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, 25 June 2012

Nature Programme Winter 2012

Every Friday, the 10 eldest children at Mairtown Kindergarten along with a parent helper, a teacher and Sarah (our admin support) spend the whole of their Kindergarten session exploring Mairpark. Last Friday was the final nature programme for this term and we welcomed a visitor, Clair, a teacher from Auckland who wanted to discover more about our programme.

Developing physical and gross motor skills

Creating opportunities for risk-taking

Each week children have the opportunity to make their own decisions about the morning; which areas of the park to visit, how long to spend in any area, where to next? This is great for developing negotiation and team working skills.

Last Friday was very relaxed, and we took full advantage of the glorious winter sunshine. One of the first places the children decided they wanted to visit was the area known fondly as ‘the beach’. Several weeks ago at this same spot the children had engaged in some ephemeral art. You can imagine our surprise when we discovered (even after all the rain) that most of this work was still there and intact. This little revelation inspired the children to re-visit this topic and they spent a great deal of the morning creating more beautiful works of art, and all from the natural resources that surrounded them.

 Developing ways to be creative and expressive

Next we moved onto ‘punga hill’ and after finding the long rope in our back pack had a lot of fun sliding on our bottoms down the hill, then used the rope to help pull ourselves back to the top.

And yes, even the teachers can't resist having a turn!

Children find their own objects in play

Learning about nature,
Learning alongside nature,
Learning in nature.

The rope is a fantastic resource and a short while later came in very handy in making a tree swing.

Before we knew it (time seems to fly past in the bush) it was time to leave, and say goodbye to Mairpark for this term. What a great morning!

“I am trying to understand not a single isolated object but nature as a whole – how the leaf has grown, how it has changed, how it has decayed, how the weather is affected by it. By working with a leaf in its place I begin to understand these processes.” 
Andy Goldsworthy

Here is a small video clip of our morning.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Matariki Breakfast Celebration

Today - Thursday 21st June - the Matariki star cluster rises into our skies and signals the beginning of a month of celebration. This is a special time for us at Mairtown Kindergarten, and we marked the occasion with a delicious Matariki breakfast.

We welcomed all our children and their whanau, and thanks to Donna’s great skills in the kitchen had available a mouth-watering selection of porridge, toast, eggs, muesli, yoghurt, fruit, weet-bix and warm milo.

Roimata, our Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Maori (Maori advisor) from the Northland Kindergarten Association was able to pop in and visit us, kindly opening the celebration with a blessing.

Matariki marks the Maori New Year. The word translates as Mata Riki - Tiny Eyes, or Mata Ariki - Eyes of God.

“During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world.
We give respect to the whenua on which we live,
and admiration to our mother earth Papatūānuku.
Throughout Matariki we learn about those who came before us.
Our history. Our family. Our bones.
Matariki signals growth.
It’s a time of change.
It’s a time to prepare, and a time of action.
During Matariki we acknowledge what we have
and what we have to give.
Matariki celebrates the diversity of life.
It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.
Matariki is our
Aotearoa Pacific New Year.”

“I te wā o Matariki, ka whakanui tātou i tō tātou mana motuhake i tēnei ao.
He manaaki i te whenua e noho nei tātou i runga, he mïharo ki tō tātou whaea, ki a Papatūānuku.
I te roanga atu o Matariki, ka ako tātou i ngā āhuatanga ō rātou mā kua hoki ki te kāinga tūturu.
Ko ngā mahi me ngā kōrero o mua. Ko ō tātou heke. Ko ō tātou wheinga.
Ko Matariki te tohu o te tupu.
He wā e puta kē ai.
He wā whakariterite, he wā kōkiri kaupapa.
I te wā o Matariki, he mahara atawhai ki ngā taonga kei a tātou inaianei,hei koha atu hoki a taihoa.
He whakanui a Matariki i ngā tini ähuatanga o te oranga.
He whakanui hoki i te tikanga, i te reo, i te wairua me te iwi.
Ko Matariki tō Aotearoa tau hou.”
(Source: http://www.matarikievents.co.nz/)


It was so lovely to welcome all our whanau and friends into Kindergarten today and catch up over some kai - we had a great turn out. Thank you to everyone for helping make this morning such a special occasion for our children (and of course for us teachers too!)

Here is a slideshow of some more photographs from today's breakfast for you to enjoy.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Connections with community, a visit to Whangarei Primary School.

Last week 20 children from Mairtown had the opportunity to visit Whangarei primary school. We had been invited down by Mr Hensen, Mrs Foster and the dynamic children of Rooms 19 and 20 to participate in their 'building links with community' focus.

We were all very excited about the prospect of this visit. Many of our children feed into Whangarei Primary School so there was lots of anticipation and discussion about who we might see and re-connect with in the playground.

After a big hikoi (walk) down kamo road we were greeted at the school office by some of the seniors from Rooms 19 and 20. They had prepared some wonderful planning for this day including entertaining us with a puppet show and interactive play which encouraged robot dancing from the whole group!

'Sharing humour'
Here is a little video clip, where the Whangarei Primary children entertained us with their brilliance!

Our visit to the school included a 'buddy system' which rooms 19 and 20 had initiated as part of their thinking about creating a smoother transition for children starting school.

With each child buddied up, our children were then given opportunities to play on the junior playground, participate in jump jam, visit Miss Newsons new entrant class, Room 7, and actively explore chalk drawing, class room activities and the sand pit.

'Working collaboratively'

One of the highlights for our children was the opportunity to re-connect with old friends from Kindergarten and catch up with older siblings.

'A happy reunion'

       'Connecting with family'
A huge thank you to Rooms 19 and 20 and their wonderful teachers. What a fantastic initiative and opportunity for our children to strengthen ties and create connections. We look forward to future contact and the possibility of making this a more regular event.

'Tuia te Rangi e tuu iho nei, Tuia te papa e takoto nei'
'Join the sky above to the earth below, Just as people join together.'

Kim Townsend

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Exploring light, colour and shadow

Last week we re-introduced the children to working with OHP’s (overhead projectors) along with light box tables, with which they are already very familiar. By moving a few pieces of furniture around, we now have a corner of Kindergarten dedicated to the exploration of light, colour and shadow. 

Last week the children learnt they could easily manipulate light by placing transparent objects on the OHP’s or light table; and this week we are finding that the children are constantly re-visiting this area, continuing to notice and unearth more theories about light and its properties.

A collection of interesting shapes and objects has enchanted and engaged the children; leading them in their play to encounter and make detailed designs, constructions, story-telling and creativity.

Designing, drawing and construction are all enhanced when light shines from beneath, as in this light table work.


Wonderment & Awe

Some of the light tables have had an assortment of objects on them – but appear to be all of the same colour. This leads the children to notice the finer details of colour - how many hues of green are there? 

In these photographs the children were positioning an item onto the OHP so that the image ‘hit’ the paper on the wall, they were then able to trace around the projected image. This concept is much harder than one may think however, and requires trial and error, some clever thinking and lots of experimenting; as when you move object down the OHP screen the object appears to go up the wall, and when you move it right, on the wall it goes left and so on!

Lucas made a wonderful discovery about the projected images of elephant’s trunks that he was positioning on the OHP, “Hey look, when I put them on this way, they point that way” – a great observation.

Even manoeuvring your body in order to trace around the image takes some skill. As Aimee told me, “It’s all a bit tricky, my head keeps getting in the way, I’ll have to bend right down here to do it instead”.

“When you see shadows cast, you often see things you didn’t notice before” (Kolbe, 2007)

A favourite game of the children at Mairtown is to play the characters in the song ‘There lived a princess long ago’. Using acetate sheets, the children designed their own characters for a little show.

The use of light as an art medium is an example of the principle of transparency.

Have a look at the video clip below….


Monday, 11 June 2012

Languages and Literacies

In the early years children are developing the language and literacy skills that are essential in their ability to make sense of their world.  This year, literacy has been a strong focus within the teaching and learning environment here at Mairtown.  Through providing a richly resourced play based environment children are provided with many opportunities to be inspired about language.  Interesting and meaningful experiences enable children to acquire and extend their repertoire of language skills and strategies.

"... children's development of literacy grows out of their experiences, and the views and attitudes toward literacy that they encounter as they interact with social groups ..."  (Goodman, Y. 1994, p.103).

Oral language, (listening and speaking) is  encouraged within an environment in which children can become immersed in sound experiences.  Time for uninterrupted play allows for rich texts to develop within the imaginary world of dramatic play.  The more free play opportunities that children have, the more they are able to extend play texts through the use of words and objects to represent their ideas.   

Reading and listening together with adults, reading with peers, singing and playing games involving rhythm and rhyme, all help to build knowledge of sounds within words and grammatical awareness.  Our series of Maui books are in constant use and never fail to inspire interesting conversations. 

The development of written and visual language (reading and writing) requires that children are able to view many differing kinds of text and images.  A visually rich environment provides opportunities in which ideas about shape, line, and form can develop.  Talking to children about shapes, lines, letters, and words help them make important connections between the written and spoken word. 

We have found recently that the children's interest in shapes has inspired us to make a variety of geometric images available at the literacy table.  With plenty of pens and paper on hand, the children are able to observe images and make marks on paper that are of meaning and relevance to them as individuals.

"Language grows and develops in meaningful contexts when children have a need to know and a reason to communicate" (Te Whariki, Ministry of Education, 1996, p.72).

Art provocations are another medium in which ideas about form, shape, line, and meaning can be introduced and explored with the children.  Marks made with brush, pen, or pencil are discussed and admired; important written literacy skills are developed, practiced, and extended.