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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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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Whangarei Rocks - Mairtown Kindergarten jumps on board a positive movement for community

At Mairtown Kindergarten the teaching team are passionate about many things that support the delivery of high quality learning experiences for the children that attend the service. This includes nature based learning, creativity (art as a language) and building relationships with and making connections with community. When we came across the concept of ‘Whangarei Rocks’ we were so excited by its possibilities to enhance our kindergarten's practice in all these areas. 

So, what is does this concept involve? It is a wonderful initiative where people are invited to paint rocks, then hide them in local parks and reserves for others to find. Once they are found you are encouraged to take a photo and upload it onto the ‘Whangarei Rocks’ Facebook page before re-hiding it in another location for others to find and enjoy. 

On the Facebook page, they go into more detail about where the concept originated, stating, “Whangarei Rocks was started by a group of local artists. The group has been modelled after Port Angeles Rocks, where local artists came together to start hiding painted rocks all around the Port Angeles community in Washington State, USA. It has grown into a true worldwide phenomenon, sparking people to join painting groups, paint on their own, get out there walking, hiding and finding rocks.” (Whangarei Rocks Admin Facebook Page)

Earlier this year after learning about ‘Whangarei Rocks’ we decided that it would be great to participate by taking painted rocks on our Nature Programme. This became a part of our weekly excursions to the bush and something that the children all enjoyed been a part of. 

We then took it to the next level when we sent six rocks over to Europe with Christine. Finding out that people on the other side of the world were now becoming a part of this process of finding and hiding rocks from Whangarei was very exciting. 

To extend on this interest we set up a table at kindergarten with its sole purpose to paint rocks and it was constantly busy with children wanting to be creative decorating them. By now the ‘Whangarei Rocks’ movement was huge and most of our children had an experience to share about finding and hiding rocks. Over a few weeks we had managed to collaboratively paint 77 rocks and these were then offered out to our kindergarten whānau to take and hide.

So that is an outline of how we got on board with ‘Whangarei Rocks’ at Mairtown Kindergarten. During this process, it has made me reflect on the greatness that this concept offers for our children, our whānau and our community. 

Firstly, the desire the children had to decorate these rocks knowing that they would be shared with and enjoyed by others in the community was heart-warming. It encourages creativity, using rocks and paint as medium to create happiness and delight for many. 

The second part of the wonderfulness is that this simple act of hiding painted rocks in the community has had such a positive effect on many lives. I am lucky enough to have young children myself and have experienced rock hunting first hand. Our painted rocks from kindergarten are turning up on the Facebook page, along with photos of our kindergarten children also hiding the rocks that we sent home with them.

I have also heard many of our children and our kindergarten whānau talk about how they really enjoy the concept. It is a free activity to do with your family, it gets you out and about exploring the wonderful parks and reserves that the community has to offer and it creates occasions for families to spend quality time together while being physically active. 

These are all wonderful opportunities and experiences but I must admit the most rewarding and soul warming part of being involved with ‘Whangarei Rocks’ is the that our children are able to explore the concept of ‘giving’, knowing that by hiding a rock for someone else to find will make there day that much brighter.

When contacting Amy King who has the role as admin on the ‘Whangarei Rocks’ Facebook page she shared, “I am so excited by what the “rocks” movement has done for children and families all over the place!! Kindness, creativity, outdoors adventures, quality time as a whānau… makes my heart happy!”

The fact that it is also getting families out and about, exploring our wonderful natural environment is fantastic. We have so many great parks and reserves at our door step and now they are busier than ever. Whānau are actively seeking out areas to hide rocks and are encouraging others to go and find them by placing an update on the ‘Whangarei Rocks’ page as clue to go hunting. 

For the Mairtown teaching team promoting getting out in the natural environment is important to us and something that we do through our own Nature Programme. The ‘Whangarei Rocks movement has supported this promotion and is another way that we can encourage and inspire our children and whānau to be immersed and gain a deeper appreciation for what our local reserves have to offer.

“In New Zealand, we pride ourselves on our outstanding natural environment, but how connected are we to it really, and how are we sharing it with our children? Intuition and research tells us fewer children are having direct experiences with nature. They are spending more time playing indoors, in front of the computer, television or connected to mp3s or gaming devices. We also know that early and frequent positive experiences in the natural environment have a major impact on the healthy growth of a child’s mind, body and spirit. As parents, grandparents and/or guardians we have a critical role in fostering that natural ‘sense of wonder’ that kids have. Connecting our children with nature through hands-on, informal exploration and play is a great way to do this.” (Exploring nature with children, DoC NZ)

I am thankful that the teachers at Mairtown have been made aware of ‘Whangarei Rocks’ and I would encourage anyone in the area to look up the Facebook page and get involved if they haven’t already. Also, if you are not in the vicinity of Whangarei there is probably a group up and running in your area so search them out and if there isn’t, create your own group. The positive social and emotional impact that this concept has is amazing and if we as early childhood educators can help support and spread the message about its greatness, then that is fantastic.

This final quote sums up the beautiful movement of rock hunting.

“The meaning of the painted rock movement – It’s not about racing out to find the best rocks before anyone else can get there, or how many rocks you can collect at one time. It’s not a game or a contest.
It’s about random acts of kindness. Sharing a little piece of art with a total stranger. Or exchanging with a friend. It’s about people getting together to paint and laugh. It’s about making someone’s day brighter, or sending a little message of encouragement to someone who needs it. It’s positive energy that we send out in the smallest of things, without expecting anything in return. As a group we can make this happen.”

So happy rock hunting to all our Mairtown Kindergarten Blog followers, I hope you get to experience the delight of the ‘Rocks’ movement.

Nāku noa, nā


Monday, 7 August 2017

Messy Play - Korihori Porehe

Here at Mairtown Kindergarten we have been exploring 'GLOOP'.The wonderful gloopy, sloppy mess that appears to be a liquid and a solid at the same time is both a playful science lesson and a really fun sensory activity for children. The gloop is fun enough to play with on its own you don’t need any kind of equipment to enjoy exploring with gloop.

So what’s so special about gloop? Well, that’s where the playful science comes in. Run your fingers through the gloop and it feels like a liquid, scoop some into your hand and you can roll it into a ball like play dough, but stop putting pressure on it and it just runs through your fingers like a liquid again.

Messy play allows children to… build, imagine, experience, investigate, explore, creates, observe, predict and use the senses. Best of all it’s heap of fun! (www.storiesandchildren.com)

"It’s so cool, it’s slimy" Piper.

"Gloop is fun to play with" Arlo.

"Look I can run it onto my arm and it leaves lines on my arms" Ryley.

"Gloop is cool" Lachlan.

"Look at my waterfall I made as it drops from my hand" Basuru.

"If you move it around in your hand it won’t drip down" Raina.

Exploring through messy play supports learning across all the strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, messy play supports the Communication strand, where children discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive. Messy play also supports children's development in the Exploration strand, where children gain confidence in and control of their own bodies, including active exploration with all the senses and the use of tools, materials and equipment to extend skills.

Children learn and develop through play, but especially through unstructured, exploratory play. ... This allows young children to make their own discoveries using their senses, curiosity and knowledge. Because messy and sensory play is all about exploring, there's no right or wrong (Pear tree blog).

Messy play is an important part of learning as it provides lots of opportunities for this learning to occur. Hands-on activities will provide opportunities for children to compare textures such as smooth, rough, hard and soft. Through messy play, children can develop concentration, problem-solving and planning. Working with others fosters self-respect and respect for others. It also presents opportunities for making relationships. Children are given endless opportunities with a variety of materials to build imagination and creativity. Through sensory experiences, they are able to respond to what they see, hear, feel, touch and smell.

We are excited to see what else we can be messy with while being creative and having fun at the same time. Playing with Gloop is a fabulous sensory and science activity to learn about the concepts of what a solid and liquid is. If you haven’t made Gloop yet, then this is a must for any child or adult. It is super fun and super messy, I am not sure who had the most fun, me or the kids!!

Have a try at home its easy to make 2 cups of corn flour to 1 cup of water, add food colouring of your choice.

'If it hasn’t been in the hand and body, it can’t be in the brain'
Bev Bos.

Ka kite ano, Kate.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Mairtown's Matariki Festivities

The month of June has been busy at Mairtown Kindergarten.  Although it is the start of our winter, which has been wet, cold and dark, luckily this didn’t dampen any of our very special month long Matariki festivities.

I love Matariki (Māori New Year) it is a special time of year that I know the teaching team enjoys planning for, and our tamariki enjoy participating in what has become an important period of reflection and sharing at kindergarten. 

On the 1st of June we started celebrations with our delicious Matariki breakfast, this is greatly anticipated and a real highlight.  It is wonderful to see our tamariki who have previously experienced our breakfast share their experiences with our new tamariki.  Early in the morning the teaching team arrive to prepare an appetising selection of kai to share with our whānau and tamariki.

Matariki symbolises the coming of the Māori New Year.  Matariki has two meanings, both of which refer to the cluster of stars.  Mata Riki means Tiny Eyes, and Mata Ariki means Eyes of God.  Matariki appears in the eastern sky sometime around the shortest day of the year, and is thought to determine how successful the harvest crop will be in the coming season.  The brighter the stars, the more productive the crop will be.

Every day we had been counting down to our breakfast by crossing off a square on our calendar.  It is at these times that we discussed the breakfast with the tamariki who helped to choose and create our magnificent menu.  It certainly was an awesome way to start the day with healthy kai including, smoothies, eggs, sausages, baked beans, a selection of cereals, muesli, yogurt, fruit salad and toast, all served with milo, coffee or tea.

Matariki celebrates the diversity of life.  It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people.

We continued our Matariki celebrations with our annual ‘Harvest Day’ which was held on the 14th of June. This is such a lovely day of sharing any abundant produce, preserves, pickles or home baking with others.  For Māori in years gone by Matariki symbolises the time for planting and harvesting.  The Matariki star constellation marked a time for starting all things new, this was a particularly important period for new crops to be planted and the preserving of old crops to be finished.  The timing of Matariki fell at the end of a harvest and food stores were full.  Meat, fruits, herbs and vegetables had been gathered and preserved and the migration of certain fish ensured a great period of feasts.  Matariki was seen as a time to share with each other, for family and friends to come together and share in the gifts that the land and sea had provided for them.  (Tai Tokerau Tourism)

In Northland we are privileged to have fairly mild winter weather where our land and climate produce plenty of citrus fruit and other produce.  During Matariki it’s a time that we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give.  That’s the great thing about Harvest day, it is an opportunity to share our abundance with others and exchange for something else.  This is the focus of Mairtown’s Harvest Day; sharing, random acts of kindness and nurturing the body and soul of our community.

Our tamariki and whānau were invited to bring an item to share from their garden or pantry.  On Wednesday morning kindergarten was full of excitement as our children brought in their offerings and placed them on the exchange table.  The gifts included citrus, avocados, plants, honey, kumara, pumpkin, eggs, home baking, pickles, jams, herbs, and vegetables.  Some had lovely messages which warmed our hearts and made the exchange even more meaningful.

As our tamariki prepared to leave for the day they were invited to choose something from the harvest table to take home.  It was so lovely to see them excited and full of eagerness as some had been looking at the offerings throughout the day and had clearly made a decision of what they wanted to take home and for others the choice was a little tricky.   

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

Our celebrations every year finish with our annual hangi and lantern parade.  As this is the last event of our Matariki celebrations we spend the month counting down to it and practising our lantern parade song ‘This little light of mine’.  So it would be fair to say it is a highly anticipated and well attended event.

The wonderful thing about our Matariki hangi and lantern parade is that it is enjoyed by many including our current attending families and those who have left.  It is a lovely time to make connections with new friends and reconnect with old friends.  It was great to hear what our tamariki loved about the evening, here are some of their thoughts;
Gracie:  I liked cutting up the fruit and vegetables for the hangi.
Basuru:  The candles because it helped me to see clear in the dark.
Raina:  I loved walking with the lanterns.
Arlo:  The hangi there was lots of things to pick.
Imogen:  Singing the song let it shine.

It is truly a time that our kindergarten community comes together to share energy, time and support to help with the preparations.  The evening’s success is due to the wonderful whānau support we receive to help with many jobs including, lanterns to be made, and food to prepare and cook.  Also a special thank you to the Andrews whānau for the kind sponsorship of their fantastic Multi Kai cooker, it is certainly the star of the evening, producing such a delicious hangi.  Thank you our evening wouldn’t be possible without your support. 

Ma tini, ma mano, ka rapa te whai

By many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished.
Many hands make light work.  Unity is strength.

Thank you to Christine who has exceptional skills in creating a wonderful video of this year’s hangi and evening celebrations.  See below or click here to view.

On behalf of the teaching team I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported, helped, participated and shared in all of our Matariki festivities over the past month. 
He wā motuhake
A special moment

Ngā mihi nui, Susie