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, 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.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Clay pinch-pots

This term we have decided to bring our clay indoors and have set up a more permanent area for the children to explore and investigate with it. Clay is a wonderful malleable material, fascinating in its own right, and a great resource for children to express, communicate and make their ideas visible.

Earlier this week, Kim introduced a reference book and picture examples on clay pinch-pots to the children, with some really beautiful results.

Heres' how to do it:

1. Hold a ball of clay in both hands, cupped together.

2. Insert your thumbs into the middle and gradually push your thumbs out on each side.

3. Continue hollowing out the ball with thumb and fingers and smooth any bumps.

We decided to push in some beads – stunning!

Here are the pot drying - I'm sure you agree they look gorgeous.

Jacob takes great pride in showing us all his finished pot.

Children’s interactions with clay are strongly muscular: they press, bend, squeeze, twist and tear.

Clay is a fantastic 'open' resource with no set way of using it, yet provides a sensory experience that helps extend imagination and creativity.

As the week has gone on we have seen children revisiting creating pinch-pots independently and have also seen them experimenting with different ideas, creating other complex and intricate structures.

I love the edge pattern on this piece of work!

It is great to see families working on clay structures together.

"Clay invites a new way of understanding art. Children tend to associate art with drawing and painting, and think of themselves as artists in relation to their enjoyment and skill with drawing tools. When we offer children three dimensional media, we invite them into an expanded definition of art" (Pelo, 2007)


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The 'Square Dance'

Inspired by some modern art titled the ‘Square dance’ by Kazuya Akimoto, we decided to introduce this piece to the children using the media of pastel and ink.

The square dance has many wonderful shapes and patterns for the children to explore and consider. There are straight lines, rectangles, squares, squares in squares, squares divided by lines to make triangles, and lots of repetition. We invited the children to investigate the dynamics of these shapes using the pastels and ink


Using two sorts of media together (pastels and ink) the children were able to observe what happens. We asked questions such as “what happens when the ink meets your pastels?” – for some children it took a lot of trust to paint over their whole picture with black ink – but the results were worth it.

As the ink settled into the paper, and the white pastel shapes shone through, many children were astounded and surprised, exciting many. Visually this experience is like magic.

Charlotte “That’s awesome
Lucy-May “What’s happening…how’s that happening?”
Detroit “I didn’t know that would happen”
Tyler “Look, I can see the white – look”
Hui-Nathan “Look it’s drying out, you can see the shapes”

Exploring pattern, line and shape

Making new discoveries

Celebrating success

 “Every art has a kind of language and its logic. In music, it is very clear. Of course, to use this language correctly in artwork doesn’t necessarily mean that the art is superb, or worth appreciating. There are far too many pieces of music which are correct in grammar that cannot attract our aesthetical attention” (Kazuya Akimoto).

Some of the finished work:






Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Silver accreditation and healthy heart award

How exciting! Last week at Kindergarten we had a visit from Sport Northland, who came to award us with a silver accreditation for active movement. As a Kindergarten team we have made a commitment to include active movement in all areas of the curriculum. Active movement is everywhere, for instance walking or cycling to Kindergarten, skipping, jumping, dancing, kicking a ball in the park or rolling down hills.

Well done everyone, and a big thank you to Donna for working so hard on this project over the past year. Also thanks to Sport Northland and Roimata for their encouragement, support and advice.

Rona from the Heart Foundation also popped in today to award us with our Healthy Heart Award. This is called a Whanau award and shows that our families/Whanau make a conscientious effort to provide healthy snacks in lunch boxes. Thank you to all our parents and Whanau for your support with this.

"Active movement is engaging in quality physical movement experiences which develop and enhance the spiritual, emotional, social, cognitive and physiological growth of the child. Active movement embodies the whole child". (Sport and Recreation NZ, 2004)