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, 26 March 2013

Decorative Easter Eggs

Easter is nearly upon us, so this week at Kindergarten we have re-visited making our own decorative Easter Eggs. This is something we did for the first time last year, and several of our children remembered, asking us if they could repeat this process again.

When children re-visit their work they become better observers, become more aware of their own thinking processes, develop dispositions of good thinking and become more critical and able to expand their expressive repertoire (Salmon, 2007).

We began these eggs last Thursday using a powdered form of papier-mâché. We had to carefully weigh the power and measure the water - a fantastic way for children to learn about the relevance of maths in real life - for instance measurement, weight, volume and quantity.

Following instructions

Developing ‘process skills’

Soon we were ready to mold the papier-mâché into egg shapes – which was much trickier than it looked – we used our fine motor skills to roll, rub and pinch until we were all happy with our shapes.

The eggs took several days to dry but eventually we were ready to begin our decorating. On the first day of decorating we studied the patterns and designs on several eggs that we have at Kindergarten as well as using some photographs of beautiful Easter Eggs decorated in Europe; we were able to see that the pictures on some of the eggs told stories.

In areas of Europe the decoration of Easter eggs is an important cultural practice, and they are decorated in a variety of ways. Styles vary by region or country and can be decorated in a number of different techniques, including being carved, dyed, painted or appliqued.

Initially we used a single block of colour as a base cover for the eggs.




The next day we were really excited when Lucas and Daniela brought in some very precious eggs which originate from Germany. These were extremely delicate and exquisitely decorated; we took some close up photographs of the eggs and used these as a further provocation for the next layer of our decorating.

One of Lucas's beautiful eggs

From the making of the eggs to the final decorating has taken several days and has meant the children have had to be patient (perseverance). I am sure you’ll all agree they look stunning and will make a lovely Easter decorations in the homes of our tamariki and whānau this coming weekend.

Providing children with an opportunity to learn and be a part of  the customs, traditions and cultures from around the world.

As Te Whāriki  (NZ Early Childhood Curriculum) states, “The languages and symbols of their own and other cultures are promoted and protected…children experience an environment where they experience the stories and symbols of their own and other cultures” (p.72).

Christine Alford

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Three Little Pigs

Over the last couple of weeks the children have shown a strong interest in fairy tales. They have been bringing in stories from home to share and we have been digging out all the wonderful tales we can find at Kindergarten. These stories are something that a lot of the children are already familiar with as they read them at home with their families. Fairy tales capture children’s imagination and keep them in suspense as the good characters (the likes of Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel) deal with adversity and nasty situations only to come out on top. Fairy tales are known for their scary elements, which are all part of the moral values that they bring to the children’s attention. These tales benefit children because they promote hopes and dreams, enhance vocabulary and worldly knowledge, expand imagination and creativity.
Do not discount fairy tales as a bad influence on your children. Do not be afraid of unleashing their imagination and letting them confront their darkest fears. By giving them heroes to identify with, you are letting those fears surface in a subtle manner, and allowing your child to find his courage and make moral choices vicariously-choices that will build his character and have influence on the rest of his life.” (Lakin)
One of the fairy tales that has become very popular amongst the children has been the ‘Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.” The book has been read many times and we have also watched a Walt Disney Classic: Silly Symphony of the Three Little Pigs on YouTube. The book and the short cartoon have brought so much joy and delight to the children.
The children have been using their knowledge of the book and the cartoon to support their play as they revisit the story with their friends and teachers.
Kim had used the small toy pigs , a wolf puppet and small blocks during a group time to tell the story. William thought that this was great and absolutely loved watching the story being played out. The following day he found all these same props and set himself up on the mat.
“The pigs house blows down.” (William)

Alex and Jammin spent quite some time making their toy pigs houses just like in the story. They shared what they knew with each other and this fostered and helped sustain their game.
“You remember in the story the wolf asks if he can come in but the pigs say no, so the wolf tricks them and pretends to go home. He then comes back dressed as a sheep. Then the pigs don’t believe him and this makes the wolf mad. So he huffs and he puffs and blows the house down.” (Alex)
David and Pesiki were engaged in a similar game and they used their knowledge of the Three Little Pigs as a vehicle for their play.
“We are building a brick house so the wolf doesn’t find him!” (David)
Leah captured the interest of all these children when she was re-telling the story. The children who were listening were so engaged and their reactions (especially Jammin’s) were full of emotion.

“Children love to hear stories; a story told well can communicate morals and important lessons, or afford a medium for your children to explore feelings.” (Mork)
Makenzie, Leah and Jessie-May have been doing a lot of talking about how they would like to do a Three Little Pigs show. They had a meeting about this to discuss their plans and ideas. Clip-boards and pens were essential to this meeting as they allowed for the girls to take notes and draw plans. This was another way in which their knowledge of the story could be revisited and reflected upon.
“We are having a conversation meeting about our Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf show. We would like the teachers to tell the story and we will act it. We are going to have the story where all the pigs get safe in the brick house” (Jessie-May)
“The wolf is going to be dressed up like a man to trick the pigs. I am drawing an angry smile for the wolf because he is angry. I’m going to be the Big Bad Wolf in the show” (Makenzie)
“I liked it in the story when the wolf pulls the pigs tails. I’m trying to draw the fire thing that the wolf goes down. My wolf is growling at the Little Pigs.” (Leah)
“When Makenzie is the wolf she will grab on to the tails and then he falls backwards and bangs into the apple tree. It will be funny. Now I have to concentrate on my running because I am the stick pig and the wolf will be chasing us.” (Jessie-May)
These three also happily got up at group time to show the rest of the children how the Three Little Pigs sing and dance in the show.
“Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf. Traa Laa Laa La Laaaa”
Some of the children set up a small show using the props including the wolf puppet, toy pigs, some hay, sticks and blocks. Alex decided that he would read the story while the others acted it out with the props. Once again this was just another way that they children could recall their knowledge and share this with each other.
“The first little pig found a man selling straw so he built a straw house, and it was a fine straw house!” (Alex)
We are really looking forward to seeing where this interest in the Three Little Pigs is going, especially the show. The interest in fairy tales has created so many learning opportunities for the children , as well as so much joy and amusement.
 “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  (Einstein)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Spaces of inspiration and self-directed play

Tucked into one corner of our kindergarten is our jacaranda and mature pittosporum trees which provide both a shady haven in the summer heat, as well as offering many opportunities for the children to engage in self-directed challenges and play.

These beautiful trees have withstood the test of time and over the years have provided shade and a play area to generations of Whangarei children. In the last few years we have focussed on extending this tree space with the intent of creating a playscape which invites further participation and play. So with a little vision and forward thinking our tree area evolved from this…

to this!  

“An environment is a living, changing system. It conditions how we feel, think, and behave; and it dramatically affects the quality of our lives” – Jim Greenman

Trees provide countless opportunities for engagement in both physical and imaginary play. I’m sure that we can all recall fond memories of playing in or around trees as children and whilst our society is ever progressive; ole' fashioned self-directed play in leafy spaces will always benefit our tamariki.

Included in Te Whāriki’s curriculum requirements for young children are:

-Opportunities for new and self-directed play
-Environments which provide resources and challenges to support children’s widening interests
-Challenges and opportunities which keep pace with children’s physical co-ordination and development
With the trees as the focal point of this playscape, we continue to add other resources to extend and encourage a rich repertoire of play experiences.  
Clusters of cabbage trees are perfect for tucking yourself away from busy play…
Bungy cords make excellent bridles for horses…

Huts and cubbies to share with friends are easily built from hay bales…
Wooden cookies or slices can be lined up and stacked…

And a single suspended stick can provide hours of physical challenge!

Children are natural inquirers who are mindful of new learning opportunities and challenge. Following the lead of a peer, the first response of this small group was to lift their own body weight. As the play evolved, so did the physical challenge with each child imitating what they had seen; and then taking it one step further!

When children can engage in un-hurried, un-interrupted play, high levels of complexity and creative exploration unfold, our role as teachers is to stand back sometimes and be un-obtrusive, observant participants who are fully engaged and trustful of our children’s capabilities.

‘Nature is not only beautiful, calming, and inspiring, but it can also be a teacher…a cause for reaction…an interactive tool for both cognitive and physical development’ – Inspiring Spaces for Young Children