By CELA on 9 Apr, 2018

The Land Cruiser Workmate Emma Fenton and her colleague Vicki take on outback roads for a month at a time is packed to the brim with the resources they need for early learning and play sessions with children scattered across a 220,000 km square western NSW region that also touches Victoria and Queensland.

The Workmate carries tables and chairs, books and toys, and the gear these practised travellers need for weeks working and living out of the vehicle.

As Emma says, “We pack everything we need to be an early learning service for the day”.

But there are limits, of course. The activities planned for a month ahead need to ‘fit’ not only the varied groups of children they will meet but also the physical space available in the back of the Land Cruiser.

Creativity gives us the element of surprise.

Planning vs surprise

On the monthly circuit the Broken Hill Outback Mobile Resource Unit travels, there’s no opportunity to duck down to Bunnings, Kmart or even a supermarket for fresh supplies. Generally speaking, if it’s not planned ahead and packed before departure, it doesn’t happen.

It’s organised and efficient, but both educators, with more than 30 years experience between them, felt they could use a boost to their creativity to liven up their sessions.

Emma’s chance to attend the CREATE workshop in Sydney at the end of March was everything she’d hoped.

“It was great because it was all about making something from nothing – or from junk items, anyway,” she said.

“The No Sew workshop was my favourite because immediately I could see how we’d use that in our program.

“We’ll ask the children to bring in an old t-shirt, and they’ll go home with a bag they’ve made from it; they’re going to love it.

“Creativity gives us the element of surprise.”

Bush kids ‘resourceful’

Emma also highlighted the workshops for music-making with discarded objects, as an instant ‘win’ with their outback sessions.

“Our bush kids are so resourceful, we see it all the time,” she said.

“The other day we pulled up at a property and at the gate the kids had built a flying fox with junk they had found: an old rope, tyre rubber, a broken bar stool.

“So in a way we needed to up our creativity to match theirs – and certainly to stretch the older children.”

The workshop was also a chance to get to a professional development session on a weekend and mingle with educators from a wide range of services and settings.  The weekend date made it much easier for Emma to attend. When most of the nearest PD offers she and Vicki see are in Dubbo, a seven hour drive away, it’s can be less disruptive to their program for one or both of them to fly to Sydney.

“CREATE gave me so many ideas,” Emma said.

“Now we can take those ideas and twist them so they suit our program.

It’s a wrap

CELA’s Marketing & Business Development Manager, Lucy Brown, shares her report of the CREATE 2018 workshops:

We held our ‘Create’ first ever event on March 24th at the Gumbramorra Hall at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville. We’re always amazed at the creativity in the sector and wanted to put on an event aimed at giving educators and directors creative inspiration through hands-on workshops designed for early learning environments. We had an overwhelming response, with the event being booked out and reaching capacity at 70 people.

The day began with Reverse Garbage leading two workshops: STEAM & Loose parts and No Sew Creations.

The STEAM (putting the A = Arts into STEM) & Loose Parts workshop gave delegates ideas on how to build a collection of reuse loose parts and materials to support children’s engagement with science, technology, engineering, arts and math’s. We also talked about sustainability and how to bring the Three Rs into your service (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) and participants broke into groups to create a number of different creations such as ball runs and creatures which inspired and tested their creativity.

The No Sew Creations workshop demonstrated a number of different ways to reuse fabrics without picking up a needle and thread such as bags made from old T-shirts and weaving using any fabric scraps and a tennis racket or the fence in your centre. Delegates created useful resources and picked up lots of ideas to take back to their services to share with colleagues and children alike.

After lunch we had two fabulous workshops from Michelle at ‘The Creative Teacher’. The Manipulative Magic workshop gave delegates the opportunity to physically manipulate open ended materials and wooden tangram pieces to create abstract animal shapes. This was done in a very intimate space where delegates could share their creations with others.

After Manipulative Magic delegates could then create their own individual prints using a relief printing method. They gained step by step knowledge from ‘The Creative Teacher’ while using their imagination to create their masterpiece.

To end the day we had 2 fabulous and uplifting workshops from ‘Drum Beats’. Delegates were shown how to turn waste into music. Delegates were asked to bring in recycled items from home and then given some fantastic and unique ideas on how to turn the everyday items into fun and exciting instruments for children. Delegates then gathered into a ‘drum circle’ and created beautiful music with their junk percussion. Drum beats also presented a ‘puppet making’ workshop which left delegates with a little companion to take back to their centres.

The day was a fantastic success and we thank everybody for participating.


“Loved it!!”

“Instructions were very clear and explicit”

“Thanks, highly recommended”

“What a wonderful day and great resources- Thank you!”

“Love the hands on learning”

“Group circle stuff was great !”

“10 out of 10”

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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