Friday, 11 July 2014

Pipi Whanau (Infant and Toddler classroom)

The Pipi Whanau is the infant and toddler classroom at 4 Kids . We are both inspired by Reggio Emilia and RIE in this room which I hope you will see through the photographs. I have only recently moved in to this room and alongside my team we have spent the last few months organising and rearranging our classroom. In a few weeks it seemed our class had evolved from being dominantly a toddler room to an infant and toddler room as a few of the older children moved through to the preschool room and two very young infants started. We really needed to rethink the space to accommodate pretty much all ages and stages from 3 months - 2.5 years. At the moment we have very young infants, crawlers and toddlers. It can be a challenge to create an environment that can provoke and inspire all these different children but we have given it a good go and it will continue to evolve!

We developed this area for our infants, the aim was to create a sensory space. The hanging materials are low enough that the infants can reach and grasp them. They all make different sounds and reflect the light in various ways. The tactile canvases are interesting for children as they learn to crawl and sit. The mirrors are low so infants can see themselves play during tummy time. Our toddlers have been just as interested in this area and use it in very different ways to the infants. They love to walk through the hanging materials and touch the canvases. 

Being RIE inspired, we believe children should have freedom to move so we avoid placing children into things they are unable to get out of themselves. The Pipi Whanau does not have any cots, highchairs or swings. We use these baskets as an alternative to cots. Each child has a frame above their basket with a photo of them and their name. Our children have ownership over their space which we believe creates a sense of security and familiarity for the children during rest and sleep times.

We believe it is important to provide children with places to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the centre especially since some children are with us for very long hours. The teepee has become a bit of a retreat for the toddlers and often we will find them in here just pondering quietly to themselves. We change it around but at the moment we have ribbons hanging and loosely placed on the floor and fairy lights pinned to the roof. 

Noah's Ark provocation. This is a familiar story for our children and perhaps one that may inspire their play in the construction area...

Tinfoil is a great medium to use with infants and toddlers. It is easy to manipulate and tear and it has some qualities that are very interesting to children such as the way it reflects and captures light. Our infants have been fascinated by the sound this material makes when they scrunch it, pat it and kick it with their feet.

This provocation is very open ended. The children enjoyed sorting the objects in to different containers and investigating the tactile nature of the materials. One of the older toddlers used these materials to make his own ephemeral art. 

As we all know, young children are very sensory learners. We want our classroom to reflect the sensory nature of children. These are sensory bags. We refresh them every so often with new and different natural materials. A variety of herbs, lemon, garlic and cinnamon are in these ones. The children are able to engage their senses especially their sense of smell. 

A play dough provocation with lemon and orange rind as well as a variety of asian herbs. 

The toddlers have been very interested in the dolls since two infants started in our room. They have been closely observing the teachers caring for the infants and we have noticed them mirroring what they have seen. One toddler was patting the dolls back and I realised she was trying to burp her doll. This provocation was set up in response to this interest with photos of infants being cared for in different ways such as sleeping, being fed a bottle, being winded, played with and cuddled. 

Thanks for reading :)

Saturday, 17 May 2014

A tour of the outdoor environment

Recently at 4 kids we have had a few tour groups come through our centre. This has been an awesome opportunity for us as teachers to reflect on our practice and really think about how our environment is set up for the children. We have really enjoyed sharing our knowledge of Reggio Emilia and how their philosophy can be interpreted in a kiwi context. I think we got just as much out of this experience as the teachers who came through our centre!

My colleague Skye and I set up the outdoor environment for one of the tour groups who came through...

Carpentry Table

Dramatic play in the sand pit

A provocation in the vegetabe garden. Books, magnifying glasses and torches to investigate with.

It's always nice to read in the garden

An opportunity for children to develop theories about different materials and their properties

Our children love to build rivers! 

Ephemeral art in the outdoors. Something for the children to discover and add to.
I hope you enjoyed this! Indoor provocations to come...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The language of carpentry...

Nathaniel and Teagan have both been avid bug catchers for a while now and often explain to me in morning meeting that their plan for the day is to find a Preying Mantis in the garden. The other morning I saw their interest take a new form when they told me their plan to make a house for a Preying Mantis. Nathaniel and Teagan decided to use the carpenty area to make their house and sought the materials they needed from around the centre. They found carpet samples, wire, bottle caps and wood to use. As they sorted out the materials, other children became interested in what they were doing and asked to be involved. Ben and Kylie were invited to join in but Teagan made it very clear that Nathaniel and her were the leaders. 

Construction began with Nathaniel nailing milk bottle caps to the wood base. Kylie soon filled them with water.

Nathaniel: This is the bath and another one for the toilet.
Kylie: And a water bowl! 

The children continued to find different materials in the carpentry area which inspired them to create new items in the house such as a tunnel made from a pipe.

Kylie: I’m working on the stairs!
Teagan: What about a tunnel? 
Kylie: He needs some carpet

Teagan noticed a gap in the roof they had made.

Teagan: They will get rained on here
Nathaniel: No its okay thats the shower!
Teagan: What about his towel?
Ben: Heres some carpet for a towel

The children bagan to think about what compforts of home were important to them.

Kylie: Here’s a toy for him to sleep with
Ben: He needs toys in the bath too
Nathaniel: What about a swing?

Kate came over to investigate what her peers were doing and took on the role of a cynic, challenging the others on what they were doing...

Kate: The preying mantis will die in here...
Nathaniel: No he won’t! He will love it so much.
Teagan: Why will he die?
Kate: They are supposed to live outside, not in a house. He will get lost and his Mum can’t find him and he will miss her.
Nathaniel: He will be okay, his Mummy will come find him at the house.
Teagan: There is a door for him!

The house is completed and placed in the garden for the Preying Mantis to find (No need for catching him!).

Teagan and Nathaniel kept checking all afternoon if a Preying Mantis had moved in to their house but no one has yet... This hasn't phased them though and they were insistent that their Dad went out in the rain to see it when he came to pick them up.

It is interesting how this little project was largely about concern and empathy for the preying mantis' who have to live outside. Over time, through their interest in insects, Teagan and Nathaniel have developed a relationship with nature. Alongside their friends they seemed to be relating their own lives to that of the preying mantis. If we have a house and toys, then surely this is what they should have? Kate of course had a different view, yet it was still driven by concern and empathy for the preying mantis. 

I am excited to see where this interest will go next...

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Why I love collaborative art...

Why I love callaborative art...

I like the idea of creating something over time, of seeing an idea evolve into something different, something better. The fact that lots of children have been a part of it, it tells a story. The children can see their contribution and celebrate that they have made something special for the classroom with their peers. 

I think its a good lesson for children to learn that art can take time, it can have many layers and new ideas can come along the way. I guess its that whole ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ thing. I want to clarify that i’m not saying quick art isn’t meaningful and that children should make all art together! I definitely don’t believe this. Art should be done in many different ways, this is one way!

I want to share about some of the callaborative pieces in my classroom and the significance they have. They all tell a story about the children who were a part of it.

Canterbury Earthquake Anniversary

"This is my commandment, that you will love one another as I have loved you" John 15:12

One year after the earthquake in Christchurch a project begun at the centre. The children had seen images of the earthquake on the news and were trying to make sense of it through their play. We began to discuss with the children what had happened and invited them to think of how the people felt. It quickly turned in to a project. This piece of art was made as a fundraiser for another centre in Christchurch who had lost their building. Families and children were invited to donate a coin in order to tie a ribbon onto the rope. The response was amazing with young children even using their pocket money to tie a ribbon on. We were blown away with the empathy our children showed! Now we can always remember the project and the children involved.

Chandelier of clay and bead work...

I have slowly been adding children's work to this lovely chandelier over the past two years and counting. Children will often make things especially to hang on the chandelier. I guess theres something special about being part of a collective piece of art. I love this piece of art because it tells stories about the many different children who have passed through the centre, some of which have moved away or gone off to school. 

Pirate Flag

 "We need a flag for our pirate ship!" Lucy proclaimed. The 'pirate flag' took over two weeks to complete and there are many layers to it. Each of the pirates painted some sort of representation of themselves on here. You can see a face, butterflies and many love was a group of girl pirates you see.

The garden...

This big piece of plastic (I don't really know what it's called) was presented to a group of five 4 year olds who had been particularly interested in painting. "I have a very special job for you all" I had told them and showed them the plastic, "This is to make a big piece of art to make our room look beautiful". They took their job very seriously and discussed what they would do. They decided in the end that they would paint a garden and talked about all the things that were in their gardens at home. There were suns, flowers, bees, butterflies, trees and clouds. They set to work over a couple of days and completed this lovely painting which divides our room quite nicely.

For arts sake...

These two pieces both went for about a week each and had no objective in mind. Everyone was invited to be involved if they wished! 

The first piece is a collage and its about 1x0.8 Metres.

The second piece is our most recent addition. We used crayons on the first day and the second day we added different dyes. The third day it was black paint and the last day silver paint and more dye! I only put out small brushes the entire time so it turned out really detailed. I think its about 1x0.5 Metres.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Kiwi Teacher now has Pinterest and Facebook...

Kia ora lovely readers,

I got Pinterest and Facebook for Kiwi Teacher! These pages will both feature lots of inspiration I get from other blogs and websites. Plenty of cool little ideas, thoughts and links that you can quickly glance over in your news feed. Of course, I will also share on both pages when I post something new on the blog as well, so its a good way to keep informed!

Come join me!

Kiwi Teacher

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sand trays!

This provocation seems to have generated a lot of attention over the last few days and lots of you have been asking about it. So heres the deal...

At the end of last year we sent all our children home with a paper bag. The idea being that they would collect treasures from their summer holiday to share with everyone when we started back. The treasures would act as a starting point for conversations about the holidays. The children came back with all sorts of things. Some children brought back photographs and tickets, but natural resources were the main attraction with children bringing shells, feathers and glass from the beach as well as sticks and leaves they had found on walks. Many of the children contributed their special treasures to the centre and an interest in ephemeral art began to show. 

We extended on this interest by presenting the children with many different provocations. The children began to create art in the sandpit using sticks and leaves. We noticed they were drawing patterns with sticks in the sand. I presented this provocation to a group of interested children as an extension on this.   Here's how they responded...

A swimming pool

This is a volcano!

Hope this answered a few of your questions!


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Lets talk about provocations...

Lets talk about provocations... What is a provocation? The options really are endless! Provocations are happening wether you come from a Reggio Emilia inspired centre or not. They are the questions we ask, the materials we put out, the music we put on...even we as teachers act as a provocation sometimes...

Heres how Journey in Early Childhood defines it...

Deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of children. Teachers provide materials, media and general direction as needed but the children take the ideas where they want. 
Journey into Early Childhood 

I want to emphasise something here... 

The children take the ideas where they want...

See, I was asked recently by a volunteer..."Do your provocations always work?". I was taken back by this...what did she mean by 'work'? Then she said, "I haven’t seen the children drawing crosses here"...

What she didn’t hear was the conversation happening at the drawing table...

Jayden: Hey Kalen, thats an X aye
Kalen: Yeah, I don’t have an X, I have a K
Jayden: Oh I have a J and an A and a Y and a D and a E and a N

The two boys then began searching for letters around the room, trying to find them on the walls, in the artwork and documentation.

The boys did not see a cross...they saw an X. They did not feel compelled to draw the cross...instead it became a point of discussion. 

I’ve talked about the childs agenda before but I think it is important to mention it in this case as well. We need to consider this when setting up our environment or when we ask a question to children. Do not pre-empty an experience and decide what will happen. If you come with an agenda you may tend to restrict children. Remember children express themselves through a hundred languages...take a minute to observe how they speak. 

Check out a few of our provocations...

The children take the ideas where they want...