Enviroweek was an opportunity to explore sustainable practices and begin to transform the outside area of Bubble ‘n’ Squeak Learning Centre. The grounds came to life with the introduction of vegetable gardens, worm farms and a chicken coup.
Sustainability is an ongoing focus at Bubble ‘n’ Squeak. Educators model positive behaviours in reducing packaging, reusing materials, recycling waste and rethinking what they purchase, or how they use existing objects.
National Schools’ Tree Day
Pam Webb, assistant director, registered the centre with Planet Ark’s Schools’ Tree Day and was given access to a variety of lesson plans to support this event. They were also put in contact with local sponsors, North Point Toyota, who generously sent two staff members to help on the day of planting. The real excitement began when the children received their Tree Day t-shirts, which they loved wearing!
To celebrate Schools’ Tree Day, staff and children at the centre did the following:
- Backyard Blitz, cleaning up the kinder and toddler grounds, in preparation for new plants
- Native bush planting
- Prepare and sow a vegetable patch and fruit trees
- Begin composting scraps for the garden beds
- Included Cool Australia’s curriculum Tree Day activities.
Since greening the grounds, the children have noticed that there are more and more insects, bugs and butterflies around. They are fascinated by these mini-beasts and take great care of their habitat. They also enjoy the greater number of birds in the area attracted by the bugs and plants.
But wait! There’s more!
Tree Day was just the beginning for the community at Bubble ‘n’ Squeak! Enviroweek inspired a lot of action within the centre including:
- Groups visited the local park, bird watching and scanning for life through ‘Enviroweek Binoculars’
- Limited electricity day, monitored by the children
- Children created an Eco-rap which was recorded and shown to parents
- Old pallets, donated by a parent, were used to build a cubby house, mud kitchen and raised garden beds
- Chickens were introduced into the newly built chicken coup
- Recycling bins were placed in every room in the centre
- Stations were set up so that parents can leave resources to be reused for craft.
The children were involved in everything, from deconstructing pallets in preparation for building, to babies getting back to nature and enjoying dirt play during tree planting. One of the toddlers even checked recycling bins, scoring points for correct use and salvaging materials that can be reused!
“We loved the we could extend and combine Tree Day with Enviroweek. Using the Green Thumb plant care action to talk about helping plants thrive in the garden.”
This year Pam will be linking Schools’ Tree Day ‘nature and happiness’ theme to Enviroweek’s Wild Child actions.
From little things, big things grow
Pam has noticed a change in the actions of the children and families from the centre.
“We’re finding that the children are understanding a lot more! They are talking about our environment and paying attention. When we go out (of the centre) they are noticing things like solar panels.”
“Every activity completed in Enviroweek has had a flow on effect! To start with, we never used to go on excursions but since our walk to the park we go on regular trips. The children enjoyed it so much and it is easier than we thought.”
In the centre fresh eggs are collected daily, they are either used in the kitchen or taken home and vegetables are used in cooking and activities. For example, the children had a fabulous time joining in a potato harvest, seeing the potatoes made into chips and eating them together.
Produce such as corn, tomatoes, snap peas, carrots and strawberries never make it to the kitchen, they are eaten as soon as they are picked! Children graze on healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden throughout the day.
Pam is delighted that their actions have resulted in sustainable practices at home too. Not only are parents redirecting rubbish from land fill to be reused by the children but she has noticed some other developments.
Parents have ‘complained’ about the lectures they are getting from their children on which bins to use. Others have found ways to reuse pallets just as Pam did. “Some parents made cubby houses and chicken coups using old pallets. One even made a bookshelf!”
Since the introduction of chickens at Bubble ‘n’ Squeak many of the families have decided to get chickens at home. Seeing their children’s reactions to the centre’s new additions and their ability to care for them has also resulted in lots of new family pets.
There has also been a boom in the number of home vegetable patches.
The online PD course Use Sustainability to Achieve EYLF Outcomes will show you how projects like the ones at Bubble’n’Squeak can be used to enhance the Early Years Learning Framework.
Communication is key
Pam kept parents informed of activities and developments through the use of the centre’s participant profile on the Enviroweek web site.
“We used our profile page as a blog and I updated it on a daily basis. Both children and families would comment on photos and ask what we were doing next within the centre. It definitely encouraged parents to do more recycling and reusing of things that they would usually throw away.”
“It was also very helpful and informative to see what other centres and schools were doing. We were able to get inspiration and encouragement through their activities.”
A win, win Situation!
Bubble ‘n’ Squeak, Port Augusta was voted as the Most Loved project for Enviroweek 2014. Due to the students’ interest in solar panels, they were the chosen prize. Their installation is not only a win for our environment, the panels also produce enough electricity to run the Port Augusta centre!
This year, water tanks have been a big topic of discussion amongst the children. With all of the new plant life at the centre they would definitely come in handy!
What lies ahead?
The staff and children at Bubble’n Squeak Port Augusta are preparing for more fantastic projects to be showcased during Enviroweek 2015. They are removing artificial turf in the nursery section of the yard to make way for new garden beds. Children are enjoying weeding and clearing of an area to plant a new apple orchard. There are also plans in place to beautify the entrance to the centre with native gardens.
Bubble’n Squeak are leading the way in working towards a cleaner, greener world. It is the aim of Pam Webb and her colleagues to continually improve sustainable practice and pass their knowledge and skills on to the next generation. With a community so committed to caring or our environment, we look forward to the next chapter.