Environmental education through digital competence

Tallinn Kindergarten Sipsik is located in the centre of Tallinn in the street named after the Estonian composer Peeter Süda (translated, ”Peter Heart”). There are six groups in the kindergarten, including one for children aged up to three years old. Our peculiarity is taking part in different projects and health promoting activities – captured by our motto ”Heartily and with the heart!”

Major projects in Tallinn Kindergarten Sipsik

Since 2005 Tallinn Kindergarten Sipsik belongs to the network of Health Promoting Kindergartens. There is a special place in the kindergarten program of events for international and nationwide health days, family days and nature themed actions to support our uniqueness. Tallinn Kindergarten Sipsik appreciates environmental education. We use project teaching to implement learning and upbringing activities. In addition to that, we pay constant attention to the formation of essential digital competence that would support the effective and purposeful use of technological equipment to achieve our goals.

 

1000 m heart-shaped path around the kindergarten Sipsik.

Within the framework of Music year’s project of values ”Cultural kilometre in the footsteps of Peeter Süda” we established a kilometre long track for exploring the environment. The concept of the project was born in January 2015 while celebrating the birthday of the composer Peeter Süda.

During the event´s preparation process we wished to know more about the composer’s residence and musical creation. One of the parents of a child in our kindergarten suggested a project to examine the cultural history of the street, so, we decided to combine two projects and connect architecture, nature and music in our project of values.

The track starts at Peeter Süda’s former house that is located at the corner of Süda and Liivalaia street, then runs around the kindergarten forming a heart shape and ends with the Garden of Eden at the corner of Pärnu road and Süda street. There are five points on the track that inspire learning and task solving in the fields of nature as well as architecture and music.

In autumn, the project enlarged with nature studies. All groups at the kindergarten go exploring and mapping trees. This started from mapping the exciting historical trees in the Garden of Eden. The children enjoyed the process of discovering and photographing the trees growing on the track, they also took colourful leaves to the kindergarten to have fun with them at the autumn leaf party.

4-5 year old children on the trail of mushrooms.

In winter, the children of older groups had a chance to reflect on the life of Peeter Süda by walking in his footsteps to Kaarli Church to play the organ, to see the process of organ studies in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and to explore the personal belongings of Peeter Süda in the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum.

At the end of the music year, we produced films based on the witnessed organ studies with music performed by the children of our kindergarten and had the harsh music pieces by Peeter Süda in the background.

By spring, the music year’s project of values ”The Cultural Kilometre in the footsteps of Peeter Süda” culminated in a conference that was attended by younger and older researchers from all groups of the kindergarten. The conference saw of the presentation of our musical films, PowerPoint presentations and photo reports about exciting houses on the cultural kilometre.

The project came to an end in the summer of 2016 with the final event of celebrating family day in our kindergarten. Each child went through the cultural kilometre of Sipsik with their mother or father, while collecting stamps in a QR-code game onto their orienteering maps. The cultural kilometre had five points of interest and in each of them the kindergarten mascot Sipsik was waiting for the children with the information board and QR-code that allowed them to scan the information with a mobile phone. Both teachers and children with their parents learned about QR-codes, how to use them, and what kind of sightseeing and explorable objects we have on our Sipsik’s cultural kilometre.

Can a Beebot find the right mushroom?

Heart month’s healthy discovery trip ”BeeBots in Paljassaare” was an event where playful beebots (bee costumed teachers) invited all children and parents to join a healthy discovery trip in Paljassaare. Beebots believed that participants can thereby increase their daily physical activity, enjoy the activities in nature and associate their robotics knowledge, learnt at the kindergarten, with creating their own technology-based game in the natural environment.

Each family had their own smart device with an Endomondo app with them on the track. Before starting the track all participants joined the group ”Beebots in Paljassaare”. After that they were able to see the three kilometre long orienteering track in their smart device with four waypoints to pass. In the birdwatching tower the participants photographed beautiful landscapes and uploaded the photos to Endomondo app.

In the border guard tower the participants could try human programming. Children were programming their parents using BeeBot programming commands on three levels: first floor – beginners; second floor – advanced; third floor – experts. After completing the task, all families got a certificate of completing the first steps in the studies of programming.

After that, all participants walked to the top of the peninsula and travelled back to the starting point, where a joint picnic took place. Bees were offering honey, whole wheat bread, milk and herbal tea. Experiences, knowledge and impressions of the discovery trip were shared excitedly and everyone watched the photos uploaded to Endomondo.

Children’s discoveries in the footsteps of P. Süda’s creation.

Media month’s presentation of Estonian nature calendars in which all groups presented their calendar on the topic ”Biodiversity and nature”. These were created as part of the Eco Schools program and the project based learning. Six different calendars were created on Estonian fishes, birds, trees, mushrooms, insects and mammals.

Creative and preparatory work gave children a great opportunity to express themselves using ICT tools, to explore and discover, decide by themselves, discuss and work actively. Children, together with the teachers, presented the working process using PowerPoint slides and introduced all the original and interesting calendars resulting from their teamwork.

BeeBots have been actively used in groups of 5-7 year old children to learn about the topic ”Biodiversity and nature”.

The article was compiled by Ene Hein, director of studies. Translated from Estonian to English by Grete Kuuda, a teacher of Tallinn Kindergarten Sipsik.

Photos: Ene Hein & Loolo Treial