Playgrounds and butterflies

Children enjoying the new playground with Assistant Director of Cire's Mt Evelyn children's centre, Anna Smith.

A new playground at Cire’s Mount Evelyn Children’s Service is part of an exciting Cire hat trick underway to maximise creative early years learning opportunities in the Yarra Ranges.

By mid 2021, Cire Children’s Services will boast inclusive new playgrounds at each of its three centres at Mount Evelyn, Yarra Junction and Chirnside Park.

An outdoor playspace was completed in 2019 at Yarra Junction, and Chirnside Park has recently received a grant for new equipment to be installed early this year. The Mount Evelyn playground was completed and opened just before Christmas.

Cire Children’s Services has also received funding to develop butterfly habitats at each of the three sites to enhance and further beautify the upgrades outdoor learning spaces.

The playgrounds have been funded through the Department of Education’s Building Blocks and former Inclusive Kindergartens Programs, with Mount Evelyn and Yarra Junction receiving approximately $100,000 each. Chirnside Park was allocated almost $50,000 in the most recent announcement.

In the meantime, the Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Program has awarded almost $5000 to each site for the butterfly habitat projects.

Executive Manager of Cire Children’s Services, Diletta Lanciana said the focus of the new playgrounds is inclusiveness and accessibility to greatly enhance what Cire already offer young learners.

“Play is critical at so many levels to a child’s development and learning. The more play opportunities our young learners have, the greater they progress and develop the confidence, skills and curiosity to help successfully navigate their world,” Ms Lanciana said.

“Play helps provide them with the building blocks and foundations to be the best they can be.

The children themselves have played a large part in the upgrades, having brainstormed about what they needed with a focus on creating inclusive, engaging and interactive outdoor spaces. The children had to prioritise and negotiate their needs to keep within budget.

New equipment across the sites includes sensory equipment, cubby houses, slides, outdoor musical instruments, and blackboards.

The Junior Landcare and Biodiversity project includes the development of habitats featuring native plants that attract butterflies, and the purchase of chrysalis kits so the children can witness and learn about the life cycle of a butterfly.

The kits will enable the children to follow the growth of butterflies then once fully developed, release them into the habitat. As part of the project, the children will explore which plants need to be planted in the habitat and measure their growth, and research the butterfly chrysalides to see how long they take to hatch. They will also count how many butterflies visit the habitat.

Ms Diletta said the project is a wonderfully engaging way to assist children with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will also help create an outdoor space where children and their families can spend quiet time and enjoy our natural environment.

Once the project is underway, the children will be able to proudly call themselves lepidopterologists and may even learn how to spell the tongue-twisting name of those who study and collect butterflies.

Cire Children’s Services is one of the core operations of Cire Services Inc., one of the largest not-for-profits in the Yarra Ranges and unique to the region.

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