Lesson on Solar Panels

The Thursday/Friday GAP class got to learn about solar panels today.

Local electrician, solar installer and GAP dad, Matthew Upshall, came to tell us a bit about his work. He brought some interesting things to show us too.

We got to see a solar panel, hear about how they work and why people have them.

He told us about how people could make energy by digging up coal out of the ground then burning it. That’s not very nice for the environment though, especially for the people and animals and birds who live near the coal mines or power plants, he said.

He told us that nowadays, people can get energy from the sun by using solar panels. He said if we collected up all the energy the sun gives us over one hour, it would give us enough power for every person in the world for a whole year. [1] Solar energy is nicer for our environment, people, animals and birds.

We talked a bit about how we have to pay for our electricity but that energy from the sun can be free. Matthew said if our solar panels make more energy than we need then we can share it with our neighbours or sell it back to the energy companies. (Then he muttered something about how capitalism will ruin all that… and the grown-ups had a little laugh on the side. Hmmm….)

We talked about ladder safety and the children knew a lot about that already, but it was good to review it. We were fascinated to hear about Matthew’s safety harness and ropes though, and agreed a safety harness was a Very Good Idea.

The children had some good ideas about how to get on top of extremely tall buildings — by using a scissor lift, a crane, the fire department, or a long long long lo-o-o-ong ladder. (Again, we heard Matthew muttering and begging us not to make him work that high up. There was, again, general agreement from the grown-ups.)

Safety first!

We got to see a selection of electrician’s tools Matthew had in his tool belt: a multimeter with positive and negative probes, ein Schraubenzieher (screwdriver), eine Zange (pliers) and ein Markierstift (marker) for writing your name.

We all watched as he showed us how to carry a solar panel up a ladder.

Would you trust yourself to go up that ladder carrying a solar panel? Single-handedly? No? Selbst verständlich! Me neither.

We went to look at the solar panels we already have installed, and Matthew climbed up on the roof and helped us to count them (in German, of course).

Matthew on our roof, helping us count our solar panels. Eins, zwei, drei…

After we took a photo of him on the roof, he took a photo of us down below!

Thurs/Fri GAP class as seen from our roof.

A big “Danke schön” goes to Matthew for coming to tell us about his exciting work.

A quick farewell photo with our guest speaker.

We love it when parents visit us to share interesting things: let us know if you would like to come in too!

If you want to get solar panels at your house, here are some great places to start:

  • Solar Quotes (serious unbiased advice and quotes (and we really liked their page on German panels)
  • Solar Hub (they work with ActewAGL)
  • Captain Kilowatt (installed the panels at the Turner Scout Hall)
  • ActSmart an ACT government intiative (for amazing free impartial advice, calculators and subsidy info)

Award Winning Teachers

The Teaching Team at the German Australian Playschool has once again received a Certificate of Excellence as part of the Community for Children Awards during ACT Children’s Week.

The nomination for making an outstanding contribution to young people in the community reads as follows:

The teaching team at the German Australian Playschool, comprising Friederike, Gerda, Lisa1, Lisa3 and Birgit, consistently and carefully create and maintain a wonderfully inviting, inclusive, loving and safe place for our 3-5 year olds, so they can develop their physical and emotional skills, make friends, play together and learn.

It is clear to everyone who watches the teaching staff in action, that they are close-knit team of warm-hearted and caring individuals working together to provide the children with the best possible early education experience, week in, week out, without fail. We wish to acknowledge their hard work and dedication and thank them for their cheerful support of the parents and children.

Playground Corner Upgrade

After years of trying unsuccessfully to get some greenery to grow in the North-East corner of our playground, we called in Canberra-based playground expert carpenter and educator, Aaron from Pallet Play.

Aaron’s background in early childhood education combined with his artistic talent, experience with playground creation and carpentry construction skills were the perfect skill set. Our director and some of the teachers, committee and children all provided input into the design, and the Black Forest Retreat was born.

Aaron was happy for the children to be involved and ask questions while he installed it, which they enjoyed. Once the children could see what the finished product was going to look like, the most common question of course became “Have you finished yet?!”

The children were interested in the construction and had many questions.

The new corner space provides a deck, a stage, a hiding retreat area when the curtains are drawn, a cubby, a display area, a house, a horse stall, a colourful forest, a pretty reading corner, and much more.

The new corner cubby deck is also a great place for a class photo with its creator Aaron!

There is a forest theme inside, and when the sun shines through the leaf-shaped cut-outs, the interior lights up with pretty colours which move around as the sun does. When you dance on the stage, you can have pretty coloured lights on you. When you hide in the cubby, the colourful lights add a fun atmosphere. When you lead your horse into the stable, it becomes a unicorn.

The early morning sun has just started to shine through our beautiful colourful forest onto the stage.
What a lovely surprise: the colourful leaves shine onto the curtains in the mornings too!

Do the trees look familiar? They echo our indoor tree art made by the Pfadfinder scouts with our artists in residence, Byrd and Hanna, a few years ago.

We can hardly wait to see what Aaron’s magic will do for our Sandkiste sand box.

We are Back Again

Thanks everyone, for your patience during the COVID-19 pause.

We are returning to operations, with increased hygiene protocols, on the following dates:

Spiel und Spass: Wed 27 Oct 2021
GAP: Monday 25 Oct 2021
Pfadfinder: Monday 1 Nov 2021
Schlaumaeuse: Tues 9 Nov 2021
Spiel und SPORT: TBA

We will be outdoors as much as possible.

Parents are asked to remain outside unless:
– they are leaders, teachers or rostered on to help
– their playgroup child needs to be accompanied to the toilet
– they are attending a Schnupper session

Remember to use the CBR Check-In app (mandatory) on arrival.

If you do need to enter the building then:
wash or sanitise your hands (please)
wear a mask (mandatory for people 12 years and up)

We are in accord with the sign outside Aranda Primary School!

The maximum occupancy in our hall, at 4 sqm per person, is as follows:

main hall: 21 people
large (east) foyer: 10 people
kitchen: 3 people
quiet room: 4 people

Create a Story

It’s fun to make up your own stories (in German and/or English). Story-telling can help pass the time on car journeys, or be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon lying on a picnic blanket, or create a rambling silly bed time story.

If you like, a bunch of random pictures can be used as inspiration for your story. Cut out the pictures below and put them into a little container. Close your eyes and pull a picture out of your container and use it to tell a little bit of the story; then pull another picture out and incorporate that into your story; and so on until your story is finished and you are ready to start another one.

As a family activity, you can each take turns pulling a picture out and adding a bit more to a story you create together.

You can download this here and print it, then cut out the pictures. (Thanks to a kind and lovely Pinterest user for posting the picture sheet.)

Birgit’s Nature Mandalas

Wenn ihr spazieren geht und in der Natur seid koennt ihr doch mal versuchen Mandalas zu machen. Es gibt viele Dinge mit denen man kreativ sein kann. Zum Beispiel: Blumen, Baumrinde, Blaetter, kleine Aeste.

When you go for a walk out in nature (or as our indigenous friends say, when you are “on country”), it is fun to be creative by making natural mandalas. You can try using flowers, bark, leaves, grasses, small sticks or anything you find.

To be even more keen-to-be-green, try to use objects that have already fallen to the ground rather than picking fresh flowers and living leaves .

It can also be fun to use these natural objects to make ladybird playgrounds with slides and mazes, or tiny decorated fairy tents.

Here are some of Birgit’s beautiful nature mandalas

Survival Tips From Families

In our phone calls to GAP families, we asked them to share some of their lockdown survival tips. Here are some of the tips.

  • Alter your expectations and reframe what “a successful day” looks like.
    .
  • Yes, you know you want to avoid children having screen time, but this is a pandemic. Give yourself a break.
    .
  • German podcast Betthupferl (4-5 minute audio stories) and other BR.de German podcasts for children of all ages.
    .
  • When you make dinner, cut up a plate of crudite to put out on the table with dip the next day so the family can graze on healthy stuff during the day when you are too busy to stop.
    .
  • We ordered a pile of craft supplies from Office Works through click-and-collect, and have been very busy.
    .
  • I organised with my boss that I do an hour of work, then spend an hour with the kids, an hour of work, an hour of kids….
    .
  • We are renovating / moving house, and do not recommend this as a tip for families during lockdown!!! 🙂
    .
  • Netflix has German kids films and programs like Octonauts, Zauberschulbus and Sesam Strasse. Or you can turn on German language on some of the English programs on Netflix.
    .
  • My child is regressing a bit in lockdown. This happened to some kids in the last lockdown and they all bounced back, so I’m not too worried.
    .
  • My partner and I tag-team: one parent is with our child while the other works, and then we swap.
    .
  • My child really felt connected and lit up hearing the German songs on the Spiel und Spass Spotify list.
    .
  • If you join the GAP Morgenkreis a few minutes early, you can get individual attention from the teachers (but maybe not now that the secret is out!)
    .
  • We joined the GAP Morgenkreis and I was delighted to see how happy my child was to see her teachers again.
    .
  • A number of families were really enjoying using the Reading Eggs app (different stages for ages 2 to 10).
    .
  • Our child is quite keen on Tag the Picture (a card / bead matching game with 5 languages, including German, suitable for 3-7 year olds).
    .
  • Involving our child in all the aspects of the housework is a good way to make it all work. It takes longer but our child learns and the job at least gets done. We change bedsheets, hang laundry, fold clothes, cook food, make sandwiches, set the table, stack/unload the dishwasher and vacuum together.
    .
  • Get used to the clutter at home. It is how you know you’re having fun. HOWEVER, if it starts to feel overwhelming, dedicate some time to tidying up – for the sake of your mental health – even if it is just one room that is tidy.
    .
  • Restrictions permitting: See if any of your neighbours have a friendly dog that would be willing to get patted, played with or walked. What a mood lifter. We call it Vitamin D (as in Dog) or Vitamin T (for Truffle the GAP therapy dog, pictured above, running near the GAP).
    .
  • With Lisa3’s craft videos, you can still watch the videos even if you don’t do the craft.
    .
  • Stay connected with others by writing cards and delivering them into people’s letter boxes. (You can augment your education with our mail lesson #1 and mailbox lesson #2.)
    .
  • If work and homeschooling older kids clash too much, let kids play while you work weekdays, and leave homeschool stuff until the weekend.

Getting Greener

The IPCC report has been published for 2021 and it is clear that humans have not been doing enough to halt climate change. We have made many “green” changes at Spielwelt, won environmental awards, and implemented our Keen-to-be-Green initiative.

As a parents association responsible for our children’s future, we applaud the ACT government’s efforts, and although we are just one of many organisations in Canberra, we feel we must ramp up our efforts further. We all should. And can.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

The place we can make the biggest difference is in education (our specialty!) and leading by example.

Starting straight away, we will:

  1. Decommission the children’s fridge, and have children store their food in their insulated lunch bags (like in schools).
  2. Encourage meat-free days.
  3. Offer more vegetarian options at our special events.
  4. No longer use plastic googly-eyes, craft pompoms, foam stickers and plastic stickers in craft, as they are non-biodegradable.
  5. Encourage families to walk or ride to school where possible.
  6. Ban little plastic toys (like the little collectible toys used in supermarket or restaurant promotions) and educate children about why we don’t want them. (If children bring them to school, they will need to leave the toys in their bags.)
  7. Run two toy swaps per year.
  8. Run two clothing swaps per year.
  9. Ensure Nikolaus gifts, Mothers- and Fathers- Day gifts are “green”.
  10. Educate and encourage children to use the backs of paper as well as the front; and using recycled paper.
  11. Replace wet-wipes with reusable cloth wipes.
  12. Replace sponges with reusable cleaning cloths.
  13. Gradually replace as many of our plastic sand toys with metal or wooden pots or implements from the GreenShed.
  14. Replace our many plastic playdough implements with a few simple wooden ones.
  15. Replace our double-plastic-wrapped rice crackers (that we give to children who are still hungry even after eating all their lunch) with similar products in more friendly packaging.

We are further committing to:

  1. Install ceiling fans to make our heating and cooling more efficient.
  2. Provide a reusable yogurt container to each family and strongly discourage single-use yogurt pouches and plastic tubs. (We already provide a bees wax wrap to each child, in their Schultüte, and discourage cling-film.)
  3. Examine how we can reduce any excess use (or waste) of soap, by changing soap formats and educating children on proper use.
  4. Explore options for environmentally friendlier cleaning products.
  5. Teach our scouts about the mountains of waste caused by toothpaste packaging, and ask our scouts if they would like to try making Zero Waste Toothpaste.

Support Material for Young Children about Covid

We hope you are all doing well, and are still having fun.

The Australian Childhood Foundation website has plenty of covid-19 related resources for families, including social stories to help explain covid-19, mask-wearing, and beating lockdown-boredom for children and to help them manage any worries they might have. There are activities and posters you can download too.

Their Activity Alphabet has good stay-at-home acitivity ideas too.

You can also download the story of Edna-May. It is a true story about an Australian lady, now over 100 years old, who was four years old at the time of the Spanish flu. (Story suitable for 3-6 year olds.)

Igelchen and Echidna Lesson

The little echidna pictured at the top of this blog lives in Canberra. I took a little video for the children, showing the echidna walking along. She has short bent legs, and it reminded me of a German children’s song about a hedgehog (ein Igel). Hedgehogs and echidnas look quite similar.

Here is my very silly Igelchen action song video (5 min) which includes a little chat, an action song, a silly story and a very simple craft.  

There’s also an Igelchen colouring sheet for you to download and print.

 If you want to sing along to the song, here are the lyrics:

Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind krumm!
Igelchen, Igelchen, schau in dein Spiegelchen,
Deine Beine sind kurz!

Sind meine Beine auch krumm,
Dreh’ ich mich trotzdem herum!
Sind meine Beine auch kurz,
ist mir das piepe und schnurz!

Spielwelt