|Over the course of the past month, we have been getting ready for our new secret garden. We moved our garden beds in the yard over to the new garden area, but that gave us something else to think about.
What should we do with the old dirt from the garden beds? After some discussion, we decided to make a truck area for the children to play in. We also chose to include the children in this project. We sat down with the children and asked them what they wanted.
They told us they wanted some hills in the track to push the trucks up, so together with a few children we marked the play area and then started moving the dirt. It was pretty fun moving the dirt with the children especially when we dug up worms, grubs, a few spiders and lots of ants.
This lead to plenty of discussions about all the creatures that live in the dirt as the children (and educators) moved the dirt over to the new play area. These discussions and the team work that moving the dirt provided really brought a new dimension to the project with children excitedly showing their parents what they and their friends had added to the area each day.
Brooke Lovell, Educator Karana
Kindergarten is extremely popular in Australia. According to The Bureau of Statistics last year a total of 342,479 children aged 4 or 5 years old enrolled in a kindergarten/preschool program in Australia. Despite these statistics however, there are still children who don’t attend a kindergarten such as the excellent, Eskay Kids in Capalaba. Kindergarten attendance is not compulsory therefore it is ultimately the parents’ decision whether or not to send their children to kindergarten. This article will highlight the benefits of Kindergarten for young children.
Here’s why Children Love Kindergarten:
- They get to meet new people – both adults (teachers) and other children
- They get to play and have fun
- They get to learn a range of educational things
- They get to socialise and form special bonds
- They get to have fun and be a part of a group
Here’s the Benefits of sending Children to Kindergarten:
- Children grow socially and emotionally
- They are able to further develop their fine motor skills through play, art, dance, music, movement and interacting with other
- They learn how to be a part of a group and learn important social skills such as self-awareness and respect for others
- They learn both verbal and nonverbal communication skills
- Children learn language, literacy and numeracy skills, such as reading stories and counting objects
- They also learn how to listen and behave in a classroom environment which paves the way for their higher education.
Written by Nat at Karana
We love some mark making at Karana. We love to express ourselves through being creative and putting what we are thinking out into the dirt or sand. Using sticks, or even our fingers and hands, we love to make our marks. I often find the children making marks in the dirt or sand throughout the day. Excitedly showing us the pictures they have created and telling us the story that goes a long with it.
Such a simple activity can encourage so much development. I must admit, when I first saw the children doing this (and mind you, I have seen this for many years but not always seen, or really thought of the learning behind it.) I loved seeing the big movements of their arms then the smaller ones. Going from big to small. Small to big and everything in between too. Running across the yard with the long sticks as they make their ‘roads’ or ‘tracks’ behind them. Going goodness knows where but just going!
The children, through this play are also experimenting with patterns. Making lines, dots and squiggles over and over. Making marks that may represent their names or their families names. I find that when they are doing this, they are repeating the same makings over and over when representing their name for themselves. It means something to them and those symbols are their name. This is what they have picked to be their name. To them, they see their name and while we may write it down for them prior to them doing it for themselves (if they ask us to write their names), this is how they see it and how they recreate it. It could be completely different but, I think that is what makes it so special. Their interpretation of things. The children’s imaginations being encouraged and shared with others around them. They choose to share it with me too. That in itself is priceless.
While this playing is happening they are also developing their body strength. Encouraging their writing skills would you believe? They are working their shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and finger muscles. All intricate parts of development. They all link together, and in the process, it not only increases their strength, but mentally prepares their bodies for writing and other gross or fine motor activities. Big movements to little movements. It also encourages their cognitive skills as they process the different pressures needed to draw with. How they hold their stick (how it feels comfortable to them) or their hand so they can use their fingers effectively. In other words, they are actually getting a whole body workout. Mind and body.
I love that simple play brings so much more than what appears on the surface. Play is learning and learning is play. Discovery, excitement, self expression. It all is a part of play and shines through in so many ways.
We all know how difficult the maintenance of healthy eating can be, especially for the whole family. Packaged snacks are so easy to give in to, just grab them from the shops and wait for the kids to devour them. However, most snack food options from your local grocer aren’t particularly healthy, nor are they reasonably priced. Nonetheless, the kids love them. Kids love sweet foods, which by definition, are the worst for your health. That’s why every house hold need easy to make snack sweeties for the kids that are healthier than the usual packaged snack foods from the shops. Keep reading to discover some great, simple sweet healthy options you can make easily at home.
Pastry and jam rolled together and baked with a little butter on top are to die for! Super easy and simple and extra healthy if you source healthy home-made jam!
Get your favourite Pikelet recipe and add 1 & ½ cups of mashed banana and ensure you only use 1/3 cup of sugar and you’ve got yourself the best breakfast/afternoon snack. Top with yoghurt and fruit and your children will be more than satisfied.
Special Rice Cakes:
Grab some rice crackers from the shops, pop some peanut butter on top, some banana, couple sultanas, coconut and berries to make a face, cat face or a flower type creation. For this one the kids can get involved and create their own little foodie master pieces. Not to mention, this is extremely healthy and filling at the same time.
Grab some frozen acai from your local grocer, blend with your choice of fruits, coconut water and top with fruit, coconut and seeds. This will surprise your sweet tooth, with the natural fruity sweetness but satisfy your craving.
Simple but really low in calories, pop some honey over your crunchy popcorn and you’ve got a winning afternoon/after-dinner sweetie snack the kids will love.
The above recipe ideas are healthy and easy sweet snacks aimed at providing you with an alternative to process packaged foods that aren’t good for your children’s tummy’s.
Children love to learn, especially from young ages. It’s important to take the time with your children to teach them lots of different worldly things which of course includes nature, animals and all things earth. Ensuring they are aware of the beauties of nature from a young age allows them to be more in tune with the environment and healthy living lifestyles as they mature and grow up. At Eskay Kids Capalaba we impress upon our children the importance of being kind to nature and practicing environmentally friendly routines. Not to mention, we are mud play enthusiasts, because getting amongst the earth is the best way to form a healthy relationship with it.
Getting out into nature is perhaps the easiest way to encourage outside play and the more outside play, the more they learn about the outside world. So, get outside with your kids and show them around. Teach them all you know about trees, flowers, animals, insects and the world as we know it. If you assist you join your children outside and play with them it can really assist them in getting comfortable with the great outdoors and therefore wanting to learn more.
Another great way to educate your children about nature is by reading books about nature, the environment, animals etc. Children love to read and they especially love educational stories. While fun, happy and funny books are also important, mixing it up with some environmental books is always good too.
Sometimes some healthy quizzing can be really helpful for children to retain information. For example, “what kind of bird is that”, “what’s the name of that tree”, “is that a pigeon or a cockatoo?” Simple questions about animals and nature can really assist in their overall level of general knowledge which is extremely important.
Getting the foundations of general knowledge can really start with simple nature facts. Learning about animals and the earth we live on is such an important thing for children to be made aware of. Technology and the internet is all very important, but outside play should always come first.
Easter is an extremely EGGciting time for children. There’s something about a mystical bunny rabbit and boat loads of chocolate that really sets the tone for a thrilling holiday. But of course, when children grow up, they lose that relentless excitement for Easter and the bunny and, well maybe, not the chocolate. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure you make Easter as fun and memorable as possible when your children are young, because they can be memories they will cherish forever. In this article we will give you tips on how to make Easter Sunday the best Easter Sunday possible!
- Egg Hunt!!!!! (of course)
What kind of Easter would it be without an Easter Hunt, right? A very bleak Easter indeed. Whether it’s an indoor hunt or outdoor, the Easter Egg Hunt is always a winner!
- Bake Easter Goodies
Baking can be a great way to incorporate educational aspects into the day – teaching the kids how to bake. Either bake treats on Easter Sunday or bake them for Easter Sunday, whatever you choose make sure to get creative with decorations, chocolate eggs and icing!
- Egg Race
There’s nothing like involving a bit of healthy competition. By decorating the hard boiled eggs with paint, glitter and decorations you can incorporate fun, competition and creativity!
- Visit a Pet Farm
Now while this one is most certainly not mandatory, it can be a fun treat to take the kids to see real life rabbits and animals just for some added animal fun. If you don’t have a pet farm nearby, perhaps you have friends or know some neighbours with farm animals that wouldn’t mind a visit.
- Host a Picnic
Picnics can be a really fun little activity for children, especially with the addition of yummy treats and toys! Not to mention inviting their fellow friends can be an even more exciting experience for them.
- Get Outdoors
Get outdoors and fly a kite or go for a swim! Anything out of the ordinary is always exciting and different. Not to mention, if a particular place or activity is a real hit, turn it into an Easter ritual! There’s nothing like a family ritual!
Easter is a time for family, fun, surprises, yummy treats, and most of all, making it special for your children. So start planning on the little things you intend on doing or surprising your children with!
If you read our previous blog on “The Importance of Kindergarten Readiness” you will already be aware of why it is so important to prepare your children for Kindergarten. We touched on some ways to get your children ready however this article will go into far more depth and provide you with a range of tips on how to easily prepare your child for their soon to be, new learning environment. While some tips might be simple, or obvious to you keep in mind they might not be obvious to some. If you did miss our previous blog, preparing your child for Kindergarten is crucial for their early brain development. Not to mention the simple fact that preparedness directly correlates with ones’ success.
- Read to your Child Regularly:
Reading is extremely important, especially from a really young age. While it’s obviously extremely educational and stimulates early brain development, it can also assist in the generation of their imagination and creativity. Not to mention, reading is extremely soothing and can have many sleeping benefits.
- Get Musical:
Even if you don’t play an instrumental or consider yourself a talented singer, introducing music into their lives can be an effective way to encourage their creativity and introduce them to new sounds and experiences.
- Encourage Responsibility:
Encouraging responsibility is such a great way to inspire growth and taking responsibility for their actions. Not to mention, early development of leadership skills can be a great way to inspire independence, individuality and personality development.
- Get Involved:
Get involved with your children and their activities and games that they enjoy. More than you know, they will appreciate your support and involvement. Not to mention, it’s a chance to bond while doing something they love. Getting involved is such an important step in the process as social skills is a huge part of Kindergarten preparation; sharing, talking, watching and playing with other children is a huge part of early brain development.
- Encourage Educational Activities:
Encouraging educational activities is potentially the most powerful way to prepare your child educationally for Kindergarten. While, educational preparation isn’t the most important, it can be useful in early brain development.
- Give them Freedom:
A lot of these tips involved impressing a particular activity or “way of being” onto them, which is obviously important as a parent. However, it’s just as equally important to let them go and enjoy their lives as they wish. Personal development is extremely important – self-discovery leads the way for future success.
Hopefully this article has been useful to you in learning how exactly you can easily prepare your children for Kindergarten without being too intense or hard on them. It can be easy to forget sometimes that even though they’re children, they need their space and their own time just as much as we do.
Living in such a technologically advanced time, it can be hard to encourage our children to drop the screens and use their imagination instead or go outside and embrace nature. But why would our children listen to us? We are terrible role models in this regard. We always have our phones on us – we use them all the time, mostly because we have to. Often times, our jobs involve staring at a computer screen or making calls all day. And while we actually engage in a lot of important, boring, paper-work type tasks on our computers at home, children don’t see it that way. We live in a digital age – there’s no avoiding it. However, it is vital, that from a young age, we try to impress on our children the importance of playing outdoors or being creative and arty or playing sports. While this may not be easy, because well, who can deny that tv is extremely entertaining? It is still crucial that we teach our children to appreciate the simple things in life and to use their brains to their absolute capacity.
Reduce Screen Time:
This may seem obvious but decreasing the allowed amount of screen time for your children is the first step in encouraging them to explore other activities. If your children have a certain show in particular that they love to watch perhaps allow them to watch that once a day and nothing else. Or Give them a certain amount of screen time per day, say 2 hours where they can go nuts and watch whatever they please. This may not be easy to begin with, but soon enough they will get into the routine and accept that this is just the way it is.
Encourage them to try Extra-Curricular Activities:
Some children may not have much of an idea of what they’re interested in or would like to get involved with at a young age. However, encouraging them to try new things and get involved with sports or dance can really help to increase their confidence levels, meet new friends and find new hobbies that will encourage them to turn off the screens.
Play dates can be a really great way to encourage your children to form friendships and relationships and build up the courage to play with other children independently. This can not only be important educationally and socially, but if you organise with the children’s mothers to ensure they don’t engage in screen time, it can be another element that encourages them not to turn to the screen.
Screen time is a touchy subject, and every parent is different in regard to how much or how little they allow their children to have. While everyone has different opinions, too much screen time is not constructive and can impede children’s brain development, especially at younger ages. Attempting to decrease screen time is a great start to ensuring your children are experiencing life to the fullest and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Christmas time is an exciting time of year. Australian Christmas involves sweet mangoes, long summer days and gorgeous sunsets, blue skies and crystal-clear oceans. Everyone loves Christmas time, it’s a time for giving, receiving, eating and relaxing. But no one loves Christmas more than kids! Christmas is the event of the year for children. There is nothing more exciting than decorating the Christmas tree or baking Christmas cookies. Below are some fun funky Christmas activities your kids will love!
Get creative in the kitchen with your kids. Stock up on a variety of coloured food dye and Christmas decorations. There are a variety of Christmas recipes online but leave the decorating up to your kids – let them use their imagination and express themselves.
Christmas origami can be slightly challenging, but extremely rewarding. Origami requires concentration and following steps, a perfect holiday activity to keep the kids entertained and still engaged.
- Christmas Cards
Something your family members will adore is handmade Christmas cards. If you take control of the initial design, you can pass it on to your children to fill in the blanks, but make sure you give your children some creative freedom because your family will appreciate their artwork.
- Christmas Tree Decorations
Get creative with painting and sticking glitter onto borbals and plain wooden stars etc. A trip to Kmart will lead you to a range of plain decorations that your children can decorate with all sorts of fun colours and textures.
- Christmas lights
Even if you’re not particularly interested in the full house Christmas light extravaganza, you can get creative simply. Even if you simply put lights up in your house, or in trees in the backyard – your children will love them!
Christmas time may not necessarily be your favourite time of year, but while your children are young it will most definitely be theirs. Get creative with your children and they might even make things easier on you. Not to mention, Christmas holidays can be long for your kids so keep them entertained and engaged with some fun crafty learning activities.
When it comes to teaching the kids to go green, the earlier you do it, the better. In a time of drought, excessive waste and air pollution, education is key, so children know there’s consequences to waste.
- Get them in the garden
Going outdoors is good for our mental health thanks to all that sunshine and fresh air. Getting the kids to help in the garden and acquainting them with the animals, flowers, and the other plants, will teach them to respect the environment. The worms, the birds, the snails, and the ladybugs all deserve to be there as much as they do.
- Save your scraps; salad scraps, egg shells, veggie skins, and more can be saved and turned into your own compost heap.
Children need to know where their food comes from and that it’s possible to do more with it than just eat. Pulp from juicing, food scraps and clean water can be reused in the garden. It will definitely help them in the future when they do science at school and study the environment.
- Turn off the taps
You are meant to brush your teeth for about three minutes. The tap doesn’t need to run the entire time.
Teach the children that when the water is running without purpose, it’s getting wasted; always ensure all taps are turned off properly. Put a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water before it turns hot, and use it to water the plants – you can even catch the pasta water when you strain it as the starch gives the nutrients in the soil an extra boost.
- Take them to Bunnings
Tying into our first point, take them to the gardening section to get them invested in the work. Ask them to pick their favourite plant or seedlings. Getting them a pair of their own gloves definitely helps getting them more involved as well.
- The many uses of paper
Paper doesn’t need to be thrown in the bin. Kids are crafty, so encourage their creative side. Old newspapers, magazines and even drawings can be recycled. If they like a picture in a magazine, cut it out and start a scrapbook. Do some origami. When Easter comes around, shred some newspaper to make padding for an Easter basket. Even cardboard boxes have the chance of a second life as a spaceship or a cubby house.
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.
Daycare is done, but the kids are still full of energy and you need something to entertain them. What do you do when you’re stuck for ideas? How about some of these?
Women’s Weekly has a whole range of cookbooks, including baking, aimed at little ones and big kids alike. Plus, your kids will have lots of fun getting involved in baking up their favourite treats.
You don’t need to bake something sweet for it to be ‘fun’. Make healthy lunchbox snacks like zucchini slice, savoury muffins, and homemade muesli bars. You can make it an afternoon event by doing the shopping first and having the kids get the ingredients off the shelves.
In an age where screens are dominating our lives, it’s good to shut them off every once in awhile. If your kids want to play on the computer, have a time limit.
Try to steer the kids towards the junior section and have them pick out a book, or choose one for them. Get some reading practice in or play a game. Libraries have many child-friendly activities available. There’s arts and crafts, book hunts, and even chess.
Finding a sport to enjoy will take some trial and error, but it’s going to help your children develop their fine motor skills and coordination. It’s also a chance for both of you to make friends. Popular sports include:
Martial arts (taekwondo, karate, jiu jitsu)
Daycare certainly keeps kids active, but after-school sports like these will give them another experience that can turn into a hobby. They might even keep up athletics all the way through school.
Lots of children want to be like their heroes, whether it’s a television personality or a Disney character. Playing dress-up after daycare is another way to unleash your child’s creativity.
Some parents take their kids to music practice after daycare, and this can be a hit-or-miss. If your child shows interest, certainly encourage it but don’t force it on them. Music helps improve coordination, literacy, boosts self esteem and discipline.
The fun doesn’t stop after daycare if you do any of these five activities after pick-up time. Take out the recipe book, dust off the costumes, and look at some local sports clubs to see what you can do for your child.
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