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, 25 June 2013

'Kiwi... the real story'

Some of our children were very inspired when Kim read this great book called ‘KIWI, the real story’ by local author Annemarie Florian and illustrated by local artist Heather Hunt.
They wanted to represent a little bit about what they knew about kiwi’s through their drawings. Pictures from this book were used as provocations and as they drew, their language around what they knew and what they wanted to share just flowed. This is what we often refer to as observational drawing.
Drawing is the backbone of almost every art discipline and a fundamental form of communication. This makes the ability to translate what the eye sees onto paper a valuable skill for all artists.
Before one can toss aside convention and explore the abstract and the fantastic the original form and realistic representation must be understood. Observational drawing is the way to exercise the connection between what the eyes see and what ends up on paper or canvas. It requires focus as well as attention to detail and the ability to find relationships. The relationship of one object to another and the relationship of those objects in space.
The practice of observational drawing will improve concentration, drawing skill and your overall ability to see the world around you.”  (Kunstler)
The children all shared their thoughts and ideas around what they knew about kiwi’s.
“I know how to say the noise a kiwi makes – key key key key! They hunt for food, bugs and ants. Kiwi’s are scared from dogs because they kill them. I love kiwi’s because they lay eggs and their beautiful feathers and their beautiful claws and their beautiful beak.”  (Liliana)
“Kiwi live in a bush and then they eat bugs and then they want to go to their dads and then they want to go to their mums. I love kiwi’s because they don’t bite me.” (Kate B.)
“They live in the bush every day and come out at night time and they play. Kiwi’s like to eat bugs. They are afraid of scary sharks and monsters too.” (Kate G.)
“Kiwi’s live in the bush and they eat bugs. Dogs and cats and rats worry kiwi’s because they might bite them.” (Jaimee)
“Kiwi’s live in a burrow and they come out at night. They look for food. Dogs scare kiwi’s and cats and rats scare them too cause they can eat their eggs. Dogs kill the kiwi’s. I am making an egg and this is a nest with lots of sticks. I drawed my kiwi and a snail because the kiwi likes to eat the snail” (Lucas)
“Kiwi’s live in the woods and they find bugs. They sit on their eggs for 15 minutes. They then might be cracked and the babies will come out.” (Emma)
“This is a kiwi eating a bug. Kiwi’s live in the grass. They say ‘Brrr brrr brrr’.” (Chamodhi)
“Kiwi’s live in the bush and them eat bugs. Kiwi’s like hiding and playing hide and seek.”  (Hori)
After creating these first kiwi masterpieces the idea of making a clay kiwi was introduced and many of the children jumped on board with this notion. When working with the clay we talked about the shapes that we needed to make to create our kiwi. The children involved really enjoyed this tactile experience, seeing their ideas and knowledge of the kiwi come to life in 3D form and the end result was such a wonderful little clay bird.

 “Clay work can be a language for exploring and communicating ideas. Like drawing, clay work enables children to make their ideas visible – but in three dimensions” (Koble)
On a later occasion some of the children also drew another great picture of a kiwi using black vivid on white paper with a bit of coloured pencil. This was very effective and they were very proud of their pictures.

 Their interest in these iconic native birds carried on for quite a few days and on a few occasions I have heard the children sharing their knowledge of kiwi’s with others. This interest flowed on to the teachers reading other stories about kiwi and from this many more children had the opportunity to learn about them.
It so lovely that this interested was sparked when reading a story book by a local author and a local artist. We have some very talented people among us in Northland and in this case they have created a fantastic learning opportunity for a wide group of children in our Kindergarten.
Pai te mahitahi – good sharing!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hanging Bars

On Thursday 13th of June, a local shipwright; Mike Lyon arrived at Kindergarten to install our much anticipated ‘hanging bars’.
These bars were envisioned by the teaching team after we had noticed and observed the frequent gross motor play taking place in our bark area. Our goal was to create a more permanent climbing structure without harming our beautiful trees.

This is where making connections with community and bringing in experts provides on-going benefits to our children’s education. Mike’s training as a shipwright includes knowledge and expertise with rope, and more importantly knots.

Using Tea Tree sourced from Donna’s bush, Mike expertly lashed rungs onto poles which span the distance between our two biggest trees.
The new hanging bars have five rungs and have immediately provided a new area for the children to be physically challenged, take sensible risks and engage in hours of imaginative fun.


On her Moving Smart blog site, child development expert Gill Connell, explains some of the benefits of ‘Hanging’ or ‘Monkey bars’:

Climbing, hanging, swinging, and any other high-energy activities that build strength in the upper body and core muscles are vital precursors to fine motor skills.
Twisting, turning, dangling, and swinging helps develop the flexibility and agility necessary for rotating the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.

Pushing, pulling, tugging, and lifting yourself up builds strength while developing an intuitive understanding of simple physics such as weight, pressure, and resistance.
As well as encouraging and enabling children to develop many gross motor and movement skills, the Hanging or Monkey bars also support our thinking about the benefits of children engaging in managed risk-taking.

Our planning for the hanging bars included positioning them ‘out of reach’ for the children. This means that it is difficult for our youngest children to touch them, for other children the V of the tree provides a stepping stone to reach up and grasp the first rung before moving across. For our most agile and competent climbers, the hanging bars offer a physical challenge to be mastered.

Children need the freedom to take risks in play because it allows them to continually test the limits of their physical, intellectual and emotional development (Tranter, 2005).

Risk taking is a vital component of quality outdoor play. Managed risk-taking opportunities introduce challenge and excitement for children to test their skills and try new activities. They gain mastery and a sense of accomplishment, thus further encouraging them to face new challenges. Furthermore, risk taking has been found to be positively related to self-confidence and creative ability (Goodyear-Smith & Laidlaw, 1999).

The skills and attributes of managed risk-taking are reflected in the Te Ao Māori leadership responsibility; Te kawe takohanga – which focuses on taking responsibility – it is about courage, risk-taking, having a go and trying new things.

Our goal as teachers is to provide our children with opportunities and challenges which benefit all levels of interest, ability and competence. The hanging bars are an area which children can ‘grow in to’. We look forward to observing and celebrating the new learning and play which will unfold in this wonderful enriched area.
He orange ngākau, he pikinga wairoa
Positive feelings in your heart will enhance your sense of self-worth
The children give Mike high 5's for great work!

If you would like to contact Mike Lyon call 0272048122, The Woodshed, Riverside Drive, Whangarei

Monday, 10 June 2013

Art Auction Review

Last Friday was the big day, the day of our Silent Auction Fundraiser – and phew, what a day it was.

From our previous blog posts you will know that we have had many artists generously donate work and our children at Kindergarten have also been working on pieces to be sold at the auction. These had been on display at the Old Stone Butter Factory for a couple of weeks; however not many of our children had had the opportunity to view the art.

A selection of our children's work on display
On the afternoon of the auction we invited our Kindergarten children, along with their brothers, sisters and other family members for an afternoon tea and to view their work on display sitting alongside our professional artists.

It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to see how much we value their work as artists, but also for them to recognise the importance of building an ethos where relationships and community lay at the heart.

Te toi whakairo, ka ihiihi, ka wehiwehi, ka aweawe tea o katoa
Artistic excellence makes the world sit up in wonder

At 5pm it was time for the auction to begin – how exciting. Registration was underway and at 6pm the first lots were ‘silently’ auctioned.

There was a real buzz in the Old Stone Butter Factory, lots of good-humoured banter as people refused to leave the side of particular bidding sheets, just in case they lost out! It was a wonderfully fun and enjoyable evening.

Artist Richard Darbyshire (centre) views the work on offer.

It was fantastic to welcome so many of our families to the event, and also many of our contributing artists – thank you we loved seeing you there enjoying the evening.

'Jeff' with artist Rosie Parsonson
‘Jeff’ our largest piece of the evening, donated by artist Rosie Parsonson was the final piece to be sold – and moving away from the silent auction for this one piece we auctioned it live. What an exciting yet tense moment  - lots of nail biting going on from me here – as I was one of the bidders!

Happily winning an auction!

Anyway, I'm sure what everybody wants to know is how much did we raise? The answer is a phenomenal $5400 – wow! This is just incredible. We are really going to be able to go ahead and work towards building and updating our art studio at Kindergarten into a space that is so much more purposeful and inspiring for our children.

I know we thanked everyone in last weeks blog post for their amazing hard work and contributions, but I’d just like to acknowledge everyone again. This event has been incredible to work on; we have had so much community support. Current parents at Kindergarten as well as parents from children who have moved onto school have been so instrumental in making this happen; our artists have been so generous I can’t say thank you enough; our parent group were like Trojans working on this – thank you; Jamie and Glenn – thanks for the music it was fantastic and of course to everyone that bought a piece of art and helped us raise our amazing $5400 – thank you, thank you. Finally of course a big thanks to Kim – this was all her incredible idea to begin with – very in keeping with our provocation ‘it’s the little moments that make life big’.