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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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Sharing our video

The Northland Kindergarten Association (NKA) asked every kindergarten within the association if they would like to make a short video about themselves. The idea behind this was for each kindergarten to explain what makes them unique and special, to share experiences offered to our tamariki and whānau, and to promote NKA kindergartens as offering exceptional quality within the early childhood education sector. So, here is our video at Mairtown Kindergarten. Please enjoy it, and let us know what you think.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Our Matariki celebrations

Over the past month we have been busy at Mairtown Kindergarten celebrating Matariki (Māori New Year) with three significant events.  Matariki is a special time of year that the teaching team enjoys planning for and our tamariki enjoy participating in what has become an important period of reflection and sharing at kindergarten. 

Each year we start our tradition with our delicious Matariki breakfast.  Our Matariki breakfast is greatly anticipated and a real highlight, it is wonderful to see our tamariki who have previously experienced our breakfast share their experiences with our new tamariki.  Fortunately for us Donna has been back this term, as she has exceptional skills in the kitchen and always prepares a delicious selection of kai to share with our whānau and tamariki.

 Matariki symbolises the coming of the Māori New Year.  Matariki has two meanings, both of which refer to the cluster of stars.  Mata Riki means Tiny Eyes, and Mata Ariki means Eyes of God.  Matariki appears in the eastern sky sometime around the shortest day of the year, and is thought to determine how successful the harvest crop will be in the coming season.  The brighter the stars, the more productive the crop will be.

There has been the usual build up to the breakfast with the tamariki helping to choose and create our magnificent menu.  It certainly was an awesome way to start the day with healthy kai including, eggs, sausages, spaghetti, baked beans, selection of cereals, muesli, yogurt, fruit salad, toast, all served with milo, coffee or tea.

Matariki celebrates the diversity of life.  It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.

On June the 21st we continued our Matariki celebrations with our ‘Harvest Day’. This is such a lovely day of sharing any abundance produce, preserves, pickles or home baking with others.  For Māori in years gone by Matariki symbolises the time for planting and harvesting.  The Matariki star constellation marked a time for starting all things new, this was a particularly important period for new crops to be planted and the preserving of old crops to be finished.  The timing of Matariki fell at the end of a harvest and food stores were full.  Meat, fruits, herbs and vegetables had been gathered and preserved and the migration of certain fish ensured a great period of feasts.  Matariki was seen as a time to share with each other, for family and friends to come together and share in the gifts that the land and sea had provided for them.  (Tai Tokerau Tourism)

We are so fortunate to live in Northland where there are plenty of citrus trees, and other produce.  That’s the great thing about Harvest day, it is an opportunity to share abundance with others and exchange for something else.  The focus of Mairtown’s Harvest Day is about sharing our abundance, random acts of kindness and nurturing the body and soul of our community.

Our tamariki and whānau were invited to bring an item to share from their garden or pantry.  On Tuesday morning kindergarten was full of excitement as our children brought in their offerings and place them on the exchange table.  The gifts included citrus, avocados, plants, honey, kumara, pumpkin, eggs, home baking, pickles, jams, herbs, and vegetables.  Some had lovely messages attached, including;

‘Plant the seed of desire in the field of imagination to grow the harvest of invention’

‘You do not have to be rich to be generous’

‘Sometimes’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart’

At the end of session our tamariki were invited to choose something from the harvest table to take home.  It was so lovely to see them excited and full of eagerness as some had been looking at the offerings throughout the day and had clearly made a decision of what they wanted to take home and for others the choice was a little tricky.   

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

Our celebrations always finish with our annual hangi and lantern parade.  As this is the last event of our Matariki celebrations we spend the month counting down to it and practising our lantern parade song.  So it would be fair to say it is also a highly anticipated and well attended event.

The wonderful thing about our Matariki hangi and lantern parade is that it is enjoyed by many including our current attending families and those who have left.  It is lovely to catch up with old friends and make new.

It is truly a time that our kindergarten community comes together to share energy, time and support to help with the preparations.  The evening’s success is due to the wonderful whānau support we receive to help with many jobs including, lanterns to be made, and food to prepare and cook.  Also a special thank you to JK Siteworks and Pro-dig for the very generous donation of the meat for the hangi, to the Andrews for the kind sponsorship of their fantastic Multi Kai cooker and to Barfoote Construction for the fantastic lighting.  Thank you all very much. 

Ma tini, ma mano, ka rapa te whai

By many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished.

 Many hands make light work.  Unity is strength.

Fortunately for us Christine has exceptional skills in creating a wonderful video of this year’s hang and evening celebrations. Watch it below.

The lovely music on the video is titled Whiti Te Marama’, here is the link to view the entire link.

On behalf of the teaching team I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported, helped, participated and shared in all of our Matariki festivities over the past month.  We hope you all have a lovely term break with your families and we look forward to seeing you all on Monday 25 July 2016 ready for the start of term three.

He wā motuhake

A special moment

Ngā mihi nui, Susie

Friday, 1 July 2016

A huge thank you for our new decked platform

This week we were blessed with a wonderful new decked platform in our outdoor area. This has come about by the wonderful support from one of our families, the Procter’s. When they found out we were going to be fundraising to upgrade our outdoor dry space, Renee Procter kindly asked her friend Camden Andrews from NZ Natural Timber if he would help us out.

It blew us away when he offered to supply all the materials and organise the labour to put the deck together. This weekend just gone Camden, along with Patrick White from ‘Think Water Northland’ and Mike Procter from ‘First National Real Estate’ worked endlessly to complete this decked platform made from beautiful natural Macrocarpa. It smells and looks amazing!

For this we are so grateful. The new decked space has already been put to such great use this week and enjoyed by many on the rainy days in particular. We are so thankful to have such wonderful and thoughtful support from Gracie Procter’s family and friends. This space will be enjoyed by the Mairtown Kindergarten community for many many many years to come.

Once again, thank you so much to the Procter family for thinking about Mairtown Kindergarten and thank you hugely to Camden Andrews from ‘NZ Natural Timber’ for such a lovely, generous donation.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Our Rotten Log: Celebrating Teachable Moments

We have some wonderful big logs in our kindergarten playground that the children use to climb on and jump off. They are used to foster imaginary play as the children turn them into castles, boats, forts and so on. We love our logs as they support our children’s learning and development in so many complex ways; physically, emotionally, socially, as well as providing a direct opportunity for the children to connect with nature in a fun and dynamic way.

Lately one of our logs (a large piece of kahikatea) has created another learning path as we discovered that it was starting to rot. When it was revealed that the wood was quite soft the children, Christine and I started to scratch around. At this stage in the experience Christine and I could have shut down the learning that could come about from this due to the rotten wood being a risk in our environment. Instead of this we both embraced this treasure that had been found and began encouraging the children involved to explore, question and think about what they were finding. This is what we refer to as a ‘teachable moment’ and is something that we like to utilise in our work with children.

“Teachable moments are times when something unexpected occurs and the teacher helps to guide the unexpected occurrence into a learning opportunity. “Pre-schoolers are discovering the world around them. Their natural curiosity and need-to-know creates many opportunities for teachable moments. The teacher has to develop a teaching perspective in order to not miss out on unexpected learning opportunities. Every preschool teacher should have an understanding of what a teachable moment is and how to look at every moment from a teaching perspective.” (Stewart, 2009)

This lead to some great findings, most excitingly was the unearthing of what we thought were baby kauri snails. The children were so engaged as they carefully started to pull away the rotting wood, closely sifting through the pieces for these precious snails. After finding about twenty of the snails, it was decided that we needed to do some more research about what to do next. Christine contacted DoC who informed us that they wouldn’t be kauri snails as they don’t live in logs, however they would be a native New Zealand snail that should be returned to native bush if possible. After doing some more research on native snails of New Zealand it was discovered that there was thousands to choose from. So with all this in mind and the fact that we run our Nature Programme once a week, the children made it their mission to save the snails by delivering them back to the bush in Mair Park.

Alongside the inquiry of finding out more about the snails, some of the children also started to embark on representing their findings through drawing and the use of clay. 

They shared their thinking about how the snails made their way to kindergarten saying things like,

“Well I think they slide from Auckland, but a person had to pick them up and drive them some of the way because it is long from Auckland. They dropped them at kindergarten. The gate was locked but they are so small they just slided right under and came to our log.” (Franchi)

It was lovely hearing the children sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other during this process. 

 This rotting log also created a scenario that required a ‘health and safety’ assessment as the rotting wood was a place where the children like to climb and play. After completing a hazard report we came to the conclusion that the learning and engagement that was happening around the log was very beneficial for the children involved. Therefore, instead of placing a cordon around the area and not letting the children go near this space until we had ‘removed’ the hazard, we decided to celebrate this happening. Yes, now this area was full of more potential risks when children were playing there, however we know that great learning can come from letting children be involved with their own risk assessment.

The children helped make ‘be careful’ signs, outlining the fact that it wasn’t ok to walk or jump on top of the log. We discussed what was happening at group times and reminded the children while they were playing in the area to be mindful of the rotten wood. By this hazard being monitored and managed in this way, the flow on effect was that the children were able to explore, engage and interact in meaningful ways with such a wonderful natural resource. I love the fact that I work amongst a team of teachers that embrace experiences like this, rather than instantly shutting things down.

“Risky play is an invaluable part of childhood. Research shows that not only does it increase children’s physical and motor skills but also teaches them about their own limits, and how to deal with risks in the future. Children´s safety however is an ever increasing issue that some teachers are anxious about. This worry about children injuring themselves (or others) during risky play is preventing some children from having the opportunity to engage in such activities. Thus, it is important that teachers provide children with an environment where they can engage in risky play that is as safe as necessary rather than as safe as possible… The more children are free to engage in risky play the better they will be at managing risks, judging what they are capable of, and keeping themselves safe. The role of the teacher is to provide a challenging and risky learning environment that will support all children as they become more motivated, curious, able, and adventurous.” (Wilkinson, 2015)

After the children have finished showing an interest in this rotten log, our plan is to get it removed. This is also exciting as it is going to open up a new place that we can plan and play with to create a new and inspiring play space.

Hei konā mai,