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, 15 December 2015

Being Grateful in this Festive Season

Christmas is just around the corner now and there is most definitely a buzz in the air.  The children are talking a lot about Santa coming and sharing their excitement with one another. At kindergarten we have been enjoying and embracing this energy. We have a daily advent calendar that is opened at group time, Donna and the children have been baking and decorating short bread cookies, and everyone has been making festive decorations.

To extend on this festive energy last Monday the whole kindergarten went on a special excursion to the ‘Festival of Christmas Trees’ at the St John’s Golden Church. This is a lovely event put on by the church where they invite community groups to decorate a tree. In November some of our children helped make some beautiful decorations and then the teachers used them to decorate the Christmas tree. There were ‘peg fairies’ and ‘golden bomby-knockers to just name a few things.
When the time came to go for our walk to the church lots of the children were delighted and surprised to see our tree on display. There was also a lot of other lovely trees to look at. The children enjoyed singing to the ladies who were running the festival of Christmas Trees and in return they had some delicious shortbread (thanks Raewyn!) and a story to read.  It was such a lovely walk in our community and we had such a wonderful turn out of helpers with nearly 60 of us getting out and about. Mairtown Kindergarten loves being a part of community events like this and really appreciate that we were invited to participate.  

Christmas brings a lot of joy and happiness but we are also very mindful of how this time of year can be a little stressful and overwhelming due to the pressure that seems to come with the festive season. With this in mind we wanted to trial something new and create a gratitude tree for our Christmas recognition at kindergarten. We have a lovely branch painted white that is constantly being used to display beautiful things and now it is covered in special notes from all our families about why they are grateful to have their child in their lives.

Each child had a lovely black and white photo placed on some card and these were then given to the parents to write a note to their child. Once this was done they were hung on our lovely tree.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation, it is a mindful acknowledgement of all we have been given.
We know that for each family, their child is an absolute treasure and blessing in their life, so that is why we had invited them to write a message of love and appreciation to their child. Here is small snippet of some of the beautiful notes shared,
When we planned for this idea, we knew it was going to be very special. However we had no idea how absolutely stunning the finished tree would turn out to be. The messages written on these cards are so special and just make our hearts sing. We are very thankful to each of these heartfelt messages, the children have just loved being able to find their photo and have the words read back to them. This beautiful little tree has become not only a celebration of Christmas but a reminder that the most important things in life are not ‘things’ but people.
Each of these loving notes have been documented for the children’s individual portfolios. This means that they can be revisited by them for many years to come. It has been a lovely way to capture the parent’s voice, which in turn allows us as teachers to get know each child that much more in a meaningful and holistic way.

‘Expressing gratitude is a rewarding habit that affirms the grace of the giver. Gratitude opens our hearts and encourages us to savour each gift that comes our way. It is a reminder that one can always find reason to be glad’
We are all very grateful to be able to work with such wonderful children and their families. Each day they bring us so much joy. As teachers at Mairtown we feel blessed to be a part of such vibrant, caring and thoughtful community. With that in mind we would like to say a huge thank you to all our kindergarten families for all that they do and bring to Mairtown.

We hope that the festive season for you all is full of precious moment’s shared loved ones. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.
Kindest regards,
Christine, Kim, Donna, Susie, Sarah and Zair

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christine's published work

In 2014, amid Christine’s professional learning and personal goals was the aspiration to have some of her research and work published. So, in December, after an absolutely huge year of scholarship writing and presenting Christine then went on to submit an article to the New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work to gage their interest. As you can imagine they were very interested and asked Christine to re-submit her work using their format.
Christine’s work was accepted and then peer reviewed and now after almost a year of anticipation, Christine’s article Drawing. The Universal Language of Children has been published and is available to read online.

I have asked Christine for permission to share this work with you, Mairtown’s readers and blog followers. I know for many of you Christine’s writing is highly regarded. This article provides another opportunity to glimpse into the mind and passion of an incredibly motivated, mindful and communicative early childhood professional. Zair, Susie, Donna, Sarah and myself feel truly fortunate to work alongside Christine, we are incredibly proud of her ongoing achievements. I hope this article ignites your thinking too.

Haere ora

Click here to view the article

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Creation of Fairy Corner

Inspired by one of our children’s interest and knowledge of fairies, several weeks ago, we decided to try to create a fairy kingdom for ourselves at Mairtown.

At the very beginning of our work together we began to talk about what we already knew about fairies. Some of our children are already great experts with Sienna telling me ‘If I wasn’t here you would know nothing so I’ll help you’. This statement was a great way to open the dialogue even further and really look and think in-depth about the wondrous world of fairies.

Here are some of our children’s initial thoughts:
Fairies only come out at night.
All fairies are nice.
Fairies and gnomes like one another as they are similar. Gnomes wear different colour coats and fairies wear dresses and other stuff.
Some gnomes have pets like bunny rabbits and reindeers
Fairies, they only like to be seen by one another. Gnomes like to be seen by people.
There are boy fairies, they have butterfly wings.
Fairies can turn people into the size of fairies with their magic wand.

 After a couple of weeks something really exciting happened. Kelly (Sadie’s mum) said she knew of an artist based in Kaitaia by the name of Sheree Wagener who builds fairy lands, and a recent one which has been on display at the Quarry Gardens was available to us if we’d like it (Thanks Sheree J - click here and here for a link to Sheree’s Facebook and website for more details). Imagine the delight and surprise as this stunning piece turned up at kindergarten. Each time you look into this fairy world you notice a little bit more, a little something new. The timing of this art was wonderful as it truly captivated the children’s imaginations and sense of wonder – just read a few of the conversations I managed to be a part of. 

The beauty of nature instinctively immerses children in wonder, a fundamental instigator for establishing and promoting a love of life long learning amongst children (Deviney et al, 2010; Wilson 1997).

Lali: I wonder what’s behind the door? May be there’s a fairy in there.
Penni-May: Yes, I think there is a fairy in there but she’s asleep so she can’t hear us. So…she must live in that house, here in fairy-tale land.
Lali: Is there fairies in there? I have fairies ay my daddy’s house, they might like to visit these ones.
Pippa L: I can’t see them. (Calls out) Fairies, where are you? Hmm, they won’t come out.
Lali: This is their home; I think they do live there as there are pictures on the wall.
Pippa L: (Calls out) –Come here, we can’t see you. Shall we wait for them?
Lali: Yes, we have to cover our eyes for 6 minutes or they won’t come out.
Sienna: (who had been watching with interest) I don’t know, but perhaps fairies are invisible.
Lali: I have a good idea; we could go hunting for fairies.
Sienna: I go hunting for fairies but I never do see one. You know that fairies are quite shy.
Max: This place is only for real fairies.
Toby: They must be in the house cause the lights are on in there.
Cleo: (head to the glass) I can hear something inside…I can hear sound.
Lily: Shush, shush (to everyone)
Sienna: Hmm, if you hear a noise inside, then there must be a fairy in there.

Images from Sheree Wagener

As the weeks have gone on our fairy corner has been transformed. The children have built fairy worlds at kindergarten, using their imagination and all the natural resources on offer to them. Many children have shared treasures from home – Sadie brought in a fairy house her and her dad built together - whilst many have brought in books to share or other special items to add to the already beautiful fairy corner. Fairies have been drawn, made from wire, discussed in depth, transferred into imaginative play, and many creative stories have been told.

As I worked alongside the children in their fairy kingdom, I encouraged the wonder and imagination of the children, I also modelled for them that life is not always about having the right answers. In fact, having the right questions can actually prove to be a more important and rewarding skill in life. I encouraged the children to explore, look, listen, touch, pick apart, compare, collect, sketch, and anything else that came naturally to them; this in turn allowed for their own open-ended investigations that were of course lead by their own curiosity and desire.


Of course after several more weeks the children began to wonder if any fairies were indeed visiting this special place they had created. Sienna, our fairy expert, told us, ‘They haven’t come to us yet as when they do they move your things around. They leave notes, but not all the time and they leave fairy dust and sometimes presents’

After this comment suddenly the children set about creating gifts for the fairies in the hope that they may visit us. Again totally independently the children demonstrated their care and respect for this special secret world by making a tiny necklace from beads, a crown, collecting shells, decorating a pine cone with gold paint and glitter, picking flowers, making a fairy peg doll, writing a note and leaving this all out on a collected leaf in the middle of fairy corner one Friday before they all went home for the weekend. They also made sure to give me instructions before they left telling me, ‘Fairies will only come if it’s quiet so no music or anything, and lights off too, everything off’.

The gifts are prepared and waiting for visitors.
I must have done a good job of following these instructions as one morning as we headed to fairy corner we were in for a lovely surprise; some flowers, a precious rock, a tiny note and something sparkly. Sienna was the first to come across the scene telling me ‘I told you they would come. Heaps of fairies must have come as there’s lots of fairy dust. Look, I think those are footprints’.

Slowly others joined us and we debated about the gifts, the note and where the fairies are now.

Pippa L: I know where the fairies are, they went into the house maybe, into the secret door.
Sienna: Well, if fairy dust is here it means they live here.
Sadie: Look at the crystal they left, they went to their workshop and made it for us.
Sienna: Yes, as they do make things.
Sadie: This is to say thank you to us.
Pippa L: Maybe it came from crystal land, ssh everyone we should go now and leave the fairies alone.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there will ever be to know and understand' (Albert Einstein)
This is just a small snippet of the learning and wondering that has happened in this special little corner of Mairtown over recent weeks, there is so much more I could tell you, but not enough space or time to write it all down. What I have really enjoyed is watching the children take such care over their play with the delicate resources, how they have worked almost everyday to add something new and special for the visiting fairies and perhaps what I have enjoyed observing the most is just how special childhood is, when we allow and encourage children to wonder, to be imaginative, to believe in fantasy and to be children.

A couple of years ago I wrote an article where I statedRemember back to your own childhood, the thrill of spotting a sparkling rainbow inside, reflected from the window, or your mind imagining all sorts of creatures hidden in the trees as you listened to the wind making music with the leaves. For most of us, these times are long forgotten and as adults we rush from one job to the next. Perhaps we too should slow down, take the time to observe nature and become filled with wonder, excitement and imagination once more…Childhood should be a time of magic and wonder; let us honour this’ (NZ Education Gazette, 2013).

More than anything I believe we should want children to be captivated in what they learn, as it is that captivation that will lead to the desire of deeper understanding and the seeking of knowledge. The world around us holds an infinite number of lessons for us and is filled with what can seem like magic.

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” (Rachel Carson)

Until next time,