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Engagednready's Blog

Education, Creativity, Learning in the Primary School Setting and Preschool

The art of research already exists in the hands of children acutely sensitive to the pleasure of surprise. The wonder of learning, of knowing, of understanding is one of the first, fundamental sensations each human being expects from experiences faced alone or with others.                                                                                                                                             ~ Loris Malaguzzi

  
Those who know me know that I love Autumn. While raking leaves today, my nephew began to single out leaves for their colour values . Then began the sheer audible enjoyment of crushing them under foot as he headed for the “mother pile” at the foot of the tree. “I wish we had a big tree like this at preschool.”

Holding them up to the light of the afternoon sun, he comes out with this cracker statement: ” this one’s holding all of the sun inside it…”

  

   
                                                                                                     

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Creativity means different things to us all. The one undeniable characteristic of creativity is the skill of being resourceful. Planning, designing, problem-solving, testing hypotheses or simply tinkering : creativity will always call upon many higher order thinking skills. At our preschool we are continuing to present recycled materials as a point of wonder and many possibilities. Presenting an open-ended experience, such as this basket of blue bliss, has rich potential for all kinds of learning. Challenges will be faced along the way for the 3 year olds, there is no doubt. How we respond and scaffold at the time can bring deeper learning and even transfer of developing skills. Making recycled materials an everyday resource, nurtures a value of being excellent stewards of our natural environment. In turn we can raise an awareness of how much we consume and the rubbish we produce as a by-product. All of this with a view to build a culture which favours Sustainability.
But that will be the focus of my next post….stay tuned.

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Our three year olds have been tempted with such amazing provocations using colour, natural materials, textures and many corners of delectable delights. Their exploration and inquiry into colour and light has yielded many special moments for individuals and small groups. One of our educators has come up with the most fun idea I’ve seen in a long time: coloured ice cubes using food dye and water which we can then draw with!

A little while later we noted two of our boys unraveling a roll of receipt paper all over the internal space. Most of that conversation was about “… making a road, a really long one…”

I love to see the cross pollination of literacies & materials  in the sand pit. Remembering that in Loris Malaguzzi’s terms the child has a hundred languages or more…

mixing the clouds

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Last year our winter crop was lean lean due to an extremely cold and wet winter. But that didn’t dampen the spirit’s of the Veggie Club Gardeners. I really wanted them to own it, so I proposed they rent a plot either in pairs or small groups. That way they do all the decision-making on what they want to plant. Well that worked a treat ! It would usually take them a fortnight to get the weeding done. To my amazement each bed had been weeded within 48hrs and was ready for planting. Some have gone to the trouble of creating their own sign. I make myself available for Consultation each Wednesday at lunchtime and we have lunch together.

This approach has truly reinvigorated the group:once again confirming my belief in the power of intrinsic motivation.

2013’s warm Autumn has been very kind to our crops and all of the leafy greens are thriving.  The students’s satisfaction as they harvested this last fortnight was so wonderful to be a part of. Plans for vertical gardens and Winter 2013 crops will be discussed at this week’s monthly gathering over lunch.

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This year’s transformation of the girls’ toilet block continues to entice, delight and nurture each student who enters the space. There has been much discussion and conversations between the young ladies. Everyone approves and wants it to stay this way all year. Our Grand Opening was a hit ! So much fun at 8:30 am before classes began. The artists were treated to many red sweet items and we all wore a little red to mark the occasion.

Conversation, debates and opinions continue to fill the air as each student and groups experience the space. One SCIL colleague has let me know it has become a ‘must see’ on the school’s Snapshot Tours.

Never a dull moment.

 

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“Did you say the gallery is in the girls’ toilets ?!” that’s what a parent asked me this week in sheer disbelief.

My stock reply to this line of questioning these days is “why not ?”

Let’s challenge the long held belief that school toilet blocks don’t deserve the same aesthetic attention other spaces receive. Flexible, Inspiring, Comforting, Familiar, Creative, Encouraging, Collaborative, Comfortable, Beautiful, are the thoughts I’m aiming for as a possible effect on the person  as they experience the gallery space.

Grand Opening Party is planned for all the artists on Thursday morning before school wear something red in honour of this year’s theme : RED

Stay tuned for more pics from the Grand Opening Party.

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The Early Years Learning Framework talks about learning spaces which nurture active learning and decision-making. Of course this needs to be shrouded within an environment where interactions are positive and trust has been established so that the child feels they belong and are valued. At our preschool we’ve worked very diligently over the years to establish just that and we all know it’s a long but very worthwhile journey. All of this will help a  child to take risks in their learning and this includes skills such as negotiating, decision-making, empathising, problem-solving, creating and dare I say the all important : questioning.

The learning spaces we’ve created over the holidays will hopefully create this very culture of learning, collaboratively and within a community that values growth and development in all of these areas. We’ve taken some risks in the planning and set up but we’re willing to trial and fail only to re-evaluate, once again and this time , collaboratively with the children.

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