Houston We Have Lift Off!!!


Elonera Robotics Fundraising for Houston

Elonera Embers Robotics graciously thank all the school community for their support. We are continuing to fundraise for Houston through:

Thanks for your help.


The Super Space Lamingtons are going to Houston!

Three Elonera Montessori students and three friends will be attending the World Festival Expo in Houston this April as part of a FIRST Lego League Jr team!
Over the past few months the ‘Super Space Lamingtons’ have been learning about what it would be like to live on the moon. How will they get air on the moon? How will they get energy? Where will they get their water from?
The team built some Lego robots to try to solve some of these problems:

  • a solar panel that follows the movement of the sun

  • a robot that breaks up ice found in the moon’s polar craters

  • an alarm clock (with snooze button) that will wake up astronauts during their long lunar nights (14 earth days)

  • an air-conditioning system that switches on when the sun comes up

  • an airlock that doesn’t let oxygen escape when they go in and out of their moon base

Click on the link to watch a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3BQmSvA5Pg
We wish the ‘Super Space Lamingtons’ the very best of luck on their trip!

Christmas Twilight Market

The Fundraising committee's plans are moving along nicely for our Twilight market on Dec 5th 4-7pm.

We warmly invite all to attend to enjoy the stalls, freshly prepared and cooked foods, handmade gifts, pizza, ice-cream, baked goods and entertainment.

Please bring along your friends and family, a drink bottle for refills (we are aiming for a low-waste event) and a picnic rug to sit and enjoy the company. 

Nido News (Long Day Care)

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There have been lots of changes in Nido over the past term. We said goodbye to Kati from our space as she focuses on her role as the school Deputy Principal, we welcomed a new staff member, Serene,  and we are happy to share some exciting news with everyone -  Mikaela and Alyssa are both expecting babies early next year! Congratulations ladies and welcome Serene!

Another exciting change that happened towards the end of last term is the addition of our new pet bunny rabbit “Boo”. Zoology is such an important and popular part of our classroom and the Montessori materials that involve animals are such a hit with our children.
The children help to look after Boo and are learning to care for other living things. This is such an empowering experience for them. The children help to care for Boo by feeding her, cleaning her cage, how to gently pat her and how to be quiet and slow when approaching her. The lessons they learn through this experience will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Having a class pet in the children’s life greatly enhances their ability to learn empathy, responsibility and compassion for other living things. They also learn about respect for life and the natural development of living things. Boo is such a great addition to our classroom.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Maria Montessori
With the end of the year fast approaching, it means our Christmas concert is near. The Nido children have already been practicing and they are just about ready to hop up on stage and wow you all. Please book the date of Thursday, 13th December into your diaries. We look forward to showing you all our moves!

The end of the year also brings with it the warmer weather. This means water play! Please remember to pack extra clothes for the children as we tend to get quite wet and require a change of clothing from time to time. Also, a reminder to dress your children in sun safe clothing and remember to pack a wide brimmed hat.

We are looking forward to seeing you for our Grandparent’s Day celebrations this Thursday the 25th of October from 2-3 pm, in our classroom. 

Just a reminder, our Nido children’s last day at school this year will be Wednesday the 19th of December 2018 and we will return on Monday the 14thof January 2019.  There is no holiday care offered at Elonera during this period.
Thankyou from the Nido staff.

“Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur.” Maria Montessori

IB Art Exhibition


Thank you to Sara Colville for her organisation of the IB Visual Arts exhibition on Monday September 24th. Jackson Reid spoke confidently and elegantly on his art practice and his IB experience in the company of fellow artists from TIGS' Graduating year. Jackson's work is varied and thoughtful and acknowledges both reflection and collaborative practice, as well as a keen sense of humour. 

Sara Colville's speech from the night:

Firstly, I would like to thank The Illawarra Grammar School for hosting our collaborative exhibition this evening.

It is my great honour to be part of the official opening of The IB Diploma Program Visual Arts exhibition.

These exhibitions not only provide young people with a good platform to develop and express their creativity, exploring multiple ways of seeing and making through visual arts creation and appreciation, but they also enable the public to appreciate the essence of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

This evening the IGC embraces the quintessence of creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson defines creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value, he acknowledges that “There are two other concepts to keep in mind: imagination and innovation” and that “Imagination is the root of creativity.”

Human creativity drives us forward as a species. It’s this unique ability to harness thoughts and ideas that has produced everything from the first sharpened stick, to the wheel, to the space shuttle, to the micro-processor.

It’s this innovation and imagination that will continue to bring forward unprecedented levels of achievement in terms of our mastery over nature.

Yet despite our incredible capacity for creativity and imagination, there’s very little we actually understand about the creative process. Where do we get our great ideas, those sparks of insight that drive us forward as a species?

How do we harness our own minds to produce incredible works of art, clever intentions, and new creations? Why can we be focused on a problem for days, months, even years, only to have a solution appear suddenly one day as if from nowhere?

While we may not truly understand the nature of creativity and the imagination (at least, not yet), we can still continue to apply ourselves in order to benefit from the rewards that come from focused concentration and those brief moments of inspiration that hit us like lightning bolts.

Jean Piaget believes that “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative and discoverers”. 

The artworks of Renee Ellis, Adien Wingate, Riley Cross and Jackson Reid surround us in the IGC this evening. On behalf of their Visual Arts teachers I would formally like to acknowledge how very proud we are of you all, you have truly demonstrated global significance, your creative talents and sustainability through the Arts.

We have had the privilege of being a part of these students artistic journeys as inquirers, watching them grow as creative thinkers by reflecting, while they have developed their knowledge of visual arts through a diverse range of media.

Jackson, Riley, Aiden and Renee you are at a time of your lives where you as innovators can create anything that you put your minds to, you have the foundational skills to be able to do that.

Paul Klein points out that “creatives have better access to problem solving, and can make the world a better place if they are sufficiently empowered”.

Remember that you are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.

You must be a creative change agent, navigating and operating in this ever-changing global world. Art is our diplomacy, use it to make a difference. Be of service to our community, our country, to our planet. Have passion. Speak out when necessary. Be kind to one another. Help somebody. Use those amazing gifts that each one of you have been given for good, use art as a vehicle for change.

My final advise to you, as I have said to each one of you before is use your head to inquire and be informed, your heart to reflect and be moved and your hands to act and be involved. Continue to be global citizens and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Edward de Bono once said “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” 

Whether or not these students will further their education or profession in the arts and creative industries, I am sure they will contribute their creativity and arts knowledge to the economic, social and cultural development of the countries or regions in which they choose to live in the future.

I hope that you will all continue to work together for the promotion of art and creativity, as well as cross-cultural friendship and harmony for the bountiful life of tomorrow.

Chinese Delegation Visit

Thank you to Michelle Hoess whose hospitality and knowledge of the Chinese language welcomed a Montessori delegation from China to Elonera through the break. The group were here on an information-gathering study tour especially to hone in on the Adolescent program. The Montessori Australia Foundation has done a good deal of work with Chinese schools and it was a pleasure to have our visitors inquire about our school. 

The group presented the school with some beautiful gifts of vases and a delicate and quite exquisite silk book which we will have on display in the front office area for families to view before being used as cultural materials in the classrooms.




Firstly we, the OOSH staff and children would like to thank those parents who generously donated items which make our experience in OOSH more comfortable and rewarding. We are grateful for the donations of bedding, games, stationary and kitchen utensils. We are still interested in receiving:

  • music or a working music player (with USB port) to add to our cultural experience.

  • indoor plants

  • balls (especially handballs)

  • small mats/rugs (for activities on the floor)

  • blankets/pillows

  • wool

  • chalk

We recently had a visit from a few students from The University of Wollongong who were conducting an observational research study of the nutrition and physical activity environments within our centre. Children were invited to wear a lightweight activity monitor (belt) that monitored the level of physical activity during the time they were at the program. Afternoon activities conducted during the program were observed and recorded by two trained researchers. The children understood what the survey was about and appeared to enjoy being subjects of scientific interest.
Despite the variable, sometimes windy and icy weather this winter, the children in OOSH show a definite preference for playing outside. Favourite activities are:

  • Handball. This is often played in the courtyard after afternoon tea. Boys and girls of all ages join in one large group, lining up for their turn in the square; or split up into smaller groups of pairs in different areas of the playground.

  • Rock grinding and skin decorating. Groups of children grind river stones collected by Alena on the sandstone rocks near the sandpit. When mixed with water and chalk, they form a paste which is painted on skin to make decorations. The stones come in a variety of colours and ‘gold’ is the most valued commodity at present.

  • Soccer, other ball games and chasing games are popular and provide opportunities for intense bouts of exercise. ‘Capture the Flag’ was all the rage last term but that has given way to skipping games now.

  • Games and stationary are often taken outside and worked on at the tables.

  • Skipping ropes, bags, nets, parachute, sticks, dress up clothes, musical instruments and other items are used for a variety of creative and imaginary games.

  • Pasta is often requested for afternoon tea since we have a new stove.

WORKSHOP: QUALITY IS A JOURNEY by Network of Community Activities 
Tasha and Alena recently attended a workshop held by Network which focused on the leadership role of childcare supervisors. We enjoyed this very much and came away with some  ideas for the improvement for our OOSH service and insights into our roles; effective teamwork and the Quality Improvement Program for the National Quality Framework. Following are some of the more interesting points we looked at:

  1. Our emotions are contagious, so the carers need to pass on positive attitudes to their co-workers, guardians and children.

  2. If our values are aligned with our organisation, we are enthusiastic about our work.

  3. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important in leadership and carer rolls than intellectual intelligence. The brain has plasticity, so this can be developed.

‘You are unique, strong but not perfect’

  1. Self-reflection is important, both individually and in working as a team. The most successful centres allow for regular meetings which incorporate programming and implementing the Quality Improvement Plan for the National Quality Framework. This allows workers to build a cohesive relationship with each other.

  2. When we solve problems together and empower our co-workers, everyone has a positive attitude about coming to work. This includes running ‘passion programs’ in which carers incorporate their interests into the OOSH program.

  3. Documentation is important for:

  • The National Quality Framework

  • Staff to communicate

  • Communication with families

  1. Reflection on practise- The Regulator’s experience

Points of interest:
-          Children are our future leaders
-          Assessment and rating is a quality benchmark.
-          Workers should invest time in the Quality Improvement Plan.
-          Everyday practice is most important. Continue the journey of change and improvement.
-          Present evidence to the examining officer.
-          Themes of ‘Exceeding Practice’:
1.       Practice is embedded in service operations.
2.       Practice is informed by critical reflection.
3.       Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community.
To finish the workshop, we were given some resources in the form of links to articles and videos as well as books and contacts to enhance our experiences as OOSH care providers.

Trivia Night

Trivia Night

Trivia Night was a great success with many highlights, including a surprise visit from the fairy-dust-sprinkling Elsa through the night! Pyjamas, ski suits and Santas appeared at our Winter Wonderland. The Fundraising Committee's time and energy certainly paid off. Thanks to each of you, particularly Milena for her scoring on the night (a risky business), and for securing our MC, Michael, who donated his time and attention to detail and to Linda for her follow-up. 

Special thanks go to the businesses who donated the generous prizes (and to Deb Vazzoler for her incredible efforts in securing many of these goodies). 

We will count up our funds raised and report back next week. 

Students feel they managed to fill all orders but if any families missed out on pizzas, please see the front office so that you can be reimbursed. Students were overwhelmed by the patronage and they experienced a very real and important opportunity.

Thanks again to all who attended and to the supporting businesses:

$80 "Real Body" exhibition Family Pass
$60 (2) x double passes at Australian Museum Vouchers
$130 Seafood Buffet Novotel Northbeach Voucher

$50 Caltex Petrol Card
$16 Magnum Wine and 5 bottles from Figtree Cellars
$50 Gift Card Office works
$70 Petbarn Gift Bag

T-shirts, cap and bracelet made by G-Elle designs (ex-students)
$70 Battery World Jumper Leads/Batteries
$55 Harley Davidson Cap
(3) x $200 Anytime Fitness 3 x 21 days Gift Cards

(2) x $40 vouchers from Austi Beach cafe

$30 Supercheap Auto bucket of car wash products
$50 Haworth Music Gift Certificate

$25 Dan Murphy Gift Card
$20 Grill'd Gift Card
$70 Driving lesson Gift Voucher from Horsley Driving School
$50 Bunnings Gift Card
$50 Beautician Naveen Skin Face Body Voucher

$35 Cherry Rose Blooms, Figtree
$60 2 x $30 (6) each box of Vegan cupcakes from Anastasia's Bake shop, Port Kembla
5x table posies from Brilliant Blooms Balgownie

Japanese Student Visit

Seifu High School Yokohama

It was a teary send-off on Tuesday morning and communications have continued with many of our Japanese students. Their farewell by our Stage 3 students and High School on Monday afternoon was heartfelt. Despite the brevity of their visit, many connections had been made. In talking to host families, it was remarkable to hear of the extent of their hospitality, visits to the local (and not so local attractions like Canberra), many Sydney trips and the quality of time spent. Thank you for allowing the school and the students this very positive experience. 


IB Taster Day

IB Taster Day
In Weeks 2 and 3 our year 10 students spent the day in the IB suite learning creative thinking skills through the marshmallow challenge which incorporated learner profile attributes encouraging students to be inquirers, communicators and thinkers. They then got a taste for some of the subjects we currently have here at Elonera including Psychology, History, Business Management, French, Language and Literature, Visual Arts, Mathematics, Sports Exercise Health Science and Biology.

'Eggstra' Special News!!

We have 14 new enrolments for the school. Twenty one days from now these little white Sussex hens will emerge from their eggs and be welcomed into the school. They spend 21 days in the shell, and have everything needed for their development inside their shell. After 18 days they will start to emerge and peck a hole in the shell and break it open.

We look forward to meeting them in Week 7.


Stage 3 News

We were lucky enough to have a camp experience this year. Students travelled to the Cataract Scout Park and took part in some activities that really pushed our limits both physically and emotionally. We all were pushed out of our comfort zones and felt supported by those around us. It was amazing what the students could achieve. The experiences that we all shared has really allowed us to form a group of peers that support and care for one another. 

Since we have been back, the camp ups and downs have given us a platform that shows support within the classroom. It has really been a pleasure to be involved with these students. Currently the students are working on a Geography task that is giving them the creative licence to design their own country. We started with an outdoor activity to build a city using branches. This highlighted the fundamental needs of humans as each city had several things in common. These were the basis for the natural environment for the students’ countries they are to create.

We are designing an undiscovered country that has no animals on it, just the land formations and the flora. Each country needs a climate that correlates to its location on the earth. This information will then determine the fauna that is suited to this climate and location. We explore the adaptations these creatures have made to justify their existence on their country. This will the lead to an understanding of civilisations and eventually into current day. Hopefully the documentation of this process will reflect the research and discoveries the children have undertaken as part of the authentic representation of their design.

It is great to see the children’s ideas and interests develop throughout the process. We hope this passion continues for the rest of term.

IB News

IB Sustainable Arts Camp

Last Thursday morning our IB Visual Arts students headed up to the Southern Highlands to take part in the Sustainable Arts Camp. The program was specifically designed to develop student’s practical skills in ceramics, sculpture, installation and photomedia along with teaching EMS students about sustainable living and environmental art amidst nature in a harmonious environment. During the three days students were able to build on their artmaking skills and experiences while camping out. Students collected recycled metals and designed sculptures to take to Bert Manning’s studio where they were introduced to tools and assemblage with practical demonstrations. Here they learnt the art of pop riveting, soldering and welding. As thinkers they applied critical thinking to solve creative problems.

“During this art camp I have learned the technique of making metal artworks through welding, using nature to create ephemeral artworks as well as how to wear as many layers as possible in the cold! The pit firing was very challenging as we needed to re-evaluate the original idea of our artworks as many were damaged. Thank you to all the people who took the time to teach us and welcome us into their home with open arms and to Sara for organising the camp, it's much appreciated.” – Yuki

“The art camp was really fun, my favorite activity was the one where we built art in nature, that was really interesting and fun.” – Corinne

“On our arts camp I was able to experience new medias I would not have gotten the opportunity to explore in any other place, such as metal works. I was able to get 3 final artworks done (with some more refining later). I'm glad for this wonderful time with my friends to do art together.” – Jackson
After the completion of their sculptures our students headed back to camp to load the pit fire, setting it up with collected dried seaweed, pistachio nuts, banana skins and citrus fruits. As risk takers they used techniques and materials they had researched in order to create colour in the ceramics works.

The next morning students hiked Mount Gibralter with their cameras, in search of a site to construct and document a collaborative ephemeral sculpture made from found materials in the bush. As communicators they worked collaboratively to solve various problems and share ideas.  

“I personally found the camp to be all around enjoyable, I enjoyed using new medium such as the welding as it was something that i have not done before. I also enjoyed the pit firing as I found it very interesting that we were able to create the various colours even though most of the ceramics broke, it was a good learning experience. I also found the ephemeral works very enjoyable as I was able to collaborate with my friends to create something i would not have been able to do on my own.” – Taj
After lunch we went to Sturt Gallery for curatorial practices and viewed the ‘Cultivate’ exhibition inspired by nature. That evening was spent watching Vik Muniz artmaking practice bring trash to life in the ‘Wasteland’ Documentary. As knowledgeable students they learnt a variety of skills and techniques that enabled them to produce work that shows in-depth knowledge of concepts, ideas and issues of local and global significance.


On Saturday students went to the Milk Factory Gallery in Bowral to view an indigenous exhibition, from the private collection of Jan Karras owner of Raglan Gallery. This wonderful selection of Aboriginal artwork included pieces from Wenton Rubuntja, Annette Pitjara, Maudie Peterson Nungarrayi, Theo Brown Tjapaltjarri, and others. The exhibition featured works from Arnhem Land and the Central Western Desert. As Principled DP students the group respected artists and cultural groups aware of identity and artistic representations.

Indigenous Exhibition.png

Jenny Fusca gave an artist talk to the students about her work in the Florianaexhibition. Her paintings are a joyful, modern expression of flowers.  Her works are bold, immersive and sensitive: capturing a fleeting moment in the life of a bloom. Our IB students acted as inquirers, asking interesting questions about Jenny’s work, fostering the love of learning about new media and techniques. Students learnt to appreciate that visual arts is expressed in many art forms for different purposes and audiences by being well-balanced.


“The art camp was really fun and a new experience for me and for our arts class. I learned about and tried new art forms and worked with medias that I hadn't experienced before, such as welding and pit-fired pottery. These medias were challenging and innovative and was a really great experience.” - Abby
Sara Colville – DP Coordinator and Visual Arts Teacher

Stage One News

Dr. Montessori felt that her greatest discovery was that children like to work as well as play. Children have a natural drive to work to develop. The child’s great task is to create an adult. Therefore, children are not content unless they have an opportunity to develop and learn.

The educator’s job is to provide the materials and environment which will aid development, and to be ready to respond when assistance is needed.
In our Stage One Classroom we held a show and tell experience focusing on each child’s family background. Lots of children brought in some very special belongings to share with the class. This was a great opportunity for children to learn about different cultures, and gain more knowledge about their own family background. During the day we also had a visit from Japanese students who conducted a small group experience with the children.

In Term 1 Stage 1 started a theme, ‘All about Me’. We learned how special and unique each one of us are.  We read lots of stories. Some were fact books and some were about different feelings we may have. Over the weeks we created graphs. We talked about how graphs give us information about things or people and they are easy to read.  We graphed our favourite colour and number of letters in our name. These graphs were meaningful to us because we learned different things about children in our classroom. Creating graphs was also a new maths skill. During our unit we made 'All about me' booklets and how to write our names, home addresses, telephone numbers and our parents’ names. We also learned about our body parts and drew self-portraits. Children shared photos of their families and we talked about where our families come from.  



Clean up Australia day is an event that is held in March of every year. This day has been created so that the whole of Australia can come together and clean up to make our country clean and sustainable. Elonera participates in this event every year with the whole school getting involved. Each class is asked to get bags and go around the school and assist in the effort to clean up. All the students and educators worked hard to gather rubbish from around the school and dispose of it correctly. The educators explained to the children the importance of the day to us as a society and explained that this is something that we get involved in every year. Today, the children participated in this event by using their imagination and creativity in making products with the recyclable materials that the children bought from home to promote sustainability. 

                                                               Mother’s Day 2018

This term we incorporated our Autumn theme into Mother’s Day. Children could observe Autumn paintings done by Artists to capture an idea for their own piece of work. A piece of canvas and a variety of materials were available to use such as; Autumn paint colours, paint brushes, cotton tips, leaves and corks. Each child’s artwork piece had its own creativity and texture. At the end of the week Stage 1 held a Mother’s Day afternoon tea celebration were families and children could view their Autumn artwork on display. At the end of the day children collected their artworks to take home as a special gift for Mother’s Day. Children took a great amount of pride and effort in creating in their Autumn artwork. 


The Kindergarten children have been attending Gymnastic lessons once a week on a Thursday. Every lesson the children are full of excitement ready to begin. The children have been learning a variety of gymnastic positions/shapes which include; Pencil, Star, Solider, Motor bike, Lunge, L - sit, Saddle, Front support, Back support, Tuck sit. These positions were incorporated into the lessons when using the gymnastic equipment. For example, Three swings on the monkey bar landing on the mat in a motor bike position. The children have also been practicing walking along the balance beam and using the trampoline.
These Gymnastic lessons have been great for the children to practice their coordination, strength development, flexibility, social skills, self-confidence, discipline, determination, performance, and overcoming fears.

Montessori Mathematics Materials Parents Session

Feedback from some of our parents who attended the Montessori Mathematics Material Parents Session:

“It was really interesting to see the progression from Nido to High School and see how hands on the teaching and learning of mathematics is the whole way through. The resources are great - the way they build on from previous knowledge and engage the child/children in mindful maths lessons is wonderful. Loved getting more of an insight into Stage 1 maths to be able to support my daughter at home too.” 

“On Wednesday I found the Montessori Maths sessions held by all stage teachers very informative and they gave me an important insight into the students learning methods on a day to day basis. It was nice to see the methodology behind the philosophy. It gave me a useful understanding so that when I need to discuss Maths with my son I have a solid reference point from a student’s perspective. Thank you to the Teachers for taking the time to show us Montessori Maths.” 

“All the different materials presented throughout the stages was very interesting. The teachers thoroughly explained how each new component is introduced. The hands-on materials really gives the child a good knowledge of how to complete the different topics that they have to cover and the repetition makes certain that it becomes concrete in their minds”. 

“Last Wednesday I attended an informative maths materials demonstration which showcased how mathematical concepts are progressively explored from Stage 1 to Stage 4. The teachers comprehensively demonstrated static and dynamic examples of addition using the small bead frame, multiplication with the checker board, division with racks and tubes, equivalent fractions with wooden skittles and solving for an unknown (algebra) with red and blue tiles. It was very interesting to see how the sensory application of concrete materials develops into the abstract. I look forward to the next information session.” 

“I really enjoyed the mathematics material session. It was an eye-opener for how complex mathematics operations can be broken down into visual clues, adding to true learning and understanding of mathematics in an age appropriate way. At some stage I felt as if a magician was handling the material showing the true results at the end, which initially, I thought cannot be achieved with these simple and well designed materials. Well done!” 

“It was very interesting and completely new to me. It was fascinating to see how the Montessori method can transform abstract concepts into concrete and hands-on materials, which are more effective for the kids to learn and more fun for them as well.” 

Nido (Long Day Care) News

This term we were inspired by the recent Montessori Conference, held in Queensland, that focused on play.  When we think of play in a traditional setting we define it as “having fun”, “being with friends” or “not working”.  In Montessori environments we turn that idea on its head and say that work is play and play is work!  While reflecting on this we have changed our morning work cycle this term and have opened the outdoor and indoor environments to the children.  We encourage the children to access all areas of the classroom and the freedom to move between the two learning environments.  Maria Montessori herself said:

Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and when the grass of the meadows is wet with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.

Maria Montessori “The Discovery of the Child”, Ballantine Books, 1972, page 71

While trailing this new approach we noticed that the children easily fall back into our old routine of working inside after morning tea, this might be in part due to the Sensitive Period of Order that starts at around the age of 2.  This is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition and a passionate love for established routines. The children are happiest when the environment is carefully ordered with a place for everything and with established ground rules that are consistent and followed.

We are really enjoying the new routine and following the interests of the children, some children might spend the morning playing in the dirt, while others are busy grating cheese and spreading hummus.  We observe the children and ensure that they have a balanced morning where they are able to follow their own interests and develop new and emerging skills.

It truly is a pleasure to spend the morning with these delightful children, where no two days are the same!

OOSH News (Out of School Hours Care)

Elonera OOSH runs each school day from 3 to 5.30pm. We have a mix of children from Stages 1, 2 and 3. 

OOSH is a welcoming and friendly community where children can relax after the school day or play with their friends. A variety of activities are available. When indoors, children can read books, do creative writing, use play dough, do origami, colour in, do art or craft activities, play board games, play with construction materials or just rest. When outdoors they have access to the playground and some natural areas: the garden, trees, sandpit, rock and pebble area and in warm weather they can play with water. They also have sandpit toys, toy trucks, cardboard, skipping ropes, balls and parachutes. Activities that are also popular are soccer, handball, cricket, tip, and hide and go seek.  

Around 4pm children have afternoon tea which consists of fruit and a snack. The children help with the preparation of the fruit each day. 

While we promote attitudes and behaviour of mutual respect, we emphasise free and self-directed play, including possibilities for open-ended play with 'loose materials' such as balls, cardboard, the 'hill', ropes, parachutes, natural objects, water etc. These can all be used for a variety of purposes and stimulate imaginative and inventive thinking. Cardboard never loses its popularity, being used for cubby making, skiing down the hill and other activities. Recently a child used skipping ropes to tie a parachute on the top of the fort as a hammock. For the whole of the afternoon he was visited by children who took turns to sit inside it, sometimes as many as four at once. A large soft fall area is available for active games involving balls, chasing, or imaginary dramatic or action games. A popular game at the moment is 'Capture the Flag' in which two teams attempt to capture an object in each other's territory. Organised by a few of the older children, it is played with great energy and enthusiasm by children of all ages. If there is a windfall of branches in the park we collect those and make cubbies. We have a couple of benches with chairs and some garden spaces where small groups may play or chat. We are always impressed by how well the children treat each other and organise themselves, needing minimal help to remind them of appropriate behaviour or to solve problems.  

Access to nature is promoted as we can see that this helps the children to feel integrated, happy and settled in themselves. They have an innate desire to interact with the natural world physically, emotionally and intellectually, displaying great curiosity about the life around them. They play with bugs, watch lizards and point out the nesting corellas or quietly resting tawny frogmouths in the trees. They understand not to injure the creatures and that everything has its place. ‘Hand washes’ have been made using lavender and other herbs in the garden. Garden rocks are organised into a variety of imaginative games. The children love mixing water with earth and making ‘utensils’, ‘food’ or other shapes and we have provided them with river stones (from Alena’s place) to grind and make ‘paint’ which decorates skin and rocks.

It is evident to us that while the children are having fun they are also working intently on a variety of developmental skills. Research has been done on the importance of play in promoting healthy child development. Kenneth R Ginsburg in his article: The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (Pediatrics: the official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2007), stated that “play (or some available free time in the case of older children and adolescents) is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth”. He added the following points:

  • “It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practising adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.
  • As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.
  • Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
  • When play is allowed to be child driven, children practise decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.
  • In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic.
  • Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.”

IB News

CAS in Focus

Olivia Folino Gallo took part in the World's Greatest Shave on 14 March 2018 for the Leukaemia Foundation. She was hoping to raise $2000 before then which will assist Australian families facing blood cancer the emotional and practical support they need. Blood cancer claims more lives than breast cancer or melanoma. And today another 35 people will be given the devastating news they have leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or another blood disorder. Olivia’s CAS experience raised over $1500 which is a remarkable achievement as $53 alone ensured someone being treated in hospital got a personal visit from a highly-trained health professional so they get the extra support they need.

Chanelle Caires spent several weeks organising a Beach Clean Up for one of her CAS experiences last Term. This event took place on Clean Up Australia Day on Friday 2nd of March at North Wollongong Beach. It was a successful afternoon with Stage 4 and 5 students collecting more than 4 woven garbage bags full of waste that would have ended up in our ocean and local swimming spots. The plastic waste collected will be recycled by Stage 4 students and recreated into plastic sculptures for their Sustainable Change Visual Arts Unit. It is wonderful to see our Year 11 students already taking on such beneficial CAS experiences and directly relating these to Global Issues on a local scale, Chanelle is to be commended on organising such a fantastic event.

"It was obvious that the students were surprised as to how much garbage was found and proud of themselves for collecting a considerable amount. It was extremely rewarding to see the students having fun whilst involved in the activity and also to see the immense amount of waste removed off our shores.

I hope that this has raised awareness for the students and will prevent future littering in our school community." - Chanelle Caires

Christy was very busy last term organising two First Aid courses through NSW TAFE for one of her CAS experiences. The first one took place at Elonera at the end of Week 10, which involved IB students and some of our teachers staying back after school from 3.15 - 7.15pm on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th April. This has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to complete certified First Aid, asthma and anaphylactic training. These skills could potentially one day save a life. I would like to thank Christy for all of her hard work in organising these events, it has been very much appreciated. The second course took place during the last week of term 1 for EMS staff.

Last term one of our Year 11 students Heather, entered the Cambridge Immerse 2018 Essay competition in Philosophy as a CAS experience. I have just been informed that Heather won this competition!! The Cambridge Immerse Global Leadership Programme is a unique one week multidisciplinary academic summer course designed by leading experts at the UK’s top universities including the University of Cambridge. Heather will be introduced to a variety of different disciplines allowing scope for discussion and debate during this leadership summer course. She will develop the leadership skills whilst forming her own opinions about the world around her.

The expert academic team at Cambridge have designed this leadership programme which imparts both specialist knowledge and theoretical frameworks, equipping participants with the skills needed to succeed in future leadership roles. The Global Leadership summer course will provide future leaders with an unparalleled insight into the global social, political, and economic issues that the modern world is faced with. Heather will learn to analyse and assess current affairs and global challenges through the lens of a variety of disciplines: modern political theory, international relations, philosophy, economics, and geography. I would like to congratulate Heather on this outstanding achievement and wish her all the very best for the upcoming Cambridge Global Leadership Programme that is set to take place from 1st - 7th July this year.

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The Young Endeavour Youth Scheme is a not for profit organisation which provides young Australians with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea. The voyages increase self awareness, develop teamwork and leadership skills and create a strong sense of community responsibility amongst members of the youth crew. The Scheme began when the magnificent sail training ship STS Young Endeavour was given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom as a Bicentennial gift back in 1988. Since then, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 12,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour. Young Endeavour undertakes around 20 voyages each year, mostly along the east and south coasts of Australia. Each voyage we embark 24 young Australians - the youth crew - and nine specially trained Royal Australian Navy crew, usually for an eleven day adventure at sea. Heather has recently found out that her application to set sail on the Young Endeavour later this year as part of her CAS has been accepted and we wish her the experience of a lifetime with this journey!!

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Morning tea with the thinkers

During Week 4 lasty Term our Year 11 Psychology class took part in a morning tea with the thinkers. Pavlov, Loftus, Ainsworth and Milgram were all in attendance. Great knowledge of the thinkers and interesting conversations were shared by all. Thank you Alex for putting on such a wonderful event for these students.

DP Visual Arts

Year 11 and 12 Visual Art students took part in a photoshoot at Belmore Basin last term during Week 6 for Visual Arts, which was designed to develop their practical skills in digital photography and allow students to establish their own contexts, conceptual development and intentions in their art-making practice. This excursion enhanced students regular classroom experience currently based on identities and relationships of human beings with their valued possessions in a global world, some of these images have been edited to produce final images for this unit.

Harmony Day in the IB

Our IB students were in for a treat on Harmony Day this year with Japanese University exchange students running afternoon workshops teaching DP students how to write their names in calligraphy and playing one of their favourite sports dodgeball. An enjoyable afternoon was had by all concluding with the whole school Harmony Day celebration in the hall where our IB students hung their harmony reflections written on ivy leaves. It was nice to see the IB mission statement in action where students promoted a better and more peaceful world living in harmony with each other.

High School News

Maria Montessori's vision of the adolescent holds that  "Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 65)

"If puberty is on the physical side a transition from an infantile to an adult state, there is also, on the psychological side, a transition from the child who has to live in a family, to the man who has to live in society . These two needs of the adolescent: for protection during the time of the difficult physical transition, and for an understanding of the society which he is about to enter to play his part as a man. (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 60)

We have 34 students in our High School from Years 7-10 and term 1 has been an incredibly full term with ample opportunity for our students to find their place in the world.

In most recent weeks, we have played host to 28 students and their teachers for Harmony Day. The students came to us from a university outside of Tokyo and the High Schoolers catered their lunch as well as took part in coordinating Harmony Day activities across the school for the afternoon. Despite the challenges this entailed, the students stepped up to prepare, provide service and the all-important clean-up of the event. Because of their exposure to these opportunities in recent years, students have become quite adept at offering this very specific type of hospitality. 

There is an element of selflessness which this requires, seen most obviously in Elizabeth Goor's retirement event last week. Again, a small team of students prepared and set-up, cooked, served as well as cleaned up after the event. Many also performed musical items as a tribute to our founding Head of School....and all immediately after attending a 3-day camp.

Camp was spent from Monday to Wednesday at Killalea Reserve, Shellharbour. Again, organised by students, all transport was by foot or public transport, with Monday afternoon finding students on the Minnamurra River kayaking. Tuesday was spent hiking from Gerringong to Kiama along the coastal track with free time on Wednesday around the campsite and river before returning home. Many thanks to Lukas, Carlos and Madi who gave up their time over the three days to accompany students and who have passed on the positive comments from the public they encountered regarding the our students.

Congratulations to all our winners of the Easter raffle, organised by a pair of Stage 4 (Yr 7 and 8) Maths students, Kayla and Asher. The Stage 4 Maths program of study, whilst involving more traditional individual work, also incorporates various aspects of project and mentoring. The students were delighted to raise over $250 as part of the latter with thanks to the Guthrie family for their donation to Wollongong Children's Ward.

Alongside and amidst all of this the intellectual work continues. An ex-student, Tomer Svirsky, now in his final year of a Mechatronics degree, offered to present to the High School group on Waves. Students were captivated and entertained for over an hour. Year 9 and 10 students investigate a number of Elective studies including Woodwork, Photography and Digital Media,  Commerce and Philosophy. We also have 2 students studying a language externally. Philosophy has seen us share thoughts on the stories of Philosophy including works by Wittgenstein, Plato, Nagel and  the dilemma of the Trolley Problem. Most recently, we are exploring the Nature of Self before embarking on an understanding of the complexities of Ethics next term and the practical implications for our notions of service to the world.

But amongst all of this is much laughter and enjoyment. It is not unusual to hear students singing and laughing during breaks, quite unselfconsciously (most of them) and we as teachers are often taken aback by their offers to help out or somehow assist. We are not deluded to consider that these children are by any means perfect, but they are excellent company, kind to each other and have a well preserved love of learning, qualities which are sure to serve them well in the future as they make and take their place in the world.

Alexandra Ioannou
High School Coordinator

Stage 3 News

This term’s focus for projects has been Botany. Children have worked hard to research their chosen plant, looking at common and botanical names, classifications, animal interactions, and historic and current use by people. This term’s format for projects is a poster with written paragraphs and an annotated diagram, which is presented by each child to the class. Research projects in Stage 3 incorporate many skills across subject areas, including library and internet research, summarising, paraphrasing and synthesising information, handwriting, drawing and oral presentation. The children have done really well with their work and are very proud of their efforts.

International Women’s Day
Across Week 6 and 7 Stage 3 has celebrated International Womens’ Day, starting with the feature shown on Behind the News (BTN) and a discussion around women’ rights through history and around the world. We also had a range of activities, including writing a letter to a woman who is inspirational to you, making a comic strip featuring a female lead character, and making a mind map about how to combat issues that are facing women around the world. Finally, children chose a woman from history to be the focus of a short biography. Children explained the accomplishments of their chosen person, how they came to find their passion and the obstacles they had to overcome, and why they are inspirational to others.
International Mother Tongue Day
In Week 4 we enjoyed celebrating Mother Tongue Day! We had a great feast with children bringing in a dish from their cultural background, which we shared as part of a big lunch celebration. We also looked at the world map and tagged all of the places in the world that we, as a class, have cultural connections to, which prompted great discussions.
Garden and fruit trees
With the start of the New Year and the start of Autumn our garden has continued to do well! Our summer crops of zucchini, corn and tomatoes are winding down, and we have sown new crops of greens, lettuce and herbs. We used our massive quantities of basil, zucchini and tomatoes to make delicious pasta sauce, with groups taking turns to harvest and prepare. We have also purchased a dozen fruit trees that we have planted in large pots on the concreted area outside of Stage 3 and the library. The children are very excited to be harvesting mulberries, mangoes, passionfruits and nectarines in coming years!

Creative Arts
This term we have a focus on Visual Arts and Music. In Art, we have made looms and are learning weaving, with the aim of creating beautiful weavings to hang in our new space. Children have been enjoying making pom poms and tassels to attach to their weavings, with some challenging themselves to make complicated pom poms in the form of fruits, flowers and even eyeballs! In Music we are practicing singing, learning about the parts of a song and having a great time.