Natural Resources

A selection of natural resources (and a couple manufactured) from local op-shops; and the book that has been inspiring me.
natural resources

Using Natural Resources in Family Day Care – Why?

Recently I went out to my local op-shops (opportunity shops, charity shops, Vinnies, Salvos – we have lots of names for them) and within just half an hour had bagged myself a pile of resources that were at the same time beautiful, mundane, unusual, inspiring, old, new and interesting (not to mention, inexpensive!).  As you can see they are mostly made from natural materials.  But what’s the big deal; why is ‘natural’ such a buzz word in early learning circles?

For one, the Early Years Learning Framework contains multiple mentions of natural resources, as listed below:

Principle 4: Respect for diversity: “promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being.” (for more about my philosophy and my aim to build respect for diversity, click here)

Holistic approaches: “An integrated, holistic approach to teaching and learning also focuses on connections to the natural world.  Educators foster children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.”

Learning environments: “Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments.  They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors.  Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water, and other elements from nature.  These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature.  They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education.”

Learning environments: “Environments and resources can also highlight our responsibilities for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment.  They can foster hope, wonder and knowledge about the natural world.”

Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world; Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.  “This is evident when children: demonstrate an increasing knowledge of, and respect for, natural and constructed environments; explore, infer, predict and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals; show growing appreciation and care for natural and constructed environments; explore relationships with other living and non-living things and observe, notice and respond to change; develop an awareness of the impact of human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment; model respect, care and appreciation for the natural environment; find ways of enabling children to care for and learn from the land; embed sustainability in daily routines and practices.”

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners; Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.  “This is evident, for example, when children: use their senses to explore natural and built environments.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide sensory and exploratory experiences with natural and processed materials.”

With so many considerations of natural resources in the EYLF, it is so important that educators take a really good look around at their environment, from their own perspective as well as from children’s and families’ perspectives, to review the balance between natural and constructed resources and to make improvements to this balance where possible.

Stay tuned for another article coming soon that will include examples of different ways of acquiring natural resources and using them in early learning programs.




Menu week beginning 28 March 2016

I hope everyone had a great long weekend for Easter and didn’t eat too many chocolates!  (Speaking from experience here….).

Lunch is also being supplied this week for those who have requested it… mmm I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  Everything is home made, just the way I like it.

Morning tea:

Tuesday – bananas with corn thins (for the older children, they can help with mashing the banana)

Wednesday – grain free ANZACS (I managed to hide some from myself in the freezer!)

Thursday – apple crumble


Tuesday – zucchini and bacon slice

Wednesday – spaghetti bolognaise

Thursday – chicken and vegetables

Fresh fruit will also be offered after lunch.

Here’s to another great week, with another new friend joining us in care.  🙂

Morning tea menu week beginning 21 March 2016

Wow things are really ramping up here and it’s my first four-day week with my regular children in care and we are welcoming another friend who is starting care tomorrow.

I’m also introducing a new morning tea item (many thanks to Amy for the recipe) – bacon and corn fritters – and I can say they have the tick of approval from my family who tried them out this morning while I was making them.

Monday – bacon and corn fritters
Tuesday – grain free ANZACS, fresh fruit
Wednesday – fresh fruit, rice pudding
Thursday – banana bread, cashews and sultanas

All the cooked items are home made (with love, of course).  Have a great week everyone.  Keep the suggestions and recipes coming.


Professional Development – Dyspraxia


Do you know what dyspraxia is?  Have you even heard of it?  Until tonight I just had a vague notion that it was something affecting speech.  How wrong was I!!?

There are so many great organisations in our community doing fantastic work for children with developmental delays and disabilities.  Psychological Solutions is just one local provider that is making a difference for children and families in our community not only through direct support but also by sharing information and professional development for educators, teachers, parents, and anyone else who could benefit.  Tonight I attended a free workshop at their clinic (and it was packed out – well done, team) that explained what dyspraxia is, how it affects children’s development and wellbeing, some signs to look for, and management strategies.

Hands on and active experiences helped us to almost step into the shoes of a person with dyspraxia.  Imagine trying to complete a maze on a piece of paper with a felt pen, with your non-writing hand, and you are not allowed to look at the paper but you can only look at a reflection of it in the mirror.  Then you put on a pair of too-big plastic gloves and have to tie your shoelaces.  With your eyes closed.  Not to mention watching a 5 minute long bollywood dance choreography and then trying to remember all of the 27 sequenced moves.

Are you getting the picture?  Basically dyspraxia is a disability that can affect movement and coordination.  Messages from the brain don’t travel properly to the muscles, to make them move how the person intends them to move.  But much more than that, dyspraxia can affect a child’s whole life, leading to difficulties with attention span, low self esteem, continually getting into strife with school and peers, and much more. Click here for a short video showing a mother’s story about her son who has this condition.

Early intervention (as with any delay) is key to helping little ones with this disability to develop and achieve what they want to achieve in life.  Signs can be evident at quite a young age, so early referral and diagnosis can happen and can make a hugely positive impact on a child’s life.  As always, if you have any concerns about a child not reaching any of their develomental milestones, contact your GP or child health nurse without delay.  This “Red Flag”guideline document is often used in our service by educators, parents and coordinators to help identify any concerns.

As mentioned in my philosophy, I am committed to ongoing learning to help me better serve the families and children in my care.  After tonight’s workshop I have a much better idea of what dyspraxia is and how to look out for potential signs, and it has also reinforced my general knowledge about children’s development and strategies to help all children succeed.

Many thanks to Liz, Lindy and the rest of the wonderful team who delivered this session.  I’m looking forward to more of your sessions throughout the year.

Morning Tea Menu – 14.03.16 – 17.03.16



Just three days again this week – although places are filling up and there will be more friends joining us very soon.  It has been nice to start off slowly and settle the little ones in one or two at a time – they need time to get to know me, their new friends, the environment, the flow of the day; there is so much to see and do and learn.

So morning tea this week will again be a mix of new and familiar foods.

Tuesday – fresh apple and corn thins (plain)

Wednesday – apple crumble (home made)

Thursday – grain free anzac biscuits (home made)



Menu Plan 07.03.16 – 10.03.16

Here is this week’s menu plan – no children in care this Monday so it’s just the three days this week.  Stone fruit is still in season so we’ll keep enjoying our peaches and nectarines.
Tuesday – Home made bliss balls, fresh fruit (nectarine, peach)
Wednesday – Home made rice pudding with sultanas
Thursday – Fresh fruit (apple), corn thins with butter or alternative