Children love the chickens

Lia, Daisy and Tayla hold chickens in the new coop. 199144 Picture: ROB CAREW

Mount Dandenong Preschool has seen improvements to its outdoor space and curriculum with the recent addition of a chicken coop.

The project was finished in September after six years of planning and extensive fundraising.

A group of chickens were then introduced to the coop this month.

The preschool’s Parent Advisory Group President, Hayley Lourey, said the project has been important for the children’s learning and development.

“They’ve been writing their little stories about each of the chickens and doing their arts and crafts around the chickens,” she said.

“They can actually visually see it and touch it.

“Children learn through visualisation, touch and feel and actually experiencing it.

“They also learn that there are different behaviours. Each chicken has its own little personality and you don’t get that from just pictures and books.”

The main source of funds for the project was the preschool’s Chestnut Festival, a parent-organised event which attracts thousands of visitors to Kalorama Reserve on the first Sunday of every May.

The festival started about 30 years ago as just a few parents selling chestnuts and has now grown into a popular event for the community.

Once enough funds were raised, the coop was constructed by Richard Bellemo landscapes through recyclable materials, with the idea of creating a sustainable design that blended in with the natural environment.

Ms Lourey said the natural-looking chicken coop adds to the aesthetic appeal of the entire preschool.

“We’re pretty fortunate in what we offer because of the environment,” she said.

“Not many kinder’s you can go to and have such a massive play area outside and also inside.

“We can have 20 kids out there and it doesn’t look like a traditional kinder, it still looks like a nice welcoming environment.”

Mount Dandenong Preschool is situated in the Dandenong Ranges and surrounded by cool temperate rainforest.

It has been in operation since 1964.