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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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Water slide fun!

Over the last two days, thanks to Michelle, the children have had such a great time on the water slide. Michelle brought in her extremely long black polythene from home, we stretched it out to almost the whole length of our grass and after adding water and liquid soap the fun could begin.

There was such a sense of excitement and anticipation as everyone waited for the slide to be ready - what great patience.

This was a new experience for some children, and they certainly had a great time figuring out how to control their bodies as they slipped and slithered down the slope.

How great to see children challenging themselves with something new and being prepared to take responsible risks. These accomplishments are fantastic for developing self-esteem  - what great adventuresome children we have at Mairtown.

This type of play enables children to become more aware of the concept of spatial awareness (their own location and the location of other objects or children in relation to their body) whilst also discovering in action, ideas and theories on distance, momentum, speed, direction and cause and effect.

Playing with and alongside others develops social skills and social interaction (for instance sharing of equipment and turn taking).

What a great way to celebrate the end of term!

Tomorrow is our final day at Kindergarten for this term. We farewell many children and their families and wish them lots of success and happiness in the next steps of their lives and learning. Next year we are looking forward to welcoming some new families into our Kindergarten Whanau along with Rachel our new teacher who will be relieving for Zair while she is on maternity leave. But for now ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me TeTau Hou from everyone at Mairtown (A Merry Christmas and a happy New Year).


Friday, 16 December 2011

End of year celebration

We are rushing through this term, with only one more week of kindergarten left before our long summer break. On Friday, to mark the past year and everyone's contributions and achievements, we held our end of year celebration at Kindergarten.

For a special treat we started the celebrations off with a magic show performed by Mike the Magician. (Click here for a link to Mike's website).

The children loved the show; there was lots of fun and laughter (and not just by the children!) - we were very entertained.

Mike had many willing volunteers who all did an amazing job, showing great confidence to stand up in front of their peers and help with the performance. Have a look at the video clips below. They show firstly Ollie and then Jaxon as Mikes assistant.

After Mike finished we had a few awards to give out. We wanted to say a big big thank you to all those parents, grandparents and friends of Kindergarten who have put their time and energy into making our Kindergarten such a special place. All your work over the year is so appreciated, we really couldn't do it without your support - thank you.

Then it was on to the one slightly sad aspect of the day - saying farewell to our gorgeous teacher Zair who is leaving us to go on maternity leave. The children presented her with a few gifts and a book they had made (there were a few teary eyes!). Good luck with your baby Zair, we will all really miss you.

Shared kai time! What delicious food we had, and enjoyed by everyone.

"It's the little moments that make life big."

Here is a small slideshow of today's events - enjoy!


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Glenbervie Adventure Forest

Last Friday as part of our 'nature programme' (where we take our ten eldest children into Mairpark for a full Kindergarten session of nature education) we decided to do something different and visited the 'Glenbervie Adventure forest'.

Here we are having our safety briefing.

We were lucky enough to visit the Glenbervie forest once last term, so a few of our children were quite experienced and highly knowledgeable about what to do and to expect and became great guides and teachers for those children who were new to the experience.

The children demonstrated what great concentration skills they have, as they remembered to transfer the carabiner clips one at a time.

 The rope course required a great deal of determination and a 'can -do attitude' in order to succeed - it was a real challenge.

 Despite the rain (extremely heavy at times!) we all had a fantastic morning. Click here to see a link to the Adventure forest web site.

We were quite exhausted after our busy morning - the bus ride home was a much quieter affair.          

The course provided many opportunities for children to develop their self-esteem as they engaged in new challenges and were able to recognise their own growth and accomplishments, as well as being a great way to use and develop gross motor skills.

Here is a short video/photo clip of the morning.

We view our 'Nature Programme' at Mairtown as an invaluable addition to our curriculum, it provides ample opportunities for children to explore nature in an unhurried and non-pressured environment. Have a look at the video clip below which we prepared for a recent presentation and shows the children at Mairpark - the usual destination at which we meet each Friday.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

How Maui slowed the Sun

We have a range of books on the adventures of ‘Maui’ at Kindergarten. These books are extremely popular with the children, beautifully written and illustrated and the teachers find themselves reading them again and again! One of these books by NZ author Peter Gossage is called ‘How Maui slowed the Sun’ and yesterday I found myself re-reading the book several times throughout the day to different groups of children.

Today we decided to use the book as a provocation for some extended exploration in the form of a large collaborative piece of art.  Using the large illustration of Te Ra (the sun) from the book we began our work. To set a guide for the scale of the mural I outlined the half circle and eyes, but the remaining art was all down to the children.

 “Drawing beside a more experienced peer is helpful for the less experienced – children learn by ‘borrowing’ graphic solutions from each other. And the more experienced drawer gains support from the other’s attention” (Kolbe, 2005)
We began by using a limited range of coloured pastels and referred to the picture as a guide often. We all observed how effective the illustrator was in portraying Te Ra’s expression, as Ryan commented   “so scary” or Jivahn “he’s cross” by using a simple combination of just oranges and yellows.

Co-operation with others is encouraged and enhanced when working on murals.The children take each other’s ideas into account as they plan the mural, offering suggestions and encouragement to each other.

Once we had filled in the work, blending our colours together with  the pastels we added  lines, spirals, drew the teeth and the sun’s rays, then finally moved onto adding more depth to our already stunning mural with some dye – again keeping the colours to yellow and orange.

The mural really invited children to work together and support each other in their task. They discussed and shared their feelings and opinions on Maui, Te Ra and the illustrators art throughout the book.

And here it is – all finished. It is lovely to think this piece of work is a culmination of many children’s ideas, thoughts and perceptions on the character of Te Ra in the story.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, have a look at this video on You Tube, spoken in Te Reo with English subtitles.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Creating Kura Ngaituku - The Birdwoman.

One of the key elements of visual art is form, or shape in three dimensions. Clay is a particularly useful resource for children to explore form, because as they manipulate it, squeeze it and pile it up it produces immediate and very satisfying results. After making pinch-pots with the children last week, the children’s clay work had really taken off, and some superb creative and imaginative sculptures have been created. 

The following photographs document the processes involved in making Kura Ngaituku (the Birdwoman), and all stemmed from reading 'Hatupatu and the Birdwoman', a story from the book by Gavin Bishop called 'Riding the waves. Four Maori myths'.

Here is a little extract, as you can see the writing is wonderfully descriptive, you really get a sense of what Kura Ngaituku looks like  – a little frightening I think – perhaps this is why the children love this story so much (in the book however you never see a full image of her, other than of her very long nails and a glance of her face).

"Kura Ngaituku was a birdwomen. She was as tall as a tree, and her fingernails were so long she used them as spears. On her arms she had great feathery wings. And her stretchy legs allowed her to travel great distances with just one stride" (p40).

The children demonstrated great initiative in using props such as the ribbon and leaves to get the effect they wanted.  Technical problem-solving is required for a complex piece like this, for instance in using sticks inside the clay to stop it collapsing.

 “As young children's skill with clay develops … increasingly complex experiments with form take place that can result in the creation of sophisticated and accomplished clay pieces.” (Lisa Terreni, Ministry of Education)

As the children worked to design, build and solve their problems with the clay they often collaborated, sharing and communicating their skills and knowledge with each other. I really love the children's use of a button for a belly-button here.

More problem-solving; despite many attempts to get Kura Ngaituku’s feathery wings to stick (they kept falling off!), after some thinking, it was off to the hot glue gun table.

Making something solid, with a front, back, sides, inside, top and underneath is particularly motivating to many children. 

Doesn't Kura Hatupatu look fantastic?

Here are some other great clay sculptures produced by the children this week.