Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Edition 31 – August September October


Creative Play

By Mon Andrews

The Early Learning Centre at Coonara, now empty of children, takes a slow breath and settles in to rest. The ‘quiet space’ draped in white netting, holds small arm chairs in which soft toys relax. The book shelf within arms-reach holds the morning stories to be read in the comfort of this sacred little space. Long-fingered branches hover overhead with photos of all the children dangling like leaves, moving in gentle air currents. Nearby, small beds hold teddies of various shapes and sizes, tucked in with blankets, they lie sleeping. A kitchen for little people takes up a corner, with cupboards, a stove and sink, and some bench space upon which to create an imaginative feast.

Miniature pots and pans and wooden kitchen equipment lie clean and waiting for activity. Other shelves hold the wooden shapes of building blocks with ramps and bridges of a different sizes. Wooden railway lines unclipped from each other fill a container with carriages and engines, and the bits to make a railway landscape are all tidily packed away. Small tables and chairs stand dotted around the large room, wait for the next piece of creative work. The current feature display is draped with blue cloth, an image of ocean holding wooden boats with sails, a lighthouse and floating wooden sea creatures.

Another table with hair-styling mannequins, is adorned with brushes, a hairdryer and pretend products to encourage a creative expression. The puzzles are all packed up, the knitted animals tidied, and the dress-up box stands quiet in a corner. The fairy grove with knitted mushrooms catches the afternoon sun and branches hanging overhead are adorned with autumn leaves, hand-made birds and butterflies. A trolley of artwork waits for distribution and shelves of paper and craft material lie resting for the next adventure. The bustle of creative activity, squeals of joyous children and the sounds of play have left this space for another day.

The energy settles within view of the storage room, bursting with colourful ideas. But for now, it breathes quietly through the rays of winter’s sun. The spacious windows and glass doors shows the cool of day settling on the playground. Shadows from the shade trees are cast across the tan-bark obstacle course, leading to a sun-lit path winding through the garden. Following the pebbled walkway to the children’s cubby-house, an outdoor kitchen stands inactive in the strands of light. The sandpit nestled to the right, surrounded by small shrubs, creates a sheltered pocket among the garden plants.

Shallow steps lead to a small yellow slide, bright amid the pebbly pathway. A child-size racing track, with dotted lines down the road invites the raucous sounds of car engines going fast, and a painted red wooden bed is home to a diverse range of succulents rambling across and around its base. Wooden benches invite conversation, or contemplation, and an odd collection of pots and pans hanging from the iron fence calls for energetic sound. Through the bars from which they hang, one can see the garden spilling out beyond. The chickens roam and scratch beside the playground, chatting in the quiet of winter’s afternoon.

About The Foothills

The Foothills magazine is truly appreciated by the local community. It covers business, community and tourisms news, events, local success stories and more. The site features electronic newsletters, feature stories, recipes, photographs and news, all from the Upper Ferntree Gully, Upwey and Tecoma communities.

From the Editor

Welcome to the first of the digital editions of The Foothills community news. Thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers that has put this edition together. Many are long term volunteers who you will have followed over several years and others are new writers inspired by the opportunities of the new digital edition.

We are keen to grow the Foothills with your contributions. If you have a club, a school or an interest that you’d like to tell us about each quarter then please contact me so we can arrange for your own column. We also welcome photos and quick news stories that we can use to update the Foothills between editions. Send those contributions and messages to thefoothills@coonarahouse.org.au.

Thanks and happy reading.


The Foothills Editor