By Holly Wells
Educator, Platypus Room at Karana
Environments for children in my eyes can create somewhere to transport. Transport as a means of transporting time, space as well as your thinking. Allowing children to create or explore in ways you may never have imagined. I must say it is one of my favourite things about walking into the Platypus room at Karana. Its as though you are placed a little bee hive. Little bees at work, exploring questions that they feel are need to be answered. More so play than work I must admit… The children decide the resources they research, how to use those resources, where they will be best explored and how much time they need to answer all those unanswered questions…
Environments are introduced by us with the intention of providing unhurried and valued learning by the children. We aim to create environments that provoke, using resources that inspire.
Recently we have been noticing a decrease in the amount of time children spend in our light area. A shift in interests, changes the aura or feeling towards the area. When I thought about the light area I wondered how it could be made more inviting. I thought about some NOW interests for the children. At the moment they are really excited to be hunting through the yard with baskets in hand to find all different kinds of things. Often bringing us creepy crawlers (sometimes unknowingly until the bugs wiggle or move- AH!). Some children chasing beauty in the patterns and structure of leaves and flowers. So off I went on a little search to see if we could purchase some pre made resin blocks that were filled with things that I thought would be of value. Possibly holding that beauty and wonder. Easy you may think… Its not.
So we DIY. Upon research I found that people make the same things I was looking for as jewellery. They were so beautiful and I was in awe of the process. As I watched videos and thought that they looked way too easy to achieve and I was most definitely going to stuff it up when I tried. Well I didn’t stuff it up, and they were super easy to make.
To make them I used a resin and hardener, Silicone moulds (I would suggest using a lighter coloured mould so you can see where things are placed), a jet lighter or little blow torch, a toothpick, tray and the items you want to use. To make the resin you need to gently mix equal amounts of the resin and hardener until the liquid is completely clear with no cloudiness. Depending on what you are putting in the moulds, you may need to do it in two stages. If the item you are putting in will sink you can do it in one go. However, if you have something like an insect that you think may float its best to pour a thin layer of the resin mixture on the bottom of the mould, place the item in and wait until its set before adding the rest of the resin mixture. I then, very carefully heated the top of the resin to bring the bubbles to the surface. Most of them do pop but there may be some you will need to pop with a toothpick or something similar to remove. Then leave overnight to set. EASY PEASY!
The kids and parents love them. They are used outside and the children hold them up to the sun. As the light shines through you can see cool little details. We also use them on our light area inside. We have had parents bring cicadas, spiders, a dragonfly, flowers from their family gardens that we pressed and dried.
The most special part of these creations to me is that each of the moulds holds an object that has meaning to someone or encapsulates a story. The children tell others stories about the encasings. Where they found it, how they felt, who was there to help them, why they thought it was awesome; These are just some of the different bits of information being passed from child to child. Kind of like a dreamtime story They are treated with the most care that I have seen for anything in our room. They understand these resin blocks are made with objects that are special to another person and hold an important story.