Home > blog > 'Soundings' with Quirindi Preschool Kindergarten

'Soundings' with Quirindi Preschool Kindergarten

Posted by Shona on September 22, 2016



sound-drawings by preschool children ages 3-5    

MAY 22- 25 IMMERSIVE  2016





made possible with the assistance of CASP ( ARTS NORTHWEST ) and FARMING FOR KIDS ( QUIRINDI COMMUNITY )


So for our 2016 adventure.....


Whilst we were making ephemeral art in the bush and preschool in 2015 the children naturally discovered a lot of sounds and sound creation. The Rock Xylophone and Bone Gamelan were two 'instruments' which sparked the idea to add SOUND as another material  or 'loose part' to play with in 2016.


IMG_5684.jpg     IMG_5269.jpg 




Danielle Perry was invited into the mix as she was already engaging with the preschool doing drumming workshops.




The idea organically arose to create a soundscape this year as the core of our experimentation with visual and

performance art/dance to percolate up as the children gravitate to one thing or another exploring and broadening

their sensory range and abilities. 


We spent 2 days outdoorsin the bush listening to and making sounds with natural and found materials...


utilizing the 'loose parts' we found on the bush property - this old boiler proved a big hit!


 took the drums out too and played there noting the change in the way the sound carried in the open.



We discovered and understood the difference between sound and music (and noise!).

It was Margaret Brooks who first drew my attention to this difference and it was gradually realised as we meandered

through alternative ways of sound and music making and listening .


 We also did some listening exercises  - becoming aware of our surroundings through sounds.


There wasn't alot going on audiologically at the preschool apart from the fan, distant traffic and train - not

enough to stay still for long ..

but in the bush you can listen in here : STE-008-music.mp3

The 3rd day we were rained in.

With the philosophy of utilizing any environment as an exploratory space for learning we set about finding different

sounds within the preschool.


IMG_0203.jpg IMG_0211.jpg

We also took this time to remember and render visual imagery of the different sounds we had heard in the bush.


IMG_8430.jpg  2-IMG_8441.jpg

The correlation between shape and sound is intriguing here as child-made marks resemble textures, colours and shapes

at our feet in the bush. Could this relate to the ideas within cymatics that forms and sound vibrations inform each

other - a mirroring? 

IMG_0251.jpg IMG_0193.jpg

We noticed it was much easier to draw the sound if you made the sound at the same time.

Unfortunately our recording skills were elementary and I don't have good recordings of these moments.


this has prompted and led us to work with a accomplished professional sound artist Madelynne Cornish next year

which will be incredible, adding yet more depth and scope to this sound journey with the children and wider

community. We don’t know the exact outcomes but I know it will be FUN, challenging and rewarding for everyone involved.

My personal hope is that a live sound performance with the children, their visual interpretations and recordings

will come to life in different locations within the Quirindi community - such as the primary and high schools and

nursing home that the children already have established relationships with.

Dr Sue Elliott and Dr Margaret Brooks have been valuable and inspiring collaborators during this immersive

experience and throughout the project since late 2015. We were fortutnate to have them attend.

Dr Sue Elliott on site. 



 Sue Elliott is particularly interested in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability and comes from a science

background. You can read Sue's responses below - very interesting and important observations! Thanks Sue.


Quirindi Regional Arts Grant reflections

 The children, educators and parents were positively engaged with the bush experiences offered on both days. The terrain was challenging and observing the

children’s agility and balance was evidence of the tangible physical benefits of such outdoor programs. Children spontaneously created visual arts and sound

experiences with various found manufactured and natural materials and thus, reaffirmed spontaneity in imaginative and creative play as integral to building a

play repertoire with each successive visit to the unique bushland space. I imagine that with each visit new arts play affordances will be discovered and old

ones further embellished. Taking a step further to explore with children their deeper understandings, I sought provocations from their bush play inviting some

children to consider what is nature, why did dinosaurs die out and the ethics of picking plants.  These provocations led to some interesting discussions about

nature being about caring for animals and plants including humans (but, not rocks because they are hard!), notions about dinosaurs being alive when mum

was little, or in the zoo, or perhaps dying out because they needed food, sun and water. The ethics of picking plants and simply being in the bush arose when

children scraped lichen off rocks (probably not realising it was a plant), trampling on a butterfly feeding swan plant and pulling fresh callitris pine needles for

play, when there were many on the ground. There was much potential here for inspiring ‘big picture’ thinking about respectful and responsive relationships

between humans/animals/plants and the fundamental life needs of food, water and sunlight. Another aspect that invited my individual reflection was the

opportunity to view a large tangle of rusted wire and a busy ant mound. These seemed to be visual metaphors for thinking about the complexity of

interrelationships, connectedness, change over time and the values of collective action, all relevant to informing eco-centric worldviews and sustainable living.

  Thank-you for your invitation to be part of this unique learning process in your centre community.  

Dr Sue Elliott  Acting Course Coordinator BT(ECE), BEd(EC) & BEd(ECT) School of Education University of New England Armidale NSW Australia 



Dr Margaret Brooks on site.


Margaret is a visual artist as well as Early Childhood Education Lecturer and her focus is the visual arts and early

childhood education.Being directed towards her own students as a teaching aid, here are two exerpts from her

responses to the experience.Thanks Margaret!


Untitled.jpg    Photo  by Maragaret Brooks

"The pouring of beads evolved into experiments to elongate the sound. Notice how many children have gravitated to this exploration and how intently they are participating together. The dominoes were also set up with different spaces between them to create different patterns of sound. Shona does a wonderful job of encouraging the exploration of a wide range of ideas through ongoing collaborative discussion with the children.  

Working in a creative and generative manner Shona articulates ideas from individuals and small groups of children and helps them play with these ideas. She encourages creativity, lateral thinking and problem solving. Notice how she is at their eye level, giving her undivided attention. No stick or rock is too ordinary and the possibilities are endless."

Dr Margaret Brooks - Senior Lecturer, Early Childhood Education, School of Education, International Art in Early Childhood Association - Chair.



Serendipity also played it's hand when I happened upon this wonderful interview The Singing Planet with Edward Cowie

by Kirsti Melville on RN Earshot. I was particularly inspired by Edward's relationship with all sounds and to

drawing as well.I would recommend researching anything about him if you are interested in sound, music, nature,LIFE!


The Singing Planet Part One 

The Singing Planet Part Two

Another interesting program  

 Catalyst ABC July15  2016 - Soundscape Ecology 



a visual representation of shapes that made a sound by the children arranged on mat 


To sum up beautifully  

"Our ‘Collaboration with Children’ 2015 project was successful in opening the children’s minds to using natural materials to share their stories. Within this

project we developed the main senses and imagination and creativity.

 Our 2016 project is ‘Soundscape: Curious Creators Connecting with Nature’. Our ‘Soundscape’ project is adding further elements: rhythm, movement and

sounds that activate the senses of ephemeral and visual art.

 The aim of the project is for all of us- artists, musicians, early childhood educators, children and families- to learn together and from each other. To share

ideas and make strong connections. The journey of these connections shared within different mediums of artistic expression and cultures fosters a community

with a focus on sustainability.

 And though our project is heavily based within our rural environment, in future we wish to transpose these practices into urban settings."

 Alison Thompson - Director at Quririndi Preschool Kindergarten 

 To view a short video of Alison Thompson talking about this project and her inspirations

in general at NSW ECCEEN Conference 2016 please click here !

 Many  Many  thanks again the Quirindi community and community groups, in particular ‘Farming For Kids’ and Arts Northwest CASP Grant for making this project possible.



Alison Thompson  - Director - Quirindi Preschool Community Kindergarten.

ALL the educators and community team at the Preschool. 

ALL the open hearted and minded children,

who welcome the world with kindness and inquisitiveness.




I believe the quality of happiness, thoughtfulness and general well being of the children at this preschool is

testament to what is made available - a rich diversity of interactions built around communal care, curiosity and

love. So blessed and excited to be a small pert of it.


STE-008-music.mp3 ( listening in the bush )