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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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Friday, 31 October 2014

Sharing portfolios

It didn’t take long for me to discover that at Mairtown Kindergarten assessment is a huge focus, especially writing quality assessment that is meaningful and makes individual learning visible.   Assessment is placed in children’s portfolio's as a record of their learning and is readily available for reading and sharing.

“Assessment is the most powerful policy tool in education….and will probably continue to be the single most significant influence on the quality and shape of student’s educational experience and hence their learning.” (Broadfoot, 1996. Pp21-22)

I find it a real privilege to obverse children proudly share their portfolios.   What I have noticed is how sociable these gatherings are, and how they can also bring together children who may not usually spend a lot of time in each other’s company.  During these sharing moments it’s lovely to see children interacting and making connections with one another while discussing similarities and reflecting on memories.  Best of all while children are engaging in social interactions they are developing awareness and knowledge of social competence.

“In our lives we need to interact with others.  These interactions include people with connections to us such as family, friends, teachers, peers and also people without such a direct connection to us who we come across in everyday life.  The ability to interact with others and to be competent in doing so has been ranked as one of the most important skills that we can have.  Social competence is about being able to manage and contribute to the social interactions we have.” (T. Fagan, 2011)

As a team we strive to ensure our children’s portfolios are filled with pages that are meaningful and captures who they are, what they love, whilst also being a representation of their ways of being, knowing and doing (Te Whatu Pokeka, 2009).
Te Whāriki (1996) states that assessment observations and records should provide useful information for children and adults.  Feedback to children on their learning and development should enhance their sense of themselves as capable people and competent learners.

Here are some of the children’s comments while sharing their portfolios;
Hezekiah:  “My favourite page is about jumping, ‘cause I’m jumping so high.”
Reese:  “These are my favourite pages I just love climbing on the black thing.  I got my fourth birthday tray, that’s when I got my sticker.”
Matteo:  “I was a pirate; my sister gave them to my mum she cut them to be a pirate for the party.”
Tyler C.  “My favourite is fire day…..mmmmm…marshmallows.”
Sharlotte:  “That’s my Nana on my first day, look me in my tiger suit and me upside down.”
Roman:  “My favourite page is this one, swinging, spinning and my birthday.”
Kayden: “That’s my favourite (the wheels-a-thon) cause my Poppa is in it.”
Isaac:  “Look at my panda house”
Payton:  “There’s me Princess Payton on the castle.  That’s me doing a back flip.”
Dallas:  “I like Fire Thursday and bread.  That’s me and my sister Cara.  I was looking at some centipedes.  That’s my dragon Stormfly.”
Khaia:  “This is my favourite (pointing to her fourth birthday page), I love chocolate cake.  I had a spider on my t-shirt.”
Oscar:  “I was painting a dragon, another dragon, that’s toothless he has lines in his eyes and green eyes, I got a dragon for my birthday.”

The individual portfolios are a special record of children’s interest and learning while attending kindergarten and are a wonderful document to reflect back on when older. From personal experience I know my children still love to read their treasured portfolios at home, recalling different stories and remembering happy memories from times gone by.  My daughter commented to me that she would like to keep her portfolio forever and my wish is that she will be able to share it one day with her own children and grandchildren.

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.  Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage.”  Henry David Thoreau
Ngā mihi

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Moving with Yoga

Over the past few weeks at kindergarten I have been introducing the children to yoga. It has been very popular with many children giving it a go and having a wonderful time engaging in this energising, yet relaxing exercise.

Yoga is a wonderful type of exercise that allows children to develop many different skills. It is great for their physical development as well as their emotional well-being.

 Yoga involves many different skills and creates countless opportunities for children to develop deeper understandings about how their bodies work, how they move and how they can be active and have fun at the same time. When activities like this are enjoyed it helps instil positive attitudes towards keeping our bodies and minds healthy. 

Te Whariki acknowledges that children should experience an environment where their health is promoted. They should have opportunities to develop an understanding of their bodies and knowledge about of how to keep themselves healthy.

“I sometimes get so stuck when I do this rolling, rolly roll rolling! Its hard work for my body but I will try to do it” (Mia)


We have been doing ‘Cosmic Kids Yoga’ which I found on YouTube. This involves a lady, Jamie, telling great stories around different animal characters that capture children’s attention as they participate in this exercise (www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga) 

“This yoga is so fun and funny. Look, look we are being such tall trees. No one can blow me over because I stand so strong.” (Nash)

The children have some favourite episodes including, ‘Twilight the Unicorn’ and ‘Joybob the Polar Bear”. The joy that they get from these yoga experiences is evident in their enthusiasm that they show throughout.

“Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvellous inner light that all children have to the surface.” (Wenig)

Each of the cosmic yoga story video’s is about 15 minutes long and while some children come and go from the experience, lots of them stay for multiple episodes. When they are involved it is very noticeable how the children are concentrating really hard at holding poses and listening to the instructions carefully.

“Yoga is an ancient system of physical exercise, breathing techniques and meditation practices that aim to strengthen the body and calm the mind. Yoga can be a useful tool for both children and adults, and yoga for children may be especially helpful for developing focus, calmness and body awareness.” (Binamon)

“Haha when I bend over I can see you through my legs. I feel so stretchy.” (Kōrari)

Some of the children were revisiting their yoga fun when looking at some photos. This led to some pictures being drawn to help explain to others what the children’s favourite poses were.

“You know I do this yoga at my house. It’s on my computer. This is me doing yoga. My arms are up above my head and my legs are, well one is out and one is up like this.” (Charlie)

“My arms are up in the sky. I’m like a tree because I’m big and tall and strong. You can’t blow me down. I like doing yoga, it’s fun!” (Sharlotte)

I look forward to seeing our children getting involved in many more yoga experiences. It is great to see that they have such a wonderful attitude towards physical activity. I highly recommend giving this a go at home with your families or in your centres with your children.
Hei konā mai,