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, 28 February 2012

Wheel-a-thon 2012

Today we held our annual Wheel-a-thon at Kensington Courts, and what a fabulous afternoon.

There was lots of preparation at Kindergarten today for the sausage sizzle, with help from Whanau and, of course, the children.


The children came up with some great ideas with what to do with the left over bread....make snacks, and marmite sandwiches!

At last 4 o'clock arrived (and it had been a long time coming for lots of us) and we all started to gather at the courts. There was a selection of wheeled vehicles, from bikes, scooters, skateboards, skates and heelys.


Lined up - ready to go!

We were so impressed to see some of the mums, dads, and grandparents who took part - well done!

It was easy to see that lots of time and consideration had gone into making many of the bikes and scooters look wonderful with some fantastic decorating. Great effort everyone.

(We loved the rockets on Aimee's trike.)

Thank you to our families for your support and help.

The events we hold out of our Kindergarten hours are really special to us. It is always such a pleasure to welcome and meet family and friends that are not able to come into Kindergarten, but that we hear lots about through our children.

Money raised from the Wheel-a-thon will go to upgrading our garden area and providing new safety matting. We will let you know as soon as possible how much we raised. Thank you to everyone for making it such a thoroughly enjoyable and fun afternoon.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Nature Programme 17th February 2012

Last Friday we began our nature programme for the term (where we take our 10 eldest children into the bush for nature education once a week). With 9 new children to the programme it has been an exciting time as they had been eagerly waiting for the day that they would get to go to the special places that their friends, who have now left for school, told them about last term.

This Friday was the second week of the programme for the children; they were excited and raring to go.

We began this week with a visit from Police Education Officer Senior Constable Marnie. We have had lots of discussions with the children at Kindergarten about remaining safe, but it was great to have this reinforced by Constable Marnie.

Trying out our whistles with Constable Marnie

Soon we were ready to head off further into Mairpark. One of the children this week had brought a long rope from home, following on from work he had been doing at Kindergarten. This rope became a prominent part of today’s experiences. We climbed up the steep 'Punga hill' which due to the rain the night before was lovely and slippery - great for sliding back down on bottoms! The rope was particularly useful here. We tied it to a tree at the top and the children were able to use it to pull and heave themselves back to the top - only to slide all the way back down again.

Determination, Risk-taking

There is always time to enjoy the pleasure of food and a social chat.

The 'magic tree' has become a feature of the programme which the children like to visit most weeks. After heading off to the magic tree - the rope once again came in useful. The children thought it would be a great idea to make a rope swing, will all of them trying different techniques to try and throw the rope so that it looped over one of the bigger branches.

Problem-solving, Experimenting
  How will we get the rope over the tree?

Manjula and Leon were our fantastic parent helpers this week (thank you we couldn't do it without your support) and introduced the children to their skills and knowledge of the bush. 

Working together, Team work

Thinking creatively 
 Hut building with rocks

'Nature helps children develop powers of observation and creativity and instils a sense of peace and being at one with the world' (Crain 2001).


Monday, 13 February 2012

Shell wind chime

After collecting lots of shells and drift wood at the beach last weekend I brought them into Kindergarten, printed off some images of shells and as a small group I discussed with the children what we could do with all these beautiful natural resources. There were some great conversations, lots of listening to others ideas and opinions but in the end it was a unanimous decision – we were to make a shell wind chime.

Sorting and classifying the shells by shape and size.

We had a plan to work to, but we still had to do a great deal of problem solving and planning as a group. Our first problem occurred when the wood was much to hard for us to drill in a hole for the string to fit through. Plan ‘b’ was to make a hole by hammering in a nail and then pulling it out, this was unsuccessful too! Our children are very resourceful however and decided that plan ‘c’ should be using one of their favourite tools, the hot glue guns. This worked a treat; we wrapped the string around the wood several times, and then glued it into place – great thinking.

Plan 'a' - unsuccessful.

Plan 'c' - success!

Next we all patiently started looping, threading or tying the shells onto the string – different children had different techniques which all worked really well. This kind of intricate and detailed work is fantastic for improving our dexterity and for strengthening the small muscles in the hands and fingers (fine motor skills).

Encouraging the awareness of the natural resources in the area.

As we worked we looked carefully at the shells and talked about about their shape, texture, colours, the sea and the beach. All the shells I collected had holes through the middle – how were these holes made I wondered out loud to the children? Aimee told me, “They look like rings, jewels for the beach”.

Experimenting with ideas and materials helps develop creative confidence.

Finally it was finished and ready to hang. All the children wanted it outside so they would be able to hear the wind moving the shells and the gentle noise they make. I think it looks fabulous – well done everyone!

Dihansa, “It’s so beautiful”

Jivahn, “I like those shells. I love it!”


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Staff team building fun

Once a term we take our ten eldest children, who are part of our nature programme into the Glenbervie climbing forest to try out the tamariki course (see our past post here). Last Friday afternoon when all the children had gone home it was the turn of Kim, Donna, Rachel, Christine and Sarah to take part in some team building and experience the challenges of the climbing forest!

Here we are raring to go!

Sarah on the practice course.

When we first arrived I think a few of us (me!) would have been happy to complete just the lower down tamariki course - but of course we needed to challenge and push ourselves a little harder.

As teachers we really encourage the children at Mairtown to take responsible risks, work together, problem solve and challenge themselves to step outside of their comfort zone; so it was great for us experience these same feelings.

Some of the challenges that lay ahead of us!

The longer we stayed at the forest the more relaxed and confident we became with the heights.

Waving to the camera!

As a team we had a lot of fun, but most importantly gained a sense of participation in the way we supported and encouraged each other, especially those tasks that were challenging to some of us.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Flying Fox Fun

We have had our flying fox at Mairtown for a while now and it continues to be a popular choice of play for our children. Although undoubtedly lots of fun, this is an important part of our curriculum and there is a great deal of learning taking place.

“Play is very important to children; it is not just something they do to fill in their time. Playing is the way children learn skills and is sequentially developmental (Exploring Early Childhood, 2001).”

Not only is our flying fox a fun and exciting place to play, it is also a healthy outlet for children’s energy. 

Climbing onto the box, stretching to grab the handle, holding on, spinning, running to hand the rope over to the next child are all ways in which we encourage the children to develop their gross motor skills and strengthen their muscles.

The flying fox is also great for offering children a challenge, developing risk-taking and assisting children in becoming aware of their own bodies in relation to the space and others around them. 

As the children's skills develop on the flying fox we are able to see just how much their confidence grows and how they set themselves new challenges for this activity. They often try to raise their legs up high, go backwards, hang upside down or a real favourite, spinning!

(Spinning is something most children do instinctively and has been shown to be linked to the vestibular system and establishing a strong sense of balance.)

Alongside this, the flying fox introduces children to rules, such as turn-taking, waiting with patience and consideration of others as you take the rope back to the next person waiting in line.

Here is what some of the children said today about why they love the flying fox.

Leah, "You swing off it, it makes me feel nice. I do a ballerina dance on it."

Eve, "It's fun, you hold onto the handle - hold on really tight"

Abbey, "I can do lots of things on it. When I spin I am dizzy."

And some wise words from Dihansa, "You have to hold onto the flying fox really tight or you will fall off!"