It’s not even winter and talk at Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley has already turned to snot. While the very word can make most of us cringe, there are plenty of reasons to be open about the icky things in life. Early childhood teacher Casey Goodman and educator Claudia Isaac share their top three.
1. The start of a New Year and new class can be nerve-wracking – not only for the children, but the teachers as well. Casey says an easy way to make a new group of children feel more comfortable together is through humour. “When you’re new to a space, having fun is an important part of settling in,” she says. “Humour, especially gross humour, instantly engages children.” Casey says her kinder class started by sharing some “disgusting” picture books to make everyone laugh and help them relax. “The Incredible Runaway Snot (by Josh Pyke and Heath McKenzie) was a favourite from the start. We read it so many times,” she says. Collaborating on a project is a great way to further cement the children’s sense of ease in their new environment and Casey says the children were keen to make a giant cardboard Eric (the character in the book) to greet families at the door. “We then created a ‘real-life’ Eric out of green slime,” Casey says. “The children love him – they worked together to build him a home and they talk to him every day.”
2. There is often a great deal of fear associated with things that appear disgusting. For educator Claudia Isaac, it’s creepy crawlies. Claudia says exploring these things, through science and art, can help children (and educators!) feel more at ease. “The children have been studying everything to do with bugs in Room 6,” Claudia says. “We’ve set up a bug corner with magnifying glasses, books of insects and a jar for studying different creepy crawlies. And the children have worked together to create a bug house for their outdoor play area, along with a worm farm.” The children have spotted butterflies, bees, slaters and spitfires while exploring the bush during their On Country Kinder sessions, and Claudia says this provides an opportunity to teach children about different insects and possible dangers, whilst dispelling any fear.
3. The icky things in life can be a fun learning theme that helps reduce any sense of shame linked to universal bodily functions. Casey says children can feel self-conscious, especially considering the Covid pandemic, when everyone was vigilant about hygiene and the possibility of getting sick. “Children are allowed to be dirty,” she says. “And there shouldn’t be any shame associated with it. We’ve found some great books about supposedly disgusting things that have helped this theme grow organically. One great example was Disgusting McGrossFace with a main character that likes to eat worms. This, of course, sparked a whole new fascination with worms and off we went, building our own worm farm and recreating the world’s longest worm.”