At the fence, several curious toddlers are gathered, watching intently as a monster truck arrives at the site where UTS’s new Blackfriars Children’s Centre is under construction.
“Look!” exclaims Alec, pointing.
“Truck,” replies Willow.
“A digger on the big, long truck,” Fergus clarifies.
Toddlers at the Blackfriars Children's Centre keep an eye on the construction vehicles
Despite an extended period of rain in March, excavation is just about complete and construction is underway on the six-month build. When it opens in 2018, the new purpose-built centre will offer a range of child-friendly spaces and places for 84 children.
At the moment, in-ground plumbing and electrical services are being installed, and preparatory works are underway for the ground floor slab and footings. To most adults, there’s nothing remarkable about the construction site (yet!), but to the 50 kids enrolled at the current centre, it’s a source of endless fascination – and early learning opportunities.
Work in progress on the site of the new Blackfriars Children's Centre
Look and learn
“As new machinery arrives or a giant truck drives past, there is a huge amount of excitement from the children,” says Early Childhood Teacher Nat Olson. “They even run from one end of the fence to the other to catch every moment, and they are full of questions.
“Recently, the builders kindly gave us their old constructions hats for the children to use in their play. The children now proudly wear them as they play, pretending to be construction workers, digging in dirt, moving rocks, making piles, and mixing water and dirt together to create mud.
A pre-schooler puts his new construction knowledge to work
“These additional ‘resources’ have allowed children to support their own learning, extend their play and explore their understanding of what the builders are doing. Their learning even extends into the area of early literacy via identifying the UTS letters on the hard hats,” Nat says.
As the monster truck rolls past, there’s even an opportunity for a well-timed safety message, even though safety measures are in place.
“Please stay behind the line. It’s not safe to be too close the fence,” urges Teacher Jan Ibanez.
Alec and Fergus agree. “Not safe … stay behind the line!”
“Away from the fence,” Willow confirms as she steps back and sits down, watching keenly to see what the big truck will do next.
Children celebrate the start of construction work on their new childcare centre
While timelines can be affected by various factors such as weather, this is the current program of works:
- Construction works complete – September 2017
- Licensing of new centre – late 2017
- New centre opens – 2018