Every day is an adventure at Platypus Junction – Mulgrave
At Platypus Junction in Mulgrave, Victoria, every day is an adventure for the lucky children who attend this leading early learning centre.
Felicity Hall, Group Business Director, spoke about the highlights of Platypus Junction and her experience with STEP Learning Resources.
‘Our Mulgrave centre was designed by Melbourne’s leading early learning designers, Perkins Architects,’ Felicity explained.‘It is set over two floor levels with five separate age group rooms from babies to kindergarten. The early learningcentre enjoys lots of natural light and is decorated with a sophisticated and calm colour palette to enhance the children’s learning environment.’
Botanical rooftop garden
A stand-out feature at Platypus Junction is the botanical rooftop adventure garden, designed by Ruth Czermak, award winning playground designer. ‘It has fabulous spaces for active exploration and play and lovely quiet nooks for imaginative storytelling,’Felicity said. ‘We opened the centre in January 2017 and the fruit trees and plants we purchasedsix months prior were already mature, providing plenty of shade and an educational centrepiece.
‘The children love the rooftop garden, as there is ample space to run around and explore. The botanical garden is a very rich sensory environment with edible herbs, fruit and vegetables, spaces for active playbike paths, sand pits, a cubby house and indigenous totem poles with water mist features.’
Point of difference with the early learningfurniture and resources
Felicity explained about the set up process: ‘We have over 20 years’ experience in the early learningindustry, so we know what educational toys and resources we need for an exceptional new centre. We picked the main products from STEP’s catalogue, and at our meeting, we appreciated Dan Kennard’s recommendations for other items that would work well in particular spaces.’
Felicity wanted to give the Mulgrave centre some points of difference. ‘We liked how natural STEP’s childcare furniture was compared to other resource providers in Australia. Being able to customise furniture styles and colour combinations was also appealing. There is a great range of natural-material toys such as the wooden trucks and cars and even a coffee machine for the home corner.
‘We celebrate difference,and our centre has a diverse mix of families. We tailor the experiences we deliver in our programme with multicultural menu and food options, cultural festivals, special guests and incursions. On a recent trip overseas, we were blown away by the effect of a set of quirky hand woven feature lights seen in a wonderful entrance. We knew the potential that interesting and unique pieces can give to a foyer and we were able to source these for our welcome entrance for our families. Platypus Junction certainly stands out as a unique early learning centre.’
Holistic feeling of quality and longevity
Felicity reflected on her favourite resources in the centre. ‘I have some favourite products,’ Felicity said,‘but the main appeal of an STEP-resourced centre is the feeling of quality and longevity. The customised Venice tables and matching NaturalDesign furniture weave a subtle effect throughout the whole centre. This positive environmentmakes a real difference to the quality of the learning that takes place every day.
‘Picking out a few focus pieces, I would recommend the white Bjorg ‘low’ highchairsfor the babies’ room paired with some low adult teaching chairs. Instead of having high chairs at hip height, educators can sit down and engage with children at eye level. This gives a much better sense of belonging and connection.
‘The home corner is very popular and from an educator’s point of view, it is the perfect transition space for children. The children also love the shop-keeping window with its little archway and pay wave machine, so they can engage in their negotiation and social skills, pretending to shop and trade in imaginative play.‘
Display cabinets for group activities and project work
Platypus Junction has open display cabinets for group activities in the kindergarten room. The children select the toys they want to play with, and the open cabinets facilitate a high level of interaction with the teacher. In the hallway, science viewing unitsshowcasechildren’s project work to parents and visitors.
Flexible and professional installation service
‘The installation and customer service experience was fantastic. We were on a very tight timeline and neededto set up just before Christmas, not an ideal time for booking suppliers and finding resources of course!’ Felicity laughed. ‘STE Products had no problem supplying a professional team to support us, despite the time of year. Even with a minor delivery hiccup,STEProductswas able to solve the problem, and they never let us down. They kept us on track to achieve our tight timeline.
‘We are in the process of opening our next centres in Croydon and Langwarrin, and we look forward to working with the STE team again. STE Products is a privately-owned Australian family business, just like Platypus Junction, so we see the value in supporting local, Australian businesses.’