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, 28 May 2015

Fire Thursday

There is something so special about sitting around the fire on a cold winter’s day, cooking delicious food.  That is exactly what we do at Mairtown kindergarten; during our cool winter months we hold our greatly anticipated ‘Fire Thursday’.

This is our fourth year of holding weekly fires every Thursday morning throughout our winter weather months.  Now at kindergarten our children know Thursday as ‘Fire Thursday’.

The creation of fire is an essential factor of a Nature programme.  It is one of the four elements and provides opportunities for children to experience success and self-accomplishment when starting a fire from scratch that will ultimately cook food.

Well before the first fire is lit, we engage with our kindergarten community to discuss our plans to minimise risks associated with having fire.  During the build up to the first fire we engage with our children to share and discuss thoughts of how to keep safe around fire. It so lovely to see our children who have experienced ‘Fire Thursday’, take on the role of leadership in sharing the rules and reflecting about what they enjoy.
Whānau time provides an excellent opportunity to have discussions and share ideas about how to be safe around the fire.  Keeping everyone safe is our key priority, to do that we have a safety bubble that is drawn around our fire. 

Important rules that our children shared; “No going in the safety bubble, only the teachers are allowed to go in there.” “Walking around the fire, cause if you run you might get burnt.”  “No scarfs or capes by the fire cause if it’s windy it might blow them in the fire.”  “If you be silly near the fire, you’ll be sent away.”

Our children are involved throughout the process of preparing the fire, and all have great expertise and knowledge of what is required to get the fire going.  There are always keen helpers to scrunch the newspaper, and lay the kindling ready for the teachers to light.  Like with any fire we need different sizes of wood to burn, our children also help to chop the firewood with a small tomahawk.


The key purpose of our fire is to cook kai; so far this season we have had yummy pikelets, a particular favourite is the homemade garlic and rosemary bread (including gluten-free) and delicious little sausages.

One thing I love about winter is having a fire and I know Fire Thursday is very much looked forward to by many.  It’s so wonderful to sit around the lovely warm fire on a cool winter’s day, to sit and chat or sing with each other and cook delicious kai.

Ngā mihi, Susie

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Open-ended beauty: The value of our colourful scarves and capes

At Mairtown kindergarten one of our most highly used and valued resources is our colourful scarfs and circle capes. The simplicity of these pieces of material allow for so much open-ended play to take place. At Mairtown we have a real appreciation for loose parts and the dynamic and creative ways in which they allow children to play with them. These pieces of fabric are an extension of this theory.
"If you're not familiar with the theory of loose parts it's a very simple concept. It's simply open-ended play with materials that the children can move, adapt, manipulate, and redesign in multiple ways. Loose parts are materials that do not have any specific uses or instructions allowing children to use their imaginations and creativity to create whatever they want." (whereimaginationgrows.com, 2014)
The children utilise their marvellous imaginations when selecting their scarves to play with. Not a moment goes by where they aren’t being used. Pretend play is very popular and we often have princess’s parading around, super heroes taking on baddies, knights going into battle or mums and their babies going through everyday care routines and tasks. Imaginative play (as spoken about in previous posts) is such a wonderful vehicle for learning and development. The children are having fun while exploring important concepts like relationship building, problem solving, thinking about their worlds in complex ways and being creative with their ideas and thoughts.

 “Imaginative play is also considered important for the development of children’s cognitive and social skills with sociodramatic play (the make-believe play with others) allowing for ideas to be passed around, built onto and understood by many.  Many studies show that 'make-believe strengthens a wide variety of mental abilities, including sustained attention, memory, logical reasoning, language and literacy skills, imagination, creativity, understanding emotions, and the ability to reflect on one’s thinking, inhibit impulses, control one’s own behaviour, and take another’s perspective” (Berk, 2009, p.237).

The colourful scarves and capes seem to always attract groups of children. There is oftern discussions around what colours they want to have with their friends. Time is spent selecting specific capes and pieces of fabric and then they ask for a teacher to adorn them in the scarves. This is often a very thought-out process; how the scarves are placed on the body – round the neck, over one shoulder, attached to a pony tail, as a skirt or sash and so on. These lovely resources are popular with both boys and girls. They create lots of opportunities for social interaction and often are a way for children to branch out and create friendships with children who they sometimes would not usually play with. When playing their pretend and imaginary games together children are opening themselves up to lots of new learning and ways of thinking through their social engagements.
Drew & Rankin (2004) state that “by working and playing together in groups, children learn to appreciate not only their own ideas and ways of doing things, but also each other’s. A child can learn that others have interesting methods and ideas that are worth paying attention to and that can contribute to his or her interests as well.”

Sometimes the capes and scarves are used to enhance experiences like dancing as they add another element of drama and delight to the situation. The way in which they move with the children as they explore and be expressive with dance is just truly beautiful and adds a real element of something special.

Lots of children transform themselves into super hero characters. We have the usual Batman and Superman hero's who come to life, but also an array of made-up hero’s. In these roles the children explore different ways of being expressive about their knowledge of the world and social justice.  

“By definition, superheroes are larger than life, courageous, powerful, and seemingly able to overcome any obstacle with great physical prowess while doing great deeds at the same time... It’s no wonder that many pre-schoolers are drawn to superhero play. Through play they can feel brave, fearless, in control of their world, outside of ordinary, and just plain good.” (Butler & Kratz)

We have particular children who have made getting dressed up in numerous colourful scarfs part of their settling routines in the morning. I think that by using the scarves and capes they are giving the children an extra bit of confidence, which in turn supports them in engaging with the learning environment and their peers in a more comfortable manner.  

The teachers are also fond of using them, especially while interacting with the children and being involved in their pretend play. They are also used on the adults for special occasions, like celebrating their birthdays, honouring their significant achievements or fare-welling them.

The lovely pieces of fabric aren't always 'worn', sometimes they are used to elaborately decorate our learning environment. Children turn them into table cloths, blankets and roofs over a hut.

All in all our colourful scarves are versatile and create so much joy and wonder in the kindergarten environment. They are just so beautiful! We highly recommend having them as a resource at your early childhood setting and/or in your homes for your children. We purchase these great resources from ‘Triple Goddess Dance’. They are New Zealand made, great quality and ideally priced. Here is the details for the website if you want to have a look for yourselves, www.triplegoddess.co.nz or email Tania on tania@triplegoddess.co.nz

Hei konā mai,