Rinca ranca rosy ray
Welcome welcome golden day
Doors are opened wide
Children come inside
Parents collect a 'job' card, the children put their fruit in the bowl, and then wash their hands (we have a lovely song for this too!) ready to make bread when everyone else has arrived. While we wait for everyone to be ready there are some 'puzzles' of a sort (wooden stacking boxes, rings and arches, animal pieces, and whimsical toys such as spinning tops and acrobats) to play with. This is a lovely relaxed greeting time for everyone.
We all put on our aprons and stand around the table ready to make bread. We sing a song to bring us into the mood of playgroup and then our breadmaking songs as we mix, knead and pat our dough. This breadmaking time is a time for our energies to all come together, to leave the outside behind and all begin the morning in the same space. It is a nourishing, grounding, time honoured task which we give ourselves to fully.
Then it is time for inside play. Inside play unfolds around the house - the 'home corner' in the lounge room, where children nurse and feed the babies, create meals and drinks using felted balls, a variety of seeds and other natural and unformed items. A veiled and cushioned corner provides a space for children to move away and sit quietly. In summer the wood storage compartment is a cosy cubby. In another room, children can find beautiful handmade items to create their own stories and imaginative playscapes - gnomes and little dolls, wooden and felt animals, felted mats, natural blocks to name a few. The kitchen sees children lined up along the bench to help cut the fruit for our morning tea and nearby the bread table has become a table for drawing. There is also a basket for the children to clean with, so sometimes I am lucky enough to have little fingerprints wiped off the doors, or our wooden bowls polished with beeswax. Some of the children love sweeping up all the flour after bread making too. Indoor play time lasts 30-40 minutes before we clean up to the 'Dusty Gnome' song.
Outside we go singing 'Come to the circle' to bring us all together. During our outdoor circle time we sing our welcome songs and seasonal songs, before a blessing on our meal and sharing our fruit. There is also a roster for families to bring a healthy morning tea for all to share.
As children finish they move off to play outside in the garden. Paths wander through garden spaces, leading to bird feeders and tire swings. A dedicated play garden holds a sandpit bordered by logs, a seesaw made out of a fallen tree stump, a 'fire' pit used for cooking sandpit creations, a bamboo teepee which has spoons, bells and chimes hanging from it, and snow peas twining around it. The compost used around some of the plants has also sprouted some cherry tomatoes and cucumber plants, so we shall see how they grow... I also plan to leave some potting mix, containers and seeds at hand so children can plant their own. Watering cans are also a favourite. Some bricks and small log pieces and branches along with rope, rocks, pine cones and whatever else I can collect come together to create a 'loose bits' garden. A tree stump with a rough wooden slab atop could be a magical fairy home. And of course I can't forget the chickens - the children love to feed them the fruit scraps, pat them, look for their eggs.
During outside play time is also when we do any art or craft activities, which are inspired by either the season or the story we have been telling. Sometimes these are for the children, such as watercolour painting or some simple crafts. Other times they are for the parents, creating beautiful items for their children and expressing their own creativity. Often many of the children want to help with these also.
When it is time to come inside children line up as I sing "Lavender's blue dilly dilly" to receive a lavender wash cloth to wipe their face and hands. They choose a mushroom cushion in the story circle and wait for story time to begin. A lovely candle verse sets the mood for storytime - a quiet time for children to sit close to their mamas. Then we tiptoe to put our mushrooms away - there might be fairies in the flowers outside the room and we need to be very quiet.
A joyful farewell verse before collecting our warm bread, and then we all wave goodbye until next week.