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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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Celebrating Christine

Yesterday we had a surprise celebration to congratulate Christine on her exemplary completion of the teachers registration process.

Christine graduated from Auckland University in July 2010 and over the past two years has been working through the requirements of a provisionally registered teacher. This process requires lots of written self reflection and providing examples of your teaching practice. As you can imagine from the incredible blog posts which you have the pleasure to read, Christine's pedagogy and reflective practice are of the highest standard. She is now a fully registered teacher.

At whānau time we announced to Christine that we had prepared a surprise for her.

"How come I didn't know about this?" Christine questioned the children, and Leah responded "We're not telling, cause it's a surprise for you!"

Christine was then honoured with flowers and adorned with purple silk and three lolly leis from Helena, Pesiki and Joel.

Samuel gave Christine a book of drawings and thoughts on behalf of many of the children and some of our families. Inside were some heartfelt words including:

"Christine is the bestest teacher cause I do art
with her and I play with her" - Rinah 
"Christine is nice" - Eve
"I like playing hide and seek with her in the bush" - Kaleb

"Christine, Thank you for making every child at Kindy feel special and loved and unique. You always take time to listen to 1,000,000 different stories from all the kids and I know you genuinely enjoy it! Thank you."

"Congrats Christine, what an awesome achievement, You are a fantastic teacher and part of a fantastic team. We are so privledged to have you in our girls lives. Many thanks".

"So totally happy for you Christine!!! You absolutely deserve to reap the rewards of all your hard work and dedication! You are a special person with a special gift, and thank you for sharing it with my son".
The gifts were quickly followed by some lovely hugs.

Then it was time to enjoy a celebration treat, ice cream and strawberries!

Earlier in the day one parent reflected on her relationship with Christine, "I can't believe that she has only been teaching for two years, she is so wise!" We couldn't agree more, Christine is a rare gem and we are so honoured to have her in our Kindergarten community.
Kim, Zair, Donna and Sarah

Monday, 26 November 2012

Explorations with Rakau

Over the past 5 weeks we have had the pleasure of having Israel (Izy) Tahere join our team whilst completing his final teaching practicum. Amongst other skills and talents Izy has shared with us at kindergarten, he has also made use of our expansive pile of manuka to introduce the children to Mau Rākau.

Mau Rākau means to ‘bear a weapon’ and is traditionally learning about sacred Maori warfare and taonga in particular, weapons such as taiaha, patu and mere.

For young children introducing the methods of Mau Rākau through a combination of stick activities and physical challenges helps them to develop confidence and competence in body awareness and fundamental movement skills whilst learning and exploring through traditional tikanga Maori assessment.

Interacting in the spirit of ako (reciprocal learning), traditionally tukana/teina, Izy first coached the children through simple instructions in mau taiaha.

Mau rakau is a traditional martial art which develops both weaponry and physical skills.

Practicing strikes and evasion techniques. 

Tuakana-teina refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) and a younger (teina) person and is specific to teaching and learning
in the Māori context.
As the children’s confidence and repertoire of skills developed, so too did the ‘possibilities’ of use with the rakau (sticks).

Co-ordinating balance and posture and developing discipline in movement

These next images show the children using rakau on the ground to create an obstacle challenge for jumping, hopping, and running and also getting their heart rates pumping!

As the children jumped between the sticks they chanted in reo, and made connections to the earth "whenua, awa, whenua, awa, whenua" 

By being physically involved in the game alongside the children, Izy set the stakes high, this encouraged on-going determination (Hiringa) and persistence for some our children.

Look at David as he follows Izy’s lead and jumps from a press up crouch across the sticks. Pai rawa!

Mau Rākau is not only an innovative addition to our curriculum but more importantly a culturally relevant art form that empowers the children with ways of knowing and being maori by nurturing wairua, mana and kaupapa maori.

Kim Townsend

Monday, 12 November 2012

Investigating water beads

Today at Kindergarten we underwent some investigations with water beads. For those of you that are unsure what these are they are non-toxic polymer balls - often used by florists - that grow several sizes when soaked in water.

Although I knew what was going to happen, I was careful not to tell the children; I wanted them to be able wonder, hypothesis, ask questions and experience this dramatic transformation with no idea of what was to come, a great way to involve children in scientific thinking.

First, of course, we had to prepare the water beads. We tipped four packets (blue and clear) into a perspex box and added the correct amount of water. At first nothing happened, but slowly the children started to notice some subtle changes.

As their teacher I took the opportunity to simply wonder alongside the children about these changes, working to record their thinking and their fantastic descriptive language.

“Oh look it’s getting bigger, it’s starting to feel squishy…why are they getting bigger…we don’t know…cause it’s wet in there? Does the water make them bigger, I think yes, yes it does…they’ve grown from the water…I think they have filled themselves up with water…we are growing these…they are flowers, look, they look like flowers…they were so really really small and now they’re getting bigger…oh they are so beautiful…hey you are right when you look at them under water they are flowers…you can’t see the white as they are white just like water…hey I found something invisible…when the white ones are under the water I can feel them…they are so pretty”

I think you can see from this conversation between Levi, April, Ryan T, Rinah and Makenzie that they were totally engaged in their investigations of the beads, both physically and mentally .

Looking at, exploring and feeling the different textures of the beads.



‘Science for young children should involve asking questions, probing for answers, conducting investigations, and collecting data… children should be engaged both physically and mentally in investigating and manipulating elements in their environment’ (Chaille & Britain, 2003 and Wilson, 2008)


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A week of celebrating food and whānau

Last week we were lucky enough to have Janelle, Joel’s Mum, come and share her wonderful cooking skills with us. Janelle has a Chinese background and offered to teach us how to make delicious Chinese pork dumplings and fried noodles.
This was an experience that the children loved being a part of. They helped with the preparation of the vegetables for the noodles, chopping them into small pieces. Janelle then role modelled how to make the dumplings. This required lots of concentration and fine motor skills as the children carefully put a small amount of pork mince on rice paper and pinched it together.
It was lovely to see a lot of the children tasting the dumplings and noodles. Trying different types of foods opens up opportunities for our children to experience different cultures.

Thank you so much Janelle for sharing your skills with us and thank you to Risini for your help as well.
We love celebrating our families heritage and customs and especially love the many choices of food that is a part of this. We welcome with open arms anyone else who would like to share their cultural customs with us at Mairtown Kindergarten.
“Through experiences like these children develop an interest and pleasure in discovering an unfamiliar wider world where the people, images, objects, languages, sounds and smells are different from those at home" (Te Whariki).
Now, on the following day we had another celebration, a shared kai! All our families were invited to come to Kindergarten as we celebrated the beginning of term 4 and where we were able to welcome all our new families. We also welcome Izy who is student teacher with us for four weeks, and the return of Zair from her maternity leave.

Shared kai’s are something that the Mairtown Kindergarten team value greatly. They help foster our strong relationships with our families and build on our sense of community.  Our families have also the chance to get to know one another or have a quick catch up. The sharing of food is always a joyous occasion and is part of ‘OUR’ culture here at Mairtown.
“For many people, including Māori, kai is a very important part of culture because gathering, preparing and sharing kai shows hospitality and respect for visitors. It’s universally acknowledged that food, and the culture and customs around it, create a sense of community.”