CKP Nature Explorers
September 21, 2018
CKP Nature Explorers Bush Playgroup – The story so far…..
This year CKP decided to provide a free community playgroup option for families who were keen to discover natural play spaces in Frankston and surrounding areas. Run by Lauren Moolenaar, an experienced Kindergarten teacher with outdoor learning at the core of her philosophy, families are provided with a balance of educational activities and free time to explore the environment over the two hour session. Learning is explained to families to enhance their knowledge of particular activities and the impact on their child’s overall development.
We started this new, exciting adventure at George Pentland Botanical Gardens where there are many different areas to explore. Favourites included chatting with the ducks, investigating the Indigenous totem poles and revisiting the fallen tree logs that the children decided reminded them of the Gruffalo. We counted the rings in cut trees to see how old they were, watched the rainbow lorikeets feeding in the trees above and hugged the large gum trees to measure their girth. We created ephemeral are=t works with found objects and used paint colour cards to find items that matched the different shades of green, brown and grey.
Towards the end of Term 2 we changed locations, and moved on to Sweetwater Creek where the children could scamper over granite rocks, use leaves and twigs as boats to move through the small rapids and play in the natural cubby that had been created by members of the local community over time. The suspension bridge was a big hit, and the younger children tried to stay on their feet as the older siblings jumped up and down. In this location we were visited by large kookaburras, white and yellow-tailed black cockatoos. This area is well used by the locals for dog walking, so we met many interesting 4-legged characters on our journeys. For our final session at Sweetwater we went on a big walk to find the playground at the very end of the reserve. There were large stairs to climb, tree roots to step over and wooden sections of path through the swamp.
Our final session for Term 2 coincided with International Mud Day on June 29. The families were keen to celebrate, so we borrowed the mud patch at Frankston Preschool and celebrated by creating muddy puddles to jump in, squeezing mud through our fingers and tossing mud balls for each other to catch with a splash. We discussed the origins of Mud Day in Nepal that has quickly spread globally, and the children learnt they were connecting with the earth on the same day that children around the World were in their local areas. Once we had cleaned up Sarah (the teacher at Frankston Preschool) took us on a tour of the neighbouring community garden where the children were fascinated by the bee hive and worm farm.
Currently we are meeting at McClelland Gallery. With the recent high winds we have spent time in the open grassed areas so there is no risk of falling tree branches. We have been embracing the windy weather and laying under the kinetic ‘Tree of Life’ and chasing its’ shadows, and the children find it truly mesmerising. We chat to the ducks at the lake, explore the large white ball sculpture with hollow edges to look through and the children hear their voices echoing as they call into each ball. On the not-so-windy days we have been walking along the bush tracks discovering hidden sculptures and listening to the frogs. The children’s favourite spaces to spend time in are the house of stars and the labyrinth maze.
The current Nature Explorers group have told us that since we have been visiting these spaces they are now sharing them with other family members on weekends and their children are the guides on these outings. They are happy to see their children’s confidence growing as well as observing a sense of belonging develop for them in these spaces.
“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.” – David Suzuki.
If you want more information about CKP Nature Explorers, please call 9783 3931.