Sunday, 21 April 2013

Introducing technology to children

Extending on from Ethan's interest in repairing technology from last term, we added an old computer and set top box to the early learning centre along with spanners and screw drivers.

The children were quick to show interest and set about supporting each others (and my) learning, working together to gain the correct size and shape screw driver to get the cases off.

Lachy used his creativity and decided that the set top box was a robot "see that's it's arms" he said pointing to the small screwdrivers he had placed in the inlets.

Ethan explained to the children how the on off button works and followed the wires through the machine
Amelia wanted to dust the inside of the computer and quickly returned with some dry paint brushes setting about cleaning the inside.

Ned was interested in the cooling fans, asking how they got so small and what made them work.  Ethan quickly pointed to the wires explaining that it needed power to spin.

Lachy used the fan later to nail it to one of his wooden creations.

Jack asked Dani for some help to stick certain parts of the computer together. He explained "I'm making at the movies, you know when you have to sit down and be quiet and the light shines through here and goes onto the screen" (projector)  He decided that sticky tape would do the trick and returned from the collage table with tape and proceeded to stick his projector together " see it's making the picture here look at the door can you see the dinosaur movie?"

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Exploring with real tools

A small group of 3year old children were using the toy tool set while outside today.  There was a great deal of hammering occurring and 'fixing' the fence and chairs.  As I observed the children working together I reflected on how I could extend this interest further and quickly began setting up an area with real hammers, nails, clamps and tool belts.  I must admit I did consider that the experience may be a little to advanced for the children, but I had the luxury of having a father helping us today and knew that would allow time so we would be able to support the children and role model how to use the equipment so they achieved success with what ever they felt like creating.

 The tool belts were very popular and children quickly began filing them with treasures to hammer into the wood.
 Protecting little fingers: a peg works wonders to secure the nail in place before the children begin to hammer.

 The most exciting aspect of the experience for the educators wasn't it's popularity or even the fact that the children persisted with the experience even when they faced difficulties, it was observing children who are often shy or withdrawn in group situations suddenly take a lead role and demonstrate to peers how to hold the nails and hammer them into the wood.

My shopping journey tomorrow will include a visit to local factories hoping for donations of off cut wood (minus the chemicals) and to resource rescue to find some more treasures for the children to hammer into their creations.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Engaging boys in creative, collaborative play

Respecting and following the interests and skills of individual children is a priority within our service, as such we have many children (predominately boys) who prefer to explore and engage in learning in the outdoor environment for the length of the session.  Although we provide opportunities for craft and creative exploration outdoors as well as indoors, the children outdoors do prefer to explore our sensory areas - mud, sand, water, slime etc. 

 Our skilled educator overheard Ethan and Jack discussing rockets in the sandpit.  She observed as they filled buckets with sand and turned them over discussing that rockets needed to be bigger than what they had made.  She asked one simple, yet extremely effective question,   "What else can we use to make the rocket boys?"  What happened next was 40 + minutes of creative, collaborative learning between quite a large group of children. 
 As they were looking for resources, two extra children gained interest and voiced their ideas.  The group of 4 decided on large cardboard tubes that we have in our loose parts area.  Taylor took the lead and showed the boys how to bury them in the sand so they were strong enough to stand straight.

Jack talked about the rocket needing fire at the bottom to make it fly. Again, our educator asked what could be used.  Jack asked for the see through paper that we used to make the camping fire last year (cellophane)  The educator sent the children in to ask the inside staff member for the resources, once inside they discussed they might need scissors to cut it to shape or glue /tape to stick it together.  By now more children had gathered and shown interest.  The educators role became one of player support to help with the initial collaboration.

Ethan reaffirmed his role as leader and demonstrated how he wanted the 'fire' to be used.  We were very pleased to be able to observe what occurred next.......

Children were teaching others and reinforcing or enhancing skills in creative, social, physical, cognitive, emotional and language development. Hypothesising, sharing ideas and concepts, previously learnt information, leadership roles, supportive roles and observer roles.

 Once complete, the boys celebrated their success together and asked for the rocket to be left to show their families.

We will be looking for further opportunities to support the development of these skills with the group of children. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Muddy play

 The mud pit is one of my favourite aspects of our playground.  As an early childhood educator I am always amazed and inspired at the creative play that occurs in this sensory area.  The 2013 group explored it for the first time today and I believe it has quickly become a firm favourite of theirs as well.

 The mud pit is an area where children can work independently

 Or collaboratively

 Children can explore and immerse themselves as little....

Or as thoroughly as the like.

And what better way to start our introduction to mud play than with old fashioned mud pies

 I'm looking forward to where the children take this new found interest throughout the year.