Learning experiences

Girl looking through binoculars

These suggested planned experiences and learning opportunities can encompass aspects of all five Outcomes of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) and national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). They are provided as a possible starting point for educators. You may want to adapt these to build on and extend the knowledge, skills and interests of the children and complement the communities that children and families come from as well as the local community.

For further information please refer to Be SunSmart, Play SunSmart by Anne Stonehouse. It includes suggested play experiences to help encourage children to play the SunSmart way and incorporates concepts from the VEYLDF and EYLF.

Imaginative and dramatic play

Provide props that encourage imaginative play and can incorporate SunSmart measures for children to explore.

For example provide materials that suggest a picnic in the park or a day at the beach. Try to draw on recent group or family interests when choosing a scenario for exploration. Provide a small table covered in a plain cloth (green to represent a park perhaps) or a shallow sand tray set up to suggest a beach (or place the materials in the sand pit). Arrange some play materials such as small dolls with protective clothing and hats, some wooden blocks for construction of seats, shelter or a table. Use a real pot plant for shade, a square of real shade cloth, some small pieces of fabric for picnic mats or towels and a miniature tea set. Provide one or two chairs or cushions for the children.

Group experiences

Children playing with sticks

Weather match game

Provide a basket or box containing a selection of clothes appropriate to different weather – for example, a jacket, gumboots, mittens, sun hat, rashie, empty sunscreen bottle, sunglasses, raincoat and a woollen beanie. Invite children to discuss what clothes children might wear to protect their bodies in particular types of weather. Place the basket of clothes in the middle of the group and invite two children to play the game next to the basket. One child suggests the type of weather and the other puts on the appropriate clothing in response.

Trying on hats and sunglasses

Younger children are likely to enjoy opportunities to practise putting on hats and sunglasses of various designs. Have a mirror mounted on a child-sized dressing table or on a wall.

SunSmart hopscotch

Download the instructions for SunSmart hopscotch.

Construction

Search with the children for shady places to play outdoors, for example, under verandahs, trees, shade sails, and large umbrellas. Discuss how shady places feel – some are cooler, darker, warmer or lighter. Why are they important to protect us from the sun?

Suggest making a shady cubby from a selection of the materials listed below. Compare the different kinds of shade created by the materials and discuss which might be the most effective. Ensure that there is a range of accessible construction materials such as:

  • outdoor blocks
  • short lengths of timber 1–1.5m
  • closely woven, dark-coloured fabrics (try old bedspreads or curtains from the op shop). Lace and other loosely woven fabrics let a lot of UV through so aren’t effective for shade
  • moveable A-frames
  • short climbing planks
  • large cardboard boxes
  • large sheets of cardboard or masonite up to 2m square
  • bamboo or tea tree poles
  • logs and pegs
  • bulldog clips
  • shoe laces
  • thick rubber bands or short lengths of rope for securing.

Literacy

Child drawing on ground with chalk

Literature can be simple board books, fun poems or rhymes, picture or storybooks, picture reference books, riddles or songs. It can also include posters, pictures from magazines and newspapers and digital images and text. When selecting children’s literature look for ways to promote awareness and discussion about SunSmart practices. See SunSmart’s suggested  Literature list.

Sunscreen

Bring in several different sunscreen bottles. Ask children to compare them. Talk about the symbols and text on them, including instructions on how and when sunscreen should be applied.

SunSmart information

Share a range of literature – posters and brochures – with children. Talking about the messages will not only increase their understanding but also help them to think more critically about text. Look at the various poster designs and the information in different languages.

Ask children to design a poster that communicates important messages about sun protection. It could include photos of the children to illustrate the messages.

Take pictures of children being SunSmart and helping each other with the various sun protection measures e.g. helping to apply sunscreen, picking up a hat when it has come off during play or grabbing a shirt to put over a singlet top before going outside and compile these into a SunSmart book for children to share and read together. Include these images in displays and family communication.

Singing games

A variety of singing games, for example, Punchinello, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, Here We Go Looby Loo, Did You Ever See a Lassie? can be adapted to reinforce SunSmart messages. Try being creative with the words of your favourite singing game or encourage children to come up with new lyrics. Here are a few songs you could try.

SunSmart mystery box

Download the instructions for the SunSmart mystery box.

Numeracy and science

Child playing hopscotch

Mathematical and geometric patterns and numbers are all around us. Think of the Fibonacci or ‘golden spiral’ we can see in the curve of sea shells and the geometric and number patterns in nature.

Explore the outdoor play space and the shapes of leaves, the patterns and sequencing in petals and plants, the angle of branches and the shapes and sizes of shadows at different times of the day.

Sun protection times

In sun protection the number 3 is very important. Whenever UV levels reach 3 or more, sun protection is recommended. The free SunSmart app and SunSmart widget show daily UV levels, sun protection times and weather information. The sun protection times are a forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for the time of day UV levels are forecast to reach 3 or higher. At these levels, sun protection is recommended for all skin types. In Victoria, UV levels regularly reach 3 or higher from mid-August to the end of April.

For older children, engage them in checking the daily UV levels and sun protection times. Younger children can respond to the colour of the app. Just as with traffic lights, if the circle on the app is green, we are good to go and sun protection isn’t required. If it is orange, we need to be cautious and use sun protection.

Sid Seagull: colour by numbers

Download the Sid Seagull: colour by numbers activity sheet.

SunSmart number dress-ups

Download the SunSmart number dress-ups instructions.

SunSmart hand sun

Download the SunSmart hand sun instructions.

Manipulative play

Children playing at a table

  • Provide table or floor puzzles depicting protective clothing, hats, skeletons, umbrellas, the seasons, outdoor scenarios or other images that offer opportunities for discussion about sun protection.
  • Collect a number of empty, clean sunscreen bottles that may be reused in a variety of ways. This could include adding gravel or sand to make musical shakers, matching and sorting according to size, colour or shape. Use the bottles as skittles with a tennis ball, or add a magnifying glass for detailed exploration of the label. Talk with children about the contents of the label.
  • Mount SunSmart images or their own SunSmart poster on card and laminate. Cut this into jigsaw pieces (sized according to skill of children in the group). Provide the jigsaw pieces in a basket on the floor. If children are unfamiliar with the poster, provide a copy for comparison and reference. Download the SunSmart jigsaw activity.
  • Provide a basket of SunSmart dolls’ clothes and a doll to dress and undress with perhaps a large photograph nearby to indicate the type of scenario the doll is to be dressed for – for example a park, the beach, a playground, summer, or winter.
  • Offer a felt board with felt shapes for dressing figures and creating beach or park scenes to depict SunSmart practices.
  • Use photographs cut from magazines or photographs of children in the group mounted on card to develop a set of SunSmart sequencing cards. Photographs could include a clock, putting on a shirt, putting on a hat, applying sunscreen, putting on sunglasses or a shady place to play. While each child can interpret the appropriate sequence, the key point is to reinforce the main actions that need to occur before going outdoors to play.
  • Don’t forget that simply putting on a hat and applying sunscreen requires considerable fine motor skills! Encourage children to apply it themselves always with supervision and help where needed.
  • Provide a selection of different colours and weaves of fabric for collage experiences. Encourage children to hold them up to the light before pasting to check how much sun protection they might provide.
  • Design and make SunSmart clothes to paste on a child’s own body tracing or dress a puppet or cardboard cut-out figure.
  • Invite children to stuff their own sun hats with newspaper and then paint them with cloth paints. Alternatively, children could make SunSmart hats from reusable containers such as cardboard boxes or plastic ice cream containers.
  • Make clay or dough people and have children place them in the sun for a day to observe the effect of the sun.
  • Provide sewing equipment and fabric and encourage children to sew a hat or clothing.
  • Provide an old umbrella (even just the frame) to decorate with paint and/or collage materials.
  • Invite children to use transparent collage materials such as cellophane or plastic to make creative stained glass windows or decorations. Watch how the sunlight comes through.
  • Provide reflective materials such as foil and shiny paper to encourage experimentation with, and discussion about, reflection.
  • Encourage experimentation with powder paint colour mixing to explore the range of skin pigmentation or perhaps the greens of shady trees.
  • Download the SunSmart digging/SunSmart card swap activity.

Discovery play

Child looking down a microscope

Sun

One of the best ways to help children appreciate the sun’s importance is through starting and maintaining a garden and/or growing pot plants.

Reflection

Provide a selection of reflective surfaces to explore such as a shiny tin lid, a hand mirror, a piece of foil, a cake tin or a dish of water. Add a torch or place the experience near a window and encourage children to observe how the light is reflected. Support these observations with reference to the reflection of the sun’s UV outdoors from sand, snow and ice, paved areas or water and the need for sunscreen to protect the skin from reflected sun.

Shadows

Try tracing around shadows with chalk or rope and return later in the day to note how the shadow has changed in size and shape.

Skin

Provide a magnifying glass to explore skin up close. Ask questions such as ‘What can you see?’. Use photographs of people to observe different skin tones and how skin changes with age. Ask questions such as ‘Why do we have skin?’, ‘How does it protect us?’, ‘How can the skin be damaged?’. If appropriate, extend the discussion of skin to include other animals and their body coverings.

Shade

Trees provide shade for play outdoors, so planting and caring for trees is important. Invite children to identify the shade trees in the outdoor play area and consider how much shade they provide. Try planting some future shade together!

Sunscreen

Before heading outdoors at Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten they ask children to sit in a circle, then pump sunscreen onto their hands; children put dots of sunscreen on their faces and then rub it in; turning to each other to see if it’s all rubbed in. They then play circle games for 20 minutes to give the sunscreen time to bind to the skin.

Sunscreen pumps

Small plastic pumps similar to the pumps used for larger sunscreen bottles can be used for water play. Children can explore how the pump works with water in a trough and develop the fine motor skill necessary to work the pump.