Incursions are experiences that allow children to connect with different people in the community, enriching their experiences and exposing them to varied stimuli and situations. In particular, incursions provide a new and exciting experience within an environment the children are familiar and comfortable with, enhancing their confidence to experiment and explore. Children benefit immensely from incursions in a multitude of ways, such as acquiring varied knowledge that diverse individuals can offer in terms of learning, building relationships, connecting with others and learning new things about our world.
We saw this in action during a recent incursion with Reptile Encounters at Choklits Ringwood, where our brilliant presenter Lucy introduced the kindergarten class to an assortment of scaly friends.
Reptile Encounters’ aim is to “instil respect for nature at an early age while preserving the idea that conservation is necessary in maintaining Australia’s wildlife”, which resonated with our values here at Choklits. Our kindergarteners cherish their time spent in our outdoor areas each day and show their love of all things nature often. There is also a lot of fascination in this age group with animals, especially as the children are becoming bolder and more curious about other living things in their world, so this reptile incursion was very highly anticipated!
Lucy from Reptile Encounters brought along a saltwater crocodile, a Murray River turtle, a shingleback lizard, a frilled neck lizard, Woma and Olive pythons, a green tree frog and a spiny leaf insect, giving us the opportunity to pat them all! Some children could not have been more excited to hold every single one, whereas others were a bit more apprehensive. With the support of their educators and Lucy’s guidance, by the end of the session, even the children who were a little bit scared had the courage to pat some of the largest animals. It was so wonderful to see the children encouraging each other, acknowledging tricky emotions like nervousness and fear and celebrating each other’s’ bravery to engage with the creatures.
Many of the children shared their knowledge of reptiles, and Lucy taught us lots of fun and interesting facts about the amazing animals we got to meet. Here are some of the awesome things we learnt:
- Olive pythons are the largest snake in Australia and can weigh as much as a grown up
- Shingleback lizards look like they have two heads to confuse other animals
- The saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile on the planet and can grow 8000 teeth over its lifespan
- The Murray River turtle can breathe through their bottom
- Spiny leaf insects are very talented at camouflaging to look just like leaves, they will even sway from side to side to mimic being blown by the wind
We loved learning new things about the animals we share Australia with!
A guiding statement in the Early Years Learning Framework, the curriculum that underpins what we do here at Choklits, is;
“”Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, confidence, commitment enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity; this is evident when children express wonder and interest in their environment and are curious and enthusiastic participants in their learning”
Every single one of these dispositions were embodied in our reptile incursion. Through the children’s eyes, we could see how wondrous and thrilling the interactions with new and familiar reptiles and amphibians were for them. We noted the bravery and resilience shown by the children, some of whom blew us away with their unexpected willingness to drape a snake around their neck or pat a toothy crocodile.
This led us to reflect on the relationships the children have built with their educators and other adults that support them to develop these dispositions. Our presenter Lucy’s fantastic energy fed the children’s innate curiosity and openness, which alongside the confidence that comes from their trusted educators, emboldened them to engage with the animals. They listened intently to the fascinating reptile facts Lucy shared and were bubbling with excitement to ask questions about each new friend that was brought out.
Relationships truly are the foundation of learning, which we see again and again, especially on exciting days like our reptile incursion.