Significant events such as ANZAC Day are deeply ingrained in the Australian experience and our country’s history. At Choklits, we appreciate the benefits of sharing these days with our youngest Australians and helping them to participate in age-appropriate and developmentally applicable ways as it helps to shape their understanding of shared culture and identity.
Children naturally have a fascination with the past, and in the 3-5 year old room, many of our learners will be beginning to actively engage with and develop their understanding of the traditions associated with important events such as ANZAC Day, through their ability to make connections with their learning from prior years. To capitalise on this opportunity and support the children’s symbolic understanding of ANZAC Day, we focus on similar activities each year, such as making ANZAC biscuits and poppy inspired crafts, with graduated increases in participation and independence to support each child at their individual stage. Keep reading to hear about how we commemorated ANZAC Day in the 3-5 year old room and the baby room at Choklits Child Care Surrey Hills in 2022.
Baking ANZAC Biscuits
This year, the children in the 3-5 year old room at the Choklits Surrey Hills Centre enjoyed making ANZAC biscuits with lead educator Dee. Cooking has a multitude of benefits for children as it allows them to practice many skills in a fun and interactive environment, including the scooping, measuring and pouring of ingredients, and stirring, rolling and placement of the dough. It’s a favourite activity among children and educators alike!
To begin with, Dee prompted a discussion about the ANZAC biscuits they were going to bake and why they were making them, to lead into linking the concept back to their discussions about ANZAC day. Many children in this room already had an idea of what ANZAC Day was, and were keen to share their knowledge and experiences with their educators and peers which led to a rich and collaborative discussion where we all learnt things from each other.
Children explore the world with all their senses, particularly touch, so the first step to any cooking activity is to wash our hands, and rewash any time mouths or faces are touched, to ensure our germs stay out of the tasty food we were making.
Once everyone was ready, the children were given the opportunity to explore each of the ingredients – rolled oats, shredded coconut, baking powder, coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract – with their senses, and were prompted by their educators to discuss the different colours, textures, smells and tastes. Cooking is a brilliant activity for children to further their understanding of cause and effect, which is why exploring the ingredients at every stage of the cooking process and observing the changes they undergo is a key focus.
For example, a portion of the rolled oats were ground into oat flour, using a noisy blender, where the children recognised that they retained a similar colour but had a very different texture. This was different to the coconut oil, which changed from a white solid to a clear liquid when melted using heat, and the dough which got darker when all mixed together. There was abundant fascination about how each of the ingredients changed throughout the baking process. This begins to develop children’s preliminary understanding of scientific concepts like states of matter and physical changes.
Adding the ingredients to the bowl was a crowd favourite part of the process, second only to enjoying the delicious treat at the end, and the children did a wonderful job of taking turns to add ingredients and mix them together with the wooden spoon. Once our dough was homogenous, the children developed their hand-eye coordination by rolling the biscuits into balls and placing them on a tray to bake in the oven. It was wonderful to see the kids helping each other; an important theme of ANZAC Day, particularly for children (more on that below!).
Their fine motor skills were challenged in this exercise, through adding smaller amounts of ingredients like vanilla and rolling the dough into balls, while their gross motor skills were developed with movements like stirring. They were also encouraged to use their ‘helping hand’ to hold the bowl still while their dominant hand stirred, aiding their development of this important pre-writing skill. If you’re interested in reading more about this concept, other pre writing skills and why they are important, check out our blog on the subject here.
Making ANZAC biscuits with the kindergarteners was a great way to connect with ANZAC Day and explore science and numeracy concepts, as well as fostering positive interactions with food, which ties in with our nutrition and no-packet policies.
Cooking our own food is very important to us here at Choklits, and one of the key pillars to children developing life-long healthy eating habits. By actively involving them in food preparation, it boosts their comfort with different ingredients and confidence in the kitchen, helping to expand their diets and supporting their knowledge about cooking.
Creating Poppy Paintings for ANZAC Day
Poppies are a well-recognised symbol of ANZAC Day, and feature prominently in our ANZAC Day related learning at Choklits Child Care. To complete their poppy paintings, the children in the baby room were offered both cotton balls and paintbrushes to diversify their experience with different utensils and encourage pincer grip.
This activity was a great sensory experience, and the children loved stroking and squishing the soft cotton balls. Creating poppy paintings was a visually rich activity as well, with the different colour used to make their masterpieces. We love to watch the joy and curiosity of children as they explore new materials!
ANZAC Day for Children - Mateship
A key thematic idea associated with ANZAC Day is the concept of mateship. Mateship is a widely recognised and integral part of Australian culture and identity, and a value that is becoming increasingly relevant to the children in the 3-5 year old room as they develop their competence in social situations and cement their friendships.
Abstract ideas such as caring, friendship, compassion and helping others are more difficult to conceptualise than tangible nouns, however children at this age have the developmental understanding and social-emotional experience to connect with emotions like these that have relevance to their daily lives. One example of this is the notion of mateship as the ‘Diggers’ supported their comrades in the trenches. This furthers their connection with the ANZAC’s experiences through aiding their ability to relate to unfamiliar situations, such as war, by pairing them with emotions they know well.
At Choklits, we pride ourselves on integrating significant community events into our curriculum, particularly those like ANZAC Day that are strongly linked to the Australian identity. Having knowledge of and appreciation for the commemoration of our history is something we strive to instil through our program as it strengthens children’s understanding of community and their place in the world.