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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Sunday, 16 December 2012

End of year Celebration

We are into our final week of Kindergarten before our Christmas break. This term seems to have gone so quickly! At the end of the year we feel it is important to celebrate the past 12 months' achievements and contributions from our children and whanau.

Last Thursday we celebrated with a picnic at Mair Park. What an incredible night this was, and really lovely to see and welcome so many friends, families and past children of Mairtown. We had lots of catch ups!

Many children arrived in some spectacular fancy dress outfits. What a great effort everyone!

Soon it was time for the a little treat as we watched Mike the magician perform for us. Mike had many willing volunteers (and not all children!) 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 and photo clips below.

The children loved the show; there was lots of fun and laughter, we were all very entertained.

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

A big well done and congratulations to the winners of our Christmas raffles.

Next it was time for more fun and a bit of a hunt amongst the trees for some hidden treasure.

We finish for the year this Thursday and will return next year on Wednesday 23rd January. From all of us at Mairtown we wish our children and families a happy Christmas – enjoy your well-earned holidays. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all our families and whanau over the year for your help at Kindergarten. All your help - no matter how big or small - is really really appreciated and makes a big difference for us as a teaching team. We couldn’t do it without you all.

Good luck and lots of success to our children that are leaving us for school. Although we will miss you all, we know you are ready for this next step in your education – Kia kaha tonu! (Keep going!)


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Our Nature Programme Workshop for Fellow Educators

Over the past two years the Mairtown teaching team has worked hard to set up our successful Nature Programme. This is a programme that is of great interest to other educators who are devoted to providing children with nature based learning experiences. Because of this we decided to run a workshop for other teachers to have a hands-on experience of what is like for our children who are part of our Nature Programme.

A group of early childhood educators from all over the Whangarei area came to join us at Mair Park for this workshop. We wanted to give them an experience through the eyes of the child, taking them to places that the children visit on our Nature Programme. This journey began as it does for our children when we welcomed each other in a circle, reflected about how we began the programme and went over some of the ground rules.

Now it was time to enter Mair Park and as soon as we did this the reflective dialogue began. As we moved through the bush we soon came to the ‘Magic Tree’ where we stopped and reflected on how this space was making us feel. A similar reflection was evident amongst the group; a sense of calmness and peace. After this 'Rocky Mountain' was tackled; this was a great way to experience the physically challenging environment that the bush offers. It created some thoughtful reflections about how we as adults feel about these risk taking experiences and what they mean to the children’s learning and development.

Next we discussed the natural resources that the bush offers and how these are often used by our children to create ephemeral art (art that is made from things that are in the natural environment, which will only last for a short time - things that are transient, are temporary and will eventually disappear.) We gave our workshop participants some string and asked them to create some treasures for our bush. As they were involved in this experience there was a sense of engagement with the environment and lots of deep concentration. This is behaviour that is often displayed by our children on the Nature Programme. Here are some of the wonderful creations.

The following week our children found the treasures that were left behind. This created a great sense of wonder and magic as the children reflected on what they had discovered.

Part of the workshop was to also share worldwide research and information that support and verify the importance of getting children out and into nature and the opportunity to engage in reflective dialogue around this. We gathered together for a picnic where there was lots of thought provoking questions asked and discussion shared amongst the group. We were able to share in depth the reasons why we do what we do and the benefits that we have seen for our children since we started our Nature Programme.

We have received some wonderful feedback about the experience from the teachers who attended.

“It was great to be able to ask questions as they came up in the setting, and to hear the info about setting up and running the programme after having experienced the environment- much more relevant. It was wonderful to have all four of you there sharing your different perspectives – made it a very rich experience.”
“Keep up the great work. You are making a difference to each child’s life and how  they look at and accept the world.”

We are incredibly passionate about the Nature Programme and felt honoured that we could share this with other educators. It was great for our own profession learning and development. Networking with other educators with similar desires is always empowering and reaffirming for us. At Mairtown Kindergarten we believe that by providing children with a regular experience of being in nature we are enhancing their learning and development in many ways, with one of the most significant motives being that they will develop skills and a lifelong love and interest in caring for their local environment.

"There’s no way that we can help children to learn to love nature and preserve this planet, if we don’t give them direct experiences with the miracles and blessings of nature."   (Anita Olds)

We will be running some more workshops in 2013 so if you are interested don’t hesitate to contact us on mairtown@nka.org.nz or 094372742.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Making decorations

December has arrived, it is less than three weeks till the end of term, and it is time to start thinking about celebrating Christmas at Mairtown (if we’re honest the children have been talking about Christmas for several weeks already!).

This week we began to make some simple decorations from sticks and wooden beads.

We believe in providing real tools for children to use in their constructions; nothing is more frustrating and discouraging than a child using equipment which prevents him or her from achieving their aims and plans.

Exposing young children to using real tools, with real materials and for a real purpose can help to foster their creativity, imagination, self-esteem, problem solving and ability to successfully assess risks.

The children began by either using the saw or secateurs to cut sticks into varying lengths. This lead to some wonderful conversations between the group of children, as to which were the smallest sticks, the next biggest, the largest and so on, we then lined them up according to size (a great demonstration of promoting mathematical language and concepts in early childhood).

Next came the trickier part and for most of the children the most exciting, it was time to get the drill out! Due to the fact that the sticks were narrow and wobbly, this was an area where I as the teacher supported their learning, either by holding the sticks steady or helping to hold the heavy drill while the children squeezed the trigger.

As we all worked the children shared their knowledge of drills including how drills work, what they can be used for and some rather interesting stories from home! All the children were very responsible and respectful, they helped and supported each other in their achievements and took a great deal of pride in their accomplishments.

Ryan admitted “This is really hard hard work”, but he persevered and saw the task through from start to completion, remaining focused the whole time.

Thinking independently (being able to work and learn from others in reciprocal situations).

Finally it was time to thread our sticks onto some ribbon in size order, placing a bead in between each one. Threading with a needle involves fine motor development, hand eye co-ordination and the use of a pincer grip. With this grip, a child uses only their thumb and index finger to hold and manipulate small objects; the development of this grip is essential for holding a pen/pencil and for successful writing later.

Some children have decided to leave their Christmas trees in their natural state, whilst others have wanted to paint them. Whichever way, I’m sure you’ll agree they look great, and make fantastic but simple Christmas decorations.