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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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


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