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

Follow our blog by email

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Princess Party to Farewell Donna

After 17 years of working for the Northland Kindergarten Association – 15 of those at Mairtown Kindergarten – on Friday we farewelled our beautiful teacher, Donna.

Of course, we couldn’t let Donna leave without her knowing that really, we think she is a true princess! So after a little planning (and much sneakiness!) we sent Donna away for a while whilst we busily decorated the deck area for our shared lunch, and inside, created the perfect space for pampering our princess.

On her return the pampering began. First the children decided which princess dress she should wear, and then when she was adorned in her crown, the children got busy. Donna was moisturised, had her feet submerged in a bubbly warm foot spa, had her hair brushed and decorated, her toes manicured and painted and generally made a big fuss of.

The pampering begins...
Which princess dress?

Will you have this dance Donna?

In true princess style we had to have a ‘ball’ with Prince Tyler asking Donna for the first dance.

At midday lots of our families arrived and after a few teary speeches we presented Donna with a huge basket of gifts – generously donated by our whānau and children – a stunning card made by the children, and as a surprise for Donna we all watched a slideshow of photos spanning her teaching career.

When it was time for our shared kai, Donna sat at the head of the table and in front of an amazing castle cake (made by Kim) that also had a mini decorated Donna sitting on top.

Donna has been a huge part of Mairtown Kindergarten and has taught many many children over the years, in fact it was lovely to welcome some past families and children back, and amazing to hear stories about Donna from people she taught years ago who are now studying at University.

We are really going to miss Donna at Mairtown, and she will leave a huge gap in our lives. We will miss her joyfulness, her sense of humour and her beautiful smile. I’d like to share some touching comments about Donna from a few of our families.

A past student of Donna's (from a few years ago!)

‘Kaiako Donna, it’s so fabulous, wonderful and awesome to have your wisdom and experience shared with our daughter. Arohanui.’

‘Donna, We have been fortunate by having you in both our children’s lives at such an important stage of their development, when their values and character are founded and shaped. We wish you a very happy and fulfilling retirement, and hope that you will be able to enjoy it very much, since you very well deserve it.’

Loving the princess slippers Donna!
‘Where to start, what an amazing lady, you have been a massive part of my boys life and they all love you very much. They will all be better humans from spending time with you, thank you for being such a fantastic teacher, friend and protector of our kids.’

‘Dear Donna. Thank you so much being such a wonderful teacher for our three kids. You bring such a vibrancy to this kindergarten and will be very much missed.’

And of course no one is going to miss Donna as much as the children. When thinking about what is so special about Donna, they told us:

Pictures of Donna in her castle
‘She does the nicest things for me, like she push me on the swing’

‘She makes me cocoa really nicely’

‘I like her because she watches me’

‘Donna watched me on the monkey bars’

‘Donna’s scones are really delicious’

‘Donna does good manners!’

‘She pushes me on the swing’

‘I love Donna because she is the best teacher’

‘I love Donna so much’

Here is the slideshow for you all to watch, of Donna over the years :)

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
 Mark Twain 

Hei konā mai, Christine

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Coloured Sticks

When I see beautiful, interesting things in this world it makes my heart flutter. I feel happy, intrigued and excited. This feeling is something that drives myself and the other teachers at Mairtown Kindergarten to provide attractive, interesting environments for our children.
We find inspiration and ideas in our daily lives; for example getting out in the community, visiting art exhibitions, wandering through nature, going to events and also by searching the world wide web. The website Pinterest is one of the places that I turn to find ideas for provocations that I can bring to work and share with the children.  

Image of an inspiration from Pinterest
Recently I found this image of sticks wrapped in fabric. Simple, yet so very effective. After asking our families for donations of fabric scraps and receiving some branches from Donna, I was able to try out this idea.

The children selected different pieces of fabric, I tied them together and then we wrapped them tightly on to the branches. Many of the children questioned me, “What are you doing?.. What is that?.. What are you going to do with them?..” All very fair and relevant questions. I explained how I had seen a beautiful picture of something similar and that I thought that it would be fun to give it a go.

Role modelling, giving things a go, is a wonderful thing for children to witness adults doing. Sometimes it is a bit daunting trying things out as there is a small risk of things not working out the way you planned it. However, very often our expectations are often met and even succeeded which is incredibly satisfying and empowering.

While wrapping these sticks I asked the children what they thought they would do with them.
“I will make a beautiful house for everyone.” (Charlie)
“This would be my power wand for magic powers to change things.” (Nash)
“This is my magic stick wand and it has so much magic in it.” (Hezikiah)
“I would make a beautiful colourful hut.” (Sharlotte)
“You know it could just make a cool tent for my friends.” (Liam)

When our collaborative work was complete I decided to make a tee-pee structure.
“Wow! Look at this colourful house for us!” (Maria)

Some of the children sat inside it, some ran in, out and through it. Some children touched the branches and looked intently at the workmanship. 

A group of children decided to draw some pictures of the tee-pee.
“I like them because I like the red. I chose red and purple and black when I was making it with you. I want to draw it. I’m thinking I will use brown for the sticks. I like the purple and blue so I will make that on here.” (Korari)
“I like reading books in it. I like looking at the sticks because they are happy sticks. They are nice sticks.” (Sharlotte)
“I like the colourful tee-pee because it is a tent that I can build stuff in it like blocks. I love it because its got colours on it and I love colours and I want to have colours for ever and ever and ever.” (Tyler C.)
“You know my Mum thinks these sticks are just so beautiful.” (Nyla)

So many children had a hand in this creation and the lively, colourful sticks will be a source of delight for everyone at kindergarten. It was really a wonderful team effort of collaboration.
“Children’s development occurs through active participation in activities. Collaboration with adults and with other children plays a central role in this development. The programme should recognise, acknowledge, and build on each child’s special strengths and allow each to make a contribution or to “make his or her mark”, acknowledging that each child has the right to active and equitable participation in the community.” (Te Whariki)
It sits beautifully in the outdoor environment, adding pops of colour to our very natural play scape. Aesthetically it is wonderful and so pleasing to see the children enjoying it for a range of purposes. At Mairtown Kindergarten creating aesthetically pleasing play spaces is a key component within our teams teaching philosophy.
“Good aesthetics result not only in an overall sense of attractiveness and beauty within an early childhood centre, but also gives pleasure to those who work and play in the centre and to those who visit.” (Aesthetics-ECE Educate- NZ MoE)
Because I am constantly on the hunt for great inspirations and ideas to bring to work I am constantly being blown away with how many beautiful things are to be seen in this world (its almost delightfully overwhelming). In regards to this, one value that I wish to share with the children that I work with is for them to feel the same sense of delight and inspiration when they come across interesting things. And then to have the confidence to create and reinvent these inspirations for themselves.
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
Camille Pissarro
I am excited to see how else the children decide to use the colourful sticks in their play. The children have helped create an open ended, loose parts resource for all to use. Let’s hope they bring much joy and colour to their play.
Hei konā mai,Zair

Monday, 8 September 2014

Come Along to Donna's Farewell Lunch

As you may well know Donna is leaving Mairtown Kindergarten and this Friday will be her last day. We welcome all families, past and present, to come along and celebrate with us.
We are having a shared kai from 12pm on Friday 12th September.
Also make sure to dress up as a wonderful princess, prince, king or queen, as this is going to a royal affair.
 We hope to see you here.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Mud Pie Kai

Last weekend I had one of those joyful life experiences when the outcome of my imaginings far exceeded the initial dream.

Thanks to the combined generosity, knowledge and expertise of a team of our kindergarten dad’s, we have a wonderful new mud pie kitchen to add to our repertoire of play spaces outdoors.

The planning of this project began last year when I first started noticing images of outdoor mud kitchen’s on inspiring websites like ‘let the children play’ so you can imagine how excited and affirmed I felt when we started to talk about this idea as a team earlier this year…and others had saved the same or similar pictures!

If you can dream it, you can do it” – Walt Disney

One of the aspects I love about teaching in community-based education is the support and kindness we receive from our attending families. As the Nigerian proverb states ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and we too believe in the underpinnings of this message, sharing and cooperation builds a sense of unity.

So, with this thinking in mind we cooked up a plan to draw of the skills of some dad’s!

Saturday the 30th of August was a classic ‘awful’ winters day in Whangarei. On top of the 120-180mm of rain it was predicted that we might also be subject to heavy-gale winds. However the weather was no match to the dedication of Nigel, Phil and Mike (aka Nyla, Miller and Toby’s dad’s).  Despite the grey day, they came together to visualise, plan and build (and all from our original images!) a mud pie kitchen that will provide a focal point for play and engagement for years to come.

Our mud pie kitchen has been constructed from a donated stainless steel sink (thanks Sam!) pine timber decking and a plywood hob. Whilst many outdoor kitchens are constructed from pallets and found materials, we decided to build a unit that will sustain years of exploration and curiosity, and thanks to donated time and other materials had a total cost of less than $140, Pai rawe!


We have had our kitchen for a nearly a week now; it has been aptly named ‘Mud Pie Kai’. The process of mixing up concoctions of mud, sawdust, bark and water is hugely appealing to children; cause and effect is the stuff of brain development. As Christine referred to in her blog post last week, mud is a wonderful sensory element in play, mud pie kitchens provide a whole new level of mud play as they combine the much-loved resources of a family corner and cooking into the special nature of being outside.

On behalf of the team and all the lucky tamariki who will investigate and make discoveries in this wonderful new play space, I want to again acknowledge the support and time of our dedicated dad’s, without your time and energy this could never have happened. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

The 'A' team - Nigel, Mike and Phil