Sunbury Community Health Early Years Learning & Family Day Care presentation


Applying the Foodweb Education framework for developing activities and programs for Early Years Education overlaps perfectly with the learning and development goals outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework and is supported by the increasing body of evidence  that stresses the importance of nurturing biophilia, using pattern learning and play-based models for environmental education during these years*.  Establishing a food garden, composting systems and simple spaces outdoors at as your key learning space/s for reinforcing thinking tools that encourage observation of the world around us in terms of energy flow and matter cycling sets children up to have a solid understanding of how life is sustained –  what we believe is the basis of education for sustainability.

Below are some ideas for Early years learning activities incorporating gardening, cooking and the outdoors:

Activities that engage the senses and use them to explore nature for eg. blindfolds and feeling and smelling maybe even tasting if appropriate various herbs, flowers, fruits. Find and collect something that has…, go and sit under the Poetree and read a poem hang it in the tree or  close your eyes and name 5 things you hear tell a story about them etc.






Developing observation skills and pattern recognition by using magnifying glasses to look inside flowers, leaf veins etc. Or make binoculars out of toilet rolls to look for patterns in the distance.

Create habitat for creatures eg. minibeast house and use for regular investigation, counting activities, pattern discovery. Use recycled materials to make giant mini beasts. Pretend to go into the compost and what do you hear – make instruments that make the sound of a butchy boy eg. jar with seeds inside or worm eg. blowing gurgling bubbles with a straw etc

minibeast home






Materials: use natural materials for play or learning at every opportunity eg. seeds for counting, petals, leaves, seeds for doing collage, sticks for building, making vegetable characters 

Playing/Working Outdoors:

Set up the outdoors so its useful for  a variety of activities or spontaneous play.  Label sections of the yard with numbers, or coloured/patterned flags so you can refer to the areas at any time for eg. Instruction: Go to tree number 5/purple tree/stripey tree/orchard/farm town/minibeast village and:

  • collect 10 gum nuts/flowers
  • read your book
  • construct a farm
  • find 3 red things, 2 yellow things and a round object etc
  • collect the basket for the eggs
  • run around three times
  • write a story
  • find three things that rhyme and use to make a song/poem

You can get giant picnic blankets (4 x 4m) establish expectations (all equipment must stay on the blanket, can’t leave the blanket without asking) and use for a variety of outdoor activities eg. reading, colouring, resting, cloud watching and drawing


JUST DO IT!! Get the kids involved in every stage, preparing the soil (poo sandwiches for the worms) planting the seeds (one at a time or sprinkle like salt). Plant some radish seeds they grow very fast then harvest and soak them slices in soy sauce and honey and munch.

Compost: Set up two or three rotational compost bins and have a bag of straw (or get kids to collect autumn leaves) add in food scraps to one bin with a handful of worms then every time they add food scraps sprinkle some leaves or straw over the top. When the compost bin is full move on the the second one. By the time the second one move on to third or back to the first which is ready to spread on the garden.  Put a handful of worms from the ready compost into your other bins. If you have the time and space – you can set them up where you plan to have a garden or plant a tree then when you remove the bin the compost is in the garden without having to move it!!  Worms are a constant source of interest with kids and you can make worm olympics, sing songs, do dances, measure, count.

Cooking: Engage them in every part of the process including harvesting, kids love harvesting and you can control the process eg. demonstrate appropriate harvest technique then ask them to collect 3 lettuce leaves or two tomatoes and put in the basket. Cooking requires you to be organised and the children to be patient which they are because the rewards are so great. Get them to count, name colours, vegetables, talk about the energy source, find patterns on vegetables, any health benefits while you are preparing.

Activity management for gardening and cooking:

  • Train appropriate use, establish and enforce behavioural expectations outdoors /in kitchen with consequences of non-participation eg. tool licences
  • Move through the stages of activity (for eg. planting seedlings, cooking omelette) you complete one stage at a time and do not progress until everybody has completed it (eg. dug the hole, mixed the egg 10 times with everybody counting)
  • Encourage responsible risks in using equipment and trying foods. Acknowledge achievements.

Again, here is the link to the powerpoint presentation from Saturday July 19, 2014

Please feel free to contact Megan for any further information






Ecoliteracy – Fritjov Capra

Toward a model for early childhood environmental education: foregrounding, developing, and connecting knowledge through play-based learning

The serious work of learning and sustainability in the early years p.12




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