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Toy Story Wenona-style

Forget Woody and Buzz Lightyear! Kindergarten have been tackling all the big ideas when it comes to toys. History, form, function, sustainability and why toys are still being segregated along gender lines!

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This term, our Kindergarten students have been immersed in the world of toys as part of their latest Unit of Inquiry ‘How the World Works’. Together, they’ve explored the central idea: ‘Toys allow us to explore and understand the world’. The unit has allowed them to discover lots of scientific outcomes related to forces like push and pull, but it has also provided Kindergarten with the opportunity to explore broader concepts and ideas about the world: such as gender, equity and sustainability.

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To kickstart their thinking and to pique their curiosity, Kindergarten went on a learning walk to the Senior School led by Director of STEM, Dr Thompson. Their mission was to look for materials that could be used to make toys. They were excited to find plastic at the 3D printer and to see the Senior School students making wooden planes. And best of all, they saw STEM students making actual robots in the STEM lab. They were fascinated to watch Year 9 assembling robotic arms. It made them reflect that robotics could somehow be connected to how some of the more modern, electronic toys are designed.

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Kindergarten then had a toy incursion in the piazza, which covered a lot of their learning outcomes and helped them to learn a little more about the history of toys.

The piazza was divided up into four different toy worlds. There was Imagination World, with Mr and Mrs Potato Head, trolls, finger puppets and hand puppets like Punch and Judy. The students discovered that teddy bears used to be made out of real fur! It made them reflect that ‘in the olden days’ when their mums were babies, there were no mobile phones and no seatbelts!

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There was Out and About World, complete with toys to throw, push, skip, push and pull. It had everyone practising their skipping drills – including some of the teachers - outside and letting off lots of energy.

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Then there was Skill Zone: dominoes, string games, memory games, Rubix cubes, spinning tops, magnetic mazes and a crocodile with a very sore tooth! Kindergarten were fascinated to learn that hula hoops and spinning tops were used by children in Ancient Egypt. It led them to research more toys from Ancient Egypt and think about what materials they may have been made out of and why.

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Finally, there was Construction Land. Think Lego, Laser Pegs and building blocks. Sophia had great fun spelling out ‘Miss Bouterakos’ in building blocks!

Kindergarten then read stories about toys from the past before interviewing their parents to find out what toys they played with and how they were similar or different to their own toys. Tabitha and Sophia even brought in their parents’ toys from when they were young and demonstrated the games/activities that their mums and dads used to play with when they were children.

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As they immersed themselves in the research of toys, the girls identified that a lot of pink was used to market toys to girls. It made them reflect on why toy shops set up their toy displays in certain ways. They shared their thoughts about why they thought this to be the case and then they read a book about the past, which had a ‘silly rule’ about girls and boys only being allowed to play with certain toys.

Let toys be toys, said Kindergarten! Children want to embrace all kinds of toys, colours and skill sets. It is absurd to think that pink and rainbows and hearts and dolls are only for girls! Kindergarten then filmed a video of themselves enthusiastically communicating their own point of view about this and explaining why they thought girls should be able to play with a range of toys without feeling like it was wrong. They also wrote letters to Moose Toys, who have promised to respond to Kindergarten via email or create a video that answers their questions, so watch this space!

As they found out more about toys, Kindergarten thought about them from a global perspective. They discovered a photographer who has created a series called ‘Toys Stories’, featuring photos of children playing with toys all around the world. It made them reflect on what these images represented and how they told a story about that individual child. With the help of their families, the students then created their own picture inspired by the photographer, which they put on display for all of Woodstock to see.

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Kindergarten then investigated forces such as push and pull and put them to the test by making paper planes and pom-pom poppers. They identified toys that use the push and pull forces and considered how that makes them work. Students then designed their own games and toys to play with, using limited materials. It made them reflect on how part of what makes a toy ‘good’ is being able to be principled and follow the rules, so that everyone can join in fairly. They also shared how using their imagination helps to make playing with toys more fun.

Great work Miss Bouterakos! And to infinity and beyond Kindergarten!