Room Two News

Baking with Children: 6 Reasons Why You Should Give it a Try

Posted on April 18th, 2018. Filed under: General News, Room One Articles, Room One News, Room Two Articles, Room Two News.

Baking with children may sound daunting – but it can be enjoyable and rewarding for everyone!
If you take the time to set up your baking space prior to inviting your child to join in (ingredients, tools, etc), you too will experience the benefits alongside your child.


Here are some of the reasons we love baking with the children at Building Blocks, and why we think you should give it a try at home as well:

 

1. Baking Teaches Patience and Calmness

When you think of baking, patience calmness aren’t always the first things that come to mind, but we believe that they are great lessons in baking with children. Firstly, in order to have a good experience, the adult must be calm and patient, and the child(ren) will follow. In an ECE setting, the children need to wait their turn to add an ingredient or stir things together, so they begin practicing patience right from the start.

Waiting for the food to bake in the oven is another practice of patience. Some foods take up to an hour in the oven, but children will learn that by waiting, there is a tasty reward at the end! Patience and calmness will translate into other areas of your child’s day, and they will learn that being calm during a process actually makes it more enjoyable.

2. Baking Assists in Fine-Motor Skill Development

Hand-eye coordination is needed when pouring ingredients into measuring cups, and into the larger bowls. Children will strengthen their grip as they hold and manoeuvre different baking tools. And kneading and squeezing doughs will strengthen muscles in their hands and fingers.

3. Baking Exposes Us to Practical Science Concepts

Baking is chemistry! The mixing of different ingredients bring about chemical, textural and taste changes in the food as you add them to the heat of the oven. Exposing children to these science concepts at an early age will get them excited about experimenting and problem solving in many areas of their lives. The article Teaching Science and Math Through Cooking explains it further.

4. Baking Exposes Us to and Helps Us Practice Our Math Skills

In following a recipe, children learn to recognize numbers and what they represent. Some of our children are too young to follow the recipe on their own, but we make sure to verbalize what we are doing (e.g. “1/2 a cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder”). It is more fun for children to learn about the concepts of volume and measurements through practical application.

5. Baking is a Wonderful Life Skill

Baking is a great life skill to obtain, and if children have the opportunity to practice it in a fun way, starting at an early age, the self-care aspect of it will be second to the enjoyment of it. It can lead into an interest in cooking, and into young adulthood, your child will feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen (and may even want to cook you dinners!)  Also, it is a great time during food preparation to nutrition and healthy eating options.

6. Baking is Fun!

Last, but most certainly not least, baking is fun! Getting messy with ingredients and batters, watching the changes through the oven light, getting sudsy and warm water to do the dishes, and of course, tasting your treats at the end, all make for a wonderful experience. It can be as long or as short of an experience as you make it, but it is quality time with the child, spent learning and growing together.

Check out some of our favourite recipes below:

Easy Cheese Scones

Gingerbread Cookies

Savoury Muffins

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Loaf

We Love Our Farm: Caring for Animals in an Early Childhood Education Setting

Posted on April 5th, 2018. Filed under: General News, Room One Articles, Room One News, Room Two Articles, Room Two News.

 

At Building Blocks we are very lucky to have access to a large outdoor farmyard, where we learn and explore on the land and care for and respect our animals. This is a large part of our learning programme.

Currently Building Blocks is home for 2 sheep (Fern and Lola), 1 goat (Dave), and 8 chickens. We have had Fern since she was a baby, and she joined us back in July 2016. 6 of our chickens joined us back in November, after we had an incubator in Room One, cared for the eggs for 21 days, and watched them hatch. We have nurtured them and watched them grow into full grown chicks, and they are due to start laying in the coming month!

Each afternoon we take the children to the farm to feed the sheep, goat and chickens our food scraps from the day and collect any eggs the chickens may have laid. And on every Wednesday, we have “Farm Day,” where a larger group of children and 1-2 teachers head to the back paddocks and orchard for an adventure. The children get to roam around, play tag games, and interact with our furry, wooly and feathered friends.

Respecting the Farm and the Animals

Before each visit, we gather the children that will be attending and remind them of some of our ground rules. These include remaining calm, using gentle voices and hands, and walking feet around the animals. We are entering their home, and we need them to feel safe around us. When the animals feel safe, they will approach us and want to be handled.

The children are also reminded to stay within the same paddock as the teachers, to climb only on the designated fences around the trees, and to look out for their friends.

These boundaries are always respected by the children, because they love the opportunities of exploring the farm.

Children are learning:

  • that remaining calm around animals is rewarding, as it enhances their interactions and experiences with them
  • to take on responsibility in feeding the animals
  • about the circle of life, and how animals grow and change
  • where our food comes from – fruit comes from the trees in our orchard, and chickens lay eggs! (they’ve learned that you need a rooster to get baby chicks, because they often ask if we are eating baby chicks when we eat eggs)
  • that wide open natural spaces provide a blank slate for adventure
  • to take responsibility for their own exploration and learning
  • to care for their peers, older friends often hold the younger friends hands and help guide them
  • that self-care is important too when looking after animals. We must always wear close-toed shoes and wash our hands after every visit!

Caring for animals also teaches compassion and empathy. When children take the time to be consciously gentle with animals and experience the benefits, this translates into their day-to-day interactions with their peers, teachers and family. And having the wider space of the farm to explore provides the children with a sense of adventure, creativity and freedom.

“Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and
responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.”
~ James Cromwell

Further Readings

The Importance of Outdoor Play for Children

Nurturing Children’s Love for Animals

Learning Through Animals

Getting Ready for School

Posted on March 14th, 2017. Filed under: General News, Room Two News.

In our Room 2 learning environment we are dedicated to nurturing our children to become school ready. There are so many important aspects that contribute to becoming school ready. Some are social learning, developing relationships, developing values that make us who we are, learning about respect for ourselves as well as others, learning how to deal with conflict in peaceful and respectful ways while maintaining some social justice. All of these attributes combined make a confident school ready child who learns as many self help skills as possible to feel that they can truly cope with everything. The component that responds to the literacy areas are met through an  introduction to the beauty of words, sounds and rhythms that the children learn to identify through simple rules using vowels (that are in every word) and consonants. The sounds are in a sequence of cvc (consonant, vowel, consonant) and kept to a maximum of three. This keeps the vowels as a short vowel sound and the children can manage this relatively well.

Knowledge of letter sounds will help with future writing and spelling skills as the children navigate the school learning environment. They are also learning about the value of sounds and how they form words. In the photos we are using vowels (the children know them as the helping sounds) to construct their sounds into pseudo words (unknown words that have no meaning). The idea is that they are forming words with their growing knowledge of the concept that sounds (letters) form words. The vowels are used in the middle and the consonants are chosen from a separate pile to form the beginning and end sounds. Sequencing principles are understood by sticking to the rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to Te Whariki:

Communication:

Continuity between Early Childhood Education and School.

Children moving from earlychildhood settings to the early years of school are likely to:

-have language skills for a range of purposes-have considerable experience with books and  be rapidly developing secure vocabulary, grammar and syntax.

-recognising the distinctive characteristics of book language and be ready to consolidate concepts about print.

Planting Our Garden

Posted on May 25th, 2016. Filed under: General News, Room Two News.
The children are back in the garden!

The children are back in the garden!

 

The Room Two children are back in the garden again, for the first time this winter. Before planting the winter vegetables (spinach, cabbage and silver beet), they had to pull out the big weeds, then give the dirt a good dig to loosen up the ground.

This was the first visit to the garden for some of the children, but a few of them are veterans. We love having the garden as a part of our outdoor environment as it provides the children with many exciting and engaging learning experiences.

Angie revisited and discussed how to plant the plants, and examined each different plant’s roots with the children. She discussed the what the roots do for the plants and how important they are for survival. The children were all eager to be a part of this and showed a real enthusiasm to listen and observe. They also showed an empathetic side during the planting process, as they were supportive, kind and caring to one another and their plants.

In reference to our Early Childhood Curriculum, this experience links to many of our learning strands and goals, namely: Te Whariki Belonging Goal 2. This experience fostered a sense of belonging, as we observed the children feeling proud and connected to their work. This increases their sense of knowing that they have a place, and that their input is important and integral to the running of the programme. Please refer to the link above if you would like an in depth description of the curriculum goal.

The children have been revisiting the garden to water the plants on sunny days, and to check on their growth and development. This experience will be ongoing as the children develop a sense of responsibility, and watch their little plants grow and flourish.

 

We would also like to give a special shout out and thank you to Lachlan, who took such wonderful pictures, which allowed Angie to help the rest of the children with the watering.

 

Room Two’s Latest Science Experiment

Posted on May 19th, 2016. Filed under: General News, Room Two News.

April 2016

Last month, Room Two at Building Blocks Childcare performed a science experiment using two pieces of bread.

IMG_0081

Step One:

The children were split into two groups. Group One had to wash their hands, and Group Two kept their hands dirty.

Step Two:
Each group had their own piece of bread, and
it was passed around so the children could rub their hands on it. Once each group was finished passing the bread around, the pieces were put in their own separate zip lock bags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children then discussed their hypotheses. What would happen to the bread? Which bread would grow more germs?

The group consensus was that Group Two’s bread would grow more germs.

Science at work!Step Three:
We checked the bread daily to see if there were any changes. It wasn’t until the fourth day that the children began to notice Group Two’s bread changing colour, while Group One’s bread stayed the same.

The children were very excited when they started to see changes and enjoyed discussing the mouldy bread. We love doing science experiments in Room Two because they are interesting, and allow the children to explore and learn in a different way. They have asked to do an experiment using dirty and clean feet next time! That should be interesting!

Science in an early childhood setting is best learned through active involvement, where children can discover and construct their own ideas. When children are engaged both physically and mentally, they begin to investigate and manipulate their environment in order to answer questions and satisfy their innate curiosities. Through this experiment, the children developed their ability to ask questions, make hypotheses, and cooperate in group settings.

And most importantly, this was an excellent way to illustrate the importance of hand washing!

Meet Our New Farm Friends

Posted on April 19th, 2016. Filed under: General News, Room One News, Room Two News.

April brought some exciting news to Building Blocks Childcare and our farm: we adopted two guinea pig brothers! Pinky and Chocolate Bar joined our bunny rabbit, sheep and chickens out in the paddock. The Room One and Room Two children have been spending a lot of time getting to know the brothers, as well as feeding, cleaning and caring for them.

Room 2 children investigating our new friends' hutch at the farm.

Room 2 children investigating our new friends’ hutch

We aim to take a group of children once per day to visit the paddock. Through our observations, we have witnessed the children learn and develop many positive personality traits through interacting with our farm animals. These include responsibility, empathy and compassion.  We are very lucky to have a farm at BBC, as an addition to our wonderful outdoor environment, where the children play, work, explore and learn about both animals and nature.

At the farm with the guinea pigsAt the farm with the guinea pigs

Sadie patting Pinky at the farm.Ethan patting his friend Pinky at the farm.

 

Since Pinky and Chocolate Bar have arrived, they started spending time with our bunny rabbit, and they have all become great friends! Stay tuned for more pictures and stories about the children and the farm.