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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Monday, 14 April 2014

Wheel-a-thon 10th April 2014

On Thursday 10th April 2014 we held our annual Wheel-a-thon fundraiser at the Kensington park courts.  Throughout the week the children had been discussing their ideas about how they could decorate their bikes and dress themselves up. 

As part of the build up for the Wheel-a-thon the children seemed to enjoy watching footage from last year where they noticed either themselves or friends who have since left.  A marginal weather forecast couldn’t dampen spirits, and on Thursday kindergarten was buzzing with excitement and anticipation.  Fortunately we had beautiful weather with great support from children and their whānau.

It was wonderful to see so many of the bikes or scooters had been decorated thoughtfully with balloons, tinsel, streamers, windmills, ribbons and flowers.  As well as great decorations there were some children wearing fantastic dress ups.

Events like the Wheel-a-thon provide an excellent opportunity for whānau/families to engage with each other and meet outside of kindergarten.

When I asked the children what they enjoyed most about the Wheel-a-thon, there was one popular response “Eating my ice block”.  It certainly was a refreshing way to cool down after completing many laps of the courts.

A huge thank you to all the whānau who helped make this event such a success through offering support and help with many jobs including preparing the bread and onions, painting signs, transporting the barbeque to the courts and back, cooking and selling the sausages and gaining sponsorship.

This year all monies fundraised will be used to replenish our kindergarten resources, particularly resources in our art studio.

The Wheel-a-thon event was a great way to end a busy term one.  On behalf of the teaching team we wish you all a happy, enjoyable and relaxing holiday ready for term two starting on Monday 5th May 2014.

A collection of photos and videos from the evening for you to enjoy!

Ngā mihi


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Fairy houses in the bush

Sometimes something so beautiful happens you just can’t ignore it. This is the story of what I witnessed last Friday whilst on the Nature Programme.

Earlier this week at Kindergarten I introduced the book ‘Fairy Houses Everywhere!’ by Barry and Tracy Kane. This book is truly wonderful and shows many ideas on how to construct fairy houses (and furniture) simply and beautifully from the natural materials all around us. This provoked a lot of discussion, work and building, so knowing I was scheduled to lead the nature programme on Fridays, I wondered what the children would chose to do if I brought the book along.

I could never have imagined just how totally captivated and engaged the children would become. On arriving at a special place in Mair Park known as the ‘Magic tree’ the children immediately began to clear the leaves and rocks, re-arrange materials and start the beginnings of their fairy world.

From a teacher's perspective it was wonderful to watch; all the children were engaged, all working in small groups to construct and collaborate. Whilst they used the book for ideas, of course they had to think about how to adapt these ideas based on the resources they had available.

One of the houses with clay figures
A swing (the fabric was in one of our bags)

A fairy houses, surrounded by a rock wall garden and a tree made from sticks and fallen leaves
Gazebo with an open fire in front
Arch way with path made from shells
We spent the almost the whole morning in this same spot, the fairy houses becoming more and more elaborate and detailed; soon we had three fairy houses with additional extras like a gazebo, a fire place, a vegetable garden, an amazing bed, a fairy forest and a shell lined pathway that connected everything up together.

The simple challenge of creating a fairy house gives children a unique activity that encourages them to go outside and connect with the natural world, nurturing care and respect for the environment (Tracy Kane)

As I watched the children I felt the magic of the fairies spark within them as they began to start collecting the materials to build with. They foraged and hunted finding small petals, rocks, sticks, different coloured leaves, shells, and sheets of bark from a fallen tree, along with the crumbling wood from another fallen tree. The children were immersed in the beauty of nature, its colours, shapes, textures, sounds and fragrances. Who wouldn’t be inspired?

The rainbow fairy house

“Build a fairy house and celebrate the child within you”
Barry and Tracy Kane

No two houses were alike; they were as unique as the children who built them and as varied as these children’s imaginations. You could literally see the children’s imaginings, expression, dreams and creativity running wild. And it just goes to show how you don’t need expensive or large bought objects to stimulate a child’s sense of wonder and imagination; by connecting with the natural world everything you need is at your fingertips.

As the children worked they were instinctively respectful of their environment only using found materials and being careful not to harm any living shrubs. I had also brought along some clay which the children transformed into small figures, used for decorations or (very cleverly) used as glue to stick pieces of their constructions together.

Little clay men around a moss table
The bedroom

As everyone worked I was able to step back a little and listen to some of the creative ideas and thinking that the children were engaged in:

Eva “I’ve had to use leaves, then I added the roof like a rainbow”
Mason “It's taken us a long long time. We used the clay for sticking shells and even some little men out of the clay”.
Ben “This place will be safe for the fairies because the wood dragon that kills fairies lives down there”.

The flower bed with protective roof
A quick check of the book

Our fairy houses looked so natural they were almost hidden (the photographs really don’t do them justice), so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say they were captivating. I wondered aloud to the children as they worked what the fairies would think when they came across their work a little later on. Here is a snippet of the children’s conversation as they considered this question:
Liliana “They’ll say, it’s so so beautiful”
Chamodhi “They will say the kids made them for us the fairies”
Ben “I think they’ll be amazed and that the fairies will like to live here”
Liliana “Yes, they’ll live here forever!”

 If young ones can maintain a sense of wonder as they pass through early childhood into adolescence and early adulthood, that inclination may inspire much of their questioning. As they yearn to understand and make the best of life, a sense of wonder tilts their thinking forward. They grow bolder and stronger in their questioning, testing the edges and boundaries of conventional reasoning, pushing into new territory, demanding fresh truths and answers. (Jamie McKenzie)

A huge thank you to my helpers on Friday, Phil, Risini and Michelle; you all contributed your own bit of magic to the morning.

Nga mihi,

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Applauding Intentional Practice

In June this year, we will celebrate three full years of facilitating nature-based discovery and learning through weekly excursions into Mairpark, on our Nature Programme.
The continued success of this programme is due to the on-going commitment of our teaching team, dedicated parents and the generous support of community funding organisations like COG's. COG's support our programme with a grant to cover our Education Coordinators role.

As teachers, one of our original visions when setting up this programme was to help our attending children and families to re-connect with their surrounding community.

We believe as a group that regular excursions in the natural world provide opportunity to create vibrant and powerful experiences and memories for (and with) our children.

In her book Nurture through Nature author and educator Clare Warden reminds us that the role of the teacher is integral to the success of outdoor education. Clare states “Young children need practitioners who value and enjoy the outdoors themselves, see the potential and consequences it has for children’s development, and want to be outside with them” (2007).

With Clare’s thoughts in mind, my focus for this week’s blog is acknowledging three years of commitment, attitude, understanding and positivity from the woman who make this amazing all-weather programme possible in our community – The Mairtown teaching team.

“Our work as teachers is to give children a sense of place – to invite children to braid their identities together with the place where they live” – Ann Pelo

In all our work, the construct of care or manaakitanga underpins our teams beliefs and values. This commitment to care and affection can also be evidenced through the mindful pedagogy undertaken by each of the team as they take turns to ‘lead’ the Nature Programme.

Whilst each of the teachers are unique in their teaching style, we are governed by a core set of principals which enable the on-going success of this programme, some of these include:

We view children as capable and competent learners and leaders

Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imaginations

The support of our parents and whānau is integral to the success of our programme

Opportunities to experience risk enhance children's development

Nature provides opportunities for high play affordance

“Affordances are opportuniites that arise from the interaction between the physical properties of the environment and the interests, ideas and intent of the individual” (Warden, 2010)

Nature arouses curiosity and wonder

Nature time is unhurried

As teachers we are powerful influences in the lives of children

Recently during the process of self-review the team sat down to reflect on our work and leadership of the Nature Programme over the past year. Through our discussion we recognised that it is the familiarity and connectedness of ‘place’ that is such a powerful influence in the children’s learning on this programme. Master teacher Ann Pelo defines  ‘a sense of place’ as “somewhere to be swept into an intimate embrace with the earth”, it is somewhere to connect and belong. Our hope is that the seeds of love for ‘place’ that we help to sow in our tamariki  as young children, will help them to be part of a community who are anchored by a love of ‘place’ as adults; and who will take responsibility for its well-being in the future.

"We can truly care for nature and ourselves only if we see ourselves and nature as inseparable, only if we love ourselves as part of nature, only if we believe that our children have the right to be gifts to nature undestroyed" Richard Louv

Nga mihi