Kylie Neagle Education Coordinator and Kylie Millington, Director of Lantana Kindergarten

AGSA Education welcomes around 35,000 students to the Gallery each year. Generally, this number comprises one-off visits from schools, learning centres or kindergartens. But on rare occasions, educators will visit the Gallery once a term with the same group of students. This repeat visitation demonstrates to us that these teachers recognise that AGSA is a rich learning destination for multiple learning areas.

With the challenges teachers and schools have faced in recent times and the increasing red tape that can hinder an excursion, we at AGSA Education find this level of engagement highly commendable. Lantana Kindergarten is one such example.

In the past few years, teachers from this site have arranged a variety of excursions to the Gallery. These experiences were the catalyst for inquiry-based learning initiated by the educators while at the Gallery, and continued back at their site. We asked Kylie Millington, Director of Lantana Kindergarten, to share her experiences with us:

The moment we walk through the doors to the Art Gallery of South Australia our hearts and minds are engaged and ready to learn. We gravitate to the works of art that capture our curiosity and inspire wonder. We freely hypothesise and engage in the possible stories hidden behind each work of art.

Through engaging with ASGA Education programs, including The Studio, My Portrait, My Story, Dancing in the Gallery and guided tours, our thoughts, ideas and identity are challenged. These lines of inquiry enable us to deepen our perspectives of the world around us. Within the walls of the kindergarten we continue to be inspired by the works of art on display. Most recently we encountered Yayoi Kusama during a visit to AGSA and back at our site we created a learning environment that references Kusama’s work – adorning our walks with dots and mirrors and suspending mirrored balls from the ceiling – prompting our students to make connections.

Our philosophy at Lantana includes a strong focus on music, so the Dancing in the Gallery sessions provided an opportunity to make connections and spark curiosity for our learners. Using our senses, we explored the textures of works of art while also using our auditory-processing skills to listen intently to the beat, rhythm and tone of the music. Back at kindy we use this approach to engage our learners in some deep thinking and an awareness of the environment around us, in particular the textures in our setting in both the indoor and outdoor environments. At group time we use this knowledge to lead our learners, using our whole bodies to represent our environment through movement. We listen to a piece of classical music and ponder which piece will match the movements we have created. The learners then create a series of dances that we perform to their families.

Through observing portraits at the Gallery throughout the year and participating in the My Portrait, My Story sessions, our image of ourselves is developed and represented through our own self-portraits. This forms the basis for our annual art show at the kindergarten, where families and the local community come to celebrate our own identities.

As educators we are lifelong learners, and a key component of this involves researching, engaging in professional learning opportunities at the Gallery and utilising the AGSA Education resources to gain a deeper understanding of works of art and strategies to engage our students. By engaging with all that the Gallery has to offer, our community of learners are becoming global citizens through critical thinking and reflection on their own learning.