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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Monday, 20 June 2016

Teaching position available at Mairtown Kindergarten

If you have a passion for providing excellence in Early Childhood Education, love your career and want to make a difference in the lives of children and their families here is your chance to join our team of dedicated professionals (beautifully illustrated above).
For more informtion about applying for this position please see the details below for links to application forms etc.
Mairtown LTR teacher  vacancy 637288
One year (fixed term) LTR Full time K1 Teacher, Mairtown Kindergarten, 21 Princes Street, Whangarei. This four teacher all day model kindergarten operates Monday to Friday with a roll of 40. Applicants must hold a minimum Dip. Teaching (ECE) or higher qualification, current registration & first aid certificate.
Download an application pack and position description from the website www.nka.org.nz. Or phone 09 4359 099, email appointments@nka.org.nz Closing date for applications & referees reports is 2 pm Friday 8 July, 2016. Email Applications to: appointments@nka.org.nz OR Post to: Appointments Secretary, Northland Kindergarten, P O Box 4005, Whangarei 0141.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Seeing the art in nature

One of the things I love about my work at Mairtown kindergarten is the fact that nature plays an integral part of our curriculum. Yes, we run a nature programme, but we also utilise nature in our kindergarten environment as much as we possibly can.

Ephemeral art is a wonderful opportunity for the children at Mairtown, and myself, to get really close to nature, to study its beauty, its patterns, its colours, its texture and smells in minute detail whist also creating stunning art works.

So what is ephemeral art? Basically it is art that only lasts for a short amount of time and is often used to describe creativity based in and from nature. The Tate art gallery tells us ‘There are many forms of ephemeral art, from sculpture to performance, but the term is usually used to describe a work of art that only occurs once, like a happening, and cannot be embodied in any lasting objects’.

From my perspective as a teacher, ephemeral art is an unstructured and free form of art which invites the artists to engage with Papatuanuku, as they utilise materials created in and by nature. What I really enjoy witnessing is children fully exploring, with all their senses, the materials laid out for them – be it shells from a local beach, pine cones from a nearby park, flowers from a garden, leaves from deciduous tress etc. I feel it is in this process that many children, and also myself, learn about our New Zealand identity, our culture, our place and our community.

From my experience children seem to be intrinsically drawn to ephemeral art, they often collaborate together on pieces, looking for just the right shade of leaf, or shape of stick to finish off a creation. Personally I encourage the unhurried approach to this aspect of art. Much is discovered in the making of these natural art pieces, there is a richness to the learning that cannot be rushed. Working with nature is enchanting, each leaf or petal is different from the one before, it is fascinating to sit back and observe the children as they express wonder and ponder over each observed detail.

We noticed that teachers who facilitate ephemeral art create a banquet for the senses and give children the freedom to touch, get dirty and messy, smell, listen, observe and think (Napier kindergarten Association).

And although, so far I have discussed ephemeral art in relation to being inside at kindergarten, this isn’t the only place where ephemeral art occurs for us. In fact, one of the most special places has to be outside as nature intended, hence on our nature programme this is something the children often choose to engage in. They take time out of the busyness of their morning to collect fallen items, to sit, relax, sort and create. We also love to return a week a later, sometimes more, and notice how the rain, wind and sun has altered our original creations, often creating something we can further add to.

Another aspect of ephemeral art that is perhaps even more important is that of ecological literacy. This is a term I heard for the first time when I attended some professional learning with Ann Pelo (author and master teacher). Ann talked about how if we want the next generation to save the world, we first need to teach them how to love the world. By introducing ephemeral art, children learn more about the world around them in a scientific manner and also from a literacy perspective as we name acorns, compare colours of moss, talk about different tree species and their leaves, and examine stones and shells. 

Giving a name to something is a way of knowing it. People are unlikely to value what they cannot name (Elaine Brooks)

As I watch the children create their art I am always delighted by just how gentle and respectful of the delicate resources they are. I can’t help but feel this is a true indication that the children of Mairtown have learnt to respect, appreciate and value nature…to love the world.

Art helps us build our vocabulary by participation, by helping us see emotionally, relationally, and imaginatively. It invites us into being in the world (Ann Pelo).

Mā te wā,

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Wonderful Family Corner

The children at Mairtown Kindergarten really enjoy our family corner. It is a favourite space, always busy, full of role play, children reliving experiences and playing with their imaginations. It is an engaging place, where children delve into expressing themselves through their pretend play in both social and individual situations. The play that happens in this space is beautiful, rich and real.

I just thought I would give a little bit of history behind our family corner area. A few years back, after engaging in self-review around the family corner, the team at Mairtown Kindergarten decided to design a space to help enhance the type of play that happened in this space.

The team wanted to make this a more concrete and functional space, which was inviting and aesthetically pleasing.  It was dressed with some delightful wall paper, intriguing furniture was added and some solid wooden framing and a swinging door was constructed to give this space a real sense of ‘place’.

Over the years this has proven to be very successful project, creating many positive outcomes, supporting and fostering many of our attending children’s learning and development, especially through the amount of role play, dramatic play and imaginative play that has taken  place.

“Dramatic play engages children in both life and learning. Its’ real value lies in the fact that it increases their understanding of the world they live in, while it works to develop  personal skills that will help them meet with success throughout their lives.” (Cecchini, 2008)

The family corner and the way it is set up like a small house with cups and sauces, pots and pans, beds and tables is wonderful for creating many opportunities for extending on children’s interests in imaginary play. This type of play allows children to explore the magic of being creative with their ideas and knowledge in a safe but meaningful way. The roles that they chose to play with in this context are mostly realistic.

Davis (2011) acknowledges that, “Imaginative play is essentially when children are role playing and are acting out various experiences they may have had or something that is of some interest to them.  They are experimenting with decision making on how to behave and are also practising their social skills.  Children learn from experience: from what happens around them, from what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. To absorb those experiences and make sense of the world, they need to be engaged in imaginary play.”

The family corner is popular with both girls and boys. Family situations like ‘Mum’s and Dad’s’ is one of the more regular role play scenarios that are played out. As we are well aware of though, families come in all shapes and sizes and it is really lovely when observing children in this play explaining the different ways that their families are made up. For example one group of children were deep in play and they realised they had lots of girls in the game. They started negotiating who was going to be the ‘Mum’ and after a bit of negotiating one of them piped up saying, “You know we can have lots of Mum’s our house and an aunty and a sister with all their babies. We can have a dad too, but don’t need one if we can’t find one!”

For young children, their family and home are the biggest parts of their world. The imitation of what happens there and in the world around them is the central focus of how they play. We often see our children acting out and exploring the lives of people they are influenced by through acting out their work, their feelings, and their words.

The family corner is a place where children like to quietly play by themselves, however it is also a place full of wonderful social interaction. The children invite each other into their play and soon there are many different roles being played out. The children are always so engaged in their play and take their roles very seriously. The dialogue shared amongst peers during this type of imaginary play is often like a running commentary of what was happening, for example, “I better feed my baby so it is happy and then I better give it a big cuddle. Waa waa waa. It's ok baby. Mummy is here. Is your baby good Willa? I think she needs a feed too, and a bed and then you should cuddle her till she is so happy.”

“Through role play children cultivate social and emotional intelligence. How we interact with others is key to our lifelong success and happiness. Knowing how to read social cues, recognize and regulate emotions, negotiate and take turns, and engage in a long-term activity that is mutually beneficial are no easy tasks. There is no substitute for creative and imaginative play when it comes to teaching and enhancing these abilities in children.” (www.brighthorizons.com)
The joy, magic and creativity that happens during this type of play is so wonderful to be a part of. The children involved are incredibly good at being free and thinking outside the box through their play. As a teacher I recognise the value of imaginary play and the important role it plays in terms of lifelong learning. It is great for helping develop strategies that support problem solving in real life situations.

“Dramatic play encourages children to put themselves in someone else's shoes. Such role-playing helps them to improve their ability to do this in real life. They learn important social skills, such as empathy. Dramatic play also encourages expressive language. Children are motivated to convey their wishes to others and speak from the perspective of their pretend roles.” (Yalow, 2014)
Role play and imaginary play is important work for our children and as their teachers it is so important that we foster this. We do this here at Mairtown Kindergarten by providing a beautiful, interesting space, full of resources that capture the imagination. I know that I will always continue to make sure that our children have the time and space to engage in this type of meaningful play at kindergarten.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” (Albert Einstein)

Friday, 20 May 2016

Our library day supports literacy development

Recently at Mairtown we have re-established our children’s library.   This is where we have a system to put our collection of books on offer to our children.  Once a week, currently every Thursday, the children have the opportunity to look through a selection of our books and choose one to take home in a named book bag to read and share with their whānau.

The thing I love about working in a community based early childhood education is all the fantastic parental support we receive at Mairtown.  Our library day is made possible and is successful due to our amazing parent helpers who set up and organise the library.  We are very fortunate to have such wonderful support from our families who willingly volunteer their time to come in and share the role of librarian.

“The experiences a young child has now effects them for a lifetime.  Thus it is never too soon to introduce children to books.  Children need to have experiences with books each and every day, including time for being read to and time for reading or looking at books by themselves.”  (Angie Dorrell, 2007)

It’s lovely to be part of a teaching team who are all passionate about the benefits of sharing books and stories, and believe that exposure to books is important for all children and their future learning and education.

Te Whāriki states that children develop an expectation that words and books can amuse, delight, comfort, illuminate, inform, and excite.

Not only does our library day create exposure to books it is a great way to support our children with transitioning to school.  Upon entering primary school children will be expected to have a book bag to take home reading books.  Our library day creates a wonderful opportunity for our children to gain familiarity with book bags and taking books and returning them, as well as assisting with the transition from kindergarten to school.

Experts agree that the prevalence of books in the home fosters a desire to read in children.  The more books and other reading materials that are available, the more children will value reading. (Lynn Dean, 2007).

Library day is always an exciting time, where our children seem thrilled about being able to choose a book to take home and share with their whānau.  At Mairtown we treasure books and stories as it is such a great way to encourage an early interest and love of books, so important for future learning and literacy development.

Literacy learning does not ‘begin at school’; it begins at birth.  Caring families foster and applaud children’s early achievements and early childhood educators complement and enhance this important learning which underpins school and life success.  (Jenni Connor, 2011).

Here are some of our children’s thoughts about books and our library day:
Sadie:  “I like our library day.  I got a kittens and cat book.  I like cats and dogs so I got it.  Sometimes I have stories in bed when I go to bed early.  Sometimes my Mum and Dad make stories up’.
Pippa C:  “I like taking books home, my Mum reads to me at night time.  Sometimes my sister reads to me when Mum does the dishes.”

Danielia:  “We take a book home then we have to bring it back.  My Mumma and Dadda read to me, I’m going to take that book home.”

Maximus:  “I like book day, we only take our library books home not any of the other books.  We don’t take our library bus books home.”

Kaden:  “My Daddy always reads to me every night and my Mum reads to me in the daytime.”
Lali:  “My book was about a chocolate.  The sun found the chocolate it melted, then the ants found it.”

Milla:  “My book was about hide ‘n’ seek.  My Mummy read it to me.  I really really love books.”

“There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.” May Ellen Chase

Mā te wā