Tag Archives: water play

Expressions of Philosophy

Kate Shapcott

Early Childhood Teacher

Blue Gum Room

Springfield Child Care and Early Education Centre


Do you remember playing in the rain as a child? Did you delight in jumping in muddy puddles? Do you remember the relief of a cooling shower on sweaty summer skin?


The recent bout of showery weather prompted me to reflect on how we express our philosophy through everyday experiences with the children. A professional colleague asked me how our children were reacting to being inside due to the weather, the assumption being that children need to be protected from a little summer rain. Of course, with our indoor-outdoor program, our children have the freedom and flexibility to move inside and outside for much of the day even when it’s muddy and damp outside. No one is forcing them to shelter from the rain or to be in it. It’s their choice and we respect that choice and that’s how they learn to make good choices; through experience and encouragement.



We always work closely with parents and if a parent requests that their child stay out of the wet then we naturally respect that. They are the experts on their child. Parents who choose our centre tend to value the emphasis on experiencing the natural world in all it’s diversity. That’s why our Mayfield farm visits are so popular! It’s wonderful when families visit the farm with us or come on excursions to the park or Mobile Library.


As a child did you play with cousins, neighbours or the children of your parent’s friends? Did you learn how to relate to older children and to younger ones?


Last week I was enjoying spending time with children on the big swing and I reflected on how natural it is for children of many ages to play together and learn from each other. The environment we create is relaxed and friendly because for much of the day the children can choose to play wherever they like. Siblings are free to spend time together, older children learn how to look out for and look after the younger ones, younger children learn from watching and playing with the older children. This creates a sense of community and inclusion. It reflects ancient ways of being and becoming, the power of learning within a community.


Do you remember singing and dancing as a child? Or the joy of learning something new? Of listening to a story and having the world of imagination opened to you?


Honouring the power of play is integral to our approach. Within the Kindergarten Program we have some structured group experiences and activities, always playful, always fun. They create a sense of belonging and an opportunity for explicit teaching that prepares the children for the next stage of their educational lives while remaining entirely appropriate to this stage of development. I delight in the enthusiasm the children show for these special times and respect that it’s the process not the product that is paramount in Early Childhood Teaching. I still fondly remember my time at Kindergarten, all those many years ago. Do you?

Ten Play-Based Learning Ideas

Our list of play ideas for preschoolers will empower children to create, explore, imagine, discover, problem solve and achieve success. Open-ended materials that can be used in a hundred different ways are the absolute best choice for children.  The opportunities for creative exploration are boundless and children will use materials in a way we adults would never expect.


IMG_8443 Mortar and Pestle – Mortar and pestle with herbs, flowers, small bowls and cups, water. Children can make potions and perfumes, and experiment with colour, quantity and smell.
IMG_9076 Mini Sand Pit – Trays with a layer of sand on the bottom with sticks and twigs for drawing, writing, doodling, exploring and creating. Children are often mesmerized by this experience. You can also add small rocks or rakes to further develop this play experience.
DSCF8856 Pebble Play – Pebbles of different colours, different shapes, different sizes for transient art work. Transient art is art that is created then dismantled. It can be photographed but it isn’t permanent.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mud Kitchen – A mud kitchen with sticks, leaves, mud, rucks, water, bowls, trays and anything else you can access.  Mud and water are the key ingredients, and children love exploring the texture of mud in their imaginary kitchens.
IMG_8815 Boxes – Cardboard boxes, scissors, masking tape, sticky tape, cellophane, paper, pens, string.  The best toy ever is a cardboard box.
Dress Ups Dress Ups – Offcuts of fabric, old clothes, shoes, bags, purses for children to dress up and role play.  There’s nothing better than being a mummy or being a daddy or even a dinosaur, a fireman or a character from Frozen.  Children’s imaginations will take the lead.
DSCN8377 Dancing and Singing – Music and dance by making their own instruments and add scarves or other items. Try different styles of music including classical, jazz, blues, tribal drums, top 40, but don’t forget the old nursery rhymes that are wonderful for developing early reading skills with their rhythm and rhyme.
Water Water Play – Water, containers, bowls, cups, spoons, buckets, watering cans, funnels, tubing, pump, string, tape. Children are naturally attracted to water and learn many mathematical and scientific skills during water play while they are pouring, measuring, floating, sinking, filling, and emptying.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Clay or Dough – Playdough or clay – either with tools or without tools. Can add sticks, rocks, leaves etc. Not only great for a creative medium, but also for strengthening all the hand and arm muscles children will need as they get older. It is great to do these activities both standing and sitting, as they develop different muscles in each position.


block-play-1-1436165-639x958 Blocks – The old classic, blocks the plain wooden ones. with no required outcome.  Lego, duplo and mobilo are fine so long as they are used in an open-ended fashion where there is no requirement to ‘create what’s on the box’.