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

Follow our blog by email

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Beading Tree

When the children arrived back at Kindergarten after the term break they were greeted with the provocation of the beading tree. This was set up on the low table along with a wonderful array of small and large beads, pliable wire and ribbons.

The way in which this was set up in a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing way was done with purpose and intent. The intention being to invite children in and inspire them to create some treasures for the beading tree. In turn they would be crafting an art installation for Kindergarten; something that was beautiful, pleasing and inspiring to others who would be able to view it for a long time to come.
“Aesthetic considerations support the teacher’s child-centered approach to teaching and that the environment that has been developed ‘speaks’ to the children about how they want them to use it. The teachers are able to combine both beauty and functionality.” (Aesthetics-ECE Educate- NZ MoE)

This quickly became a space where children came to quietly sit and engage in making delightful beaded gifts for the branches. This activity had a sense of calmness about it and the level of engagement was very deep.

Threading the tiniest of beads proved to be quite challenging at times, however the children involved concentrated hard with the task at hand. Carefully the beads where picked up using the pincer grip hold. This enabled the children to have good control over the beads and wire as they threaded.

"I was making a few ones of the ball on the wire. It's hard but I did it because my Mum told me to do it. I made so many for the tree." (Eirwin)

Threading is great as it fosters fine motor skills which we use in many other areas of life.
 “Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the hands that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. Fine motor skills involve strength, precision and dexterity. They affect learning and living skills.” (Villeger)

The wonderment of this activity was very enticing for many children and lots of them returned on numerous occasions to create more wonderful pieces for the branches. The beads and their beauty were also talked about frequently as children discussed which ones they liked and why.

"Hayden doing beads. Hayden doing more and more and big ones." (Hayden)

"I was using something to make something. I was using beads and wire and I like using these because I do. I tried to get the wire and put the bead on them. I could see one little bead. I put it on carefully. You have to be careful with tiny beads because you might drop it and lose it and I'd have to find another one." (Sahara)

The children took their time as they decided where they wanted their beaded creations to go on the tree. There was also a lot of revisiting happening and discussion around which beaded piece was their favourite. It was so lovely seeing everyone admiring it's exquisiteness.

"I was putting beads on the tree. I love all the colours of the beads because they make me happy." (Kate B.)

"It was a little bit hard sometimes because the beads were tiny. I liked hanging my beads on the tree." (Jaimee)

The beading tree will now be displayed in Kindergarten. By displaying the children’s great work we are showing you that we value their efforts, which empowers them to keep on creating.

So why do we provide children with beautiful materials?
“To a young child, the world is full of materials to touch, discover, and explore. To find, collect, sort and use materials is to embark on a special kind of adventure.”
(Topal & Gandini)


Monday, 29 July 2013

Raising a generation of cotton wool kids

Click on the link below to watch a short but stirring programme broadcasted on TVNZ's Sunday last night.

Christine, Zair and I were lucky enough to visit Claire Maley-Shaw and her remarkable Kindergarten whilst researching information for our own Nature Programme. 

This article affirms how lucky I feel to be part of such a progressive and forward thinking community. Thanks Mairtown families for your on-going support and trust in your children's capabilities.



Monday, 8 July 2013

Celebrating the month of Matariki

Over the past month we have been celebrating the Māori new year, Matariki. Matariki has become an auspicious and important period of reflection and sharing on our Kindergarten's calendar.

This year Matariki began on the 10th of June. At Mairtown we always begin our month of celebrations with a shared breakfast. The Matariki breakfast is Donna's speciality, she arrives early in the morning to prepare a sumptuous feast for the children and families to partake from when they arrive at Kindergarten.

As always Donna put on a delicious spread including scrambled eggs, baked beans, muesli, porridge, toast and spreads. Haere ki te kai! Come and eat!

Sharing kai is an important quality of Tikanga Māori and our philosophy of manaakintanga/care at Kindergarten.

Matariki ahunga nui - Matariki provider of plentiful food

On June the 26th we further celebrated the month of matariki with our first ever 'Harvest Day'. The focus of Harvest Day was about sharing our abundance. Families/whānau were asked to bring in something from their homes that that could share with others.

We also provided a provocation for people to send a special message in with their contribution. Our vision was to nurture both the Tinana (body) and Wairua (spirit).

On our Harvest Day morning the children and families arrived with their gifts of abundance and skills. These gifts were laid out on a specially prepared table which turned into a visual feast, bursting with homemade baked goods, pickles, herbs, fresh fruits and veges. We were truly humbled by the offerings that our families had prepared for each other.

The harvest table was an exchange table. In return for gifting something you chose another item to take away. Throughout the morning the children visited the table to admire all the beautiful offerings and discuss what they might take home. Many stories were offered and shared. Oscar proudly told us about collecting his 6 fresh eggs whilst Lucas's citrus were their 'first pickings'.  James kindly shared the only chilli's from his plant and Cohen couldn't wait to eat one of the cookies he had made with his Mum!

The gifts were presented in baskets, bags, bundles and boxes, and along with the blessing of kai came messages for the heart.
"Always do your best...What you plant now you will harvest later"
"Something small, something sweet, just for you, a tasty treat"
"Kia ora mo nga hoa me nga kai i wwaenganui i a tatou - Thank you for the friends and the food we share"


The grand finale of our Matariki celebrations is our annual hangi and lantern parade. This is a highly anticipated and attended event.

As teachers, we love the shared energy that our families offer in the preparations leading up to the evening. This is a time of participation, collaboration and festivity.

There are lanterns to be made…

food to prepare...

and cook

and an evening of celebrating with friends old and new. Our matariki hangi and lantern parade is enjoyed by current attending families and those who have left. A highlight for us all is catching up with old friends.

Matariki is unique to our country and culture. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth Papatūānuku.

Matariki signals growth. It’s a time of change. It’s a time to prepare, and a time of action.
During Matariki we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give.
Matariki celebrates the diversity of life.
It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.

This year’s hangi and evening have been captured beautifully on the following video created by Christine. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared in the bounty of the past months events.

Nau te rourou, naku te rourou, ka ora te manuhiri
With your food basket and my food basket, the guests will be fed.