Pre-schoolers Celebrate Africa Day in Chiswick

Celebrating diversity and different cultures at Devonshire Day Nursery


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The sound of drums marked the start of a special party at Devonshire Day Nursery in Chiswick as children joined people world-wide in celebrating Africa Day.

From traditional food to carved artefacts, the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ day nursery in Bennett Street, Chiswick, was decked in flags and colourful material as children aged between six weeks and five years immersed themselves in African traditions and culture.

Kekeli Dancers with (L – R) Mary Mensa Bonsu, Dee Townsend, and children Maisie Jones (4), Alessandro Ghislanzoni (3) Kairo White-Shorter (3) and Lucas Gronvold (3) .

 As Devonshire Manager, Dee Townsend, explained the event, which follows Chinese New Year celebrations at the nursery, provided endless learning and crafting opportunities.

“The children love days like these at nursery but behind the fun is a serious commitment to recognising and celebrating individuality and diversity amongst children and staff. This is essential in building self-esteem and confidence and prepares children for their wider roles in the community,” she said.

Dressed in national costume, practitioner Mary Mensa Bonsu, born in Ghana, treated children, parents and staff to some traditional home-cooked treats like ‘Puff Puff’ doughnuts, Joloff rice, plantane crisps and ‘Chin Chin’ biscuits.

Practitioners, Mary Mensa Bonsu and Athlene Cruickshank, who is from Grenada.

George Fiawoo, of Kekeli Dancers, provided traditional music and helped the children – some barely seeing over the large African drums – create their own compositions. A stall with African beauty products, books, children’s clothing and foods were provided by D’Jed Enterprise from Shepherds Bush.

Devonshire Day Nursery is part of the award-winning, employee-owned company the Childbase Partnership which has 41 day nurseries in the South of England and was named Education Investor’s Nursery Group of the Year 2011.

The children also recently enjoyed a day in the forest without leaving Chiswick. The Forest School project, which is designed to encourage and inspire children of any age with positive outdoor experiences, is part of an on-going programme at the Day Nursery in Bennett Street to promote respect for the environment and healthy lifestyle messages.

Bringing natural materials like Silver Birch and Oak Tree wood from Stanmore Country Park outside London, children of all ages and their parents, crafted jewellery and masks, for example, using flowers, twigs and bark.

Sarah Bennet (4), helped by her grandma and ‘Forest School Practitioner’ Margaret Griffin, using a hand drill to turn natural materials into jewellery.

As Dee Townsend, Devonshire Manager, explained: “We can’t always take children into nature but we can certainly bring it to them. Every available garden space here is fully utilised offering endless learning opportunities and ensuring the children develop an understanding and love of the outdoors.”

Children used old hand drills to make holes in pre-cut wood and then threaded them together to make bracelets and necklaces; used a variety of fruits to create patterns and shapes and everybody was treated to hot chocolate as they worked in the garden.

June 6, 2013

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