Concord West Rhodes Preschool
The Green Superheroes
Using our super powers to care for our Earth
Our centre is always working towards becoming more sustainable and educating, staff, children and parents on the 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse/Repurpose, Recycle, Rot. We encourage children to use reusable containers, use washable hand towels and recycle old clothes and toys to our centre. We have bins for compostable waste (green) recyclables (yellow) and waste to landfill (red) in all classrooms. Staff and children have taken part in various workshops on waste, recycling and composting. This has enhanced our knowledge and made us all more confident in our waste reduction abilities. The children not only help each other use the correct bins at preschool but educate their parents to sort waste at home! Waste sorting has become a collaborative process that is not just helping the environment but also lots of fun! Using our 5 R's we know that reuse/repurpose comes before recycling and therefore have setup our 'Reuse Station'. As well as bringing items from home the children are now actively washing their disposable containers and placing them straight into the Reuse Station. With staff and children encouraging each other, the reuse station has become a hub of creative construction, problem solving and social and dramatic play. The children are taking ownership of their waste and taking steps to reduce their contributions to landfill and in making these steps fun and engaging, they are ensuring that these steps don't stop at the preschool gate but continue in their homes.
Our centre has an established vegetable garden made from recycled materials. The children wrere active participants in all aspects of building the garden and continue to enthusiastically maintain the garden beds with planting crops, watering and the harvesting of food. The increase of vegetation and flowers saw an increase in insect, bug and bird life! Each newly discovered creature was observed and investigated both in the garden and through stories and information books. We learnt that we had created an environment for different creatures by introducing new plants. This was very exciting and we looked at other areas within our preschool to change. We chose our rock stream as it was continually being over grown with grass. A rock stream is something that would have been indigenous to our area and so we decided on growing native plants. With the help of our local BushCare we learnt about plants that were not only native to Australia, but also to our local area. Some of these plants would have been used as food by the Wangal Aboriginals, and seemed more than fitting for our rock stream. Together, staff and children, planted out the rock stream and it's surrounding with 'baby' plants. And again the children are taking responsibility for the care and maintenance of the plants. They are still baby plants and with our care we look forward to seeing them grow and wonder at the new creatures this new environment will encourage to visit.
Our sustainable practices are not limited to reducing our waste, but reducing all our resources, including water and energy. Embedded into practice is the participation in Earth Hour, both at the preschool, with lunch by candle light, and by encouraging families to participate at home. There are continued requests for this, as the children enjoy the ambiance of darkness and the impact that has on routines and interactions along with their knowledge that they are 'Saving Energy!' We have ensured all light switches are fitted with signs to 'turn off' when not needed. Our air-conditioning is fitted with signs to 'use fans first' as well as the recommended cooling and heating temperatures for energy efficiency. Lights and cooling/heating (if in use) are turned off while the children are in outside play and again at rest times. Staff and children are encouraged to wear clothes appropriate for weather conditions to reduce the need for room cooling/heating. While it is the staffs responsibility to ensure that lights and electrical devises are switched off, we have a much greater responsibility to ensure that the children and families within our service are also educated in energy reduction. We do this with the children through role modeling, discussions and stories and inform families of energy reduction tips with resource from the ECEEN and Small Green Steps programs. By educating ourselves, the children and our families, we are ensuring that the changes we are making, will continue into the future.
Our centre prides itself on our Nature play experiences for the children to explore. We have our large sandpit with tree stumps, our rock stream, veggie garden and our large mud/dirt pit along with many native trees planted on premises. A 'Nature trolley' is a consistent resource within our classrooms, and are constantly added to from our nature treasure hunts. To enhance the children's experiences with nature we also take them on 'mini-excursions' to the park. These allow the children to experience the changes of the seasons by visiting the local deciduous trees. Autumn is always fun as we get to collect and roll in the fallen leaves. Sitting under the tree we sing songs, play musical games and read stories! Another excursion to the park saw us discover ant nests. There was much discussion and observations that led to further investigations into the world of ants. We recently discovered an Aboriginal Scar Tree and of course we had to visit it. We learnt that the local Wangal Aboriginal people used these trees to make shields and canoes to hunt for eels in the river. We took a walk to the river to look for eels and local river 'bush tucker'. Nature is our other classroom, with boundless opportunities for curiosity, investigation and shared learning.