Last Friday the Junior School celebrated a brilliant Ngarrweerreeng Day. It was a day to be outside all day, to acknowledge National Reconciliation Day, and a day to explore the invigorated Nature Play area.
Ngarrweerreeng Day was the perfect opportunity to focus on how children use the cubby area and how we can create a nature play area. With the help of the grounds staff, we were able restock the area with volcanic rocks, a huge pile of sand, mulch, branches, river rocks, leaves and sticks. We also added in some clay, water, metal buckets and real spades for the children to use. On Ngarrweerreeng Day, four groups of students were assigned an hour each at the Nature Play area. We started each session with a meeting, to talk about our school values of courtesy, kindness and a major focus on respect. We were moved by the children’s ideas on how we can bring respect to the Nature Play area by, having respect for ourselves, our own limitations, respect for our friends and their play, respect for the environment and respect of diversity. It was exciting to see these behaviours in practice with the children.
Digging holes with the shovels was the most popular activity of the Nature Play area for the day! Adding water to the holes, working out a dam system with rivers and piles of dirt and occasionally jumping in the puddles bought the children so much delight. Real unstructured deep play in nature!
At the end of the session, we asked the children to think about one word to summarise how they felt when they were playing in the Nature Play area, this is what they told us: amazing, fun, free, exhilarated, happy, connected, brilliant, awesome, great, alive, freedom, allowed, extraordinary, good, aware, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Such positive responses.
Based on professional learning in which some staff have participated in we would like to investigate how we may further develop the philosophy of Nature Play across the Junior School. Please stay tuned for further developments.
Early Learning Teacher at The Geelong College