Playgroup a “grand” idea

“Anyone remember the second verse?” The cry goes out to the group of grandparents holding hands in a circle with their grand kids. We are ‘doing’ action songs, but are struggling to remember the words of the second verse!

“Yes, yes” someone says and takes the lead while we all follow the actions and dig out the words from deep in our memories. We giggle at our efforts, but are rewarded by delighted looks and smiles of enjoyment on the faces of our grandchildren. We all clap, stomp, nod our heads and turn around together.

The knowledge that our own children “turned out alright in the end” gives us every good reason to believe we can do it all over again, particularly with all the life-time of experience we have had since the first time! The skills, we have learnt also get a second airing.

At story time we leave the reading to the ex-kindergarten teacher who, after some trial and error, is by far the best of us, and who still dearly loves to exercise her old, very hard won skills. The years of music practice of one of our ‘grands’ comes to the fore in keeping us in tune when singing together with the children. Everyone’s memory cells are stimulated trying to recall the words of long forgotten nursery rhymes, and our success gives us all hope for our future brain activity!

Finding companionship in our Grandparents Playgroup we feel supported and understood when we commiserate over our sore backs, tired legs, and shared worries over our own, sometimes not so grateful, children. However, meeting other encouraging and supportive grandparents in the same situation is not the only advantage. It is so reassuring to see our grandchildren, playing happily in the age-appropriate facilities at the Community Centre, at Bowen Street.

With the staff there to support and assist us, when needed, we are able to promote the well-being of our young toddlers, encourage them to develop and learn new skills such as climbing, ball throwing, digging and most of all sharing and taking turns. All at the same time that we are able to relax, reflect and support each other while having fun.

Recently a young mother “sat in” for her own mother. She said she’d enjoyed being with the “older mums” and that she learnt a lot from them and loved participating in the singing and dancing; she particularly enjoyed learning to “be in the moment” with her young daughter.

Full-time care places for toddlers and pre-school children are both rare and very expensive in Melbourne. Many “grands” have taken on the care of grandchildren for the sake of their own children’s careers or their difficult financial situations. As parents we have worked hard to enable our own children to get ahead in their lives, and we are prepared to go on doing all we can to assist them. Besides, the second time around is so much more fun!

Art by students of Camberwell South Primary School

The children from Camberwell South Primary School have been working very hard this year to produce some fantastic art work. The work will be on display at the Hawthorn Town Hall gallery space from August 1 to 27.

The work of Preps through to Grade 6 children is on display, providing a great example of the type of art that is happening in primary schools. The children visit the art room once a week for a 50 minute session. Sometimes an art task may take two or three weeks to complete. The children are always very proud of their work. Throughout the year we try to cover all areas of art – drawing, painting, textiles, construction, modelling, printing and appreciation. We often learn about the work of famous artists and use these discussions as a stimulus for our work. The elements of art (line, space, texture, form and shape) are also covered as the children complete their work.

Due to restrictions in the gallery space, only 2D work is on display in this current exhibition. Collages have been completed by the Grade 1 and 2 children. Some reflect holiday happenings and some are based on the work of popular artists, Ken Done and Michael Leunig. The Grade 6 children worked collaboratively interpreting a piece of work by David Hockney, whose recent exhibition at the NGV was studied by the children.

Prep children love to dress up and this was the basis for some lovely paintings showing their favourite costumes. We are sure you will find the Camberwell South Primary School exhibition enjoyable, so please make time to drop in during August.

A site for sore eyes

Original Burwood High School teacher John Griffith joined the school at its temporary site in 1955. He recalls the eager expectation – and the reality – of the first day teachers and students saw their school in its permanent location.

We arrived expectantly at our newly ready school in February 1956, after the previous year’s stay in unlined steel huts beside Ashburton Railway Station. We anticipated that our new school would be ready. The site had been excavated on the south side, while the north side was a steep slippery slope to the valley. The school had been planned to be on the level ground against Burwood Road; but no-one had realised that Burwood Road was to be widened into Burwood Highway. Rather than pay more for a new site, it was decided to move the main building farther north, which required excavating the hillside of the area sloping down to Gardiners Creek.

The buildings were ready; but after heavy rain the excavation embankment was slippery clay and the slope to the north of the school had been churned up by the builders. From Burwood Road it was risky to enter over the slippery mud. A teacher used a builder’s plank to create a narrow walkway into the school. This quickly became slippery with mud and students stood by to watch the teachers enter in the hope of a slip!

Students then entered, taking the chance that no-one would bounce on the plank and unbalance others, causing an inadvertent muddy backslide. (Subsequently the teachers all decided it was desirable to come to school early!) In due course reporters arrived and took photos of the area, the plank and the students. The Minister for Education eventually arrived, but declined the opportunity to brave the slippery board into the school.

The following day a bulldozer arrived and a convoy of trucks came with road fill from farther up Burwood Road. We watched from windows as the bulldozer dug itself inescapably into the mud, and with its motor screaming dug itself even deeper. An even larger bulldozer then arrived, attaching itself to the first one, and in turn dug itself into a pit. It too worked its motor to a noisy climax. Finally a third bulldozer was brought up, stationing itself high on the hillside, and with a heavy chain freed each bulldozer in turn from the sticky clay.

With three bulldozers on hand, the valley was filled and compressed, and topped with a layer of gravel. But in the rush, no-one had thought to plot the sewer line at the base of the valley, or to fit new sewer vents in place. Some time later the school sewer line blocked. But where was the sewer? Extended pits were dug up to 15 feet deep to locate the sewer. It was then decided that it was at the bottom of the former valley; but noone could remember where that was exactly. It took an age to find and repair, during which time the school could not operate, and students got a holiday.

All told, since the extra buildings fitted awkwardly and at considerable expense onto the narrow and unstable site, it probably would have been cheaper to dismantle the school in sections and shift it eastwards to the more expensive vacant site (owned by the Blind Institute) on Station Street.

The original students of Burwood High School are having a reunion on Sunday, 2 April. This is only for the first lot of students who went through the school. It will give former students an opportunity reminisce and share stories of their high school days. For further information, please contact Sue Webster (née Cover) on 9885 3235 or via email or email Ted Tullberg at