Early Learning Matters Week: How a billycart became an incredible lesson in play

“People will start to value play if we continue to highlight the learning that is happening.”

Creative Garden Arundel’s Kindergarten Teacher, Natasha Gregory, is an advocate for play and children’s curiosity.

“I like to focus on children knowing how to think and ask questions,” she said, “and to also be comfortable with not knowing the answer.”

“I want to know their opinions, to have discussions and collaborate with them to solve problems. All of this is possible through play.”

Natasha said this year’s Early Learning Matters Week theme, ‘Learning through Play’, provides all early childhood professionals with the platform to educate the community around its value.

“We changed our family’s perceptions around play through our classroom billycart building project by consistently pointing out the growth in knowledge and skills that was happening,” said Ms Gregory.

“A child in my classroom mentioned they’d like to build a billycart, and so months of conversations, collaborative design and construction ensued.

Kindergarten teacher uses a billycart as an incredible lesson in play

“We used digital technology to research what a billycart was and to vote on a collaborative design.

“The physical visualisation of our construction highlighted a surprising gap in the children’s understanding – how do the elements of a billycart actually join together?

“So, we took it back to basics and spent a few days building cars with Lego and concentrated on conversations and promoting self-analysis whereby children were asked about how they constructed their cars.

“After this learning opportunity, the dots were joined, and we were back on track.

“We wanted the children to be actively involved in building the billycart, so we then turned our attention to developing their woodworking skills, supporting this learning with conversations around safety.

“A father then hosted the billycart building day on our verandah and children were given free choice to participate in the building as much or as little as they wanted.

“The final touches like paint colour were then voted on, with our Educators using that opportunity to speak about the elements, and how paint will protect and preserve our billycart.”

The billycart became a major room feature and learning resource in the classroom after the project concluded.

“Play, particularly imaginative play, is how children make sense of their world,” she said, “which is why play is the vehicle WE need to use to help children make sense of the world.”

Creative Garden is part of G8 Education, one of Australia’s largest early learning providers, dedicated to its purpose of creating the foundations for learning for life.

G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans said play is at the core of the provider’s Education Strategy.

“We create environments where play supports children to explore and understand their worlds with curiosity, creativity, confidence and kindness,” said Ms Evans.

G8 Education CEO announces new Education Strategy at ECA National Conference

G8 Education’s CEO Gary Carroll has announced the national provider will soon be launching the next phase of its Education Strategy during an introductory speech at the ECA National Conference last week.

Due for implementation in 2023 the strategy will include a strong focus on children’s learning, development, health and wellbeing.

“At G8 we are collaborating with team, children and families to provide educational programs which support children to explore their worlds with curiosity, creativity, confidence and kindness,” said Mr Carroll while introducing international guest speaker Dr Laura Jana’s keynote address at the ECA Conference.

G8 Education CEO Gary Carroll

“I am excited to share that we will soon be launching the next phase of our Education Strategy which continues our focus on nurturing children’s independent and curious minds, and championing health and wellbeing in an ever-changing 21st century world.”

The Education Strategy will be the first since Ali Evans was appointed to G8 Education’s executive team as Head of Learning and Education in February this year.

“It has been a pleasure leading our Education team over the past nine months, and I am very much looking forward to sharing the next evolution of our Education Strategy,” said Ms Evans.

“We are committed to providing high-quality teaching and learning to ensure we are delivering the best possible outcomes for our children and families.

“Our Education Strategy will build upon the great work that has already been implemented and show how playful innovation can enhance children’s learning outcomes.”

G8 Education was the gold sponsor for this year’s ECA Conference.

“G8 Education is pleased to be able to support such an important event for our sector as we embrace and connect with the conference theme, Passion to Power our future profession, and position our sector as thought leaders and early childhood advocates,” Mr Carroll said.

“At a time when our sector is facing unprecedented workforce shortages it has never been more important to bring people together to inspire, learn and align in our response to these challenges.”