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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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Literacy on the go

Recently I have noticed how many of our children seem to love our clip boards and I started to reflect on how essential clip boards are to our environment, so much so, that I can’t even imagine not having any around.  There isn’t a day that goes past without the clip boards being used somewhere and yet they never get much of a mention, they are not really glamorous, however, they are indeed a very valuable and much loved resource at kindergarten.

At Mairtown we love open ended resources and clip boards are just that, an open ended resource that can be used in many different areas in the kindergarten and for our children to use to express their own ideas, feelings and thoughts.  The teaching team puts a lot of effort and great thought into our entire environment. There are baskets of clip boards available not only inside but also the outside environment too, always readily available with pens, pencils, crayons and paper.  It is a wonderful way to encourage and weave literacy throughout our environment.

“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

When I think of the clip boards from a child’s perspective, it is no wonder that they are so well loved as most kindergarten aged children love to transport; that’s moving things from one part of kindergarten to another as their play unfolds.  That is what is so ideal about the clip boards as they can literally be ‘literacy on the go’ as a child moves around kindergarten, for example, from the construction area to water play and back inside to the family corner.  I love how our children don’t seem to mind where they get creative using the clip boards.  Early literacy isn’t limited to sitting at a table and chair with pencil and paper, using clip boards enables children to be wherever they choose, whether it’s sitting on the log resting the clip board on their lap or at the playpod equipment sitting in their ‘car’ drawing a map or lying on the grass drawing.

You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.    (Maya Andrews)

On many occasions I have seen the children carry their clip board around proudly showing their work to others, or inviting peers to add to their work or play.  In a sense, clip boards can become an essential tool for creating social interactions with other peers, as a way of expressing their feelings, thoughts and ideas and communicating these through drawing.

When drawing is used as a tool for communication, children are able to express themselves and make meaning out of the world around them. Using drawing as a means of communication helps the process of making ideas, thoughts, and feelings available to others (Adams, 2006).

I believe the one of the main benefits of having clip boards available is to support children with their early writing development, I don’t mean this as a time of learning how to write the alphabet, I view it as an important opportunity for children to learn how to make marks and representation on paper.  It is about providing children, through their play, with opportunities to encourage early literacy. For instance this could include; drawing plans, signs, maps, letters, counting down crossings, lists, and tickets.

If children are to begin to see themselves as writers it is essential that we provide them with opportunities to role-play and to make marks and representations on paper.  (S Palmer, R Bayley, & B Raban, 2013).

I’m sure that we all know children learn best when they learn through play.  It is when these play experiences have been woven with early literacy that there are many benefits to our children’s lifelong learning.  So the next time you see a clip board, hopefully you will think of it as a very valuable resource.

Mā te wā

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Wheels-a-thon 2018

There had been a sense of anticipation building at Mairtown Kindergarten in the last few weeks as we approached one of our most loved annual events – Wheels-a-thon! We had been taking the opportunity to count down the days on our calendar when we came together at whānau time each day. Many of our children also have memories of attending this event last year, or have had older siblings at Mairtown Kindergarten and had attended a Wheels-a-thon with family previously. For those who were first time attendees (like myself!) we had been watching a video from Wheels-a-thon 2017 which has given us a good idea of what we might expect and allowed our own excitement to build!
The New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whāriki  empahises the importance of this process for children:
“Kaiako talk with children about upcoming events … so that they can anticipate and be comfortable with them” (Ministry of Education, 2017)

The biggest learning on the day came in the form of an unexpected challenge … It rained – quite a lot! I had been reliably informed that it never rains for Wheels-a-thon, but this year Ranginui, the sky father, had other ideas!!

Our children and their families were wonderful role models for resilience – it would have been easy to look around at the weather and think negatively about the situation. But in the famous words of Pete the Cat, “Did they cry? Goodness no!” All of the families and children showed up in the rain, with beautifully decorated bikes, scooters, balance bikes and even push chairs and made the most of being with their friends, racing around the wet track with their eyes bright and shining. We were so proud of their positive ways of being.

                “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

This event allows us to generate much needed fundraising money for Kindergarten so that we can continue to deliver a quality experience for our children and their families. The support from our whānau both through participation on the day, and gaining sponsorship is invaluable to our Kindergarten and so so appreciated by the Mairtown team!

                “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” (Helen Keller)

We hope you enjoy the beautiful video of the day below, which has been cleverly prepared by Christine.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Our first Nature Programme for the year

It was our first nature programme for 2018 and I was lucky enough to be the teacher rostered on! We had 7 new children starting on this day and all of them seemed quietly excited when they arrived at drop off. I too was feeling excited but also nervous about how the morning was going to play out with so many new children to transition into the programme all at once.

With such a large group of new children starting we made sure we talked a lot about the Nature Programme with them prior to this day. We showed them our Nature Programme Day Book and held a special meeting to discuss some of the important rules and also some of the exciting things that we could do. I think these happenings leading up to the first Nature Programme were one of the key components of what turned out to be such a wonderful and pleasant day in our local ngahere (bush).

As we entered the bush I felt a sense of peace come over the group. The walk down the path was at a slow pace and the children and adults stopped to notice some of the beautiful happenings that were taking place amongst the leaves and the trees. In particular all the colourful and interesting fungus! Then as we entered the clearing known as the meadow the children ran around playfully, rolling around, jumping off things and playing games with one other.

The morning continued in this fashion, the children flowing in and out of bursts of excited and energetic play and then engaging in quieter and more softer experiences. As I checked in with the children during the morning, asking how they were feeling and if they were enjoying this time in the ngahere, they all responded with positive reflections of how they were having such a wonderful time, saying things like, “I love the Nature Programme.” And “I can’t wait to come back, there is cool things in this bush. I love the sliding in the mud and finding the cada (cicada) shells.”

“Nature is important to children’s development in every major way—intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically.” (Kellert, 2005).

It was such a beautiful and energising morning and it left me reflecting once again about how much I value this programme that we have been running for the past 7 years (thanks to the ongoing support that we have had from our kindergarten whānau, and also the COG’s grants that we have received over the years to pay for our Nature Programme Coordinator wages).

“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.” (Larson)

As a teacher, and also a parent of young children who have been and are a part of Mairtown Kindergarten, I feel blessed. It is so good for the soul to be able to connect with our local bush within our kindergarten programme. Every time I am the rostered teacher on this programme I leave the bush feeling rejuvenated. I feel that the same must be true for the children involved. Although the programme can be physically demanding and you do end up feeling tired, you also leave feeling balanced.

I also love that the nature programme creates many opportunities to help us all stop and appreciate nature and all its beauty. Each time we enter the bush we notice and recognise changes that have taken place. It helps build an appreciation for how special and unique mother nature is and we always talk to the children about how we need to take care of nature, reminding us all that is such an important part of our world and we need to look after it. At Mairtown we believe that it is so important that our children create connections with Papatūānuku, the earth mother, and it is a priority in our programme both at kindergarten and on our Nature Programme (obviously).

When you are immersed in nature “You remember that you are connected to all living things. You feel that you belong to this Earth. That you are part of the community of nature. You are made of the same substance, and that you are no better—and no worse—than that bird, that tree, that other human walking up the trail.” (Abrams, 2014)

I feel that our Nature Programme is playing a small, yet significant, role in helping build our children’s eco-literacy and in doing so they are developing positive attitudes towards nature and all it has to offer. It is our hope and desire that these connections made with our local park will instill a life long love for nature and all it has to offer our lives.

“Our efforts to build a sustainable world cannot succeed unless future generations learn how to partner with natural systems to our mutual benefit. In other words, children must become “ecologically literate.” (Orr, 2005)

As always, I am looking forward to my next adventure in the ngahere, and in particular seeing what wonderful experiences the children have been exploring since our last visit together. Our Nature Programme is a part of our kindergarten culture that I just love and treasure.

Nāku noa, nā,