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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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Transferring knowledge from 2D to 3D - The wonders of drawing and clay work combined

A few of our children have been partaking in some lovely observational drawing of wild animals. After looking closely at books and toy animals there have been giraffes, zebras, lion cubs and tigers carefully marked out on paper. The animals have also had some realistic colours added to them, bringing the drawings to life.

The children utilised a lot of skills during the drawing of their animals, including making observations of what they could see and then putting pen to paper to represent this. They had good control over the marks that they made on the paper and thought carefully about how these marks could create a picture that would represent their chosen animals. Their wonderful pictures inspired others to give this experience a go, which in turn meant that they were having a positive influence on their peers learning and development, as well as their own.

Observational drawing invites children to look closely at things and to notice all the details. In turn it encourages children to make more intricate drawings than they do from memory alone, often leading to joyful discoveries. It is part of the process of ‘learning to see’.”  (Kolbe, 2009)

To extend on this interest the children were invited to transform their beautiful pictures into 3D clay models. Once again there was lots of observations and discussions of ‘what they could see’ before they each began their creations.

“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, 2009)

Suggestions were made as to how the children could use the clay to make their animals. During the process of creating the animals I talked to the children about how they can use the clay to form different parts of the animals bodies; legs, torso, ears, tail, head etc. I also chose to role model some of these techniques. A technique the children found useful was when I showed them how the use of small sticks inside the clay is a great way to help hold the body parts upright and together; before long they had made some wonderful animals. Once they were dry I then invited the children to paint their clay work which they did with lots of concentration. Their work was then put on display and has been a source of inspiration for other children who have seen this wonderful work.

Clay is a malleable resource that can be easily manipulated into three dimensional forms.There are also lots of skills used and developed on when working with clay. An example of this would be the children's fine motor skills as they worked carefully to shape each body part and then put them together. It takes dexterity to mould clay whilst also allowing the children to represent their thoughts and ideas in 3D. They concentrated hard on what they were doing through-out the process of bringing their pieces of clay to life. Sometimes when they were rolling out the body parts, such as the legs, they would break, but the children all persisted with these difficulties and kept on working hard at their creations

This art process encouraged concentration and thinking carefully about what the children were each noticing about the animals. The marvellous creations are evidence of all the time and energy that was put into their work.

“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, 2009)

By inviting the children to engage in this clay activity they were able to extend on their interests. Watching their ideas and drawings transform from paper into a 3D clay model created much delight for all.  

Toby's Giraffe
"My Giraffe has such a long neck and so many spots. I saw that it has horns and a tail and fours legs as well. I think my giraffe is so cool and my Mum will think that too."

Roman's Zebra
"It's a stripy one aye, and it has four legs, 1, 2, 3, 4. I drawed it and made it have a tail and eyes and hair on its back like the one in the book."

Sharlotte's tiger
"My tiger is very stripy because I saw the stripes when I was looking at it. When I paint my clay tiger I'm going to put stripes on that too, just like my drawing."

Reese's lion cub
"I like it little. I looked closely and saw spots on its leg so I drawed them. And I saw spots on its tummy too because I looked under it and I could see spots."
Till next time,

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The science behind the drawings

Several weeks ago Sarah brought in some gorgeous sunflowers from her garden to share with the children at kindergarten. There is something about the sunflower that seems to totally capture the children’s interest; perhaps it is their open, almost face like heads, their colour or maybe their impressive size. Regardless of this, it is something we have noticed again and again when we use these flowers as a resource at kindergarten.

Sarah’s flowers were no exception and the children, eager to explore and learn more about this flower, did what comes very naturally to them at Mairtown; they began to draw. Observational drawing is something we use all the time, and the children are now very comfortable and familiar with this wonderful method of learning.

When students draw pictures of things they see, it enhances their observation of these things (Haydock)

Our very first drawings and initial conversations uncovered some early discoveries:
Isaac: I see a circle…then petals, I notice they have leaves.
Sienna: Yes, they are really big petals, and I notice they are a bit bigger than I’ve drawn.  I’ve not drawn as big as them. Yes I notice the petals, I think they are a happy flower.
Isaac: Yep, they need a lot of sun and lots of rain, but more sun than rain.
Sienna: It takes a long time for sunflowers to come up in the sun. Look there are dots in the middle.
Isaac: And if they don’t have sun, they die in the middle’

After many days of observing, noticing, drawing and lots of discussion regarding what we know (and don’t know) about sunflowers the original flowers of course eventually died. This had by now become such an interest for the children, they were really having some wonderful discussions and at times quite passionate ones as they agreed and disagreed about what what they could see and notice and what this meant. Because of this I felt that it was really important for their learning to continue on this topic and we fortunately sourced some more sunflowers from a local grower.
Arriving with the freshly cut sunflowers

Although the pictures the children have created are each amazing and wonderful in their own ways, there is a lot more to this work than perhaps initially meets the eye - and that is the Science behind each of these drawings.

[This intricate drawing literally comes to life with the addition of some dye]

Students’ interest in science can be enhanced if they draw pictures as part of learning science. When they are drawing they are necessarily more involved than when they are just listening and/or looking…Art is an enjoyable mode of self-expression and communication, as well as a skill useful in science and other areas. Consider then, drawing to be just as essential as reading, writing and arithmetic (Haydock).

Certainly as one of the teachers involved in this topic I have found this to be very much the case. By working at the children’s pace, with their interests and natural curiosity about these flowers, by allowing the children to inquire and ask their own questions, and of course by encouraging the use of drawing, we have over the weeks discovered together many interesting scientific discoveries. Not all of these are necessarily accurate at first, but science is very much about asking questions, about hypothesising and developing new concepts and ideas.

[Examining the centre of the stalk]

I don’t feel we are at the end of our work together yet on these elegant flowers – there is still so much to explore and discover – only just this week have we begun new conversations on sunflower seeds and how they come from the flower, as well as noticing the sudden and unexpected appearance of caterpillars. As I write this blog however, I’d like to share just a small amount of discovery the children have done together, and I hope you too can see the progress they have made (over the weeks) from the very first conversations they shared, which were directed solely towards the shape and colour of the flower, to some wonderful new learning and scientific revelations.

Mia: I notice the white spikes on the edge of the stalk and it’s really bumpy. The inside (of the stalk) is white because trees have white blood.
Sienna: It’s a bit sharp like thorns on the outside; the inside- it feels like ice in the middle.

Looking more closely at the inside of the stalk the children discuss what they see.
Emma: It’s soft and squishy and a little bit sticky

Me: What is the white stuff inside the stalk?
Emma: I don’t know! Nobody can find out!
Tyler: It’s like a beanstalk so it makes it grow bigger.
Mia: The water comes into the flower so it can grow up. It goes through the whitey middle bit. It’s soft and squishy cause It’s wet so the water can be drinked out of it. The water comes from the wet rain. The water goes up to the flower.
Tyler: But it’s not raining in here and it’s wet and squishy.
Emma: Oh yes, I think that’s a very good idea, cause without water it might die and Tyler look at it, there is water in the vase. When they drop they are very dying. And they get heaps of energy from the sun and water like we do when we eat food.
Isaac: The flower doesn’t have to drink rain it can drink water from the tap but without sun and water it will die.
Emma: That’s because it gets dried up by the sun. The sun makes things dry, it makes everything dry up!

A few days later still we spot the caterpillars and discuss what they are and where they have come from.
Matteo: I think they’re worms.
Sienna: No, they’re caterpillars.
Matteo: No, as caterpillars are only yellow and black.
Sienna: No, cause I have a book at home that shows different colour caterpillars and some are green like this one.
Nyla: Yes, that’s right as I have green ones at my house.
Matteo: Hmm, ok, I didn’t know that, perhaps they are caterpillars.
Reese: I actually thought it was just a part of the leaf, but when Christine moved the leaf the caterpillar moved.
Sienna: That’s called camouflaged. I wonder how they got there?

We lead onto talking about where these caterpillars have come from.

Reese: I think they came up the kindergarten ramp in the middle of the night to eat all the leaves.
Isaac: I think they came inside the stalk and came out the head of the flower.
Taika: No that can’t happen cause there's no hole at the bottom of the stalk.
Reese: Yes it can cause maybe it climbed up the outside?
Emma: Maybe they are water caterpillars as the stalks are in water and they swim around trying to catch a stalk to climb?
Reese: Hey, oh yeah. I just remembered when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly it lays eggs and when it lays eggs they turn into caterpillars so maybe a butterfly came in and lay the eggs?
This idea is meet with enthusiastic agreement!

 [A careful look at the large leaves and inside the head of the flower]

Scientists do not use words only but rely on diagrams…photographs, and other images to make discoveries, explain findings, and excite interest…scientists imagine new relations, test ideas, and elaborate knowledge through their visual representations’ 
                  (Ainsworth, Prain & Tytler, 2011)                            

By doing art, students can create and communicate new ideas. By seeing art, students can be inspired by new directions and new ideas (Haydock)

Ka kite ano, 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Wheel-a-thon 3rd March 2015

On Tuesday 3rd March 2015 we were very fortunate to have beautiful weather for our annual Wheel-a-thon fundraiser at the Kensington park courts. 

It was wonderful to see so many of the bikes or scooters had been decorated thoughtfully with balloons, tinsel, streamers, windmills, ribbons, plants and flowers.  Many of the children also chose to decorate themselves wearing fantastic dress ups.

Community events like the Wheel-a-thon provide an excellent opportunity for whānau/families to engage with each other, meet new friends and socialise 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.  As well as receiving an ice block each child received a badge acknowledging their participation, one child commented “I love this badge so much I want to wear it tomorrow and the next day”.

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, transporting the barbeque to the courts and back, cooking and selling the sausages, gaining sponsorship and making the time to come and have fun at the event.

On Friday 6th March we were all delighted to see that we featured in the Northern Advocate newspaper. It was so exciting for the children to see themselves in the newspaper, and special thanks must go to Tyler’s Dad for taking such wonderful photograph’s again.

To view the article click here.
Christine has made a short slideshow movie using a collection of photographs from the wheel-a-thon and at whānau time the children watched it with so much joy as they recognised themselves and their friends riding their bikes and scooters. 

Enjoy the slideshow below:

This year all monies fundraised will be used to assist our kindergarten in becoming more sustainable.  Plans are now being processed to purchase some hand operated water pumps that are attached to a refillable half barrel for our outside environment.

Ngā mihi