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, 28 May 2012

Leaf Rubbings

Following on from the interests of one of our children, last week we introduced ‘leaf rubbings’ to Kindergarten. Over the last few weeks we have talked a great deal about autumn - the falling leaves and how leaves change colour - so this came quite naturally as the next step.
Leaf rubbings can be quite a tricky process. First you have to place some paper over the underside of a leaf, hold your paper very still (or even better get a friend to lend a helping hand), then using the broad side of a wax crayon or pastel, rub firmly but slowly.

The children have showed a real interest in the leaf rubbings, choosing to re-visit this experience again and again. Each time they marvel at the patterns, lines and shapes that are produced.

The leaf rubbings have even extended into our Friday ‘Nature programme’ where the children took some time out to complete a few rubbings in the bush.

Many of the children have been totally captivated by the transformation of the paper as they engage in their rubbings:
Aimee, “Look, it’s coming alive
Katie, “Are we using magic pastels?”

“Rubbings offer a wonderful way to see details in everyday things that are often overlooked.” (Kolbe, 2007)

We decided to go one step further, cutting out our rubbings and using dye in hues of yellow, orange, red and green to transform our rubbings into beautiful life-like leaves. Some of them looked so similar to the real leaf it was extremely hard to tell the difference!

“Making rubbings: a chance to marvel at details and patterns” 
(Kolbe, 2007)

Blending together art, science and nature.

The children gain an awareness of the different types of leaves and their characteristics, for instance texture, colour and shape.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Excursions into Enchantment

Our weekly adventures into Mairpark via the Nature Programme sees us crossing a bridge over the Hatea river. This bridge provides in-valuable opportunities for both play and imaginative ideas. We regularly stop to gaze at the river flowing beneath us or drop twigs for a quick game of Pooh Sticks and quite often the children are captivated by the idea of a Troll living underneath.

It was the conversation about the Troll under the bridge which inspired Donna to revisit this idea with a small group of children from Friday's Nature programme back at Kindergarten today.

Black vivids, paper and  coloured felts were provided to enable the boys to transfer their ideas into media. The coloured pens were offered in response to the children's desciptive narrative about the colours and feelings of the Troll.

As the boys settled into their work and chatter around the table it was interesting to observe how  a topic of high fantasy could provoke their imaginations.

'The magical world of fairy tales is especially suited to the dream-like world of the child' - Rahina Baldwin - The magical years

For each of the boys the troll in Mairpark was represented in an individual style, however when looking closely at their work, what is consistant in their theories is that  regardless of the features the troll is definately 'a little bit scary'.

Drawing is an excellent medium for children to share their ideas and imaginings. 'Remarkable things can happen when children work in small groups investigating topics that fascinate them as they build on each others discoveries and explanations'. - Ursula Kolbe


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tubes and marbles!

Earlier this week we collected some cardboard tubes, some narrow and some very wide. It was a pretty exciting moment for many of the children. After some discussions about how we could use these tubes we took advantage of Sam's dad Nigel, asking him to screw some hooks into the ceiling for us so that the tubes could be suspended down for marble tracks.

This truly captured the children's imagination, and all week this area has been a hive of activity.

The idea of sending a projectile down a tube has captured the attention of almost all the children at some point over the week, a great way to explore cause and effect and experience gravity and force.

A variety of objects have been fed down the tubes ranging from ping pong balls, cars, wooden people, and a koosh ball, however it was discovered that the marbles were definitely the most successful object.

As the play has developed, so too have the roles of the children. Some are natural gatherers, dashing around to collect the scattered marbles, whilst others took on the responsibility of making traps to try to catch the marbles as they shot out the end.

Negotiation, patience and turn taking skills have also been tested and developed as the children practised social skills in order to play successfully and co-operatively.

As the week has progressed and the tubes have been further experimented with, being placed at different heights, sometimes even needing the large step ladder to access them, we have considered with the children what else we can do with the tubes? Today's idea was to make a smaller scale marble run. Looking online for some ideas we printed off some plans to work by.

'Experiencing technological practice: The process starts with a desire to do something (intentionality), and involves the planning (what to do, how to do it, what do we need, how much time, materials, expertise do we have), the making of the product/system and an evaluation of how well the final outcome meets our initial expectations.'

'An important area of teacher involvement in technological practice is in the planning stage. Pertinent questioning by teachers allows children to crystalize their ideas' (B. Mawson)

Experiencing conceptual (minds on) and procedural (hands on) knowledge assists in success.

Working in small groups we experienced lots of trial and error, along with some some fantastic problem-solving as we thought about where to put the tubes so that the marbles could successfully travel down the run.

Although we may have initially designed this structure with marbles in mind, the creative minds of the children soon meant we had cars, large glass beads and many other interesting objects speeding along the run.

I particularly loved this idea of hot glueing a cork to the top of a pipe to stop the marble flying off the end as it careered down the tube.

What other concepts will be explored next with the pipes?


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Monarch Caterpillar Metamorphosis

At last we have managed to capture on film a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

We have spent the last few weeks eagerly watching all our chrysalides darken in colour, then always seem to miss the butterfly hatching out. Although we successfully managed to film this on Friday, unfortunately for the children this amazing transformation happened about half an hour after they had all left for the day!

Many of our children have been totally absorbed in our caterpillars and chrysalides, arriving eagerly each morning to check on their progress. We can't wait to show them this little clip.

We have some wonderful observational drawings up on display in Kindergarten - come and have a look!

To see the process of a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis click here. This is a video clip that we managed to capture last year.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

An introduction to Fundamental Movement Skills

Today we welcomed Trudi from Sport Northland into Kindergarten. Trudi is going to be working alongside both the teachers and children at Mairtown for the rest of this term, and will be introducing ‘Fundamental Movement Skills’ (also known as FMS) to our programme.

One of the aims of Sport Northland is for all of Northlands tamariki to develop a love of sport, recreation and physical activity, leading to lifelong involvement.

So what exactly are Fundamental Movement Skills? They are best described as Basic Movement Building Blocks. These then become the foundations to more specialised complex skills used in games, sports, dance, gymnastics and physical recreation activities.

Although we all know that exercise is beneficial for our physical bodies it also impacts on brain development. “ Exercise and movement enhances attention, memory, focus and the ability to retain what is taught” (Sport Northland).

Our children are already very knowledgeable about the benefits of exercise;

Exercise keeps you strong and healthy” Aimee

“It helps you grow up up to the sky” Ryan

Star jumps are exercise” Eve

Over the next few weeks Trudi will introduce us to the four fundamental movement skills. These are locomotor (moving from one location to another), manipulative skills (catching, throwing, kicking and hitting an object), stability skills (balance whilst moving or staying still) and movement and body awareness (an understanding of “what my body is like and how I move with it”).

As teachers we are excited to be working alongside Trudi, but an important aspect for us is that the children have fun, they certainly did today!

Today Trudi worked with balance (stability skills), and had some eager participants. Using the bean bags we tried hard to balance these very carefully on the tops of our heads. With some prompting from Trudi, the children were encouraged to spread their arms our wide, using  ‘aeroplane arms’. This simple movement lifts the chin, flattens the head and suddenly makes balancing activities so much more effective.

Where else can we balance the bean bags? Shoulders, knees, feet, arms….

After some great practice we moved onto using the balancing beam. Again we immediately noticed that when we encouraged children to use their ‘aeroplane arms’ their bodies became less scrunched, their heads went up and they were more successful in their task.

The children soon moved on to design their own balancing circuits, what great thinking!

It is so rewarding to see and hear the children celebrating their success.

"I did it - I did it - I did it" Jessie-May

"Now I'm going to go backwards" Joel


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ephemeral Art

Today we re-visited the concept of using natural resources to create art with our children (often referred to as ephemeral art or earth art).

Earth art in particular refers to an art form where an artist uses natural resources (twigs, leaves, stones etc) to create original pieces of art and 'ephemeral' art is temporary art created in the environment and designed to naturally erode, therefore only lasting for a short period of time.

The materials we used were carefully chosen for their colour, texture, shape and variety and were displayed in an enticing manner which invited the children to come and discover, manipulate and create. Today we decided upon a selection of beautifully coloured red, brown and yellow autumn leaves, twigs, stones, soft green moss and shells.

Discovering that art can occur by using objects found in nature

Due to its nature ephemeral art is not collected so photographs can be used to capture the essence and character of such creations. In keeping with this theme we did the same today at Kindergarten. The children either took their own pictures (or asked a teacher) and we printed these off for them keep.

Providing children with an organised selection of natural materials for ephemeral art-making is an effective way to encourage children to re-use materials, incorporating the concept of sustainability.

Lisa Terreni  a lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington College of Education, also a practising artist states, “This type of art-making involves design and patterning, creates maths opportunities such as grouping and sorting. Most importantly they can be used to deepen children's learning about the aesthetic qualities of materials, enhance an appreciation of the inherent beauty in the materials, and deepen their respect for these taonga (treasures).”

Aimee's creation comes with a little story "It's a girl walking, they are walking to someones house for a visit, for a tea party".

What fantastic use of the materials available to develop early literacy skills, the letter 'Y'.