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WINTER 2001 NEWSLETTER
Children enjoying clay work
Clay work is highly important for children, as it enables them to express and explore their feelings and ideas.
Many children are curious about clay's changing characteristics. Why is it sometimes smooth and easy to manipulate and sometimes not? Why is it sometimes sticky and slippery, and at other times difficult to roll or shape? What makes it harden?
Clay, like dough, is wonderfully malleable and responsive material. It is fascinating to manipulate and has great potential for active exploration involving sight, touch, and smell.
Helping children to enjoy clay
Providing children with a permanently dedicated space for clay work is strongly recommended (e.g. set up a table on the veranda).
Always ensure clay is fresh and malleable. The condition of the clay depends on the amount of moisture it contains; to keep it fresh roll into balls, place a thumb-hole in the ball and fill the hole with water. Keep the clay sealed in an airtight container.
Present clay on the table in a grapefruit-sized ball, allowing the child several balls if they wish. Avoid providing tools in the beginning, so the child can become comfortable using clay with their hands.
The supervising caregiver should remain with the child, providing help where necessary (e.g. making coils, kneading the clay). Caregiver's should avoid making clay animals, etc as the child may stop working and become merely a spectator. Some might lose confidence, while others may assume that clay work involves making products according to a stereotyped model.
What should I do when the children only want to bang the clay?
Most children sooner or later will discover that clay will make a loud
noise when banged on the table. (This is an actual technique called wedging,
used to expel air bubbles from the clay.) If a child cannot think of anything
to do with the clay apart from banging it, try redirecting their attention
to other ways of working with the clay. Give them a starting point or
a challenge; for example, I wonder if you might make a huge bridge?
Some suggestions for engaging, supporting, and sustaining children's interest:
My name is Barbara and I work at Riddells Creek Primary School.
In order to continue co-ordinating I was required to undertake a Diploma course in Child Care. Knowing of child care workers studying their Diploma through One World, I sought their opinions. They spoke highly of the training staff at One World and felt comfortable working with them, they found the competency packages both informative and knowledgeable.
Having a young family of my own I felt reluctant to proceed with further studies, but I knew with my current working position it was a requirement that had to be met. Will I cope? How much work will I need to do? etc
I was very sceptical at first but once I met with the trainers I felt relaxed and anxious to begin.
Working through the assessment there were times where I needed further help and guidance. The trainers were always available to help you over the phone.
One of my requirements whilst studying was to work at a child care centre with babies. My time there was very rewarding. Staff were very helpful and babies delightful.
I feel that what I have learnt not only is beneficial and necessary when working with children, but also at home with my own two children who love to hate one another.
Thank you One World for you professionalism and caring staff, I am now a Diploma graduate. Yippee!!!
You certainly are Barb, Congratulations for all the enthusiasm and hard work that you have put into completing the Diploma. Best Wishes from all the trainers at One World.
Your log book is your main form of assessment. This log book records your practical application of the theory workbooks that you receive. Therefore, it is vital that your log book remains at your workplace site. This gives you the opportunity to write examples into your log book, as well as allowing your workplace supervisor to write in your log book as you become competent in individual competencies.
When trainers come to visit you every 4-6 weeks, this is the first thing that they ask for. This is a good indication of which competencies you are working on, and which ones you have already achieved.
Language for Talking about Art
The language of art is an expansion of the language of preschool. Both use terms like colour, shape, line and size-what Smith (1993) refers to as visual-graphic elements. Descriptive words such as empty and full and comparison words such as lighter and darker are used by children and art critics alike. In engendering art appreciation, teachers can help children expand the ways in which these common terms are used. Instead of focusing only on terms' functional aspects, such as clarifying that one wants the red cup, make observations about how feature such as colour evoke aesthetic responses: "The bright red dresses in that painting give the dancer a lively look."
Teachers can make children's art experiences meaningful through
Connect children's natural desire to represent their experiences to comparable
intentions of artists throughout the ages.
Nature Comforting Stressed Children
Predictable rhythms, patterns, and cycles of nature relax and soothe children wrought with anxiety. Leisurely watching a spider spin a web, willow branches sway with the wind, a bird feed her nestlings, or even icicles melt in a warming sun helps focus a child's attention on amazing and beautiful details _ details that not only distract but temper heated emotions that boil over during family strife.
A whimsical imagination that allows children to emotionally connect with plants and animals can be a productive coping tool as children try to survive deplorable living conditions. Resilient adults often tell me that by regularly retreating to nature they came to consider trees, flowers and wildlife their most steadfast friends. Some confided their troubles to wildlife they encountered.
Spending hours outdoors with nature allows children to leisurely and intimately experience nature's gifts. Whether they build forts for fantasy (or literal escape) or simply wade streams hunting for tadpoles, the world of nature shelters children, blanketing them with a protective shield, helping them fend off the stress of irrational, illogical, and unfathomable adult behaviour.
Connecting Children to Nature
nature can be so helpful to children, what can we do to ensure them access
as often as possible? Just as challenging, what nature experiences can
we provide within the confines of group care _ a system of care that is
so riddled with liability concerns that caregivers are tempted to wrap
children in cotton and leave them on a shelf until their parents arrive!
They remind us that children need a bounty of experiences with the natural world, especially through spontaneous, hands-on backyard/neighbourhood adventures. Although contact with nature through schools, nature centres, and museums are helpful, they cite three key strategies for introducing children to nature: opportunities for intimate involvement with plants and animals, firsthand exposure to a variety of wild animals carrying out their routine behaviours in natural habitats, and adults sharing knowledge of habitat and natural history with children.
While a wonderful experience, a once-a-year visit to the zoo or nature preserve isn't enough wilderness exposure to allow children to develop an authentic, strong connection to nature. In fact, when I've talked to resilient nature lovers, exotic wildlife adventures did not stand out in their childhood memories. Over and over, they mention daily, or at the very least, weekly, experience with familiar natural resources in their immediate neighbourhood, whether they lived in the city, the suburb, or the rural countryside. Accessible nature was far more important than flashy, exotic nature featured in cages of glass display cases. Spontaneous and regular contact with nature lead to attachments that resonate to an emotional core, usually for a lifetime.
So, the good news is that no matter how meagre our natural surroundings, they are the best place to start connecting children to nature. And lest you think otherwise, the writings of naturalist Rachel Carson caution: "Even if you are a city dweller, you can find some place, perhaps a park or golf course, where you can observe the mysterious migrations of the birds and the changing seasons. And with your child you can ponder the mystery of a growing seed, even if it be only one planted on a pot of earth in the kitchen window."
How should you begin your nature discoveries? Children are naturally close to the ground, so looking down is a good place to start! Dig in dirt, play in mud puddles, trace earth worm tracks with fingers, peer at the plants in side-walk cracks, lay on your tummies observing grass hoppers, roll on your back to watch a bird fly back and forth during nest building.
Get to know neighbourhood trees, shrubs, flowers, wild life, and waterways. Become thoroughly acquainted with all the creatures that share your immediate habitat. Go outside to play, daily and in all season. Note seasonal weather and encourage children to observe how trees, shrubs, birds, insects, and wildlife respond and survive.
Model curiosity about, and gentleness for the earth and even its smallest, most unattractive creatures. Respect their homes as you would a human's; children will learn to do the same.
Enhance your play yard to showcase the beauty of nature. Plant a variety of trees and shrubs that will change seasonally as well as provide shelter and food for nature's wildlife.
Make space for gardens! Vegetable gardens nurture the body. Herb gardens tickle the nose and taste buds. Butterfly and native bird gardens touch the imagination and soul. Gardens of ornamental grasses dance and sing with the wind, encouraging children to stop, listen, and savour.
Make moving air tangible to the eye and ear; hang banners and flags, make wind chimes from natural items.
Create cosy nooks and crannies where children can visit the daily business of nature, whether it be a spider spinning a web, a bird pecking for worms, or a milkweed pod swelling to release feathery seeds.
Include spaces that allow children to climb on and dig around natural objects such as small crabapple trees, fallen logs, steppingstones, and boulders. Create small mounds and rolling hills children can roll down. Provide large spaces for digging in dirt and sand. Include a water source, with hose and buckets, to increase discovery opportunities.
Bring nature indoors as much as you humanely, responsibly, and authentically can. Incorporate it throughout your classroom. Have children pick flowers for their parents' sign-in table. Ask them to collect items from nature to create centrepieces for mealtime. Set up an aquarium and make a terrarium. Hang prisms in windows to play with sunlight. Hang wind chimes for soothing nap-time sounds, or nature mobiles for nap-time gazing. If you have the space and time to keep a pet safe, clean, and healthy, by all means include one!
Encourage parents to include nature in their children's lives by educating them on local nature preserves and habitat restoration sites. Inform them of zoos, science museums, planetariums, greenhouses, state and local parks, botanical gardens, and natural history museums they can visit on weekends and vacations. In your newsletter, share simple activities parents can enjoy with children. Include parents in nature activities. Invite them along as volunteers when taking field trips to an aquarium or children's zoo.
Resources and Tools for Connecting with Nature.
Children come equipped with the best tools for experiencing nature: their insatiable senses! Sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste all come to play when children actively explore nature.
While not necessary, there are other tools that enrich children's sensory experiences. They don't have to be elaborate, just make sure they're safe and in good repair. Exploration tools include (but are not limited to): magnifying glass, paper bags or small buckets for specimen collection; binoculars; bug cases; Polaroid camera; sketch pad and pencil; simple identification books for trees, birds, flowers etc. paper and crayons for rubbings' metal spoons or small hand shovels for digging; sticks for prodding. School-agers will find videotaping animal behaviour or clouds interesting.
But, by far, children's most important resource for resilience is a teacher, mentor, or guide who will spend meaningful time with them _ someone who will enthusiastically and safely introduce them to a natural world brimming with beauty and endless fascinations, an engaging world worth enjoying, worth savouring, and worth protecting.
Rachel Carson said it most eloquently: "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionships of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in." You can be that adult, that cherished someone a child chooses to walk beside on her natural path to resilience. Thank your lucky stars for the privilege.
Child Care Information Exchange #130
Thankyou to those of you who took the time to complete our quality assurance survey. Although we technically did not receive a large enough sample of responses to validate the responses, we were never-the-less pleased with the results. We have included a summary of responses here for your information:
Student Responses to Core Questions _ One World Survey
One World On-Line
As most of you are aware we are further developing our training unit through on line learning. The structure has been developed, and at this stage offers an informative base to training at One World. The main users of our site have been people researching training organisations and requiring information about the delivery of training through One World.
We would be interested to hear from you ~ One World participants. There are a few participants that have taken the opportunity to email assessments to us as well as emailing questions.
You may recall that in our last newsletter we ran two competitions to
encourage participants to discover the fast growing internet. Thank you
to Leah Brebner, Belinda Smeal and Carly Wright for signing in our guest
book. We have extended these competitions until Wednesday 26th
September. All you need to do is have some fun completing the online quiz
and signing our guest book. Why not just simply email us your email address
so that we can add it to our address book.
From your written comments in our survey it is clear that many of you would appreciate the opportunity to get together informally from time to time with other participants to discuss your training, exchange ideas and to provide mutual support. At various times over the past two to three years we have endeavoured to establish such groups without much success.
An idea that we have decided to trial, is to form regions around Victoria that would incorporate all the Children's Services that One World visit. These regional groups would be facilitated by One World trainers, but developed by the participants. The first step is to gain a response from those people who would be interested. Once interested participants have been gathered, we would ask for various "regional volunteers" that One World trainers would be communicating with. Basically, the volunteers would arrange a place and date for the meeting, then the regional trainer would arrange for any necessary information to be sent out to interested participants.
The regions would be:
The frequency of these study groups would be determined by the regional participants themselves. ie quarterly or 6 monthly etc.
To get the ball rolling we need you to indicate to us which regional group you would like to participate in, and whether or not you would be interested in taking on the role of regional volunteer in your preferred regional group.
We would like to organise the first get-to-gether meeting in each region over the next two to three months, and would therefore appreciate your earliest reponse. Simply email or phone Snez or Carol with your preferred region. We look forward to meeting with you all soon.
At times we have run into the problem of trainees saying that they have sent in assessments, that have not reached our office. An easy way of eliminating this problem is by photocopying your assessments before sending them to us. Unfortunately if an assessment does not reach us, you will be required to re do the assessment.
It has also been necessary for trainers to recall individual assessments from trainees. Once again it is important to hold onto all assessments in an organized way should this occur to you. If you do not have an assessment that is asked of you, you may need to re do it!
Please ensure that all assessments, especially posters, are named and dated. (name the actual piece of work, not just the envelope that it is sent in.)
*We have a few assessments that have not been assessed because we are unable to identify them.
Speaking of POSTERS and DISPLAYS, you may have realised that there are a few assessments where you are required to do a poster or display. We hope that you have enjoyed constructing them as we have had whilst assessing them. We have included some examples of the work that we have seen. We have been impressed of the quality of these posters, so keep up the professionalism in these assessments, as they are a very visual way of communicating with the families that use your centre. (unfortunately we did not have our camera to capture the creativity from Mini Mites Children's Centre in Warragul where these displays were particularly creative with combinations of posters and displays. Well Done! )
Take advantage and save yourself time
Why not send your assessments to us via e-mail?
Individual addresses are
Any administration queries may be made directly to Snez at:
A number of trainees have also expressed interest in undertaking Diploma training. As most of you would be aware here at One World we offer training specifically to the children's services industry from a Certificate II level to the Advanced Diploma.
If you are interested in continuing your studies from your current level, remember that you have a maximum time of three months to renew a traineeship.
Just a reminder that the enrolment fee that all trainees pay are an annual fee. These fees are in accordance with the Office of Employment, Training and Tertiary Education fees and charges policies.
The fee is: $290.00.
Concessions are available for relevant pension card holders. Please ask training staff for further details.
All fees must be paid in full within the first 4 weeks from receiving
your One World invoice. Participants who fail to pay their fees may have
their visits suspended or have their traineeship cancelled. All administration
enquiry's may be made to our Administration Officer, Snez on 52 685 333.
All enrolment fees must now be paid by cheque, money order, or credit card. Please note that trainers can no longer accept any cash payments. Thank-you for your assistance in this matter.
Our trainees at work & Play