Category Archives: GAP

Sweet chefs at GAP

The Thursday/Friday GAP children have been busy refining their Austrian/German culinary skills.

There are so many ingredients to learn the German names of,  and to smell, examine, discuss, weigh, measure, stir, pour, and taste when baking at the GAP!

The class really enjoyed making and eating delicious Kaiserschmarrn (literally translated as Emporer’s mess) and Apfelmus (apple sauce) to go with it.

No internet recipes for us!  We used a good old German recipe book for the full authentic experience!

Therapy Dog Visits

We were delighted to have visits from “Brown Dog” and his  psychologist friend Matt, from Sage Psychology, for both our classes this month.

After gentle introductions, the children decided it would be fun to have Brown Dog join them in the circle, so into the circle he went and sat down on one of the coloured squares just like the children do… much to everyone’s delight!

As Matt talked, the children had the chance to pat Brown Dog and rest their heads on his side and feel relaxed.  (Brown Dog was very relaxed too, and rested his head and paws on some of the children’s laps while they patted him…  which resulted in more delight!)

What is a therapy dog?  Matt explained that Brown Dog’s job is to help people feel calm (and not, as one child suggested, to sleep all day), while Matt helps them to talk about things that might be making them feel sad or worried, so that they can feel better.

The children also asked about what Brown Dog liked to do and liked to eat.  (Matt the psychologist joked as an aside that he could afford to feed Brown Dog now that he was considered a tax deduction!)

We really enjoyed the visit, and it also helped diminish some of our children’s anxiety around dogs.  Even some of our teachers enjoyed some dog therapy!

Perhaps one day, we will teach Brown Dog (Brauner Hund) some German and he can become a teacher at GAP!  Imagine that!



Muttertag / Mothers’ Day 2018

The children have been busy at GAP preparing for Mothers’ Day, making beautiful bookmarks using items collected from nature.

In one of our classes, the children started by glueing beautiful autumn leaves onto a big poster.  The colourful group of leaves reminded us how the mums at GAP are also one big wonderful colourful community together, so we stopped to take a group photo with our “community of leaves” poster for you.  Then the poster was cut into smaller pieces to make bookmarks for each mum.

In our other class, the children have also been busy making beautiful bookmarks using pretty leaves and pressed flowers.   It has been delightful to hear the children’s thoughts about their mums, while they chat with each other and work on their crafts.

We wish all our wonderful mums and grandmums a happy Mothers’ Day!  We hope they feel loved by the children and teachers, and are reminded about how all our mums and grandmums are each a special part of our GAP community.



Thought:  Are leaves on a mothers’ day gift called “maternity leaves”?


Australian Aboriginal Visit

The Thursday/Friday GAP children were educated and entertained today by Duncan Smith OAM and his colleagues Lorraine and Jakida, from the Australian Aboriginal educational group,  Wirudji Echoes.

At first some of us were a bit shy, but we soon warmed to our guests as they had all sorts of fun things to show us and tell us about.  And they had some funny jokes which soon had us giggling.

First we learned all sorts of local Aboriginal words, and were shown artefacts and how they are used.  There was a special carved stick for digging up edible roots and a basket to collect roots and berries in.  This was traditionally women’s work, so we needed a princess in pink slippers to model it for us.

There was also a shield and club for fighting (although Duncan was quick to point out that he didn’t like fighting, so assured us he never uses it).  It is nonetheless a requirement to pull a scary face when one models the fighting equipment, however.

We learned about how the Aboriginal people hunted for food using boomerangs – different sorts of boomerang for different animals.  We also saw that by tapping the top of a special emu call-maker, the Aboriginal people would trick emus into coming away from their nests, which gave the people time to steal the emu eggs and eat them.  This emu noise was made by slapping the wooden tube with the hand (not the forehead, as suggested by one of the children!)

We were shown how the Aboriginal people used sticks to start fires, and were allowed to have a turn. It is very tricky to keep that stick in place, spin it at the right speed, AND look at the camera!

Another exciting part of the program was having our faces painted in the local Aboriginal style.  The children could choose from Berry Princess or Kangaroo Warrior face decorations.

Duncan played us all sorts of native animal sounds on his didgeridoo: droning, kangaroos (of various sizes and hopping speeds), emus, dingos and kookaburras.  He soon had us up dancing and hopping like kangaroos as well, listening with our big kangaroo ears, and learning kangaroo dance movements.

While we rested from all that dancing, Duncan told us the Aboriginal Dream Time story about the Rainbow Snake who created the world and put all the colours in it.  The children were quite enchanted with that, and were very eager to participate in the Rainbow Snake dance.

First, we all lined up and Duncan checked with us that he was making the right snake noises.  We were quite adamant that moo and woof were not right!  Eventually he got it right, and we followed our Aboriginal dance teacher Jakida around the room in a winding snake pattern.

The children were absolutely delighted with this twisty turny rainbow snake dance and there were a lot of big big smiles and laughter.  The accompanying didgeridoo music and clapping sticks made it all really exciting and fun.

Just like the snake in the story, our dancing snake wound itself up into a tight curl at the end, and went to sleep.

We gathered together on the carpet again, and Duncan created some art in front of our very eyes, telling us about how different things can be depicted in Aboriginal art. He drew a scene showing the Rainbow Snake story and signed it for us.  He said we could photocopy it and colour it in.

At the very end, we were given wooden boomerang shapes as a gift to decorate ourselves (this isn’t usually part of every preschool presentation), and we had the opportunity to teach Duncan and his friends one of our favourite German words…








Musik mit Mirjam

The Monday/Tuesday GAP children had a fun visit from Mirjam recently.

Mirjam comes from Switzerland, speaks German (and French), and is a talented musician and music teacher.  She even used to be an assistant teacher at GAP, and kindly took time off her work at the Austrian embassy, to return to the GAP and give the children a special music lesson.

The children really enjoyed her clever musical rhythm train, and had plenty of questions and comments to add!  We also learned a lovely song and enjoyed calling out “Ole!” at the end of each line.


Botanic Gardens Excursion 2018

The Thursday/Friday GAP class enjoyed an excursion to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

We savoured our morning tea out in the fresh air under some fragant gum trees, looking around in wonder at all the greenery, spotting birds, insects, plants and ponds.

Our enthusiastic early-childhood-education-trained German-speaking guide soon met up with us and took us over grassy fields, along secret paths, helped us cross over a creek using hopping stones, along part of the children’s trail, and told us about all sorts of plants and native critters along the way.

We came to the newest feature of the botanic gardens: a big tree house for children!  There is a ramp up to the first storey, but after that, one must climb a giant ladder to reach the crow’s nest platform.  There was some discussion amongst the children as to how best to achieve this.

It was fun up at the top!  At last, having conquered our fears, we returned back down the ladder. Phew!

We then walked allllllll the way back to GAP (over a kilometer), while chatting and singing.  We stopped part way to refresh ourselves in a shaded rest spot, with slices of orange and drinks of water.

The teachers all commented that it was a good reminder about how the children can manage more walking than we give them credit for, and we felt we should offer more opportunities to explore our local parks on foot as the children enjoyed stretching themselves like this.

We are grateful to the parents and grandparents who came along to help on the excursion.  Thank you!

Fire Inspector’s Visit

The GAP children enjoyed a visit from the fire-fighters today.  No, the fire-fighters were not there to extinguish the large number of candles on our Director’s birthday cake… but rather, our annual fire safety inspection was today.  (You know you have a great job when good looking fire-fighters visit you at work every year for your birthday AND when your adorable clients guess how old you are, they pick numbers like ‘ten’ and ‘fifteen’!)

After passing our inspection with flying colours, we were treated to an exciting tour of the fire truck and some of its goodies, including (would you believe) some oil spill mop up stuff the fire-fighters called kitty litter!

We marvelled at the long ladder on top of the truck and some of the very cool things they had on board, and we got to see some enormous heavy scissors used for cutting open cars.

We even got to see inside the secret closet!  Maybe it was because we asked so nicely (or perhaps it was because we asked so often).

We asked lots and lots of questions, such as:  does the paint on the truck melt in a fire; why are the wheels so big; what sorts of rescues do the fire-fighters do (it turns out that, yep, they even rescue birds out of trees!); what is that black thing (the thing that is actually orange); what does that say on the truck; why are you wearing sea-horses (which we finally figured out was ‘sun-glasses’); do you have a fire extinguisher in your truck; where were you when my sister was sick; and many other really great questions!

We saw how to carry a big hammer, axe and a giant can opener called a Halligan bar.  We admired oxygen tanks, saw a fire-fighter put on a mask, and checked out some fire-proof trousers.

Everyone who wanted to, was allowed to have a turn squirting water from a big hose onto a tree quite far away!

And when one of the children was too shy to squirt water at the tree, Charlie the fire chief asked if anyone would like to try to squirt HIM instead… there were immediately quite a few offers (including from his staff!)

One of the fire-fighters even knew how to say “Auf Wiedersehen”, which prompted us to say “Danke schoen” to him and his platoon.

When the fire truck left, we all waved them off, and they put on their flashing lights and sirens for us as an impressive farewell.


Another great experience at the GAP!



Gruen, Gruen, Gruen…

There is a German children’s song about colours that starts, “Gruen, gruen, gruen, sind alle meine Kleider; Gruen, gruen, gruen, ist alles was ich hab.”  (You can enjoy hearing it by clicking here.)

Well at Spielwelt, we love being green too!

This post celebrates and acknowledges what we have done to date to be GREEN, and let’s you know what is next on our agenda.

To date, we have:

  1. upgraded all our lighting to LED
  2. upgraded our heating systems from hideously inefficient old heaters to fabulously efficient reverse cycle heaters
  3. programmed those heaters to switch off at regular intervals 4 times a day, in order to make sure they are not left on accidentally
  4. installed 6 panels of solar space heating on our roof, and provided personalised tours and information to other groups and individuals about this technology
  5. with help from LAROS Technologies in Fyshwick, we replaced our drafty old ill-fitting windows with wonderful new triple-glazed windows
  6. had an ACT Smart audit done and successfully applied for a grant, which we used for some of the audit recommendations
  7. installed that sticky fluffy stuff around door frames to prevent heat loss
  8. checked our big appliances for efficiency ratings (and replaced them where necessary)
  9. teach children in our playschool program about recycling
  10. we collect food scraps for chickens and composting
  11. introduced the Terracycle coffee capsule recycling program
  12. put up signage around the hall to remind staff about turning off lights and heaters
  13. our staff are trained that if they turn the heater or air conditioner on, they are to put the heater remote control with their car keys or bike lock keys, so that when they go home, the person is automatically reminded about turning off the heaters/air conditioning
  14. we encouraged our scouts to use recycled building materials to design and install a way to move warm air down from the ceiling area and onto ground level where our younger children play (that was a really fun project!)
  15. we had heavy curtains made to section off areas of our scout hall we don’t need to heat
  16. we have double doors between our heated areas and our outside doors, to cut down on heat loss in winter or heat ingress in summer
  17. check our electrical appliances each year to make sure they are not faulty and draining more energy than they should
  18. undertaken a study to see if solar energy would be feasible for us
  19. we have a 1000 litre rain water tank which is plumbed to our toilets
  20. we only use instant hot water, rather than trying to maintain large quantities of hot water for long periods of time
  21. we have recyling bins inside and outside, and educate the children in our programs about how to use these
  22. we talk to children and parents about reducing waste in packed lunches
  23. new toilets installed with half-flush
  24. installed new quarter-turn taps that are easy for young children to turn off fully
  25. our chldren’s programs use recycled supplies wherever possible for their art and other activities; and we have banned glitter (micro-plastics)
  26. we shun plastic toys where possible, in favour of wood or nothing (it is okay to not have things!)
  27. our teachers have all been given reusable coffee cups and a carry bag for them
  28. we use non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible
  29. we sorted our library of over 1000 childrens books and gave many away for free into the community (re-use)
  30. gave away some board games to the Buy Nothing Facebook group members in our local area
  31. our default superannuation fund is Australian Ethical Super, who support green technologies

… and finally…

32. we have a whole lot of fun thinking up new ways to stretch ourselves and the children in our programs to be and think cleaner and greener!


Next steps?  Soft plastics!   We will be aiming to reduce our use, helping families to reduce their use, and recycling soft plastics through the Redcycle program.

Want to get involved and help us be greener? Get in touch!  Just email

German Easter Celebrations

The Thursday/Friday GAP children particularly enjoyed celebrating German Easter traditions.  The children have been busy over the last week or so, creating and decorating an Osterbaum (Easter tree), crafting their own colourful cardboard egg-cups, dying hard-boiled eggs all different colours, creating adorable bunny ear head-bands to wear, and today we topped it all off searching for shiny chocolate eggs in the park.

Each child had a lovely wicker basket to collect their eggs in, courtesy of Lukas and Anja’s Oma who wove the baskets for us.

Our German parents may recall having heard the well-known German story, Die Haeschenschule, as children.  (It’s English translation is A Day in Bunny School). This old classic is about these sweet little rabbits who learn the school rules and more particularly, the art of being Easter bunnies. [Our teacher skips a couple of pages where there are references to a naughty bunny, as we don’t have any naughty children at the GAP, of course.]

We wish all our little wonderful Easter bunnies and their families a safe and happy Easter long weekend.

Frohe Ostern, everyone!

Outdoor Classroom

At the GAP, our teachers don’t wait for Outdoor Classroom Day to take our eager students outdoors to learn.  We spend time outdoors every day!

Apart from our own playground, we often have picnics and take walks into Haig Park (adjacent to our hall), or further afield to the local playground. Getting there is half the fun, as we encounter cyclists, dog-walkers, pedestrians, and stop to examine sticks, tree nuts, leaves, grasses and insects, along the way.  We walk across bridges, learn to walk together as a group, hold hands, keep to the side of the path, and become more aware of our surroundings.

Apart from the obvious benefits for children being outside, it is also great to increase our awareness of our environment and what we can do to care for it.

When we return to the GAP, we get to have a big race for the last 100 meters or so, which always brings a lot of cheers and smiles to our faces.