We welcomed our new Prep community in January 2020 with excitement and joy. We genuinely believe we have the best job in the world. When we sadly farewelled our 2019 Prep community in December we began to wonder and question how we could best welcome our 2020 community. This ignited a professional interest in researching the concept of ‘Welcome’. What do children understand about this idea? How does a feeling of welcome impact a sense of belonging and therefore an openness to deep learning.
We began to create an environment and attitude of welcome. We planned and set up provocations that would welcome both the children and their families. More importantly we spent time observing, listening and documenting our new preps whilst they engaged in the daily provocations we set up. We also began a dialogue with the children. We asked them what they thought about ‘Welcome’.
Sam: When you feel welcome someone could give you something like something they made for you.
Noah: Seeing happy things makes me feel welcome. So when I see happy things I feel like I’m welcome into those happy things.
Sebastian: It makes me feel welcome when I eat the lunch my dad has put lots of effort into packing.
Elspeth: Welcoming someone else to your house. You can welcome them by sharing toys and showing special things.
Zara: You could have flowers and put things out that delight.
Some made strong connections to the Womenjika acknowledgement or welcome to Country they had heard about at their Kindergarten or in their homes. Others made strong connections to the preparation of special foods to welcome people or the giving of gifts.
Zara: Womenjika, it means welcome in Aboriginal language.
Manny: I know a song about Womenjika.
We continued to react to the documentation, tweaking our daily provocations to further engage the childrens’ sense of play, previous understandings and engagement with new learnings through authentic connections. As we carefully listened we began to hear a thread emerge. We set up a tea party provocation and within days it had transformed into an Italian restaurant. Mamma Mia Pizzeria is born!
And with it a rich potential for authentic learning. Measurement in recipes, exploration of time in bookings, explorations with number in configuration of tables, chairs and customers, financial mathematics and exploration of money, literacy opportunities in a variety of genres including menus, recipes, advertising posters and lists for order taking, an opportunity to explore other languages through art and design (restaurant design and art works) and dance and music (restaurant entertainment) and this is just the beginning of the learning opportunities afforded by this rich authentic inquiry project. We will continue to listen to the children, document and respond with further learning provocations.
We need more customers or we’re going to lose our business! Jack
So ‘welcome’ to Mamma Mia Pizzeria, now open for learning!