitation went out. Art work was created to decorate our space. Seeds were saved, dried and packaged as gifts to our families. Stories were written. RSVPs were accepted. Soup, dip, scones and pumpkin pie were cooked. Lights went up. Excitement grew in anticipation of the night as the children worked together towards this exciting culmination.

And what a success our night was. Ninety six guests came. Families and extended families. Food, seeds, conversation and children’s learnings were shared. Connections were made between children, families and Educators.

From one pumpkin seed so many things have grown; Children’s learning about science, numeracy and literacy and probably more importantly what can be achieved when they work collaboratively alongside their peers and educators towards a common goal. The Sturt House community has been united, connections have been made and our community’s sense of belonging has developed.

And let’s hope when the weather gets warm and dry again, sometime in October, our families will plant their seeds and that their pumpkin harvest will bring joy and good times to them to.

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‘Like breath so is the seed. Given. It is an inseparable part of our self and our environment. The seed holds a very great secret- it never gets old. It is the eternal YES to life. The power of a tiny seed is unimaginable. It is the force of promise, the covenant of life, the agent of return.                                           It is the ever present mystery of giving.’ (Anat Vaughan-Lee) 

 

‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ is a song written by singer songwriter Paul Kelly.

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The Forest

Walking into Flinders you can’t help but notice the new garden development at Preschool House. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the path; along it’s twists and turns, down the hill to the new gate. What a stark difference it has made visually to the space. What difference will it make to play at Preschool House? A new path, new possibilities; we wonder where it will take us.

The children and educators at Preschool House are very excited to witness the development of the Forest, beginning with the pathway that connects to the affectionately names Jungle Path along the fence line. Many children spend time during their day looking over the fence; watching, listening and asking questions.

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We have also begun documenting what is happening. We are learning about different tools and the material that is needed to make a path; logs, rakes, wheelbarrows, quarry sand and rubble. Inspired, we add logs and wheelbarrows to our play. Some children enthusiastically begin making a path with the logs; two children use spoons from the sandpit as a tool to cut the log to size and others take the wheelbarrows and move sand or leaves around the space.

Following our risk assessment and our knowledge of the children’s competence in using logs safely, we add more logs as the week continues. This means that the Preschool House children can complete pathways, yet is also opens up opportunities for new inventions. The log is a remarkable loose part. A loose part is a resource that can be used in multiple ways with endless possibilities. Offering logs as an invitation never ceases to amaze the educators at Preschool House. For example, in just one hour they were used as an outline for a pool, dug into the sand and used as a table by placing bowls on top, arranged as a fireplace, and balanced on top of one another. We have used logs as a resource for many years at Preschool House, yet they continue to be used in new ways. What creative children!

Like the humble log with it’s open, endless possibilities, the new pathway also invites new play. We can’t wait to see how it is used. We look forward to the children surprising us once again with their creativity. A new path, new possibilities; we wonder where it will take us.

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