Terry Aizen – Director of Kornmel
The Pre-school has been back since Monday 12 July, offering care to all Kornmehl families. Coming back to Pre-school after a two-week lockdown was difficult and I am very proud of our team and the way in which they have put the children first.
Nonetheless, we soldier on, because we love our profession very much, we love the beautiful interactions we have with the children each day in our care and the learning we see is inspiring. We also see clearly how much the children love being back at Pre-school, with familiar faces, routines, consistency, and predictability. We see how good this is for their well-being and mental health, in this crazy world we live in at the moment. We are proud that we can support children and families in this way and offer them some hope, warmth, caring and fun.
Learning at Kornmehl
At the morning meeting on Monday, the Starfish noticed that some of their peers were away. One of the children asked why. Ideas were shared such as car sickness, sea sickness or air sickness! Then someone expressed that perhaps it was because of the “Corona Virus.” The children were invited to share their knowledge, understanding and experiences about COVID-19 and also their holidays and how/why it was different this time.
Daisy: We had to stay at home. Lockdown.
Jesse: Someone may have Corona Virus and you may get it.
Abbey: You can’t go where you want to go.
James: You only need to go somewhere outside.
Noa: If you go inside you have to wear a mask just in case you get the germs.
Rafi: Somewhere I can’t go until lockdown is finished. Somewhere I love to go is La Perouse and the Island.
We talked about other ways we can look after ourselves and keep safe and healthy. We revisited our health and hygiene practices such as hand washing, where we wash our hands with soap and water and count to 20 and we should all be washing our hands regularly, using tissues to wipe our nose and to wash hands after coughing and sneezing into our elbow.
The term began with all three groups learning and exploring NAIDOC Week. At Kornmehl we embed Indigenous culture into our program in meaningful and relevant ways throughout the year, for example, during our Acknowledgement to Country each and every day, having the Aboriginal flag visible, through puzzles, outdoors ochre painting and a rock crushing area, music, dance and drama.
NAIDOC Week enhances our learning and deepens our understanding of Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. We showed the children a piece of artwork for NAIDOC Week. The 2021 National NAIDOC poster, “Care for Country” which was designed by Gubbi Gubbi artist Maggie-Jean Douglas. Using this year’s theme, Heal Country, Maggie-Jean painted a bright and vibrant work that included different colours of the land and showed how they come together in our beautiful country to make people feel hopeful for the future. She says, “I’ve included communities/people, animals and bush medicines spread over different landscapes of red dirt, green grass, bushland and coastal areas to tell the story of the many ways country can and has healed us throughout our lives and journeys.”
The children noticed the different shapes and symbols within the artwork, and we discussed the symbols and their meanings.
We started the discussion by doing a See Think Wonder routine to find out what the children’s thoughts, ideas and observations were.
Lev: It’s Aboriginal.
Educator: What makes you say that?
Lev: Like a flower and a snake that’s actually real. A twirly bango thing.
Ziggy: A lizard.
Jessie: Dots and a kite. Twirls and triangles that look like Aboriginal colours. Medicine for bush and land.
Aviv: Aboriginal circles and a flower.
Daisy: Aboriginal dots and swirls. Blue lines for the water.
Cooper: It’s about winter…like my birthday.
Jessie: I think it’s about summer because flowers grow in summer. All the circles.
Uriel: Green grass.
Arlo: There are emu tracks!
Evan: I can see all of these in there (looking at Aboriginal symbols).
Arlo: I knew this was a honey bug without looking!
After some discussion we had a look at a video clip where Maggie-Jean talked about her art piece and how Indigenous art is something that is highly valued in her family. She also talked about how being Indigenous is something she is extremely proud of and, to be able to express herself through this medium, meant a lot to her. “Telling my own stories and the stories of others is something I find deeply valuable because of the impact it can have”.
We asked the children how can we care for Country?
Zach: Don’t hit trees.
Finn: Care for the bees.
Arlo: Care for the Country.
Evan: Respect the government there.
Bronte: Take care of the animals.
A picture of the artwork was then positioned at the easel and table to inspire the children’s creativity. Some of the conversation shared by the children at the table was as follows:
Daisy: Water, lots of circles, lines and dots and also leaves. Yes, with bee colours, black and white.
Ava: I can see lots of kangaroos and trees. I can see a hexagon. The grass and the leaves are green.
Maya: Leaves, water, twirly people
Ethan: I see a diamond. I see little stars. I see these little things, they look like worms.
Ava: Caterpillars in cocoons.
Daisy: These are the hives, the beehives on the Gadigal land.
James: These are bush medicines, they make Aboriginal people feel better. It was here a long long time ago and the normal medicine only comes now. This is a volcano, to make the earth nice and warm. This is the wind, and they swim in the water, in the river.
The Dolphins and Starfish learnt a beautiful Aboriginal song called Ngaya Naba. The words mean – My family, Our family, Together we are much more strong. We also used the tapping sticks to mark the beat 1,2….1,2,3. We asked the children what they thought these words meant.
Arlo: If we work together, we will be much more strong. If we build and learn together, we’ll also be much more strong.
Finn: When you’re with your family, you’re stronger because you’re with other people, how we have a surname, you can be a team!
Zach: When you eat food and stay together you get strong.
Bronte: When we work together, we’re much more strong.
Mili: If something’s heavy and you call someone, then they will come and help you. It means that you can be stronger with someone together.
Evan: We stay protected with all our family and then we get super strong.
The Starfish read a Dream time story called How the birds got their colours. They watched an Indigenous man read the story on YouTube and took this opportunity to dramatise the story by becoming birds, with Daisy as the Dove and Ziggy the Crow. The story ended as the birds found a safe place to nest as the sun went down. Later on in the week, they used coloured plasticine to represent the characters in the story and made a diorama of the story.
The Seashells watched a short video about Uluru. They were fascinated by the size and colour of the rock. At activity time, they used clay to form a representation of the rock. It was hard work moulding the clay into the shape of the rock. The clay was hard and cold, and it took a lot of strength to soften the clay with their hands. Once the shape had been assembled using small chunks of clay, the children used brushes to add water to the clay to smooth the outside. We used a range of autumn shades to paint the clay structure. We also scattered coloured sand around the base of the rock.
Hugo: It is big rock, it is in the middle of Australia.
Juliette: The rock is reddish.
Dean: It was messy and gooey from the water, and it was not the same like clay because it was flat together and because it stuck together and there were cracks, when we made it from clay. Kangaroos come from behind Uluru.
Noah: Uluru is a rock. It is big.
Sam: It is a big rock, and it is red, and it has cracks in it. I don’t know why it has cracks.
James: I made a rock with clay. It was difficult because the clay was too hard.
We read the story of The Rainbow Snake. This story really captured their imaginations:
Ella: It was so rainbow. It cracked the trees. It smashed the windmill and then it went into the water. It came back again. I am not scared of it.
Noah: I think the snake was angry because it was hungry.
Matteo: I think that it wanted a friend.
The children worked with clay to create rainbow snakes. They rolled the clay into a sausage shape and whilst carefully looking at the picture of the snake in the book, they used wooden sticks to carve patterns and features onto the body they had rolled. The final step was using small beads to decorate the snakes. The children were very proud of their work.
We will continue to embed Aboriginal culture into our program in meaningful and authentic ways. We see how open and receptive young pre-schoolers are to learning about and understanding our nation’s first people.
We wish a very happy birthday to Liana Lazarus (5), Alice Berkovic (5), Georgia and Kaya Fisher (5) and Juliette Mendoza-Jones (4). We hope you all had a wonderful day.