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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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Monday, 19 December 2016

Rituals of our festive season at Mairtown Kindergarten

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.” (Roy T. Bennett)

As the festive season comes round we start to think about all the wonderful things we are grateful for (among all the Christmas rush and chaos). We have been busy at kindergarten engaging in different festive rituals. This has included making many decorations for our Christmas Tree which is on display at the St. John Church on Kamo Road. This is a lovely community event that we have been involved in for the past three years. The children spend time making different decorations and then the teachers take them to the church, decorate the tree and plan a walk so that our children can see their lovely Christmas tree amongst many others. Being a part of this special event brings with it so many lovely warm feelings of gratitude and joy. As we plan our walk to the local church and count down the days in anticipation, the children also practice singing Christmas carols. They practice so that they can respond and thank our hosts at the church. It is always beautiful and heart-warming hearing our children sing and we love that they want to share their passion for singing with others.

Organising the excursion and being out in community is another area that is so special. We have such wonderful family support and this walk was once again proof of how awesome our families are. We needed 6 helpers to make this trip viable, instead we had 22 helpers come along! It is so good for the soul to see everyone come together and make our kindergarten events so special. Because of this our walk was very successful (and so it should be with nearly 70 of us walking the streets of Kensington!) We were very proud of how the children behaved and represented our kindergarten out in community and very pleased that everyone had such a lovely morning. 

One of our other rituals we have started to celebrate our festive season has been creating a gratitude tree. This started last year and I wrote blog post about it which you can read here. We invite families to write something that they are grateful for in regards to having their child in their lives and then this is hung on our special kindergarten Christmas tree for all to see. The gratitude tree becomes a beautiful addition to our kindergarten environment and it is so lovely to stop at and have a read of all the lovely words that are written about our children. One of the most special happening that take place around the gratitude tree is when children have their cards read to them and they just beam with happiness.

"Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress." (Marelisa Fabrega) 

Lastly, another ritual we have is our end of year celebration at Mair Park where our families are invited to join us for a picnic dinner followed by a visit from a special guest (this year it was Santa himself) and a fun treasure hunt for chocolate money. Once again this year it was so lovely to see so many families relaxing and getting to know one another a little better. The children were all having such a great time playing games with one another and enjoying each other’s company outside of kindergarten. This is a great example of why we love to foster and celebrate creating meaningful relationships amongst everyone who is a part of our kindergarten community. The benefits from these relationships are so special and help make Mairtown Kindergarten what it is.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share how I am so grateful for everything that Mairtown Kindergarten brings to my life. After being a part of the Mairtown Kindergarten community for the past six years I have been lucky enough to work with so many wonderful families and an amazing team of teachers. When reflecting on this it makes me realise that Mairtown Kindergarten is not just a place that I go and work at, it is a place that brings me so much joy and delight and it is a place that makes me incredibly happy and fulfilled. I am so thankful that I am a part of this special place and all that it brings to my life.

On behalf of the Mairtown team I would like to say a huge thank you to our incredible families at kindergarten and all that you do and bring to our community, you make it a beautiful place. Have a safe and happy summer break. For those how are heading off to school next year we wish you well on your next journey and for those who are returning, we look forward to seeing you refreshed in term 1 2017.

“Each day brings new opportunities, allowing you to constantly live with love—be there for others—bring a little light into someone's day. Be grateful and live each day to the fullest.” (Roy T. Bennett)

Kindest regards


Monday, 12 December 2016

Manaaki at Mairtown

Manaaki - 1. (verb) (-tia) to support, take care of, give hospitality to, protect, look out for - show respect, generosity and care for others.

When you walk around Mairtown Kindergarten you see tamariki playing together, you hear the giggles of laughter and most of all you feel the warm loving nature which the tamariki bring when they walk in the gate in the morning; giving Mairtown Kindergarten the fun, exciting environment you see today.

One of the biggest characteristics and dispositions that is evident is the manaaki that the tamariki, whanau and kaiako show to one another. The tamariki don’t realise they do it but it’s visible in their day to day activities, like caring for their peers.
The tamariki at Mairtown are kind, caring, respectful, considerate, happy and friendly. They can adapt to play with and alongside others without a problem. Their manners are fabulous and they don't mind branching out to play with new people everyday. They are like one big whanau which is so nice to be apart of.

"The health and well-being of the child are protected and nurtured. Children experience an environment where: their health is promoted; their emotional well-being is nurtured; they are kept safe from harm.
Ko tēnei te whakatipuranga o te tamaiti i roto i tōna oranga nui, i runga hoki i tōna mana motuhake, mana atuatanga … Kia rongo ia i te rangimārie, te aroha, me te harikoa, ā, kia mōhio ki te manaaki, ki te atawhai, me whakahirahira i a ia me ōna hoa, me ōna pakeke." (Te Whariki 1996)

Manaaki comes in many different forms and one of the main components is Respect. The best way to teach respect is to show respect. When a child experiences respect, they know what it feels like and can begin to understand how important it is. Keep in mind the saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Respect is an attitude. Being respectful helps a child succeed in life. If children don't have respect for peers, authority, or themselves, it's almost impossible for them to succeed. A respectful child takes care of belongings and responsibilities, and a respectful child gets along with peers.

Aroha mai, aroha atu
Love received demands love returned.

It warms the heart when you see tamariki help a friend when they get knocked down, read them a book to cheer them up, to welcome and show around new tamariki to the kindergarten, or to give warm hugs when they feel another child needs one. Those kind gestures are all little glimpses of the types of manaaki that take place in Mairtown Kindergarten on a daily basis.

I asked the children what it is to be a kind and caring friend and this is what they said : "Caring is giving them hugs"..."To be sharing, pretty helpful and kind to your friends".. "Helping them on the swing".... "Being friendly"...."Showing new people around"... "Sharing a bag if they don't have one"... "Making new friends with new people"... Telling them they are doing a good job"... "Make them an aeroplane and give them a cuddle"..."To play with them".

Studies show that we feel better about ourselves when we practice kindness—toward our children, students, families, friends, and communities. Not only do good deeds make us feel better, but as David Brooks explains in the New York Times article 'Nice Guys Finish First', people who are kind and compassionate are often the most successful. When children learn to be caring and kind, they also benefit developmentally. Well-liked children display more positive, less bullying behaviours when they become teenagers and happier children are more likely to show higher academic achievement. Being kind makes you feel good about yourself and improves your outlook on life.

He toanga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata,
Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure.

It is humbling to be a kaiako in such a warm, caring environment. I’ve experienced manaaki first hand from the tamariki, whanau and kaiako when I was first welcomed into Mairtown Kindergarten with a beautiful mihi whakatau. I’ve come to build great friendships with the tamariki and whanau, and I’d like to thank you all for being so open and welcoming, it has allowed my transition into Mairtown to be easy one, you are all so lovely and it's great to be apart of such a wonderful community.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together not far apart.

By Kate

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Investigating bees – do they eat grass?

Recently our children have had a real fascination with bees.  This seemed to come about last term when some of our children shared their excitement when they received honey through their sibling’s school bee hives. 

This lead to some wonderful discussions about bees and honey, many of our children were real experts with wonderful existing knowledge about bees and more importantly honey.  What a lovely opportunity for our children to discuss and share their own ideas and thoughts about bees.  It was during these discussions that a couple of children decided that they wanted to draw while explaining their thoughts.  The purpose of drawing helped our children think with a scientific lens about what knowledge they had. While drawing they were asking each other, what a bee looks like or does a bee have wings or legs, how many?

Desired goals of science in the early childhood curriculum include what we hope children will attain or achieve.  Children’s body of knowledge develops and increases over time, and their desire to communicate and represent their knowledge should be acknowledged and supported.  (Ruth Wilson, 2007).

As more children become curious and interested I started to work with small groups to find out what was their existing knowledge was about bees.  While some other children weren’t quite as sure about their knowledge and were asking their friends many interesting questions such as “Do bees eat grass? Does the queen bee have a crown? Here are some of our children’s initial thoughts;

Isla W:  My bee has 10 legs and wings.  They eat honey.  They get honey from the flowers and mix it all up into honey.  They live in a bee hive.  I love honey.

Kalani:  If you annoy bees they will sting you.  They have stripes that tells you they are bees.  They make honey for you to eat on your toast.  They live in a hive.  I’ve got a bee hive at my farm house.  My Poppa gets the hive he has a special coat so the bees don’t get him.

Lali:  A bee has wings and a stinger and I know it has stripes.  They eat nectar from flowers and make honey.  Bees live under ground.

Finn:  They sting, bees have stripes across there and wings.  They eat resin dripping down from trees.  Sometimes they live in hives that’s where I think they live.  They fly around using their wings and they fly from flower to flower to get pollen.  I learned a lot about bees and stuff from my jungle book.  I know they make honey.  The bees drink honey and take it back to the hive, then put it in the little cave things to store it.   I like honey yum.

Tamsyn:  It has 1,2,3,4,5,6 legs, they fly with wings and eat nothing.  They live in a bee hive with windows and a door.  They make honey.

Alex:  I think bees live in trees, I don’t know much about bees I only know all about chainsaws.  Actually I have no idea.  I know they move around by flying and I know they make honey.  I saw one once on my chainsaw it looked like a little black dot.  But I really have no idea about bees I only have ideas about chainsaws.

Willa:  Bees eat honey, they have wings to fly.  They live in a bee hive, they have heaps of legs.  They have black stripes and on their body they are yellow.  They have some eyes two, them have a mouth like this.  They have a bumble thingee that stings.  I got one on my finger near the cattery, it doesn’t sting now it’s better.

Jack:  Bees have wings, a body, a stinger, eyes and a mouth.  They are yellow.  Bees live in a hive, they fly around the bee house and fly to get some honey.  They eat honey and they make honey for people.  The honey comes from flowers and then the bees make it into honey then the groceries man comes and get it and puts it in a box and then brings it to the grocery store then everybody buy it.

This term something pretty exciting happened we had a couple of local beekeepers, Karl and Nanette from Tahi honey visit kindergarten with a live display bee hive. Our children seemed pretty delighted and surprised when they arrived.  Having experts from our community with such vast knowledge visit our kindergarten created many opportunities for hands-on learning for the children to look, listen, touch, pick apart, compare, explore and even taste.

The display hive was very fascinating, there were so many bees to observe.  It was truly captivating to watch the bees and this seemed to spark the children’s curiosity and wonder.  There were some wonderful conversations, I felt extremely privileged to be part of and here is a snippet of one of many discussions:

“The bees are flying”.  “No they are buzzing.”  “What’s that noise?”  “I can hear them”.  “I can’t”.  “I can hear they are buzzing”.  “I can see the queen”.  “I can’t see the crown.”  “The queen bee has a dot on it not a crown”.  “I see they do have stripes”.  “They make honey, I like honey”.  “I like honey too”.  “I really like honey, you have to be careful when getting the honey, they might sting you”.

“Curiosity is a hunger to explore and a delight in discovery.  When we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions.  We are attracted to new experiences.  Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our questions where they lead.  We learn for the joy of learning”.  (Wisedom commons)

During our investigations we discovered some fascinating facts about bees, including that the display hive was full of mostly girl bees, they are queens or worker bees.  The boys are drones and are slightly bigger in size, they don’t forage or help with hive tasks.  The queen bee was in there laying eggs with capped brood (eggs), these will hatch as worker bees after 21 days.  The average life span of worker bees is generally eight weeks in summer and up to twelve in winter.  It takes eight worker bees their entire life to make one teaspoon of honey.  The queen bee doesn’t wear a crown, to see the queen easier in a busy hive they have a dot of a variety of colours put on the head or body. 

At the end of the visit we all had a special treat, we all got to taste real honey.  It certainly seemed to be a real highlight, after all who doesn’t like a little bit of honey.

“If everything is honey and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet”.  (Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne)

It was wonderful to watch our children displaying a sense of wonder and curiosity while learning about nature.  The bees were very captivating which seemed to lead our children to seek a deeper understanding and have a thirst for knowledge.  These are all great skills and characteristics to carry through life-long learning.
“The pursuit of knowledge is never-ending.  The day you stop seeking knowledge is the day you stop growing”.  (Brandon Travis Ciaccio)

Mā te wā, Susie