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The Inside Out Environment.

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

By Georgina Zadelj, Country Kids Childcare 29 Aug 2015

I am a Daycare Educator operating a service called Country Kids Childcare and we live in one of the most beautiful places in North Queensland, the Cassowary Coast region situated about one hour South of Cairns.

And our journey started like this: Last year we received information about Nature Play QLD and their program sounded exactly like what we needed; at Country Kids we love missions, exploring, investigating and solving things, especially when it provides an educational experience that makes a difference. We seemed to share the same ethos and mission in lif

Our annual Sports Day was coming up, the previous year something had struck a chord with me: I had started to notice a decline in active participation in our families. So many of the parents were distracted with technology, whether it was social media or work, instead of connecting with their children participating, the activities that were going on and even the environment around them. 

So that year I made the decision to make the Sports Day a technology free event, with the exception of taking photos or video. And it worked. More families were engaged and cheering on their children, and their participation in the sports was their sole focus. It was a great outcome.

We made that Sports Day our first mission and each child received a Nature Play Passport with a special sports award in the front. I wanted to encourage the families to take home their passports and challenge themselves to complete more missions. I also wanted to share them with the school-aged children who came in on the holidays and engage more missions directly from Country Kids.

We've loved creating our own missions, and some of them have included having a sensory nature hunt; hula-hooping workshops; slip and slides; obstacle courses in the yard; as well as enjoying stories, mealtimes and other everyday experiences outside. 

This year I really wanted to have a holistic approach to my programming, strengthening on my beliefs on forming sustainable relationships as a way to inclusive practice. So part of this was to incorporate health and fitness into the experiences offered. Essentially: healthy minds and healthy bodies encourage healthy relationships. So we started Yoga through role-play, music, meditation and took it outside incorporating the natural surroundings into our storytelling and movements.

We also purchased pedometers and began taking walks down along our path that overlooks the National Park Eubenangee Swamp. While we are out we partake in numerous activities such as practicing road safety; stranger danger; number recognition; risk taking; collecting nature; connect with the community and so much more. And the best part is that it’s all outside and so beautiful.

When we first began, the children would ask to go back after a short distance but now their stamina has increased and they want to run up the hills and are excited about going all the way to the end. They roll down the hills, climb trees along the way, play follow the leader, pick up rubbish – the list is endless and the difference in them is amazing. Children also began asking to take home their pedometers and would excitingly show me the next day how many steps they had achieved.

One day a parent shared with me that her workplace had joined the 10,000 Steps Challenge and mentioned that because of the nature of her job (sitting at a desk) and the rain on some days, it was definitely becoming a challenge to reach her goal. I agreed that the rainy days do make it difficult and made a remark on how we should just start our own Action Research Project – and that’s all it took. I have since purchased 20 more pedometers and had another 30 kindly donated by a community organisation.

Starting in October we will be looking at “How Does The Environment Affect Activity in Families”. We are hoping to capture moments on video as well as having a blog that families can connect with. We want to be able to share their goals and dreams for a healthier lifestyle, one that encourages us not only to be more active but also to connect with our environment and use it to our best advantage.

Some of the challenges that we anticipate are firstly weather. If you are familiar with our area you would know that it gets quite a lot of rainfall; then when the sun is out there is a policy that states no direct sunlight during the hours of 10.00am to 3.00pm – which essentially are the core hours that a lot of children spend in care or for leisure. Another challenge we see will be the time and opportunity for families to increase their connection with nature. This could be due to work commitments or already established habits with technology use.

The area they live in could also impact on their activity, for example, they could be rural or town dwellers; live in a unit or house or even have shared arrangements. All these factors will determine each participant’s level of engagement.

So in order to prepare families, a “Screen Time versus Green Time” activity will be sent home as well as the “Things To Do” activity sheets. My aim is to give these children and their families the best opportunity to discover the world around them and hear the message Earth is sending us.

We are one planet; one community so it’s up to us to keep ourselves and our environment resilient into the future.

Georgina is a family Daycare educator operating a service called Country Kids Childcare. She lives in one of the most beautiful places in North Queensland, the Cassowary Coast region situated about one hour South of Cairns.


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