Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just Some Thoughts On Sustainability

(succulents planted in re-purposed tin cans - make sure you punch drainage holes in the bottom ... actually succulents are great to grow because they grow from leaves or cuttings and pups quite easily! And they're hardy and easy to care for!)
Ok, this is my take on sustainability. It gets bandied about in the early childhood sector these days quite a bit. But really, what does it mean and what should be do about it.

Well. I don’t think it means throwing out your plastic toys and replacing them with toys made from natural materials. It’s not about buying toys labelled as “eco” or “sustainable” from toy catalogues. Just because its labelled sustainable, doesn’t make it so!

What is sustainability? According to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH):

"There is no simple definition of 'sustainability'. It can be an idea, a property of living systems, a manufacturing method or a way of life. In fact, there may be as many definitions of sustainability as there are people trying to define it.

However, most definitions include:

l iving within the limits of what the environment can provide

understanding the many interconnections between economy, society and the environment

the equal distribution of resources and opportunities."

So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with a random list off the top of my head ...

So what are some ideas for being sustainable? Some of them you might already be doing, but just articulate it a bit better in your QIP, with the children, and to the team!

·         Use recycled paper for drawings: get families to donate paper that’s been used once, to re-use again at your service one more time!

·         Use recycled gift wrap for collage – encourage families, staff, community members to donate wrapping paper from festivities or special occasions! Perfect for collage.

·         Use old children’s books, that aren’t good enough to read any more – run through a shredder and use them in collage. Or cut them up into bits – make sure that the children just don’t use their scissors on books that are still good! That’s why the shredder is great.

·         Use old magazines for collage – images that aren’t entirely appropriate for the children – such as advertisements that might have a bit too much leg or cleavage – are also amazing through a shredder.

·         Recycle all used paper.

·         Recycle in EVERY area of the centre – from the children’s rooms to the staff room and kitchen! If you proclaim that you’re sustainable and you don’t get your team to recycle in the staff room, well, that just looks lazy and superficial.

·         Avoid products with excess packaging.

·         If you’re a service where the children bring their own food – ban excess packaging in lunches and snacks. Encourage parents to have small re-usable containers. You can buy BPA free plastics from Kmart which are uber affordable!

·         Use food boxes in your home corner as resources (I did a post on this!).

·         Use old food that is out of date, in plastic (yeah I know, not sustainable perse BUT safe for children of all ages to use).

·         Use recycled furniture from the Salvos, St. Vinnies and other opportunity shops.

·         Get families to donate old clothes for dress-ups or buy them from the op-shops.

·         Grow vegetables!

·         Grow veggies in raised garden beds (search for No-dig-gardens)

·         Grow veggies and herbs in containers! Recycled containers even! I’ve used old water troughs, plastic tubs, buckets, pots from the side of the road ...

·         Compost your scraps

·         Have a worm farm

·         If you have dogs or cats at home you can get special composts for their faeces – which keeps the waste local and out of the tip!

·         Use low energy light globes.

·         Use fans rather than air-conditioning.

·         Keep your aircon at 24-27°C for summer cooling and 18-20°C for winter warming. It will save electricity and money and for every degree above or below you are using up to 10% more energy.

·         Have plants inside! They’re great for air quality!

·         Grow plants in your outdoor spaces! Make sure you’re not growing any that might be toxic to children!

·         Get some chickens. They’re great for working the vegetable beds when they’re finished for the season before you add more veggies.

·         Buy local where you can.

·         Re-use items such as glass jars for paint pots! Other trays and containers for playdough, home corner, water play, sand play, mud play etc. Then when its served its purpose, recycle it!

I’m going to step up on the official Teacher’s Ink. Soapbox. I figure if we are going to be sustainable, we might as well go that extra step and become cruelty free as well. You know those industrial chemicals that organizations and companies often buy in bulk to clean their services? By something sustainable AND cruelty free! It’s good for the environment, it’s good for us, it’s good for the children! You can even talk about it ... you know palm oil? They destroy thousands of acres of rainforest to plant palms for oil and Orangutans are killed in the process – not to mention they don’t have a home at the end of it anyway. So, if you discussed these matters with the children, you’d touch on so many different elements of the EYLF – well all of the outcomes could be covered. Now, I’m not suggesting that you do this lightly and I’m not suggesting that you show children images of tortured animals – but certainly teach them to be EDUCATED CONSUMERS who make informed choices! In fact, incorporate that into your food purchasing – boycott palm oil altogether!
Other Teacher's Ink. posts you might be interested in on this topic:

Ok. That’s enough! I need to sleep.

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013


Facebook Updates @

Greetings. Just a quick post to tell you that I have pumped a lot of effort and energy into the facebook page.

We now feature a forum where I am posting information and links that will guide and inform you. (The notes facility just wasnt doing it for me!)

We aim to provide you with support and information and ideas - not necessarily answers. That's your job. Find, create, what works for you and your service. What would work for me, might not work for you!

We now also feature a chat app! So, if you would like to talk to others - that's the place to go - not 100% how that would work - perhaps we set up evening chat times for those who are interested in networking fingertip to fingertip rather than face to face?

Anyway, we're awesome, and we've got chat and forum apps!
(C) Teacher's Ink. 2013

Resource for Families: Don't Be Late To Save The Date!

Resource for Families: Don't Be Late To Save The Date:

"Immunisation protects the community against vaccine-preventable diseases. Each vaccine plays an important role, so timely vaccination is the best way to protect your child. This website offers parents access to comprehensive information on immunisation as well as the following, easy-to-use free tools designed to help you save the date to vaccinate."

There is a PDF for you to print as well! A fantastic resource to share with families! Especially for those families who are on CCB - as being late on your child's immunizations can affect their fees!

They are also available in the following community langages:
Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Darl, Dinka , Farsi, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, Vietnamese

[image from: ]

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shameless (well, slightly shameful) Facebook Plug!

I'd like to see a bigger number. That's all. :)
I'm admitting it.
I'm up-front about it.
It's an ego thing.
I'm imperfect.
I'm human.
I'm gonna go with that!

(share us around with your friends!!!) 

Monday, April 22, 2013

So, Have YOU Read the NQS - Quality Area 1?!?!

How many of us have actually read the NQS ~ Quality Area 1? Come on, hands up ... Well, you know who you are ...

Ok, I have ... Originally it was a year ago ... and then I thought I might look at it again about 5 months ago, and then I got distracted, and last week I thought, no, damn it, I’m going to do this! So I did. Wow. It looks different (well, not really, it’s the same, I am different. “It’s not you (NQS), It’s me.”).

So, do we read and know and educate ourselves? Or do we simply blindly do what our management (directors, owners, area managers, CEOs etc) tell us to? And where do they get their information? I’ve read on the world wide interwebz that people are being asked to not only link their observations and planning to the EYLF (Principles, Practices and the Outcomes) and now the NQS. One person said that their Assessor commented at their Assessment Visit upon their NQS linking practice as favourable. Please do not lead us all down that track again.

Come on people! READ!!!

Don’t always do as you are told! Be independent thinkers (The irony here is that this is what we are supposed to be teaching children!).

People are going to tell you lots and lots of (I’m going to swear, look away if you’re sensitive) bullshit (ok, you can look back now). It doesn’t mean that its true and you have to do it.

Please. PLEASE don’t be naive. Please don’t be sheep. Please don’t just do as you are told. Please question! Please read. Please educate yourselves! And I don’t mean go to training (‘cause a lot of them don’t know what they’re doing either ;))! I mean READ and THINK and REFLECT on the NQS as well as the EYLF or whichever learning framework you are using. That’s what they tell us to do: NQS Element 1.2.3. It’s there in perhaps not so plain English.

I’ve stood upon my official Teacher’s Ink. Soapbox before and made declarations on this matter. And I feel the need to do this again. You don’t need to link the observations to the Principles and Practices! They are about the children, their thoughts, ideas ... their learning, development, and skills. Got that?

Look. I can’t really even start to talk to you guys about my thinking on Quality Area 1 because I’m drowning in the thinking of it! I’ve been breaking it down into chunks. I’ve been turning each element into a sort of mind-map and I’ve highlighted the key words that really stand out for me. I don’t know where to start, and I don’t even know exactly what I’d say! I’m a visual learner – so turning each element into a sort of mind-map – really is helping me. Plus I like arrows. It helps me to connect aspects of the elements together. With arrows. Did I mention I’m liking arrows? And colours. I’m doing them in colour so they’re prettier. ‘Cause let’s face it. The NQS isn’t pretty. It’s the small things that excite me these days.

So yeah, I don’t have a lot to say in regards to specific elements of the standards (‘cause I’m still working on this in my brain) BUT I do implore that you don’t be sheep, mindless robots, doers not thinkers.

Think my people! THINK!

Ok, stepping down from the official soap box now ...

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The de-clutter continues!!!

Yeah, yeah, I know ... Still not done yet!  I was thinking back to my two bedroom apartment and wondering why oh why do I have more things in a 3 bedroom house, than I did there!? I have only added one antique chest of drawers! I’ve even gotten rid of a big book case and boxes and boxes of books and clothes! And I now have built in wardrobes as well! So what is going on there?!

Well, I’ll tell you what ... a lot of it has to do with work ...  I’ve got all my teaching resources and bits and pieces AND iokkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk <- those letters of wisdom came from the Teacher’s Ink. Quality Control Officer (TIQCO) walking across the laptop ...

Where was I? Yes, I’ve got a tonne of stuff. And I really am questioning my materialistic nature! Each time, I'm getting more and more brutal.
Instead of attacking it – I cleaned my bedroom and swapped my summer clothes over to some warmer ones. I shined, polished, dusted, sorted, and got another bag of donations together.

Oh, and instead of sorting out the office, I read a book from start to finish and LOVED it! It was humours light chick lit and required very little thinking!

I hope everyone else had fabulous (and productive) weekends!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Projects? Really? Who says?

I’ve been thinking about projects. A great deal. And I don’t even know where to begin. Why do we do them? Who said we have to do them? What is their purpose? How are they meant to benefit the children? When is it a project and not a theme? When is it a theme and not a project? Do you like doing them? Do you get anything out of them?

Look, I’m not a project expert. I’m not even 100% sure what my feelings are about them. Sure, there are benefits of putting together a document for and with children ... BUT ... unless you really are strong in your practice and you know what you are doing ... well, are you doing more theme-harm than good?

I was planning to write on this weeks ago, but I got distracted and have been downsizing the house. Work before Play after all. And once I get all the work stuff done, then I can play!

Anyway, Projects. I remember being told that I had to do them. That it was a requirement of my teaching practice at the service I was working at. I never really questioned it. I just did them. I did try to do them smartly – put excerpts from the day book and observations and the like into them along with drawings and quotes and mind maps and the like to create these project books. They were simply a collection of random materials that maybe illustrated children’s engagement rather than their learning. They were merely put on display for maybe parents to look at ... they were never really used much. The children occasionally looked at them. They were pretty much a tool for the Director to use to show what we do at the service on a tour ... All that time and effort? What for?

As I was looking for information I came across this from Kathy Walker:

 “The reality is that young children are not mini adults and they do not make sense of their world through long, adult driven, adult agenda laden projects and predetermined topics!”

Ok, yes, that statement is a very strong one ... and I’m actually agreeing with it more than disagreeing.

At what point is a project driven by children? What do the children benefit?

I especially ask this, because I see so many people across Facebook or the internet at large, either saying they are doing a “project” with under two year olds on this topic or that, or asking for help on project topics to do with this age group of that age group ... That to me just screams topic or theme. And it really doesn’t illustrate play or natural learning to me.

This blog entry is just about what is churning on inside me right now. I don’t have any conclusions at this point ... just a lot of swirly questions and ideas going through my mind!

And I need to bring in some laundry. Thank you for reading and following and being my quiet secret admirers! It’s much appreciated! Don’t forget there is a facebook page!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013