The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework encourages ‘children to resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials’. This term we have been encouraging this by asking children…
- ‘What is it you want to play today?’
- ‘What will you need to play that?’
- ‘Where will you get what you need from?’
These questions encourage and invite the children to be the agents of their own learning. As Early Childhood educators we can provide a range of activities and experiences, but it is through the children’s self-selected or initiated experiences where the greatest motivation for learning lies. It is then our job as educators to support and extend this learning, thus creating a meaningful and engaging cycle of play and learning.
Would you like some chocolate cake?
A small group of children are making cakes in the sandpit. As often happens, a lucky educator is offered a piece. A conversation ensues as to the ingredients in the cakes. The educator asks ‘Is there flour in your cake?’ Some of the children laugh and say ‘No! We don’t put flowers in our cake, you can’t eat flowers!’. The following day the children are invited to the kitchen to make a real chocolate cake. The children now know what flour is as well as the existence of homophones; meaningful learning that was unlikely to have been conceived without child initiated play.
I want a necklace like Mrs Bissett
An educator suggests collecting gumnuts from the outdoor play area. Children are enthusiastic and go on a nature hunt together. Once collected the items are decorated with paint. The children resource the paint themselves, choosing their own colours and using their developing strength to squeeze the paint onto a paint tray. The educator suggests that a glue gun might be the best way to attach the gumnuts to the string. The glue gun is a new experience for the children. One child holds her hands over her ears as it is plugged in. She expects a bang; this is her experience and understanding of guns. She is assured that glue guns don’t make a noise. She continues to cover her ears. We talk about why it is called a gun; the shape, the trigger and that something comes out of the end. She takes her hands away and asks to hold it. We look at the glue sticks before they enter the gun and discuss how energy is used to make the glue melt and that the energy makes the glue hot. After watching the educator demonstrate, the child confidently manages the glue gun to attach her gum nuts.
The following day another educator picks up the theme. She takes a small group to the kitchen to make bi-carb soda dough. The children helped to mix the dough, discussing the changing state of the ingredients in the mixing process. Vocabulary such as liquid and solid were used. The children then use their developing fine motor skills to form the dough into beads and, once cooked (another conversation about changing states of matter), they decorate them and thread them onto string. Patterning is discussed, introducing mathematical language such as ‘repeating pattern’. Yet another series of learning events that would not have been so meaningful had they not begun with the children’s ideas.
When talking to your children about their learning day you can support their idea development by asking ‘What are you thinking you might do at school today?’ ‘What will you need for this and where will you get it from?’ Encouraging ideas and creativity is a great way to switch your child into growth mindset thinking and give them a head start to an engaging day of learning.
by Amanda Cooke, Pre-Prep B Teacher and ELC Coordinator