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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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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mihi ki te Ngahere

In term 4 2016, the kaiako at Mairtown, had an idea that it would be nice to introduce a karakia or a mihi to the nature programme, as we thought it would be fitting as we enter the beautiful Mair Park on a weekly basis.  We approached our Tikanga Māori advisor Roimata for her guidance and knowledge to lead us on the right path, as wanted to acknowledge Papatuanuku and Ngahere as important parts of our environment, and especially to our nature programme. 

 "For Māori, myths form an important part of their world view. Io, to Māori is the supreme atua before the time of the influences of European settlers and their introduction of Christianity.  Māori believe that Io, created Ranginui and Papatuanuku, whos children created the world. (Ki Te Whaiao, Kaai T, Moorefield J, Reilly M, Mosley S).  These myths are important whakapapa to the Māori origins from atua" (Sarah Nathan)

 When we take the children into the bush on the nature programme, we recognise our tamariki as the kaitiaki (guardians), as they pick up the rubbish and are respectful of our native bush environment.   

This term, Sarah who is currently studying her Bachelor of Early Childhood and is also our wonderful nature programme coordinator, made this her goal for her studies.  After talking with the kaiako, and with lots of support, our journey began.  Kate and Sarah, discussed how this could be implemented into mahi with the tamariki.  We began looking at the Kaitiaki (guardians) of Papatuanuku (earth mother) and Ranginui (sky father) and the children’s Māori mythology book ‘In the Beginning’ – By Peter Gossage.  We thought we could create story stones and laminated characters for the children to tell the story.

 Mā te rongo, ka mōhio; Mā te mōhio, ka mārama; Mā te mārama, ka mātau; Mā te mātau, ka ora.

Through resonance comes cognisance; through cognisance comes understanding; through understanding comes knowledge; through knowledge comes life and wellbeing.

Sarah introduced the story to some of the tamariki at the kindergarten, and explained what each Kaitiaki was and how they are important within our environment.  We also explained to them we wanted to be able to acknowledge the kaitiaki for the gifts of the natural environment we utilise so often, within both our environment at kindergarten and on the nature programme. 

The children were soon happy to share with one another their knowledge they had on the Kaitiaki and which one was their favourite and why.  When the story stones were complete , we had the book ‘In the beginning’ set out for two weeks as our pukapuka o te wiki (book of the week), as the children thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Roimata gave us 3 options for a karakia and with that we put it to our kindergarten whānau to choose the one they felt most appropriate, all the feedback was lovely and positive and this is the karakia that was selected and will now be used every Friday before we enter Mair Park in the mornings.

Mihi ki te Ngahere

Kia tau te rangimārie

O te rangi e tū iho nei

O te papa e takoto nei

O te taiao e awhi nei

Ki runga i a tātou katoa

Tīhei Mauri Ora!
Let the peace of the skies above,

Of the earth below and

Of the universe around us,

Be with us all

Behold it is life!

This has been a wonderful learning journey for the kaiako, tamariki and the whānau.

Thank you to Roimata, who supported us in our journey and to the whānau for all the wonderful feedback and joining us in implementing this wonderful mihi. I'd also like to acknowledge and thank Sarah for all her hard mahi in making this come to fruition. This is something Sarah has been very passionate about and she has played a big role in seeing this journey through to the end and as a result from all her mahi, we have a beautiful mihi ki te Ngahere. Thank you Sarah.

Ngā mihi, Kate and Sarah.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Wheels-a-thon 2017

There is one particular favourite annual event at kindergarten, one that everyone seems to love, it’s our Wheels-a-thon fundraiser at the Kensington courts.  This year the event was held on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, which had an excellent turn out and support.

Our wheels-a-thon is a special event that brings our kindergarten community together children, families, friends, and teachers to participate in an action fun event that generates crucial fundraising money for our kindergarten.

“People coming together as a community can make things happen”  Jacob Rees-Mogg

As part of the build up for the wheels-a-thon we were lucky to have a visit from the police, Constable Toni Bean, who spoke about the importance of how to keep safe while riding bikes and scooters.  She explained and demonstrated how to correctly wear helmets, where to ride safely and how to be visiable.

Before the event our children seemed to enjoy watching footage from last year where they noticed either themselves or friends who have since left.  On Wednesday kindergarten was full of anticipation and excitement as the children spoke about what wheels they were bringing and what they might be wearing;
Jonah:  “I’m going to dress up as a pirate with a lookout”
Tilly:  “I’m taking my bike we’ve already decorated it”
Milla:  “I’m taking my scooter, guess what?  It’s getting dressed up as the beast”
Arlo:  “I just can’t wait, I’m going to be spiderman and my brother Theo is going to be batman”

Fortunately on the day we had great weather with wonderful support from children and their whānau.  It was lovely to see so many of the bikes or scooters had been decorated thoughtfully with balloons, tinsel, streamers, windmills, ribbons, plants and flowers.  Many of the children also chose to decorate themselves wearing fantastic dress ups, some were so good that I didn’t even recognise them!  After all the effort of completing many laps of the courts, there was a refreshing ice block to help cool down.

I asked the children what they enjoyed most about the wheels-a-thon, here are some of their comments;
Raina:  Driving around on my bike.  I liked the sausage”.
Maxwell:  “I liked riding my scooter really fast”.
Noah:  “I liked the ice block”.                                          
Archie:  “I liked riding fast, we went round and round”.
Elsie:  “I could turn corners so quick on my scooter”.

Community events like the wheels-a-thon provide an excellent opportunity for whānau/families to engage with each other, meet new friends and socialise outside of kindergarten.

A huge thank you to all the whānau who helped make this event such a success through offering support and help with many jobs including preparing the bread and onions, transporting the barbeque to the courts and back, cooking and selling the sausages and gaining sponsorship.  This year all monies fundraised will be used to purchase moveable garden beds for our kindergarten.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”  Helen Keller

Thank you to Christine for compiling this video from all the photographs.

Mā te wā

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Observational drawing - a kindergarten perspective

Anyone that knows us at Mairtown, will know how much we value all aspects of the creative arts. One particular aspect that I choose to visit with children often is that of observational drawing. So, what exactly is observational drawing? Drawing from observation (or representational drawing) is what we refer to when we draw something, whilst studying the actual object right in front of us. Here is the story of how we began some amazing work on butterflies using this method of art.

Since the beginning of term 1, way back in late January, we had one monarch butterfly repeatedly visit the same spot on our swan plant every day, often many times a day. This led to lots of conversations about butterflies; in order to deepen the children’s thinking around this topic I borrowed a book from our local library ‘100 butterflies’ to share with the children. Almost immediately all the children wanted to draw. Initially they drew butterflies from memory, yet after a while I invited the children to engage in some observational drawings from this wonderful book.

Many of our children at Mairtown are so familiar with the concept that they needed little support, yet with it being the beginning of a new term, with many new children, for others observational drawing seemed daunting and challenging. Many children told me ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I don’t know how to draw’. As a teacher, I almost love hearing these words, as they rarely mean a child actually can’t do it! What it usually means is that they don’t know how to begin their work, and this is something I can support and facilitate.

When it came to working on our butterflies, I worked with many children who said exactly these words. This was their first time of completing observational drawing, and doing something new – for any of us - can feel very risky and at times a bit scary.

One way I support children in this aspect of their work is to break their drawing down into ‘bite size’ chunks. For instance, I might say ‘What do you notice about the butterfly?’ several times to encourage the children to think carefully and to look very closely. When they notice an aspect of the butterfly I suggest they start by drawing this part first, all the while encouraging them to continue to look closely at the details they see in just that one part - ‘What do you notice?’ is a sentence I use frequently in this type of work. When one part of the butterfly is finished I then support the children to look at what else they notice about the insect and soon a wonderful drawing is complete.

The results of observational drawings, are often very stunning, almost breathtakingly so, but this isn’t why I choose to engage in this type of art, the learning for all children is much deeper than the finished product. I believe it fosters not only creativity but also cognitive development and creative thinking.  In accordance with Kolbe (2009), it invites children to look very closely at things and to notice all the details. In turn it encourages children to make more intricate drawings than they do from memory alone, often leading to joyful discoveries. It is part of the process of ‘learning to see’.

Of course naturally as the children worked on their drawings of butterflies from the book, and also ones that had been found lying on decks and porches etc. that they had brought into kindergarten to share, discussions around not only what we were noticing about these insects (for instance the shape and anatomy), but also what we knew and didn’t know emerged. Some of these conversations were quite passionate at times as children were certain of their knowledge and wanted to make sure their friends understood their perspectives.

Here are some of the finished observational drawing pictures, along with an extract of conversation that I heard, highlighting the sharing of such knowledge and the deep thinking evident as children work on this art form. As you read this, I think you can understand the words of Kolbe who said observational drawing leads to ‘joyful discoveries’.

Monarch Butterfly

Ruddy Daggerwing Butterfly

Milla: I wonder why butterflies are scared of us?
Raina: Well I follow them, do they like being followed?
Adam: It’s cause we’re big, our fingers are little to us but are big to ants and butterflies.
Milla: Why do butterflies have patterns on them? … (She answers her own question) …Cause they have a pattern challenge. I know monarch butterflies. I tried to catch one at nana and poppa’s but it was way too quick - we tried with our hands.
Adam: You need to use a net.
Milla: You know butterflies use their tongue for picking up nectar! My one is a sunset one (the one she is drawing), that’s its name, it may be called that cause of the colours.
Adam: Or because maybe they only come out at sunset.
Milla: My favourite part of a butterfly is the antennae.
Aurelia: You know butterflies tickle.
Milla: But they don’t when they’re dead, as I’ve held one

Glass Swallowtail Butterfly

Blue Morpho (underneath of wings)

 When students draw pictures of things they see, it enhances their observation of these things (Haydock)
Painted Jezebel Butterfly

Archie: Butterflies have 4 wings…they fly out at night.
Adam: Is that a butterfly or a moth?  No it’s a moth, butterflies are out in the day.
Archie: Oh, I thought it was night time…They have eyes and look these (points to antennae). The wing has dots on and spots and my butterfly is green and yellow. I think when butterflies are in their chrysalis they think about it and choose their colour.
Aurelia: Yes, I think when they are in the chrysalis they think about it and choose their colour.
Milla: Yes, I think that’s right as I saw some colour in a chrysalis one day. You can get white ones. The white ones eat veges, they have the same top and bottom (referring to the patterns and colours). Not all butterflies have the same top and bottoms.
Adam: Lots have different tops and bottoms. Look at the wings, I can see cracks in them.
Milla: I think that’s to keep the butterfly blood in them.
Aya: The butterfly has 2 eyes and 4 wings.
Cleo: I know that butterflies hatch from eggs.
Aya: They hatch then they fly up in the air and they come down and stop on a big tree and then they fly back up again. 
Cleo: Hmm, before they are butterflies they are caterpillars and then they turn into butterflies.
Aya: Yes…the caterpillars look for food cause they are really hungry and after that they curl themselves up into a little house and ‘poof’ they turn into a butterfly.
Cleo: And they eat leaves as caterpillars.
Christine: What do you notice about the patterns on a butterfly?
Aya: There are lots of patterns and colours. My one has white, orange and yellow only. That one (pointing to Cleo’s is different).
Cleo: Yes, the pattern has bumps; they are different and cool. Some butterflies look the same but they have different patterns and different colours. They have the same shape, but different patterns and colours. Like mine is golden.
Blue Morpho Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Hei konā mai,