Haere mai! Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Moving with Yoga

Over the past few weeks at kindergarten I have been introducing the children to yoga. It has been very popular with many children giving it a go and having a wonderful time engaging in this energising, yet relaxing exercise.

Yoga is a wonderful type of exercise that allows children to develop many different skills. It is great for their physical development as well as their emotional well-being.

 Yoga involves many different skills and creates countless opportunities for children to develop deeper understandings about how their bodies work, how they move and how they can be active and have fun at the same time. When activities like this are enjoyed it helps instil positive attitudes towards keeping our bodies and minds healthy. 

Te Whariki acknowledges that children should experience an environment where their health is promoted. They should have opportunities to develop an understanding of their bodies and knowledge about of how to keep themselves healthy.

“I sometimes get so stuck when I do this rolling, rolly roll rolling! Its hard work for my body but I will try to do it” (Mia)


We have been doing ‘Cosmic Kids Yoga’ which I found on YouTube. This involves a lady, Jamie, telling great stories around different animal characters that capture children’s attention as they participate in this exercise (www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga) 

“This yoga is so fun and funny. Look, look we are being such tall trees. No one can blow me over because I stand so strong.” (Nash)

The children have some favourite episodes including, ‘Twilight the Unicorn’ and ‘Joybob the Polar Bear”. The joy that they get from these yoga experiences is evident in their enthusiasm that they show throughout.

“Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvellous inner light that all children have to the surface.” (Wenig)

Each of the cosmic yoga story video’s is about 15 minutes long and while some children come and go from the experience, lots of them stay for multiple episodes. When they are involved it is very noticeable how the children are concentrating really hard at holding poses and listening to the instructions carefully.

“Yoga is an ancient system of physical exercise, breathing techniques and meditation practices that aim to strengthen the body and calm the mind. Yoga can be a useful tool for both children and adults, and yoga for children may be especially helpful for developing focus, calmness and body awareness.” (Binamon)

“Haha when I bend over I can see you through my legs. I feel so stretchy.” (Kōrari)

Some of the children were revisiting their yoga fun when looking at some photos. This led to some pictures being drawn to help explain to others what the children’s favourite poses were.

“You know I do this yoga at my house. It’s on my computer. This is me doing yoga. My arms are up above my head and my legs are, well one is out and one is up like this.” (Charlie)

“My arms are up in the sky. I’m like a tree because I’m big and tall and strong. You can’t blow me down. I like doing yoga, it’s fun!” (Sharlotte)

I look forward to seeing our children getting involved in many more yoga experiences. It is great to see that they have such a wonderful attitude towards physical activity. I highly recommend giving this a go at home with your families or in your centres with your children.
Hei konā mai,


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Christine's ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA)

On Friday 10th of October a party of whānau, friends, colleagues and associates gathered at a local bar in Whangarei for a wonderful celebration.
Unbeknown to Christine (though keenly awaited!) was the news that after fifteen months of thinking, preparing, writing, presenting and then more writing, she was going to receive an ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA). This makes Christine one of New Zealand’s top educators!

Photograph courtesy of Michael Cunnigham
Christine is one of five teachers to receive the prestigious ASG teaching award across early childhood, primary, intermediate and secondary schools from more than 600 nominations.

Christine’s award presentation was a superb evening. NEiTA judge Ann Dickason begun proceedings by explaining the rigorous selection process nominees go through to reach the national awards. When Ann announced Christine as a winner the news was responded to with a standing ovation. Glennis Topham from ASG then presented Christine with her crystal apple trophy and scholarship money.

Photograph courtesy of Michael Cunnigham

Northland Kindergarten’s Association CEO Richard Storey gave a thoughtful speech encapsulating Christine’s passion and dedication to our profession; as Richard stated (and we completely agree) Christine is “an absolute asset to both our kindergarten and association”.

I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to say a few words and spoke on behalf of our team and community of the benefits we have all received by being recipients of Christine’s knowledge, care and expertise. Her Worship our Mayor was also present for the award presentation; she finished the speeches by proposing a toast. As Sheryl Mai spoke I glanced around a room of people who beamed with pride and respect; as you can imagine it was a really wonderful night!

Christine, her husband Mat and children Molly and Ben along with Her worship the Mayor Sheryl Mai.

ASG NEiTA Chief Executive Officer, John Velegrinis, states, “Ms Alford is an outstanding educator” she “has proven herself to be a teacher of the highest calibre. It is very heartening to meet a teaching professional so committed to bringing out the best in our children and her record of achievement is outstanding” (NEiTA media release, 2014)

In my leadership role, I am hugely appreciative of not-for-profit organisations like ASG who make public acknowledgement of excellence in teaching possible. If you too know a teacher who’s commitment to their career and contribution to education is worth acknowledging, go to www.asg.co.nz for more information on entering the awards. Applications for ASG NEiTA open again in April 2015.

Nga mihi nui

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Introducing our 'Playpod'

Almost a year ago Christine, Susie and I attended a thought-provoking presentation facilitated by International Play Advisor (Outdoor Play and Learning: OPAL) and Play England trustee, Michael Follet. Michael has a vision to improve all aspects of children’s play opportunities and is an advocate for creating the ‘best conditions’ for children to be engaged in open ended, creative play.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Michael speak, seize the moment, he is knowledgeable, witty and most importantly passionate about his work and vision. His presentation was a steely reminder of our role as teachers (and parents) to protect and promote the value of play as a vehicle for learning. Whilst many topics were discussed and covered in his workshop one that totally piqued my interest was his introduction to ‘Playpods‘ in Primary Schools.

Playpods are basically shipping containers FULL of recycled objects and materials that children can use and manipulate for the purpose of their play. At kindergarten (as in many places) we often refer to these open ended objects as ‘Loose parts’.

“Loose parts can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, taken apart and put back together"  (Surrey County Council, 2012)

“Loose parts are flexible elements within a play environment. They are the fuel which feeds the fire of children’s imaginations and playful intentions(OPAL, 2014)
Loose parts have always been viewed and loved as a necessary resource in our programme however, as I sat in Michael’s presentation I started to visualise and ponder what might evolve in our children's play if we created a designated  play space (or our interpretation of a Playpod) for some of our loose parts at kindergarten. 
It was time for some team planning!

Our Playpod is an un-used avocado bin and is housed on our grass area. The loose parts provided have been chosen by the team after a brain storming session on objects that we know and felt would further support children’s creative thinking. Our objective with the Playpod was to offer a mix of new and already favoured materials and in keeping with the theory of loose parts, we would offer lots of the same items.

“The greater the diversity of loose parts offered to children, the greater the range of play interactions. These interactions enable open ended exploration through play leading to learning by doing” (The children’s scrapstore, 2014).

On the 9th of September our Playpod was ‘officially opened’, this was an exciting morning for children and teachers alike; we were really excited to observe how the children would choose to explore and interact with this new space and the tamariki were in full resourceful thinking mode!

“When children have opportuniites to play with ideas in different situations and with a variety of resources, they discover connections and come to new and better understanding and ways of doing things” (Surrey County Council, 2012)

We are now five weeks down the track of having a Playpod in our playscape. As envisaged, this wonderful edition to the children’s choices for self-directed play has been a hub of activity.

As PlayEngland (2014) states “the capacity and ability of children’s play is inexhaustible” this giant box of treasures promotes creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, sustained engagement and supports our children’s schema’s. We just love it!

See you in term four!

Nga mihi nui