Over the last months all of our families and friends across our six centres would have
experienced the impact of the Bushfires and Drought in different ways. Some areas were
concerned of local bushlands catching fires, others had to stay inside during heavy air pollution and
most experienced smoke or ashes falling from above. Most of us can still recall the smell, the worry
and the familiar glow that took over our skies. Each child and adult would have experienced a
different impact and taken a personal perspective from these events.
Part of our job as educators is to help make sense of the world around our children and exploring interests that are relevant to each child. Across all six centres we could naturally see overarching interests in the bushfires and
droughts effecting Australia. We were able to explore these interests through literacy, intentional
teaching, researching, art, sensory play and dramatic play.
Incursions: Some of our centres had visits from NSW Fire and Safety. During these visits
firefighters told us how to keep ourselves safe from fire and what to do when there is a fire. Many
children got the chance to explore the Fire truck from inside and some were able to hold the fire
hose and pretended they were putting out fires.
Drought experiment– At one of our centres the Children read the book called ‘Droughts’ by Jackie
French and as an extension educators set up an experiment. Children were able to brainstorm the
meaning of droughts and experimented by planting grass seeds while only watering one side and
watching the progress. The children made their own predications of what they thought would
happen to each side. Following the Scientific Method, their learning of droughts moved quickly to
children questioning if we have no water, how can we put out the bush fires? Here links were made
to the two natural disasters/ exploring the current bush fires and extending our learning on ways we
can help. E.g. save water, recycle rain water, monitoring water use.
Our little fire fighters wanted to put out the fires- here we set up an experience where they could spray the letters in their names and “put out the bush fires”
Art– all or our centres explored the droughts and bushfires through the expression of art. One
centre had an art experience that also encouraged ideas of reusability and sustainability. They
gathered cardboard boxes and painted them in bright fire related colours to make fire engine trucks.
They had to glue down different shapes of paper to make the fire truck. In the window of each fire
truck the children each drew their own picture of themselves driving the truck. They also painted a
fire background using red and yellow paint. Throughout this experience the children were also
learning shapes through art and this opened conversations about the very important bushfires and
the role of the firefighters to their world.
This amazing kola was made by one of our Senior Pre-schoolers as we learned about Kolas and how they have been impacted by the bush fires
As we all explored the impact of bush fires and droughts, the interests became interwoven into
many aspects of the children’s learning. When we enjoyed making playdough with the children,
they naturally choose to make it red, yellow and orange and modelled things like fire trucks and fire
fighters. We often included loose parts and fire safety flash cards. Through dramatic play we saw
many volunteer firefighters, doctors and veterinarians. At one centre we used a handful of milk
cartons from our generous families and turned these into fire extinguishers! We used string to
create bag straps and craft paper as the air/water.
Outcome 2 from BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia
states, “Children are connected with and contribute to their world”. Throughout these experiences
our educators could observe children learning social responsibility and we will always encourage
their growing respect for our environment.