Tag Archives: Kingswood Park

Farewell Orana Playgroup


Today was the last session of Orana Playgroup.

Closing a playgroup is kind of like killing a sacred cow, but what can you do when families in the area just won’t come along?

It’s been fun. A lot of fun.

When I started in July 2008, I had just one family coming to playgroup. Slowly it built up. Over the years the numbers have fluctuated. At its peak we had fifty people coming. The onsite preschool used to thank me for having such a structured playgroup where children did art and craft, sat to hear a story, and did songs and movement. They said the playgroup children had already formed lovely friendships and were in a better position to take advantage of the learning activities at preschool. Playgroup is important in the lives of children.

I have so many memories of kids being kids – creative, funny, clever, and completely awesome. This blog has recorded just a few of those magic moments.

One family gave me a card today. Three of their four children have grown up with Orana Playgroup. The mum said that they had a “remember when” session for playgroup at home.

They put some of their memories on the card…

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Today we remembered certain children and parents who have come to playgroup over the years and we sang songs for them.

The last few weeks Shona (3) has wanted us to sing the train song, and so we did. Today she lined up the chairs and wanted us all to sit on the train, and so we did. She even wore the train hat and found a disc that she could use as a steering wheel.


We also sang The Wheels on the Bus.

The last few weeks Ruby (2) has wanted us to sing a funny monster song. But we don’t know any funny monster songs. This week I wondered whether we could adapt a song we already know, and thought Dingle Dangle Scarecrow might do. But one of the mums, Liz, suggested we adapt Down in the Jungle.

It was GREAT! Liz and I had such fun with it. Ruby looked at us like we were a bit crazy, but she did her funny monster dance after the song, and all was well.

I like the monster version much better, and couldn’t help thinking of the book “Where the Wild Things Are” as we were singing.

Here it is with just me singing it. The words are below.

Click here to play: Funny Monster song for Ruby

Down in the valley where nobody goes
There’s a big funny monster washing his clothes
With a scrubba-dubba here and a scruuba-dubba there
That’s the way he washes his clothes
With an i-tie growl growl growl
With an i-tie growl growl growl
With an i-tie growl growl growl
That’s the way he washes his clothes
Down in the jungle where nobody sees
There’s a huge hairy monster scratching his fleas
With a scratch scratch here and a scratch scratch there
That’s the way he scratches his fleas.
Down in the jungle where nobody hears
There’s a young funny monster cleaning her ears
With a flippety flap here and a flippety flap there
That’s the way she cleans her ears
Down in the jungle when nobody’s there
There’s a big funny monster combing his hair
With a comb comb here and a comb comb there
That’s the way he’s combing his hair
Down in the jungle it made me turn pale
I saw a slinky funny monster wiggling his tail
With a wiggle wiggle here and a wiggle wiggle there
That’s the way he was wiggling his tail
Down in the jungle when the stars are bright
I saw the funny monsters dancing all night
With a boogie woogie here and a boogie woogie there
That’s the way they’re dancing all night.


So much fun on our last day of playgroup.

Young fellas Aston (1) and Jason (17 months) have got used to singing the songs, and participating in group time. Jason is always on the go, but it has only taken him a few months to get used to circle time and participate. It took a while for him to get used to music in the raw, just human voices, with no accompaniment, rather than recorded music, but every week he has increased his focus and participated more. Sometimes it takes a while for little kids to get used to Circle Time. We just let them regulate how much they want to participate and eventually they get it and they love it. I remember one little girl who took about 18 months to fully get involved in Circle Time. It’s all OK!

Liam, Jason’s dad, discovered that the instrument we have been calling a ‘handbag‘ is actually called an ‘agogo’. So we sang “I am a fine musician” with the correct name, and the instrument felt much better about itself.

musical instrument

One song that I wanted to sing at the end of playgroup was I Have Made a Pretty Nest but I completely forgot. The children have loved this song, so here it is one last time…

Click here to play: I have made a pretty nest

Goodbye Orana Playgroup.

This now ends five-and-three-quarter years of my involvement in Kingswood Park, and I have truly loved every minute of it.

Until we meet again.


Narelle Smith ♥


Book – Green Eggs and Ham


Yesterday (2nd March) was Dr Seuss’ birthday.

He was a genius!

He put into his books what we now know contributes to children’s building blocks for learning how to read – vocabulary (including ‘rare’ words), rhyming, concepts such as near and far etc, and making up silly words and having fun with language.

Research shows that the more we talk, sing, and read with our children, the better their outcomes in all areas of their development (Hart & Risley being the most well known). Studies have shown that children who grow up in a language-rich environment have grown up to have more satisfying lives than those children who don’t. And don’t be afraid to use words that your children don’t know. Exposure to big words and ‘rare’ words increases their vocabulary which is great for developing their reading, speech, and language skills.

This week we read Green Eggs and Ham.

green eggs and ham

Do you like them? Have you tried them?

Here is an interesting fact about the book…

Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel (Dr Seuss) started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham —which uses exactly 50 words.

The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/28843/10-stories-behind-dr-seuss-stories

So, Green Eggs and Ham isn’t all that great for extending children’s vocabulary, but it has lots of concepts, it’s really good fun, and it reinforces what parents say to children at the dinner table “how do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?”.

I mentioned to some of the parents that I love the very short story (more like a poem) titled ‘Too Many Daves’ by Dr Seuss, and they said they hadn’t heard it. So I’ll read it next week. It’s about a Mum who names all 23 of her children ‘Dave’.

Narelle Smith


Song – Tight Rope Walking


This week…

We did some tight rope walking…

Click here for the song – Tight Rope Walking

This song is from a Channel 10 children’s programme. The show is called something like “Wubble Woo” – I can’t look it up at the moment because the Winter Olympics is on the TV instead.


Book – The big ball of string


the big ball of string

The Big Ball of String” by Ross Mueller, illustrated by Craig Smith (of Wonkey Donkey fame).

This book had some icons of years past in it like the “milk bar” and “post box”. Remember those? I told the children about how you used to be able to get an ice cold milk shake in a big metal cup at the milk bar. There aren’t any post boxes in Kingswood Park.

The boy in the story isn’t allowed to play ball in the house so he finds a big ball of string to kick around instead. Such a measured and joyful story. I especially liked the imagery of the magpies warbling at the park.

When we read The Big Ball of String the following week, the children were able to chime in with “And he kicked it, and he kicked it, and he kick, kick, kicked it”. Before I even started the story the children were keen to tell me what they remembered from the week before.

As promised, I brought in some string, and the children taught us the many ways they can be amused by string. We had wool at playgroup but no string, and string has a different texture. The children made balls of string, and nests, but there was no string art.

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Narelle Smith

2013 – Term 1



Welcome back to Orana Playgroup!

It was good to be back amongst the families and children in Kingswood Park. Napier will be working in big school this year, so Kerry (Napier’s wife) will be assisting with playgroup this year. We also have Anj, a student placement for the first two terms of the year. And Angela from the Community Centre up the road will drop in most mornings.

The kids were so excited to have themselves measured on our height chart, to see if they had grown during the school holidays. Some children had grown 1 centimetre.

The kids haven’t lost any of their creativity during the long break…

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Lucy made a spaceship. It had stars on the top, and steps to get to the top.


And this is Ruby’s (1 year old) drawing.




Artist unknown


Lara (20 months)



Our baby Ruby turned 1 year old, and her Mum made a magnificent cake to share with the adults, and cupcakes for the children. So yum!

Ruby is so close to walking. I told her that she’s not allowed to take her first steps at playgroup, because she should take her first steps at home with both of her parents watching!


Welcome to David and his family. David’s aunty went to Kindergarten this year, and used to come to playgroup sometimes.

This is David’s artwork …


This is Boo’s dad. Boo used pipe cleaners to make dad’s curly hair, and cotton balls for his eyes.







We were inundated with new families with 1 year-olds this term.

This is good! Because if they all keep coming to playgroup, we get to see them grow up! I’m now seeing another generation of kids coming to playgroup – one young mum used to bring her younger brothers and sisters to playgroup and now she is bringing her own child. So good to see you all.

Please remember to slip on your hat and slop on some suncreen before you come to playgroup. Or is that slap on your hat and slip on your sunscreen? NO – we don’t want to slip on sunscreen. Anyway, if you forget, we have some sunscreen at playgroup, and some spare hats. But if you are fussy about wearing the latest trend in hat fashion then bring your own.


Tayla loves to do the washing up. Thanks Tayla!



During Circle Time we sang a song about spoons, and we had a go at making noise with plastic spoons. Some kids came up with different ways to do this. Here’s the words to the song…

Spoons like to have some fun.
They spend their lives just shovelling custard
Down into someone’s gob
That’s what they do all day.
But in the night
They just forget about those guzzling guts
And jump out the kitchen drawer 
and off they go and play.
But night time’s a magic time
When spoons get all their wishes
They go to foodless parties
And run away with dishes
Cause, spoons like to have some fun
Forget about those guzzling guts
And jump out the kitchen drawer
And off they go to play.


At the end of Circle Time, Lucy led us into a special Ring a Rosie dance that she had choreographed. Lucy loves to dance.

I ran into Monisha’s mum at the shops. Monisha is very happy to be going to kindergarten now, she fits right in, as we knew she would. She does miss playgroup though! We miss Monisha and all of our kids who went off to Kindergarten and preschool this year.

I’ve only got two kids now who remind me what’s the next thing to do at playgroup and how to do it, and they’ll be heading off to school next year. We’d better train those one-year olds quick as a wink! Or is it slowly, slowly?

Another new family came along. Keira is one year old and came along with her grandparents. She was very calm and confident, and she looked like she’s been coming to playgroup all her life. Welcome Keira.


Artist unknown, I suspect it is Ruby.


I could look at art like this all day. Don’t you just love these first drawings of people?

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This is the house that Boo made. Complete with lattice windows.


Keira’s first painting at playgroup. Not her last I’m sure.


Artist unknown


Artist unknown


I was away for two weeks doing Circle of Security training. Many thanks to Anj and Cathy for running playgroup whilst I was away.


Shona, 2 years old, doing the washing up.


The kids love this bike.


Another new family to playgroup. This is Roya’s artwork.


Shona showing off her artwork.



Lilly’s grandma dropped in to give us some beautiful toys, some bead frames, a wooden xylophone, and some puzzles. Lilly is in Year One. Thank you Lilly’s grandma!



Ruby’s mum made a little book and Ruby decorated the front cover.


And Ruby’s mum showed Ruby how to draw a bunny, and added pink felt ears.


One of the mum’s enjoyed doing some Aboriginal designs.

Lots of Easter bags were made…


Classically understated, very elegant.


One with bling.


Reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Starry Starry Night”.



Shona proudly showing us her “scribble”.



Tayla concentrating very hard on her artwork.


Keira and Tayla


Keira looking to Tayla for inspiration.


Keira is only 1 and she loves to paint.

Some dads and grandads visiting us at playgroup lately. It’s funny, we had Napier with us all year last year, and not a single dad or grandad visited. Napier has moved on to “big school” this year as the Aboriginal Education Officer.

Our preschoolers are forming strong friendships with each other. They enjoy giving each other hugs and showing us what caring friends they are. I asked Anj (our student placement for two terms) “how shiny are these kids?” and she agreed that they are dazzling.

At Circle Time, we enjoyed revisiting some old songs that we haven’t sung for a while, and exploring new ones. One of our old favourites is “I have made a pretty nest” where the children pretend to be little birdies…

I have made a pretty nest
Look inside, look inside
Hungry birdies with their beaks
Open wide, open wide.
See my little birdies grow
Day by day, day by day
Until  they spread their little wings
And then they fly away.

Shona asked “again please?” and so we did.

Lucy wanted to do musical statues at the end of Circle Time. As we don’t have any taped music at our playgroup (I believe in the power of our own voices!) Lucy sang Twinkle Star for us in the sweetest voice. And then Lara (nearly 2) played some music for us on the xylophone that Lilly’s grandma gave us.


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Anj (our student placement for two terms) had fun on the bikes.


The easels are always popular.


At Circle Time we read the Wonky Donkey again. Just because we love it so. Even though all of the children have the Wonkey Donkey book at home, and the CD, and some of them have the plush toy, and one Mum said she got a Wonky Donkey book for each of her children, it’s so much fun when we share it at playgroup. Yee Haw!

We now break for three weeks due to the school holidays. We’ll return on Monday the 6th of May. Have a great school holiday break!


Book – Peepo



Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Such a beautiful story with so many layers to enjoy and appreciate.

Peepo page

I love how the book depicts family life as it can be – messy and busy. I love how it views the simple things with such playfulness and affection.

Many of the children at playgroup have this book at home, but one never tires of such a joyful story.

Narelle Smith

2012 – Term 2



“Warami” is a welcome greeting in the Dharug language. Nice isn’t it?

Our baby is now 12 weeks old and sleeping through the night. She’s looking more like her sister every day. She has started joining in with Circle Time and was full of smiles. So cute, with rosy cheeks. Her mop of black hair now has brown highlights. It won’t be long and she’ll be competing with our 18 month-old boy (whom we have nicknamed Speedy) for space.

Speedy is as speedy as ever, and experimenting with everything. “Speedy” is his first name and “Curious” is his middle name. If he isn’t a scientist, engineer, or a mechanic when he grows up his talents will be wasted. He had a good go at painting our windows today – yes, he climbs too.

Our 18-month-old girl is very sociable and explores in a much more measured fashion. Our nearly four-year-olds are getting very confident. Last playgroup session one of them brought something for “show and tell” at circle time. We’ve never done that before and it was lovely.

We read the story “Wacky Wednesday” by Dr Seuss which is on the shelf of our trust library (families take books home to read and bring them back). This book is a firm favourite at playgroup. One of our 4 year-olds giggled all the way through. The other kids got excited about noticing all of the things that were wacky in the illustrations.

During Circle Time we talked about Autumn and what is happening to the leaves on the trees. It might have been ten degrees (celsius) and grey outside, but it was toasty warm in the Orana Room.

I had a nice time collecting leaves with my children, just walking and talking and collecting leaves for the  Playgroup craft. And so at Playgroup we had a lovely morning with our Autumnal theme. Lots of Autumn leaf collage, and leaf rubbings.

And then the children progressed to doing Autumn paintings at the easels, and discovered that they can mix colours to get other colours.

Quotes of the Day

– from a very confident 4 year-old, who has been coming to Orana Playgroup for about 3 years: “Narelle, I can smell the buns from outside. They smell yum! I lift my nose up to sniff them.”

– from a 3 year-old, who was proudly showing off his leaf collage: “It’s cool, yeah!”

I just love our seasonal song this Circle Time “Did you see the wind today”. One Mum sang another song for us…

Like a leaf or a feather
In the windy, windy weather
We whirl around
And twirl around
And all fall down together

The tune to this song can be found at this link http://play.kindermusik.com/en/tracks/3845-like-a-leaf-or-a-feather/.

We had a discussion about the shortest day of the year.  There are lots of good videos explaining the Winter solstice on YouTube. Kids are interested in that sort of stuff.

I normally expect a small number of people after Mothers Day as it can be a big day for some folks and they take a breather on Monday. But the sun was shining.


Nishika made some lovely gift bags for her Mum for Mothers Day, and she was so proud of them she brought them in to show everyone at playgroup.

The children always rise to the challenge of free-range craft. Paper plates are a favourite as a base for craft. Very few children went outside to play despite the Autumn sunshine, they were too interested in what they were doing at the craft table. Boys, girls, very young children, preschoolers, talking with and being with their parents, helping each other, and taking pride in what they are doing. It doesn’t get any better than this.

A good website for paper plate craft is at http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/paperplatesartscraftstideaskidsprojects.html.

The early bird caught the worm!

At morning tea we had a discussion about unusual sandwiches. One girl at playgroup has ham, cheese, and vegemite sandwiches for her lunch – altogether that is. There were tales of ham, jam, and cucumber sandwiches, cold potato and sultana sandwiches, and cold potato and vegemite sandwiches. What’s the quirkiest sandwich you’ve ever heard of?

At Circle Time, none of the children or parents had heard of the song Three Little Fishes. They thought it was a figment of my imagination. Well, I didn’t know that the Andrews Sisters sang it, so enjoy…


The children sat so quietly at storytime for the story Mr Pusskins. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a quiet story time.

The children have been having a great time making up moves for the song “one finger one thumb keep moving”. One day we also had to do one ear, two eyes, one nod of the head, and a butterfly flap.

We made Sun Bread for morning tea. It was a little more effort to make the Sun Bread dough but everyone agreed that it was worth it. Yellow fluffy buns that smelt scrumptious and tasted just as good.

The original recipe is at  http://www.elisakleven.com/recipe.html. I had a bit of trouble with the recipe, so I made an Australian version of Sun Bread. The original recipe calls for 3 eggs per 2 cups of flour. As I put 10 cups of flour into the dough for playgroup, that would have been 15 eggs which would have been much too much. I use jumbo sized free-range eggs. The American recipe also said to use 2 packages of active dry yeast per 2 cups of flour, which would have been 10 sachets of yeast and once again too much.

Here are the ingredients for 10 cups of flour…

10 cups plain flour
300g unsalted butter
9 jumbo sized free range eggs
half a cup of milk
5 sachets of dried yeast (7g per sachet)
about half a cup of raw sugar – I never measure it

The yeast didn’t rise as well in the milk. I usually use water. I was really worried about it not getting so foamy, but I needn’t have, it was fine. After kneading it for 10 minutes the dough was soft and buttery, or as the book says “glossy, springy, smooth to hold”.

I won’t be able to make sun bread dough every week for playgroup. The cost of eggs and butter will blow the budget, but it was a nice activity to tie in with the story Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven. The children enjoyed hearing the story again, and they did some sun crafts. Elisa Kleven also wrote the story The Puddle Pail which we had so much fun with last term.

We had slinky apples for morning tea too. Napier is only too happy to use the slinky machine. One of our families has a slinky machine at home and they have a slinky song which they got from the Ace Ventura movie…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFI2Nzu5zJU.  What would we do without YouTube? It was a jolly time.

We also had a vigorous discussion about footy. What type? In these parts there is only one type – rugby league football. And not everyone goes for the local team either (Panthers).

So, we have come to the end of Term 2.  Have a happy and healthy school holidays. Maybe you could try cooking up some Sun Bread? It will make the sun come out.

Playgroup will return on the 23rd July.

Yanu (goodbye)