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Sankt Nikolaus visits GAP

Sankt Nikolaus has been seen at GAP this week already, and will return on Friday for the Thurs/Fri class. As always, it is charming to have him visit.  (The photo above was taken with that same Nikolaus at the GAP in 2008!)
Nikolaus is once again giving out traditional Christmas oranges, together with Christmas stickers and a little chocolate.  The kind saint has obviously got a good connection with the German Embassy as their logo is on the little packets of German gummy bears he has been leaving in the children’s shoes!
Why not toys? Why oranges? you might ask.  Well, apart from the fact that our children live such wonderfully privileged lives in Canberra and receive what many would consider to be far too many material objects and toys already; and putting aside the fact that many plastic toys eventually just contribute to landfill or end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch …. oranges and Sankt Nikolaus are a long-standing German tradition.
According to the legend, Sankt Nikolaus once heard of a family so poor they were planning to sell one of their children into slavery.  Saint Nikolaus visited the family at night, and wanting to leave money anonymously for them, he dropped three golden balls down their chimney.  These landed in one of the children’s socks which had been hung near the chimney overnight to dry.  And so the tradition started.
In times since, oranges have been used to represent the golden balls given by Sankt Nikolaus.  Oranges were rare and precious in those days.
In a more recent example, one of our GAP parents who grew up in East Germany remembers that oranges were still considered a luxury when she was a child, and that to receive one at Christmas was a very special treat.
So the children are not getting “just oranges” – they are sharing a legend, a tradition, and some great German culture.   Sankt Nikolaus mentioned to the children today that they were also getting vitamin C from their oranges, and one of the children corrected him: Oranges start with vitamin O!

Imaginative play at the local park

The GAP children recently enjoyed a walk to the local park, where our future civil engineers found out how many children could get on the teeter-totter at once, and some of our budding fashion enthusiasts invented new ways to wear their hats!  Our future park rangers gathered sticks and built up a campfire, while our future politicians (?) got busy playing hide and seek.   In any case, it was lovely to be out in the sunshine and amongst the gum trees, surrounded by children’s joy.

Our Boot Garden

Thanks to the families who donated their old gum boots, we were able to get busy and create a boot garden by planting an interesting variety of plants inside the boots.  The boots were then hung on the wall in a nice arrangement, by one of our GAP graduates (who is pretty handy with tools these days) and his awesome dad.  It is great to have such a caring community of families supporting our programs. You all rock!

Nature is Art

At the GAP, we love heading out to the park to explore and find natural objects to incorporate into our play and our environment.  Recently, we decided to decorate our playground with colourful pine cones hanging everywhere, and we had a marvelous time doing that!  The pine cones, dangling from tempting heights, have become a challenge to see how high we can reach in order to tap them gently to make them swing.  Of course, you have to make the right hilarious noises when you finally tap one: “BING!” (Giggle, giggle, giggle…)

 

Mystery Masterchef: Pfadfinder style

The winners of our Mystery Masterchef evening were very pleased with their two-course meal, served up to an eager judging panel after 45 minutes of frantic activity in the scout hall kitchen.

Each scout patrol was given a limited number of cooking implements, an esky of mystery ingredients, and 45 minutes to put together their best edible effort.  Contestants were interviewed on video, to tell us how their patrol was progressing throughout. Cooperation and communication were vital components of the competition, and part of the judging criteria.

We loved seeing the scouts pull together to create something delicious, and we all enjoyed sharing a feast and reviewing our achievements and challenges afterwards.

 

Otto prepares to celebrate Vatertag

The children were squawking laughing as their favourite (very German) puppets Otto and Hans Hase tried to out-do each other, in relating all the wonderful things their fathers could do.

Hans Hase told us how his father could jump really high, run really fast, give great hugs, fix broken toys, play games, cook yummy dinners, and read awesome bed-time stories.   Otto declared that his father could do those things too, as well as sing funny songs, make jokes, and occasionally, Otto admitted,  fart or snore rather loudly.  This had the children in stitches laughing… and suddenly they were all too eager to share similar stories from home!

At circle time, the children shared which “special super powers” their own fathers had, and told us what they called their fathers.  We heard about fathers being called Papa, Papi, Daddy, Dadda, Tata, Dad… and even one (and I have confirmed this is actually true) Banana Head.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all our dads.  Hope you enjoy the presents the children made for you at GAP.

 

Wer will fleissige Handwerker sehen

We were delighted to have one of our dads visit us with his apprentice today, to talk to the children about what it is like to be a carpenter and builder.

The builders talked to us about safety and we checked out all their safety equipment.  Then we looked at the tools on their tool belts, and learned what they were for.  Some of us even had a go hammering a nail into a block of wood, and then levering it back out again.  (The builders were very brave holding the blocks of wood steady while we hammered the nails in!)

Of course, we had to sing “Wer will fleissige Handwerker sehen” for our guests, with all the verses about carpenters, glaziers, painters, brick-layers and other construction workers.  The builders looked as impressed with our song, as we did with their presentation.  It was another fun afternoon at the GAP!

 

Building Children’s Self Esteem

Our teachers are masters when it comes to helping children build their self-esteem and public speaking skills.  Mystery box, show & tell, our birthday traditions, concerts, in-house mini concerts, and presentations are much looked forward to by the children, but they are much more than they seem.  They are carefully and lovingly crafted moments in a child’s life, in which our teachers help set the scene for each child’s success in the future.

It is delightful to see children blossoming as teachers celebrate each child’s achievements and strengths in these critical foundation years.

Angus the RSPCA Puppy Visits GAP

The GAP children were very excited to meet Angus the puppy, who visited us with the RSPCA’s Education Officer today.   We learned about what the RSPCA does, how we can care for our pets, how to approach dogs who don’t know us, and some of us got to pat Angus on his shoulder where he was most comfortable.

The children helped to come up with a list of things that we can make and collect in order to help Angus and his animal friends at the RSPCA.  Over the coming weeks, we will collect old towels for the shelter, bake homemade dog biscuits, and craft enrichment toys out of egg cartons, cardboard rolls and little dog treats.  These will be delivered to the RSPCA in September.

Thanks to the committee for organising this as one of our Community Giving events this year.