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, 31 January 2013

Planning for posibilities

Over the past few months we have been revamping our family/whanau play area at Kindergarten which has so far included new wallpaper, paint, furniture and resources.
With the start of a new year, we are now ready to undertake some bigger design plans. Our vision is to have Craig from CMC design create a doorway into our current play space.
The idea for a doorway came after Christine’s return from her REANZ Melbourne study tour; Christine shared with us a photo which she had taken of a doorway in one of the centres. This beautiful provocation inspired our team to finalise design plans of our own, which would also include a door.

Imagine how the children’s dramatic play will be enriched with the opportunity to both ‘arrive’ and ‘leave’ in their games. Role play is a powerful tool for children to re-enact real life experiences and therefore ‘make sense of the world’ by exploring ideas and actions during their play.

On Monday I sat with a group of children to discuss the teacher’s building plans and share images which have inspired our designs. When I explained to the children that we would like to create a door, they became very enthusiastic.
After looking at a selection of images of doors and discussing shape, form and openings, I asked the children to draw their own design for a door for family corner.
‘Drawing helps children to give their ideas form. In doing so they begin to clarify their thoughts and make their ideas visible for others to engage with’ (Pelo, 2007)

As the children became more engaged with their drawing many ideas were also shared verbally amongst the group;
‘It needs a window’
“The window should be green”
“No blue”
“It needs a handle. One that you hold onto”

"We need a grown up door"
This image shows some of the children’s first drawings and explanations:

Yesterday Liliana arrived at kindergarten with a tiny door made from Fimo. In Liliana’s house these beautiful little doors are created and displayed as entrances for fairies. Liliana’s door provided an excellent provocation to be offered at the clay table to encourage the children to further explore their ideas for door designs, whilst using a new medium.

‘The use of different mediums helps children to represent their ideas in other ways which not only demonstrates their learning but also enhances it. Each medium helps children practice different skills and recognise different aspects of the ideas they are pursuing’ (Curtis and Carter, 2008)


Through inspiration and persistence, the children created both 2D and 3D door designs with the clay. Some were sculpted to include intricate and detailed patterns motivated by further referenced photographs, combined with the children's own interpretations.  

Wow! the teaching team and Craig have a challenge ahead of us. We have so many design ideas to choose from it will be tricky to incorporate the plans and inspiration of all our creative tamariki! However, we do have a few consistent requests; 'the first door will be an arch shape, it will house a window (with wood on it), have two handles and open right out!'

We look forward to our new design installation and will be sure to share it on the blog...watch this space!

Nga mihi nui

Kim Townsend

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Welcome to a new year at Mairtown Kindergarten

Welcome back to a new year at Mairtown. We are so excited to be back at Kindergarten and are really looking forward to an amazing 2013.

We would like to warmly welcome back all the familiar faces of our families/Whanau and their tamariki along with several new families and children, it is great to see so many returning families - nau mai haere mai.

On the first day back at Kindergarten the children came across some hay bales left on the grass, all the teachers were keen to see exactly what the children would make of these bales and how they might guide their play.

One of the first things that happened was that the hay bales - through the use of our children's imaginations - became great climbing equipment; enabling children to practise their balancing and jumping. This was in fact far trickier than it looked as the bales are soft underfoot making them extremely wobbly to walk on.

As Santos told me, "Be careful, it's wobbly...look at my big jump, I'm going to do this again...ooh its so so wobbly".

The children spent all morning jumping and climbing and repeating these experiences again and again.

Just before lunch the hay bales transformed into something completely different - this time they became a castle. Leah asked if we could move the bales (lots of great team work was required for this!) and soon Leah's plans were visible; walls were built and a castle emerged. This was almost immediately decorated with cushions for the fairies to sleep on and clipboards for the fairies to 'take-notes'.

Leah, "We're making a castle...how about we put the other pillow there so there is room for all of us, all of us fairies. I will get the blue pillows so we can lift our legs onto them".

Even the hay that escaped the bales has had a role in the children's work. Here April and Makenzie are making a birds nest. As I observed the girls I could see how they were negotiating, listening, sharing ideas and knowledge and learning to work alongside their peers effectively.

Here the nest had been placed high up in a tree by one of our parents. We will have to keep a careful watch to see if any birds like this new home!

Hay bales are what we would term 'loose parts' and enable open ended play at Kindergarten. The use of open ended materials and loose parts in our programme is very important to us. Other examples of loose parts you will see at Mairtown include sticks, rocks, sand, bark, ropes, shells, bunjeys the list is endless.

"Loose parts have infinite play possibilities, and their total lack of structure and script allows children to make of them whatever their imaginations desire...Through children's handling, manipulation and physical interaction with materials and the natural environment, they learn the rules and principles that make the world operate" (White & Stoecklin, 1998).

I hope you can see how, in just one day, the hay bales have challenged the children physically and mentally. They have sparked the children's curiosity, encouraged the children to be creative and use their imaginations, allowed for the interaction and the sharing of ideas with other children and adults, and stimulated the children's senses (the hay smells truly divine!)

I wonder what new ideas the children will find for the bales over the next few days?