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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, 30 October 2015

The wonders of hay

Recently at kindergarten we had a delivery of some hay bales which came as a surprise to many of our children.  We were all excited and keen, especially the teachers to see how the children would respond to the hay; how their play might develop around it, guide it or even how they may perhaps incorporate it into their play.

Open ended resources are highly valued items at kindergarten, this includes many ‘loose parts’ for example, sticks, stumps, bones, ropes, rocks, sand and shells to name a few.  The hay bales are also what we would classify as ‘loose parts’ as they are moveable, however they provide endless play and learning opportunities.

“When children have access to loose parts, it frees their creativity and imagination to change the world around them in infinite ways.  The more flexible are the materials in their environment, the greater the level of creativity and inventiveness they express.”  Polly Neill, 2013

The hay setup included a tunnel and initially the children explored the hay through lots of physical energy using their large motor skills to balance, climb, crawl and jump off the hay.

It was interesting to see the high energy physical play move aside when the children started to use their imaginations to think of different ways to use the hay in their play. Through using their imagination the children were able to transform some bales of hay to create endless play opportunities including a princess castle that had enough room for the kings and princes, a barn and also a pet food shop.

“The presence of loose parts also promotes a wide variety of play: exploratory, constructive, and dramatic play as well as games with rules.  Loose parts lend themselves to innovation and a sense of unique that will encourage more symbolic play – a higher level of play.”  Polly Neill, 2013

With the addition of fabrics and cushions the hay bales have been useful to create a lovely outdoor retreat, somewhere to relax, take in a deep breath or a place to enjoy a book.

Something else I noticed about the hay is how it seemed to be a great conversation starter and a topic to discuss with each other about where it comes from and what it can be used for.  Here are some of the children’s comments:

Kaden:  “We have hay, we have round ones and square ones at the run off.”
Tanner:  “I have hay in my big trailer we feed it to our calves.”
Amaya:  “Mmmmmm it could be a bouncy castle.”
Ben:  “I’ve seen lots of people feed hay to horses.”
Ruby:  “Sometimes my dad feeds hay to the chickens.”
Mercia and Nethra:  “Let’s make a princess castle.”
Ahmad:  “Smell the hay Max.”
Max:  “It smells like strawberries.”
Ahmad “Nah it smells like hay, or is it straw?”

I’m looking forward to seeing how the play continues to evolve around the hay bales, I’m sure it will continue to spark the children’s curiosity and their imaginations.  Oh the wonders of hay.

Mā te wā

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Wahoo! More success for Christine

If you are a Mairtown Kindergarten Blog follower or are familiar with our team, you may know that last year Christine was awarded with a National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA) and subsequent ASG scholarship (see more about this here: http://mairtownkindy.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/christines-asg-national-excellence-in.html).

In June, Christine used her scholarship money to travel to Portland, Oregon to attend seminars and learning opportunities at the Opal School Summer Symposium. The focus of this symposium was for likeminded teachers to explore ways that ‘literacy and the arts build upon each other’.

Since returning from this symposium Christine has continued to explore and research possibilities for extending the creative and cognitive capabilities of many of the children at Mairtown, through the use of materials. Christine has also sought out possibilities to aid her own research and teaching goals. In term three she applied for two different national scholarships. Like all work Christine undertakes her applications were eloquent, concise and innovative and so it came as no surprise that Christine was successful in not one but both of her applications!!

Christine has been awarded a 2016 Dr Vince Ham efellows scholarship for teacher research and a Joyce Barns Travel Trust scholarship. 2016 is certainly going to be a very busy but hugely rewarding year for Christine and of course all of us as recipient learners of Christine’s skills and expertise.
At Mairtown we recognise the significance of honouring the successes of others. Our team philosophy is underpinned by the concept of manaaki - of care. This includes hoping for the very best in others - and celebrating their achievements.  On Wednesday we recognised Christine’s most recent successes with a small gathering and delicious shared morning tea at kindergarten.

Christine was honoured by the tamariki (children) and parents/whānau (families) at an informal gathering. Here she  was presented with flowers and a beautiful card full of well wishes. There was also an opportunity for attendees and children to share their thoughts about Christine. Our CEO Richard Storey was also in attendance, he acknowledged Christine for her professionalism, commitment and ‘raising the bar’ for others in early childhood education. It was another very special time of connecting and sharing at Mairtown.

Some words shared with Christine:

‘You are awesome, well done. Congratulations Christine, you are passionate about teaching our children and it’s wonderful to be rewarded for it. Congrats on such an amazing achievement. You deserve it for your talent and your hard work, my best wishes. You are so inspirational. Fantastic work and very well deserved.”

We are all incredibly proud of Christine’s achievements, her commitment and passion for excellence in early childhood education is second to none and compliments the culture of quality that is offered by Zair, Susie, Donna and Sarah, our Mairtown education team.

Me te mihi nui

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Welcome back to term 4

Woo-hoo! Term 4 has arrived, the weather is warming up and at Mairtown kindergarten we are looking forward to a very busy and productive term.

This term we have a few things happening, so keep an eye on these weekly blog posts for updates and information about our programme and curriculum. We are feeling really lucky to welcome Kim back this term for Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Kim returns to us on these days as head teacher whilst she continues her role as a Professional Practice Manager for the Northland Kindergarten Association on Mondays and Tuesdays. Once again a big thank you to Zair who has stepped up into the head teacher role for the days Kim is absent and to the lovely Donna who is with us on these days also.

Now for some really exciting news. Following on from our Education Review Office visit in August our full report has been published online for everyone to read (and enjoy!). We would love, of course, all of you to read the report and comment, so please click here or follow the link at the very bottom of this blog page. We are very proud of our children, their families and the work we engage in at Mairtown. It is through our collaboration together that ERO have made the recommendation of a four year return, the highest outcome possible :)

Mā te wā,