Monday, December 31, 2012

BIG PLANS for 2013!!!

I've got BIG PLANS for 2013!!! I am still working on my studio/office space (waiting on a hand-me-down desk from my brother which is beautiful and wooden)  ... I am becoming more and more ruthless as time goes on! Behind me are the last piles of bags of stuff that I have to sort/file/chuck! I need to purchase some plastic (yeah I know) storage containers so that everything can be sorted nicely and put inside the wardrobe out of sight but easily accessed!

I have a trip to the Salvos planned for Saturday (a giant Ikea bag of books, a box of nicknacks, and a big garbage bag of clothes) ... and I've filled the recycling bin with papers.

I still have to finish up lots of things from my last job (some documenations and some support documents for my old staff and filing and the like) ... AND do what I'm planning with my home space and my garden space ... but I'm making lists and prioritising! I can only do, what I can only do!

I have a list of things I want to work on in 2013 - such as making mosaic stones and mosaic stepping stones for my garden which I also think would look amazing in a child care setting! (Don't worry, I'm probably going to blog about it!).

I'm loving my blog, and I'm greatly enjoying putting together my little publication and being creative and fun with it! It means I'm using my teaching resources in totally different ways!

So, I wish you all a happy new year with a great many blessings and wonders and treasures!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012

Sustainable Resources from the Op Shop!

What you see here, is $11 worth of wooden bowls from The Salvation Army op shop. I love op-shops. I love op-shop shopping. I seriously do! Aside from rehoming items that would otherwise be trash and supporting organizations that support others in need ... I love the style, the originality, the funkiness of what you can find! Even the table underneath the bowls was op-shop fodder! It was $40 from St Vincents and in reasonable pristine condition (until one of my exes put something stupid on it and made a great big gounge - which annoys the stuffing out of me (depsite using a wood crayon!)).

I am using these bowls in my photo shoots and I have used others at my last job to display items like insect and animal figurines as well as natural embellishments: seed pods, leaves, twigs, stones etc.

I now have a box full of wooden bowls - some from garage sales, most from St. Vinnies or Salvos - most of which were between $1-5 each ... In this photo, the large bowl was $5, the double was $3 and the others were all $1 ... and this was one trip to one store.

They also have lots of baskets available in all shapes and sizes, but I'm not buying them! I'm running out of room at home to store these things!

Why are we displaying items in plastic containers when we can use, re-use, recycle items that are so rich and warm in colour, and support a more sustainable life? They just look lovely!!!

PLUS as a bonus, you can link your provisions to sustainable practices which ties in to the NQS and the EYLF ... See? See what I did there?

Op-Shop Wooden bowls = NQSEYLF friendly!

In fact op-shop anything is good for us and our world and our practice!

So there you have it!

Peace Out!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012


First day of holidays!!! 3 weeks to regroup, plan, create, 'spring' clean, garden, write, blog, work on my book, recover, finish some things from my last job and plan for my new one!

Early morning sleep in plans thwarted by the Teacher's Ink. Quality Control Officer (aka gorgeous side kick).

And since the world didn't end, I'll have to do the dishes after all.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Reflection Flashback circa 2009: What Happens if ... You Give A Child A Camera?

Well, I gave the children a camera and answered that question!  It was during rest time while the adults were putting children to sleep.  A, M, and YH were doing quiet activities at the table. YH had used the camera to take a photo of his letters. YH then spread the love and took pictures of M and A. He then shared the camera with them. They posed, took pictures of one another from close up and from far away. They took pictures through the window of outside where the rain was bucketing down. They took abstract photos of objects in the learning environment. My colleague L grabbed our other camera to take pictures of the children using the camera.
What prompted this? Well, I had previously been to a conference where a presenter had made the point that we diligently photo document the children’s work. She questioned us as to when do we give the right and responsibility of documentation to the children? When do we give them permission to use the camera so they can share their own perspective? I thought that this was FABULOUS so I tried it with great success.
As my colleague and I looked through the children’s photos we were impressed with their creativity both in posing, almost as characters for the camera, but also in documenting their unique perspectives of the world around them.
The previous story happened way back in 2009. I thought I would just share it with you because it was a beautiful moment that made it into my personal reflections.  It also marked a shift in my professional development as a practicing teacher. It was a moment where I chose to view the children as powerful and capable. It was a moment that created change in our learning environment.
This could be a story for the child's portoflio along with the images that they took. It certainly links to the EYLF in many ways although it happened in a time before the EYLF was even published. This story is the child's voice! It shows the children as actively involved in their own learning! The children are sharing their knowledge with each other! They are sharing and negotiating taking turns which in turn is about the relationship that they have with each other! It's the children not only exploring technology, but also using it successfully! They are transfering what they have learned in one context into another. They are learning through play!
There is more than one way to observe and document.
I think in a perfect world, we would have cameras for the children so that they could share their ‘voice’ more readily!
© Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Repurposing: Art Tray

I'm a BIG fan of recycling and repurposing and re-using if you havent already picked up on that notion ...

The tray is from my uncle. He won it at a tournament a great many moons ago. It's an engraved trophy. The tin cans, well, you all know where they came from and I've posted about making cans safe before in my post:  Sustainable Recycled Repurposed Home Corner Resources. The materials are simply what you might have at an art table or possibly even in a writing or drawing area. This was so simple and easy to put together. You could also have materials for a playdough table. Hmmm that gives my my next idea!

If you don't have the materials to "recycle" you can easily buy metal trays from any number of discount stores if you want to head down this specific path. Weekend market stalls where they sell homewares have them in many different sizes. I've also seen them many times at opportunity shops (Salvation Army or St. Vincents or Anglicare Op shops).  Or if you want a wooden look -  wooden trays are readily available from Ikea or Kmart or any other number of stores.

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Using Real Resources in Home Corner

I also make “food bottles” ... I have found at Kmart for $2 for a set of 3 small screw top jars. They are made from BPA-free plastic and they are affordable and small enough for little hands. AND you can glue them closed! I used to make them out of different sorts of bottles from the $2/Discount stores, but they are not the safest plastics to use. I much prefer the Kmart ones now!
Basically, fill your containers with different sorts of dried food products: pasta, lentils, rice, beans, oats, flour, etc and then glue the lid on tightly. The end! You could add labels to the front if you wanted to add a literacy component to it, but I haven’t done this as yet. It’s on the list for later!



red lentils in action!

red lentils
One might argue that it’s irresponsible and disrespectful to use food as a “toy” ... I say that you can justify in any number of ways:
a)      Firstly, you can use products that are out of date and would otherwise be discarded.
b)      You can explain that we are using the food, in small amounts, to educate children to the importance of healthy eating.
c)      We are showing the children respect by providing something “real” that they can relate to and to hopefully dispel any apprehension they might have about eating different sorts of foods.
d)      It is something that will last years rather than moments, so the food is not being wasted, it is simply just not being eaten - and you are only using a small amount.
1.       It’s important that you are aware of any allergies in your learning space. For example, you wouldn’t use peanuts or a product that contains peanuts inside the jars.
2.        Make sure that you use low-allergy foods and make sure they are closed tightly and I suggest using a hot glue gun, or possibly a very strong construction adhesive. Just be wary of fumes, the hot glue etc and do not do this part with the children. You can fill the containers with them, and talk about the contents and what types of foods are healthy.
3.       Also please label the containers on the bottom with permanent marker with the date.
4.       You might also want to freeze the contents for a couple of weeks to make sure you kill any possible insect eggs so that you don’t have to throw away the jars post filling due to infestation! It happens to the cleanest of kitchens!
(c) Teacher's Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Paper Dolls = Home Made Felt Board Resource

I was playing online with Google looking for some inspiration for discovery bottles (there wasn’t a huge amount that really caught my eye ( I think I’ll have to create a post on that myself!) ... and I accidentally found this blog post on her "Shiny Happy Paper People":


I was really inspired by this blogger and she’s very kindly given me permission to do this post about her dolls! The ones that I have made are quite large! They are going to be good for the toddlers and preschoolers together ... If I make them again, I’ll make them smaller, and I’ll also explore other patterns! These are things that an educator could easily make for their own teaching bag!
Since I had brought some scrap booking paper to work for another project – this is something we were able to do immediately! It’s been evolving over a few weeks – and the ones displayed in this blog are the ones that I’ve made ... the kid’s ones were awesome and I wish I could show them! Some children took them home, some let me keep them for our own collection.
 We are using them as resources that we’ve made ourselves – which ties in with being creative, inventive, following the children’s interest (in collage and making things!), supports the children as capable and resourceful, used budget friendly materials (recycled donated cardboard + donated scrapbook paper).
The children can use them in block play or on the bulletin board where they will stick with some hook-Velcro ... It’s just a resource that we’ve done ourselves – that represent us or people we know or care about – and is something that will give us an opportunity to play! The children could even use them to create stories of their own which we could write down and document with photographs! The children might want to make some other items to help provision the play? Who knows where the children will want to take it ... it might just stay where it is!
Meanwhile we had an unimpressed observer ... Look at that face! He turned out to be so gorgeous for a "throw away" kitten ... how could you throw something so beautiful and gorgeous away? I'll never understand...

(c) Teacher's Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sustainable Recycled Repurposed Home Corner Resources

We all know the buzz buzz buzz about being sustainable and environmental in the EYLF and the NQS ... Well, I know I've mentioned this before, but I thought I would do a whole post on it! I've been slowly saving up some more cans ... and I have a few more that are still at work!
1) Collect your cans! Try and have a variety, that is colourful, has a balance of image and text.
2)  Wash your cans out... be careful as most of the lift top lids leave a sharp edge.
3) Have your "smooth edge" can opener ready - remove the inner lip of the can and discard.
4) Run your finger carefully along the inner edge and make sure its smooth - again, be careful!
5) Re-attach your label if you removed it from can (I did this as I didnt eat all that food in one go - and I used pet food tins which I use daily as the base). You can do this with sticky tape. Just make sure it lines up evenly.
6) Cut a piece of clear contact adhesive slightly longer than your can so that it sits on the bottom of the can and over laps the top.
7) Remove the cover of the contact adhesive and carefully smooth over the label of the can.
8) When the can is fully covered, make a few small cuts at the top over lapping adhesive cover and then fold them into the can and smooth them out. This gives extra protection from the rim (which should be smooth anyway!). If you are particular about the safety of these cans, use some silver duct/gaffa tape to line the top of the can.
9) Ta! Da! You now have some unique, made by yourself, economical, resourceful, creative, recycled resources that can be used to support children's creative and imaginative play!
10) Sit back and watch the magic ...

(c) Teacher's Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

My Trusty Side Kick @ Photo Shoot

I've been meaning to do a few posts for a while ... and I finally got stuck into house work today and as a result, since the coffee table was clear - I took advantage of it!  I was  helped by my trusty side-kick Cody-Cat. As I am biased and think he's particularly gorgeous, I thought I would post him as well! I made a makeshift backdrop using an old fabric cover I made YEARS ago ... and the next thing I knew, it was being attacked ... It kept me distracted for a little while, and it also meant I couldnt adjust the 'screen' much at all ...


So ... Now I'll get to work!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring Cleanin' Time!

My Side Kicks: Cat perched on paper towels = very helpful
(and  yes, that's a dog at door sniffing bum of other dog)
That's how we roll in this house ...

My pantry has been annoying me for some time now. Today, rather than simply putting things away, I pulled out a folding table, and took it all out! I grouped and sorted things into piles and then reorganised them and put them away. I then did the small cupboard next to the sink, then decluttered the spice rack and the bench top. I feel a strong sense of achievement today. A long weekend Sunday well spent. Yay me.
Next stop on this Spring extravaganza is my home office. I’m not happy with it. I have too many bookcases which worked well in my apartment – because I had a super wide entry hallway which could accommodate them. I don’t have that in this house. And with built in wardrobes in two rooms AND an antique wardrobe in the third ... where is all this stuff to go?!?!
I have a lot of books I haven’t read, and lets face it, probably will never read. I’m a library girl – you borrow them, if you get around to reading them? Great. If not, return. So, I will sort through them, and gather a pile to donate (hopefully a large pile!). And the magazines as well – I want to sort through the images I want to keep, and the rest can be used for art experiences!
They really do teach you to hoard when you’re studying to be a teacher/educator.
Well, no more.
I’d rather have room in my life for more life! (And Universe, I don’t literally mean more lives as in animals, I have enough of those thank you very much!)
Over & Out Brussel Sprout

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012. All Rights Researved.

Friday, September 28, 2012

These Were My Preschool Weakness

When I was in preschool ... I stole some bears. I loved that they were bears in different sizes and you could use them to play families. I loved that they were rainbow colours. My mother made me return them. I remember thinking I'd take them back anyway ... I don't know if I was defiant and stole them again, or I just had grand plans that I never followed through with ...

Either way, I loved me some rainbow bears.

Ah, the memories of my own early childhood.

(c) Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More "Natures" in our Garden

I was on my way out the door when I noticed something that someone had said. He’d said to leave it. “It” turned out to be a very young fledgling Noisy Miner bird. It’s a native bird of Australia. They hang out in mobs and screech at most other things: birds, people, cats ... just about everything.
So, I dropped my things, collected the tiny little fledgling and then tapped on the window of the staff room and proudly displayed my new little friend asking my colleague to go and get my other colleague.
While Colleague 1 was off getting Colleague 2 for me I wandered around outside and showed the parents that I had their baby safely (well, not sure if they’d agree about the safety element) – they were doing flybys ... It was then that I heard another baby chirp coming from the shrubs inside our gates ... There was another baby. So I gathered up the sibling and had two birds ... What’s that saying again about two birds in the hand?!?
So, when Colleague 2 arrived, I passed over the bubbas ... we decided to make them a temporary little nest should they want it and put it near the large pile of branches and plant prunings. We were going to bag them up – but thankfully we didn’t! We can use them to make a safer habitat for the babies should they choose to stay there.

There are feral cats about, but we also have to give the family a chance to raise their own young and to keep them within their community. Much like we do with children.
My colleague does wild-life caring so she’s going to keep an eye out on our little friends. It’s best that they stay with their family if they can – you can’t keep fledglings in a nest if they don’t want to! They want to learn to fly and climb and be independent ... just like all babies!
I will be able to put this into a little story to share with the children ... unfortunately we couldn’t share the babies with the children because we wanted to maintain the family connection with their bubs and not freak everybird out so much! If only Miss Five were here today to see the other “natures” that we found! I will certainly tell her all about it next week.
They came from across the road from a VERY tall Jacaranda tree:

Some of our children have noticed the nest in the tree across the street ... We don't have sight of it from the part of the centre the children are in, but we sometimes look from the front administration rooms ...
Hopefully this will have a happy outcome with their family for the little bubs!
© Teacher’s Ink. 2012 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Caterpillar and The Spider

Today my gardening colleague and I took a few of our 'left over' children into our car-parking area (its fully gated and locked with only our two cars - don't panic!).
We were pruning our Geraniums and our African Daisy and our Hibiscus and whatever else we happened to have ...
We found a teeny tiny caterpillar!
And we also found a St. Andrew's Cross Spider but the photo wasnt the best and then my colleague accidentally pruned where the web was! We will go back and look to see if she builds again.
My student said to me "We found two natures" ... and we did ... the caterpillar and the spider.
I love, LOVE, gardening with children. I love helping to connect them with nature and life. And this afternoon was truly special. Watching Miss Five and her sister Miss Two using scissors to prune - snip at leaves in helping us ... discovering little creatures, admiring the flowers, learning about their names Echivera, African Daisy, Geranium etc ...
I loved watching Miss Two concentrate so much on snipping the leaves. While it wasn't the best outcome for the hibiscus - I was pruning it anyway! - she concentrated so hard! She was so proud of herself as she asked me to look at her work! She was developing her fine motor skills, her concentration, her hand eye coordination ... she was learning to care for plants and "give them a haircut" so that they will grow stronger, greener, healthier ...
I loved watching Miss Five pick flowers for Miss Apprehensive who didn't want to garden, but loved sitting on the safe sidelines where she could collect and guard the flower collection. She could pick the African Daisies off the plants we'd pulled up ... Miss Five was supporting Miss Apprehensive's choice to sit to the side. Miss Five was showing she has strong empathy for her younger peers, a skill she's developed as a big sister and a member of a strong cultural family.
Where to next? Well, I'm thinking we'll bring a few out in small groups to do some observational drawings of the plants we have. I'm also pondering letting them use our camera to take some photos. As we only have one camera for now - we have to guard it well!
We don't have many plants in our playground - but we do have a garden area which we have started working on. We are adding organic matter to the soil to prepare it for planting - its just too dry and won't hold moisture. We've got grand plans!
We are going to use some of the Geranium cuttings to grow new plants which the children can take home themselves and care for should they choose. This way we can share with the children how we can grow some plants from cuttings, some from leaves, some from seeds etc.
I'm going to strongly encourage the staff to take the children to our garden area more often ... It's been sadly neglected and once our line is fixed, we can hang out our laundry, start our compost, develop more garden beds etc ...
All on our journey to being more sustainable! I would love to see this be a daily occurrence!
This my friends is the EYLF in action ... it's relationships, it's community, it's purposeful activity, its learning through doing, spontaneous actions, caring for nature, plants, animals, creatures ... its part of being a team with adults and children ...

I had such a good afternoon. I just feel at peace with myself and the world, and I wonder if the children are at home feeling the same glow? They certainly seemed to have a glow about them as we worked.

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012  All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creative & Innovative Resource Design!

Home Corner BLING!

I like creating things for work. I really like being innovative and creative. Something that I have done for years and years – is make stuffed food boxes. I stuff them with shredded paper and then tape them securely shut. You can then use adhesive contact to wrap them in. This way they last even longer and are less likely to be opened by curious fingers and minds. I often stuff them =with= the children because this way – they know what’s inside and are less likely to investigate.
I have also made food bottles for years ... I have found at Kmart – a set of 3 small twist top jars which are BPA free plastic for $2 ... so a bargain I think! I’ve filled them with some food items (labelled on the bottom with the date) and then glued them closed with my small hot glue gun (put the glue around the inside of the lid and a little up the thread – then carefully twist on – wait til they dry and presto! Real food items! I am still toying with creating name labels with the bottles. I might, but then again, I might not!
Also I have been making food cans ... this is a =new= idea of mine! I had made them years ago using papier-mâché cans – but it was toooooooo much work ... I’m  lazy and need ease and convenience these days ... buy a smooth edge can-opener ($5 from Coles) which cuts the lid off a can but leaves a, yes you guessed it, smooth edge! Run your finger along it carefully to make sure it is smooth! Then I just put on a food label – then contact the label and then fold the overlap into the inside of the can just for extra protection. I leave the cans open - why not? They can then use them to feed people (I had a little not quite 2 year old feed me some cat food the other day, YUM!). Or they can fill them with spare parts (like bottle lids etc).
Some of these items are either “free” or easily affordable. They are made using items that might otherwise make it into the rubbish/recycle cycle with only one use under their belt ... this way, you can re-use and re-purpose items, then when they have lived out their second life with you, you can then recycle them! (minus the plastic of course).
The food bottles will quite possibly last for YEARS ... I have had some last for 10 years before I left them at a job ... It was time to start new. And I’m really impressed with the Kmart jars. Perfect size for little hands. And they really aid in imagination, are real items that they might be able to relate to – and it helps them connect food with food in different states of being (i.e. dried rice, dried beans, etc).

Also, something that we need to all consider - especially in light of the NQS - and their emphasis on sustainability and environmental awareness and the environment - this is the perfect thing for your service to do! If you do it with the children - you are also empowering them, discussing it with them, and helping them to be capable and competent contributors to their own learning space and materials.
So that is my newest sharing with you ... Go forth and create and innovate! AND feel free to share your ideas!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2012    All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Have A "No-Kill" Policy ...

Yup, you heard me right.

I found a dog.

He's 12 years old. Ex-breeding stud perhaps? Desexed and given away apparently a year ago by the breeder (apparently) ... Breeder hasnt updated the details ...

His "new" owners haven't come forward ...

I found him running in traffic in the rain, following a thunder storm ...

He's underweight, has fleas, toe nails too long, a few patches of dermatitis (I'm so hoping NOT mange) ...

I can't save all the animals in the world even though I want to.

I can save this one.

I'll have a "no intervention" policy ... I'll feed him and house him and play with him and just wait and see while I still look for his owners ...

I'd be so disappointed in myself if I took him to the pound where they'd put him down. Who would want a 12 year old arthritic dog? Not many, if any.

My dog beats him up though. Something to work on. Dog whispering skills to learn.

I have a no kill policy ... because to give him up, would be to let him die, and I wouldn't be able to hold my head up, look myself in the mirror, or sleep with a dry pillow.

I've been saving creatures since I was a child and as far as I'm concerned its clearly in my nature.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Small Achievements

Started today w/ a take away latte and the dog park was such a beautiful cruisey kind of morning ...

I am so glad I work close to home now so I've got a really great work/life balance and minimal travel. Better for my hip-pocket, my car, my sanity, the environment.

As I was pondering life (I had a very relfective weekend) and looking at the blue sky, white clouds ... I noticed the possibilities in the grass ... There were so many possible wishes ...

I made one ...

And during the day I managed small things. Many small things. Sometimes the small things add up to big steps ...

(c) Teachers Ink.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creative w/ Natural Provisions

Jazz things up with some natural bling!

Reflections: Before & After



I took photos. I can’t share them. I’m sorry. BUT I can tell you how much of a difference I can see. It’s important to take photos I think ... how else do you know how far you’ve come? Your mind will quickly forget what things looked like before ...

I have shared them with my team and it really brought home to them just how far we have come in a couple of months. I put them into a PDF document with before at the top, and then after at the bottom showing the same spaces, with 3 or so photos of each space ... I started with the office and the foyer ... and when I am happy with the children’s rooms, then I will do the same and shock them! Zaaaaaaaaaaaaap!
I wanted to tidy things up in the office and the foyer ... those spaces are after all the face and the "brain" of the business ... people will judge your service based upon what they initially see. And if what they see doesn't represent "business" and "professional" then you might lose them ...
I somewhat have a vision of where I want this service to go ... and I am limited by time (at least at this point I am) ... So, I am under pressure to be a manager and a mentor and an educational leader as well as an innovator! So many things! I feel though, that I am starting to get somewhere with it, which is great ... and the photos help me to remember where I started, remind me of where I'd like to see this "show" go, and give me inspiration to keep going, to keep moving forward!
We've been getting awesome feedback from families and its been really encouraging!
Do you take before and afters?
It really helps you to reflect on what was before, what you’ve got going on now, and where you might like to go ...
That is afterall what they are promoting in the EYLF isn’t it? The distance travelled? I think that we need to show our distance, not just the childrens’ ... I've written about this before - how its important to save copies of your written work ... I am constantly amazed as I look back at my work from 2009 and compare it to what I am doing now ... There is an obvious distance travelled there! And through reflection, I've been able to grow and evolve and demonstrate to my team as well - which makes me more human and accessible rather than just  the "manager" or "educational leader" who is telling them what to do ...
So... go take some photos!