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, 28 February 2013

Family Involvement

Here at Mairtown Kindergarten we really value our families and whānau. We value the time that they spend at Kindergarten and appreciate all the wonderful skills and talents that they bring. Parent and whānau participation fosters their child’s sense of belonging which in turn enriches their learning and development. When our families engage in our programme, sharing their time and skills, they are helping diversify our children’s experiences.

“Children’s learning and development is fostered if the well-being of their family and community is supported. The families of all children should feel that they belong and are able to participate in the early childhood education programme.” (Te Whariki, 1996)

Lately we have had lots of whānau taking time to share their skills and talents with us.

Carol, Eleanor’s mum, has very kindly stitched up some beautiful crowns. These have been enjoyed by many of the children and added to their ever changing imaginary play scenarios.

Janine, Hori’s mum, shared her knowledge of poi with our tamariki, role modelling how to use them and at the same time showing them how much fun they can have with them. This was a beautiful experience for all involved.
Our Nature Programme is a great success due to the fact that we have such dedicated parent helpers. It is because of this parent participation that we are able to run the programme which has huge beneficial outcomes for all the children involved.
It is so lovely when parents and whānau spend time at Kindergarten and engage in activities with their child. Reading books together, working with clay, drawing, writing, having a push on the swings or having a tea party are just a few wonderful happenings that we see regularly at Kindergarten. 

“Parents and whānau should be welcomed and be comfortable and involved in the programme in ways that are meaningful to them and their child…Children and their families should experience an environment where connecting links with the family and the wider world are affirmed and extended and they know that they have a place.” (Te Whariki, 1996)

When children see their parents and whānau are accepted and welcomed at Kindergarten then this helps them feel safe, secure and ultimately valued. Seeing members of their own family in Kindergarten enhances a child’s sense of identity and belonging, as well as enriching their learning and development.

We like to have an ‘open door’ policy and endeavour to provide a welcoming environment for everyone who walks through our gates. By having this warm and welcoming environment we are able to create meaningful, reciprocal relationships with our families. This leads to open communication which in turn enhances the children’s learning experiences.

Constructive working relationships between teachers and parents/whānau can enhance adults’ knowledge and understanding of children and children’s learning opportunities, and so contribute to children’s learning and wellbeing at home and in the ECE setting. Children who see their parents/whānau working closely together with their teachers “gain a sense of continuity and of being cared for” and experience a ‘trusting and secure environment in which they can learn and grow’.” (New Zealand Council for Educational Research)
We love it that we have such devoted parents and whānau and really appreciate everything that they bring to our learning community at Mairtown Kindergarten. We would love to know if anyone has some talents or skills that they would like to share with us. Cooking, music, art, story-telling, sport, building, anything! We look forward to seeing all the other great ways that our parents and whānau get involved and contribute to the development of our tamariki.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Explorations with Clay

Clay is a resource which is readily available in our Kindergarten. We choose to offer it instead of play-dough as we believe that as children develop an understanding of clay and its possibilities they will develop skills and knowledge which will take them beyond the capabilities of play-dough; therefore clay grows with the child.

Clay comes from the earth: ancient, organic, substantial. It smells cool and dark. It is made from rock that has been transported far from its original source. It occurs in seams or beds which are often near a body of water.

Clay requires muscle. We engage with clay with our skin and because it comes from the earth, playing and working with clay grounds and connects children to the earth and nature.

Over the past two weeks we have chosen to offer our children full-body exploration with clay. This thinking was inspired by two schools of thought, one being that we have many new children who may not have had previous experiences with clay and the second was the writings of master teacher Ann Pelo.
Ann emphasises that full-body exploration allows children to develop a relationship or friendship with clay. And that understanding clay’s identity is essential prior knowledge to using it as an art medium.
As children bring their whole body to the experience of clay, they experience the responsiveness of the clay. This first encounter, body to body, begins the dialogue between children and clay” (Pelo, 2007)

Inspired by Ann’s writings, we re-set up our clay space by removing the table and replacing it with a large plastic tarp on the floor. Next we set out a new clean block of white porcelain clay.

This large block invited lots of curious participants; why was it on the floor? What could be done with it? And we responded; we are going to explore this with our whole bodies!


Tentative first movements of curled toes and pressed in fingers soon gave way to exuberant pounding and jumping. This block could hold the children’s weight yet with lots of physical activity could be slowly moulded towards the floor.
As the children played we offered words to invite further investigation; I wonder what knees do to clay? Look what happens under your jumping feet, what happens if you press in your elbows?

“Each child is unique and the protagonist of his or her own growth. Children desire to acquire knowledge, have much capacity for curiosity and amazement, and yearn to create relationships” – Loris Malaguzzi

With a morning of pounding and exploration the clay soon became wide and flat like a pancake which offered new possibilities for rolling and reforming a mound and invited team work and collaboration, as flattened clay is also heavy!

After two weeks of exploration our clay is now back on the table and being offered in large lumps. As teachers we have valued observing Ann’s writing’s un-fold into real experiences. Many of the children have thoroughly loved the opportunity to explore the clay with their whole bodies, which is a great reminder to us as educators to remember to take all learning back to its beginning at times.
As Maryann Kohl reminds us “Art is a process, not a product”

Nga mihi nui
Kim Townsend

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Happy Chinese New Year - 恭禧發財

This week begun at Kindergarten with some discussions (researching and sharing of knowledge) about the Chinese New Year. This festival starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year (this year Sunday 10th February) and ends on the full moon 15 days later. Chinese New Year is a truly special event and one that we enjoy celebrating every year at Mairtown.

At whanau time on Monday our conversations about the Chinese New Year began. Many of our older children remembered the celebration from last year and were keen to share their thoughts and experiences with the rest of the group.

We discussed the history of this ancient festival and how according to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with a fight against a mythical beast called the Nian -. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers (and children!). To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year for the Nian to eat so it wouldn’t attack any more village people. One day however, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red, the villagers soon realised that the Nian was afraid of the colour red, hence red lanterns were hung and red spring scrolls placed on windows and doors each new year.

After the story we hung our own lanterns.

We also used some ‘ang pow’ (Chinese red packets) to create our own star decorations. This fiddly and intricate work required a great deal of folding and the use of fine motor skills as well as patience and persistence

Joel shared his knowledge of ang pow:
 “There's money in it. It's for Chinese New Year. It's real real real money. They are lucky envelopes I think, is there money in these ones?”

Over the week we have continued to look at many of the Chinese symbols represented in art and writing, introduced ourselves to a few Chinese words and have begun to get an understanding of the traditional customs at New Year.

On Wednesday we welcomed lots of children dressed in traditional costume to Kindergarten ready for our Chinese Banquet.

It was wonderful to see so many families bring in their Chinese treasures from home to share with the rest of Kindergarten.                                                                                                             

Here Leah practices the ancient art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan (tai chi - 太極拳)  using a sword brought in by Daniela (Lucas's mum).                                                                                                

The sharing of food with our tamariki, whanau and community is something we truly value here at Mairtown. A big thank you to William’s family - Ivy and Jack - who supplied all the delicious food from their local take-away shop.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces"  
George Santayana

“Children’s learning and development are fostered if the well-being of their family and community is supported; if their family, culture, knowledge and community are respected; and if there is a strong connection and consistency among all aspects of the child’s word” (Te Whāriki, NZ Early Childhood Curriculum, p.42)

One of the customs associated with the Chinese New Year is the giving of ‘ang pow' (Chinese red packets). Traditionally these are filled with money and given to children and young people as gifts. These packets are beautifully decorated with writing or illustrations symbolising blessings, good wishes, prosperity and good health.

Red is seen as a lucky colour which will bring good luck to the person receiving it.

Here is a little photo clip of events from the week so far.