3.2.3 Environmentally responsible

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The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

The checklist below covers the basics of meeting the NQS Element. You need to be doing all of this or you may receive a working towards rating for this element. The most important part of the checklist is to ensure ALL EDUCATORS can do and show great practice plus they understand the element and can describe to other people and make them understand why you do things to meet the outcome of the element

In the case studies below, we look at examples of how educators have extended children’s knowledge about the environment and sustainable practices in ways that build on their interests and community connections.

Case Study – What is ‘drought’? (Tara)
To extend on from Lila’s interest in how the drought has affected our farmers the children learnt about what a drought means for their local community. Miss Tehanna provided access to the Smartboard (L/O 5.5) to watch a news report by Studio 10 about how the drought has impacted local farmers. We heard how local farmer Jason who is located on a property 100km west of Dubbo has been struggling with the drought.

Jason explained that he has invested $300,000 in his crop this year, but unfortunately has had 100% failure in crop growth. Jason explained that since there has been no rain, his crop was unable to grow, and he struggles to bring in income for his family to pay bills or buy food.

After we watched the report Miss Tara assessed the children’s knowledge by asking if they now had a better understanding of what a drought is and how it affects people, animals, plants and land (L/O 2.4).

Tom S. told us a drought is when “it doesn’t rain.” Damien added an important element of what makes up a drought saying, “it doesn’t rain for a really long time.” Damien also demonstrated understanding and knowledge of natural environments telling us “the water in the rivers comes from rain.” (L/O 2.4) Miss Tara replied, “that’s right Damien. If we remember our visit to NSW Water earlier in the year they told us how they measure how much water is in the dams and release the water when it’s needed.”

Oliver observed from the Studio 10 report that “the ground looks like sand because the rain’s not coming,” with Laura adding “it’s only sand and dead grass.” Thomas M. took note about how the lack of rain also affects livestock stating, “the animals die because they can’t have a drink.” Leo displayed a firm understanding of how the drought impacts financially upon the farming industry telling us “the farmer makes money from crops, but if there’s no rain there’s no crops and farmers get no money.” Miss Tara considered the nature of Leo’s connectedness to the land asking “can you tell me about your farm Leo and how the drought has impacted upon Pa-gee’s farm?” Leo told us “one of Pa-gee’s paddocks is dry, but Pa-gee is lucky he has lots of rain water tanks and there is lots of water in them. He has cows and sheep. They get lots of water to drink. The cow’s paddocks are dry, but the cows eat grass and hay. The sheep eat grain and lupins too.” Miss Tara thanked Leo for sharing all his amazing information and knowledge about farming saying “Leo thank you so much for telling us about Pa-gee’s farm. You know so much about farming! You have taught me so much.”

Next Miss Tara asked the children for their ideas on how we could help the farmers. Sophie M. suggested “give them water” and Sienna suggested “we can give them some hay and they can give it to their horses.” Miss Tara told the children that some of the ways we could help the farmers is through sustainability and saving water. Miss Tara explained that having a bath instead of a shower can help save lots of wasted water and asked the pre-schoolers if tonight they could do some “research” and when they have a shower keep the plug in the bath and see how quickly a bath fills up from the shower water.
Miss Tara asked the children for their ideas on how we can save water or some of the ways sustainability is embedded into daily routines here or at home. (L/O 2.4) Matthew said “we could use a pipe from the washing machine to the garden.” Thommo suggested that “if we don’t drink our water we can tip it on the plants.” Sienna extended on this idea saying, “or you can tip it on the grass.” Damien told us “we can turn the tap off. We turn the tap off at my home.” Stella L. followed on from Damien’s idea stating, “and we shouldn’t use the bubblers to get water for the sandpit.”

Miss Tehanna suggested “maybe we can write a list of rules for the bubblers?” Stella L. showed enthusiasm at this idea. Miss Tara asked for ideas on what the rules should be. Bronte suggested “bubbler is only for drinking water.” Lucinda suggested “don’t put sand in the bubblers so we don’t have to use lots of water to wash it all out,” and Stella L said, “don’t wash things up in the bubbler.” Miss Tara assisted Lucinda, Bronte and Stella L. in making a list of the Bubbler Rules by writing the 3 rules out for the girls to copy. Lucinda, Stella L and Bronte each wrote their rule onto the page and were excited to put blue tack on and place it outside above the bubblers.

Looking at the core of the exceeding theme for this element shows how Tara skilfully meets exceeding practice.

“All educators reflect upon the best ways to use the local community and families to identify ways to teach children about caring for the environment. This in turn sees children gain an interest in the environment and take their learning to implement with their peers, families and community.”

Case Study – Bees in the playground
Adrian and Nathaniel were curious about a bee they saw in the playground, so Cherie provided a range of resources that enabled Adrian, Nathaniel, and their friends Logan, Eva, Pippa, Issy B, Ivy and Chelsea to express meaning using visual arts (LO 5.3) and show their respect for the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.

The children painted cardboard with blue and green then stuck on insects. The insects were drawn by the children and transferred to clear contact. The children stuck their insect onto the painted background. As the children chose their insect, Cherie told them a bit about that insect.

Pippa chose a bee. Cherie told her bees transfer pollen to fertilise flowers. Bees pollinate over 80% of all flowering plants. One in three bites of food that we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees. After this spiel Cherie asked, “What do bees eat?” Pippa replied, “Eat flowers.” Cherie explained to the children the bee is one of the most important animals in the world by helping provide fruit and vegetables.

Cherie’s teaching showed the children how to become an advocate for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment.

Next Cherie told the children about ladybird beetles. They mostly eat other small bugs, so they are carnivores. They are beneficial predators of plant pests. Ladybugs love to eat scale insects, mites, aphids and whiteflies. Cherie said “What do lady beetles eat?” Pippa responded “insects and flies.”

Cherie spoke a little about butterflies. They taste with their feet and live on a liquid diet. Adult butterflies have large often brightly coloured wings. Eva added “butterflies fly, and we can catch them.” Eva used feedback from Cherie to assist her own learning LO 4.4.

Cockroaches are pests worldwide. They lived on earth at the same time as dinosaurs. Cockroaches will eat anything from dead skin cells, garbage, people’s food and even faeces. Certain species of wasps eat cockroaches. When Cherie questioned what cockroaches eat, Chelsea replied “poo and food.” Cherie praised her for her answer.

Like cockroaches, ants are as old as dinosaurs. Most ants are either red or black in colour and like other insects have six legs. Cherie said, “What do ants eat?” Logan excitedly exclaimed “people food.” Cherie planned for time where Nathaniel and his friends could reflect on their learning and where they could see similarities and connections between existing and new learning. Cherie further questioned asking what colour ants usually are. Logan said “they’re red black.” Adrian added “they live with dinosaurs.”

There are over 100,000 species of flies. Flies like to eat manure and old garbage. They spread diseases. Cherie questioned what flies eat. Ivy replied “they eat my food. They fly like butterflies.”

The children started to learn some facts about insects and how they interact within the environment. Cherie exposed the children to new words like carnivore and predator. She explained the new words from a child’s perspective.

Excursion to Bunnings – Charlee
To extend upon the children’s interest in the insects we find in our garden, the important role they play and to build a connection between the early childhood setting and the local community (LO2.1), Charlee planned an excursion to our local Bunnings to buy some plants for our room and back yard to attract insects and birds.

After morning tea, the children put their shoes, vests and hats on then held onto the rope. ‘Do we know where we are going today?’ Charlee asked. ‘Shop!’ Ellie replied excitedly. ‘Yes we are Ellie! I want you all to help pick some plants for our room and yard’ Charlee explained. Toddler 2 then walked carefully to Bunnings and started to look for the items Mel had asked us to get for the centre. ‘Which colour should we get?’ Charlee asked as we came to the rakes.

Eva sought Chelsea’s involvement in making the decision (LO2.1). ‘Pink one’ Chelsea said laughing and Eva nodded quickly. Charlee and Emma then asked the children what type of plants they would like to have. ‘Spiky ones’ Kade replied. Molly and Charlee found some pointy succulents to match Kade’s suggestion.

We continued to look around at all the plants Bunnings had while checking our list to see which ones would attract insects and birds. Then Miss Jade pointed out some blueberries. ‘What about some berries to plant with our strawberries?’ Jade suggested. ‘Yeah and the children can help us look after them’ Charlee continued. The children nodded their heads as Charlee grabbed a pot of blueberries.

This experience will help the educators provide the children with a range of natural materials from our environment (LO2.4) and also help the children to further understand multiple plants (LO2.4) we may find in our yards or gardens. Toddler 2 will embed sustainability into our daily routine and practices (LO2.4) through the care and nurturing of these plants and our gardens. Educators will allow the children to do most of the watering and caring to help them understand the impact of humans on our natural environment (LO2.4).

Case Study – Australian natives – (Kerrie)

Today Miss Kerrie drew attention to the relationship of the children’s local environment in their learning (LO 4:3) by providing native floral resources for the children to explore.

Toby, Zoe and Madeline engaged in their own learning (LO 4:3) by pulling apart the paperback, grevillea flowers and a salt bush.

Miss Kerrie talked to the children in a way that promoted learning about the paperback and how to take care of it in the environment (LO 2:4) by remarking, “Zoe, this tree is special as it has many uses to the human population.” Zoe was feeling the texture of the bark and looked at Miss Kerrie as Miss Kerrie responded, “The Aboriginals used the bark to carry their babies, to wrap food in before it was cooked and to make shelter for their families. They also used the flowers, which have a honey taste, for tea which is good for colds. That’s clever isn’t it?”” Zoe clapped her hands.

Madeline was curious about the environment, (LO – 4:1) taking a piece of salt bush and putting it in her mouth. Miss Kerrie remarked, “Do you like the taste. It isn’t that salty. Farmers plant this bush when the cattle have little to eat.” Del communicated non-verbally (LO 5:1) by smiling and taking another leaf off the bush to taste. Madeline then used the creative arts to express ideas and to make meaning (LO 5:3) by putting glue onto the bark and picking some salt bush and placing it on the bark. Miss Kerrie supported Madeline’s effort (LO 1:2) by asking, “Madeline what an artistic way to use the plants and flowers. Are you going to do anymore?” Madeline giggled before returning to her art work.

Toby used his sensory capability of touch (LO 3:2) to respond to the resources. Toby would feel the bark with his hands before putting them on his cheek. Miss Kerrie recognised and valued Toby’s involvement in learning (LO 4:1) by responding “Is it soft? Would you like to try another plant?” Toby communicated verbally (LO – 5:1) saying “No.” Miss Kerrie responded, “That’s ok Toby. The paperbark is really an unusual feel from most other tree barks. It’s a special tree in our local environment and that’s why we have to look after it.” Toby kept exploring pieces of the bark.


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