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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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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Book of the Week: Fostering our Story Telling Culture

Last term we introduced a ‘Story Telling Table’ after Kim had seen a similar set up in another kindergarten. Our table had the same story displayed on it for a week or so, along with small beautiful props that supported the dialogue of the book. Some of the favourites enjoyed by many children were classics like ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and ‘The Owl and the Pussycat.”

Jack re-tells his version of 'The Owl and the Pussycat - “The turkey and the cat and the owl and the pig all went in the green boat. They went in the water and had fun. They danced in the moon, in the moon and went back in the boat.”

Because they were out for a lengthy time we found that some children would revisit the ‘Story Telling Table’ over and over again. This lead to them building on their knowledge and confidence in re-telling the stories to themselves, as well as their peers and teachers.

On a few occasions the stories were read at group times, along with the props. This increased the participation of this experience immensely. Upon reflecting on this and thinking about how we could enhance this delightful experience for the children we decided to connect our group time and the ’Story Telling Table’, by incorporating it into our daily routine. We have now re-named the table ' Book of the Week’. The book on display is read at group time everyday.

"Reading stories provides the perfect oral language support – they provide both stimulation and motivation. While sharing a book encompasses much more than simply reading it." (Konza, 2012)

Pippa tells Lali her version of 'The Tiger who came to Tea', “He drunk all of the cups and Mum said ‘OH NO, it’s all a mess and no food is here’. And then we had to go to the café.”  

Our first book was ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. So many children were elated;  they knew this story as it was a book they often read at home. Making connections like this made the experience so much more meaningful and powerful for their learning and development. These children were leaders at the ‘Story Telling Table’ as they re-told the story over and over to their friends and teachers.  They also were the children who would help tell the story confidently at group time. Over the week the children who were not so familiar with the book soon demonstrated their learning, as they began to competently join in the experience with joy and enthusiasm.

"The humble act of reading a book to a young child has repeatedly been found to have remarkable power." (Rodriguez, Tamis-LeMonda, M. E. Spellmann et al., 2009)

Our second week has been met with the story of ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’. Once again this was very popular. Children who knew the story took the lead and guided their peers as to what was to happen. Some children spent nearly the whole of Monday morning at the experience, happily sharing the space with other children who wanted to come and go.

Te Whariki (1996) recognises that story telling plays an important role in terms of children developing skills and knowledge. The curriculum shares that children should experience an environment where they have a familiarity with stories and symbols from their own and others cultures. In doing this children develop an expectation that words and books can amuse, delight, comfort, illuminate, inform, and excite. When children are engaged in story-telling and reading books they learn that both the text and the illustrations carry the story, that print can be useful, that books can provide information, and that stories can allow one to enter new worlds.

Story telling is a wonderful skill that we love to foster at Mairtown Kindergarten. We really want to support the notion that our kindergarten has a story telling ‘culture’. We feel that the addition of our ‘Book of the Week’ table already has, and will continue to enhance and extend our children’s learning and development in so many ways. One learning area that we see it greatly supporting is our children’s oral language development. The familiarity of the stories allow for the child to play around with their ideas, especially the descriptive language that they use to express this.

Storytelling provides an influential and effective platform for promoting children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Stories can be integrated into mat times, in the sandpit, at the carpentry or play dough table, alongside the literacy area … anywhere, any time in fact - thereby increasingly modelling and creating a storytelling culture.” (Davis, 2014)

In addition when the children are engaged in this experience with other children they delve into the world of peer tutoring, where one child shares their knowledge with another and extends on each others learning and development. Again the descriptions of the story are a great space for lots of learning amongst small groups.

The book of the week table creates a lot of social interaction and allows for children involved to practice the notions of being both a listener and a story teller. Listening in particular is a great skill to learn. It helps children gain an understanding that by actively 'tuning-in' they are able to participate in  more meaningful ways with their peers and teachers.

One of the most delightful outcomes that we have noted since introducing the ‘Story Telling Table’ and ‘Book of the Week’ is the confidence that the children are displaying. They radiate with pride as they realise that their story telling skills are bringing joy and capturing the interest of others. This is often displayed in the longevity that they spend at this experience and the frequency that they revisit.

“Books and storytelling give children the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to use complex symbol systems that make up our society. This includes the written word, visual images and oral communications. Reading, writing, listening, and talking form the basis of children's literacy learning. Children need lots of language together with a wide variety of experiences. Sharing books and reading is a vital activity for children's development. Children who experience and enjoy reading books with others develop a positive attitude towards books.” (education.govt.nz)
We look forward to watching our children’s interest and confidence grow within the contexts of re-telling stories and enjoying having books read repeatedly. So much learning, thinking and reflecting happens when children have the time and space to revisit experiences. We believe that by being able to revisit stories over and over we are creating rich and meaningful opportunities for our children to extend on their literary knowledge and verbal language.

"The humble act of reading a book to a young child has repeatedly been found to have remarkable power."  (Rodriguez, Tamis-LeMonda, M. E. Spellmann et al., 2009)

Hei konā mai,

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Congratulations Kim

This coming week on Monday 20th July we begin a new term, and welcome Kim Townsend back to us as head teacher after her secondment to the Northland Kindergarten Association's (NKA) professional practice management team.

We are delighted to have Kim back, I know everyone has missed her, and certainly there will be some excited children on Monday.

Before the new term begins however, I thought I should celebrate some other good news with our community and whānau. Last night (Friday 17th July) the NKA held their annual appreciation evening and Kim was awarded a Kauri Scholarship to attend an 8 day outward bound course focusing on leadership – well done Kim J

For those who would like to know more click here for a link to the outward bound website. The course Kim is choosing to do is called a Navigator course and is based on learning through experience, adventure, challenge and plenty of physical activity in the outdoors. 

The outward bound website states,
'Our courses are designed to be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging for the average participant. Activities occur in all weather conditions and can include off-track tramping, camping outside (sometimes alone), whitewater and surf kayaking, running, sailing, swimming, rock climbing and high-ropes.’

Kim, moments after receiving her Kauri Scholarship 

Kim is an amazing, visionary and inspirational teacher and we are all so proud of her! Well done Kim we know you will be fantastic and that you will use this experience to enhance your practice further through this leadership opportunity.

Ngā Mihi nui,

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Hāngī and Matariki Celebration

Matariki is a special date in the New Zealand calendar. In Whangarei this last weekend there was a wonderful festival to celebrate this special time. At Mairtown we began our Matariki celebrations a few weeks ago with a whānau breakfast, followed a couple of weeks later with our harvest day and on Friday of last week our fabulous evening hāngī.

During Matariki, we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.
Throughout Matariki, we learn about those who came before us. Our history, our family, our bones.

Matariki signals growth. It's a time of change. It's a time to prepare, and a time of action. During Matariki, we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give.
Matariki celebrates the diversity of life. It's a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.
Matariki is our Aotearoa Pacific New Year.
(Māori Language Commission)

The preparation for the hāngī began with lots of our families kindly donating their time and hard work to help make sure we were ready for the evening. It is lovely welcoming so many parents and family friends into Kindergarten, watching relationships grow between children and adults and noticing how many of the adults within our community share their skills and stories with our attending children – something so special and a really wonderful experience for all involved – something which I truly believes demonstrates the whanaungatanga and whakawhanaungatanga which is evident everyday at Mairtown.

Relationships are a source of learning, empowerment, and identity for all of us…reflected in the concept of whanaungatanga. Whanaungatanga can be described as a value, which reinforces the commitment whānau members have to each other. This commitment is expressed through a process of caring, sharing, respecting, helping, assisting, relieving, reciprocating, balancing, nurturing, and guardianship. Whakawhanaungatanga is about building a collaborative learning community and establishing an environment of trust and reciprocity (Hirini, 1997 & ECE Educate [MoE]).

By 5pm the hāngī had been cooking for over 6 hours and we welcomed our families back. Coming to kindergarten in the evening, especially in the dark, is such an exciting time for the children. The hāngī was lifted and served after a whakataukī for kai, marshmallows were toasted on the fire and the highlight of the evening for many occurred as our finale – the hikoi and lantern parade.

Our hāngī and Matariki celebration is a really great reminder for me as a teacher just how special our kindergarten community is. It is a time when I witness community working together, sharing together, making connections and lots of caring happening for one other.

To try to put the evening into words is certainly difficult, so for those who could not attend, or for those that did and would like to re-visit the evening I have put together a little video of the whole day – please enjoy.

The waiata in the video is by Rahera Davies and here are the words translated:

E Ara e

Te Mātahi o te tau
(First month of the Māori year)
Te kohinga whetū
(The collection of stars)
I te uma o Ranginui
(In the chest of Ranginui)

E pīataata mai ana
(Shining bright)
Whakaataata i te rangi
(Reflecting in the sky)
E tohu ana
I te tau hou Māori e
(The Māori new year)

Ko Tupuanuku
Ko Tupuarangi
Waitī, Waitā
Waipuna a rangi
Ururangi e

E Ara e

[A big thank you to Roimata Macfarlane, our Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Māori (Professional Practice Advisor Māori Northland Kindergarten Association) for finding and translating this music for me, and to our many helpers who prepared food on Friday, assisted in lifting the hāngī and tidying up – you are all wonderful].

I mentioned earlier how Matariki is a time for reflection, so on Monday this week I thought I would give the children an opportunity to reflect on the hāngī; to communicate their experiences and thoughts to one another. Here are a few of the special words and pictures they chose to share with me:

Sharlotte: 'Here I am walking down the street with my lantern, that was my best bit, see I am walking around here'.

Emma: 'My favourite part was when Christine did the ukulele - and not at night, but when we practiced at group time. I liked practising the song, in this picture I'm singing 'this little light of mine' and then I'm singing my own hāngī song and we're outside under the clouds'.

Grace: 'I loved my sister being at the hāngī and the moon was there, not the sun, My sister played with me at the hāngī. This is me and my sister Naomi'.

Nyla: 'I enjoyed eating. Here is my round bowl and my kebab sticks of fruit and this is my daddy and Tanner - he's upside down cause he does that. Nanna and Pa and my Nan came to the hāngī as I invited them'.

Peter: 'This is the lantern parade and we walked down and around the street. There are lots of people walking, 12 maybe'.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world? 
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Have a wonderful winter break. We will see everyone again in two weeks time, 
Ka kite anō,