An Outdoor Wonderland in the Middle of the City
8th November 2017
An outdoor oasis can be a hard thing to find in the CBD, but step into Elizabeth Street Early Learning Centre and you’ll find a sunny outdoor area filled with children exploring, playing and learning.
Centre Manager, Jessie Mar-Lavulo calls the space an “outdoor wonderland” that offers many opportunities and “potential for children’s learning” which is used on a daily basis – regardless of the weather.
“During rainy days the children use the centre’s gumboots, umbrellas and rain coats to experience jumping and splashing in the puddles outdoors. They experience the rain on their faces, their hands and even sometimes on their feet,” comments Jessie. This kind of experience that enables children to explore sounds, textures, temperatures and sensations as well as embark on a range of discussions and explorations from talks about the weather to understanding cause and effect (‘what happens when I jump in a puddle?’).
In the summer months children enjoy their play in our outdoor river area with the water pump. “They also grow and harvest herbs from their gardens for meal preparation with the cook,” remarks Jessie.
Sustainability plays a big part in the centre and the children are active participants in this. There are two children from the centre’s Preschool room who have taken on the role of Sustainability Champions where they work with the educators to ensure sustainability practices are happening. Children also use rainwater to water the indoor and outdoor plants and also actively feed the worms in the worm garden.
Reggio Emilia-inspired Learning
The Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environments facilitate children’s learning daily at Elizabeth Street. Jessie shares: “Some of the early learners were digging in the mud for worms, they were using shovels and their hands to create different holes and were able to find some worms and caterpillars. Harlem displayed a lot of empathy towards the creatures as some of them appeared to be a little lifeless. He decided to gather them up and place them inside the bucket and then put them somewhere they wouldn’t be stood on. He and the educators decided to place them in the planting area so they would remain safe and well.”
Through this experience, children were working together with the support of educators and developing their empathy and social skills. The children are also using the environment as third teacher and connecting with nature at the same time. From play that could seem like simple play, there is actually a lot of significant learning occurring.
Making Meaning Out of Symbolism
Ishana, one of the centre’s children, showed great use of her creativity and imagination skills while continuing on with sustainable practices. Using loose parts and natural resources, Ishana collected leaves, pebbles, gem stones, sticks and barks and formed different abstract patterns. Jessie says, “She was able to use this as a form of reflective practice, allowing her mind to see things through different perspectives. We could also see that Ishana was able to make a connection with her natural learning environment in order for her growing skills to flourish. She invited her peers to be a part of her learning experience, also giving them a chance to share their knowledge.”
Through this experience, Ishana was igniting her curiosity and interest in counting, sorting, grouping and logical reasoning skills as she carefully places the pebbles and the different natural objects, making great use of the open space provided to her.
Another example of learning in the outdoor space is when one of the centre’s children, Elsie displayed a lot of interest towards the water play. She helped the educators to fill the river using the pump and water tap and began exploring the water using her feet noting “it’s cold” as she was walking through the creek.
Elsie continued with this exploration as she walked up and down the river, walking over stones and rocks and jumping up and down to make the water splash. She then began to make magic potions using the water and other natural materials, such as sticks, mud and soil. Elsie gathered these items while in the outdoor area and placed them into a large bucket where she mixed them all together using available resources and told her friends she was making a magic potion and “it’s going to make everyone fly with wings.”
More About Elizabeth Street Early Learning Centre
Jessie and the team create a home-like environment that gives families, children and visitors a sense of belonging and warmth. The centre offers all visitors snacks and fruit upon arrival and departure from the centre. Jessie says, “outside our kitchen we have baked treats, crackers, sultanas, dried apricots, fresh fruit, water bottles and teething rusks (for babies) which parents can take for their children and themselves for the trip home on the bus or train each afternoon.”
With a team of friendly and trustworthy educators and plenty of resources to ignite children’s curiosity, Elizabeth Street Early Learning Centre is a wonderful place for children to grow and develop.
To learn more about this childcare centre in the CBD or to book yourself in for a tour, head here.
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