Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Artists

Setting up a space for art to happen and for children to be curious about, is a provocation, as is looking over the kindergarten fence.  I had taken out a large piece of cardboard, some pencils and paper and put it just inside the front fenceline. I asked the children that gathered, to notice what was across the road and they quickly spied the beautiful tree changing colour and loosing its leaves.  This then led to discussions about why trees loose their leaves and autumn time. I wrote down some of their comments, such as, "The leaves die and the wind blows them off", "It is autumn time you know and the leaves turn brown".
It was time to draw what we could see over the fence and this is what happened.  The results were stunning, and their concept of the tree and leaves reminded me of the importance of allowing children to draw their world as they see it.  There is alot of research that says that colouring in can have negative effects on children's creativity and how they view themselves as artists. 
 The group moved inside at the end of the tree drawing and I added another provocation, "How to draw a face" into their drawing group.  The girls took up the challenge with both courage and excitement, they celebrated each others efforts and with ease they followed the steps to draw the face.  It walked them through drawing lines to line up the different parts of their face.  Another provocation was added with skin coloured pastels and they talked about which colour they thought they needed to use.  Eye colour and hair were talked about without any prompting.
"I think it is time to have an art exhibition" I stated.  The girls were very excited, and as it was the end of the day I promised that their work would be up on display the next day for others to see their artwork too.

An important part of being an artist is having other people view it, just as they do all around the world. We want children to strengthen their dispositions to be artists, to reflect on their own work, and to celebrate and collaborate in ways that honour each person's work.
There are a number of works up on display, so check out the environment and feel free to leave feedback for anyone of the artists at Nayland Kindergarten.

Taking responsibility for our play areas

Over the last couple of weeks the teachers have been talking to the children about everyone taking responsibility for the kindergarten toys and equipment and their own personal belongings.  If items are dropped onto the ground and not put away once they have finished with them, then they disappear into the shed for the rest of the week.  During the morning their is one reminder over the microphone, that equipment will be removed for the week if it is not picked up, and children have certainly responded to the challenges.
One child told us at mat time, that it looked like a'garage sale', and I had to agree, there were as many clothes as toys.  It took 15minutes to give all the clothing back and the children's faces were priceless as they recognised their own personal belongings being held up.  We are making progress together, reminding each other and helping each other puts things away.  Teamwork! 

Our emergency drills

Every week we practice one of the emergency drills with the children, either fire or earthquake drill.
So what do we do if there is an earthquake?
If you hear a teacher call out "earthquake drop" you fall to ground and curl up in a turtle/hedgehog position and place your hands across the base of your brain, to protect it from getting hurt.  You do not move until you hear a teacher tell you it is safe to go back to play, or tell you what to do next.  It is important that whether children are inside our outside that they drop down right where they are playing.  This is the kiwi group doing a magnificient job of the earthquake drill during small group time, then they showed the bigger group at mat time how it is done.
With the fire drill, a teacher blows the whistle 3 times and children immediately move off to the black matting beside the slide, sitting down quickly they wait to hear their name called and for a teacher to tell them what to do next or that it is all safe to return to their play.  The teachers have assigned job responsibilities to clear the building, check that all children are out, close the doors and met with the fire brigade at the entrance, as well as take roll call to ensure that everyone is out. 
There are a number of fire and earthquake signs up in the building.

Inquiring minds

From the moment children are born, they are natural scientists wanting to explore the world.  They try to make sense of their world by investigating and trial and error.  Children learn through their senses, so it is really important for them to have as many hands on experiences as possible.
The afternoon group are a curious bunch ready to try out any new experiences, such as the carrot top growing experiment, which a child brought along to share with the group.  We have set up a trial group to see if they grow and this is an opportunity to grow other seeds to.
An afternoon of fun was about exploring the properties of the wobbly mirror, which changes your body shape from long to short, or wide to upside down, and when it was put on the ground we wondered what we might see in our reflection.  With the parachute over top to create an enclosure, we gazed into its depths and used our imaginations to find dinosaurs and scarey monsters (the boys helped out with this).
The teachers often reflect on where does science happen here?, and everytime we do , we realise that it happens everywhere at kindergarten not just in the science area.

Goodbye to the Nelson South children

The Nelson South children have now moved off to temporary premises while their kindergarten is being fixed, which will not be completed until term 3.  They certainly showed us just how resilient kids are, they arrived at Nayland and got on with business, finding places to play, making new friends and building relationships with the teachers.  We were sad to see them go but we wish them all and we were really pleased that we could help out in some way.  We hope to visit them this term in their new classroom at Nelson Intermediate, close by the gym, for morning tea and a play at their place.

Water water anytime.

Water is a magnetic for children and adults and despite the weather it never loses it appeal.  So I sat alongside the children wondering how we could continue these wonderful opportunities to explore the properties of water during the winter months.  I think it is called a pair of wellies, a coat and some warm clothing and a great big puddle.  Remembering that a winter in Nelson has cold mornings and warm sunny days.
The look on children's faces when they take their shoes and socks off and immerse their feet in the water is undescribable, and to be honest as an adult it feels great.  It came as no surprise during my week as the outside teacher last week to see the boys recreating their water game on the slide.   It takes courage and lots of teamwork to get it happening, but the fun factor is the ultimate.  Before long they had stripped down to their undies and we had checked out the safety in the area, then away they went, flying down the wet slide into a large puddle of water and out the other side.  By the end of the game there was not just boys but a few girls who couldn't resist either.

A trip to WOW!

While the other small group was off at Guytons, a larger group set off walking, to the Wearable Art Museum with Lynne, Margie, Mary and Elaine.  It was a glorious morning with lots of parents and helpers along for the morning and lots of excited children.  The children from Nelson South came along too with Mary alongside, although I don't think that they needed any support at all.  They had a fabulous time.
There is always so much to see at WOW, but sadly we can not take photos, so we have one of their books with all the amazing costumes in and a DVD of the shows, which are spectacular.  There was lots of chatter on they way along the railway reserve, of course watching out for any trains or trolls under the bridge.  Watch that sewing room and construction room to see childrens ideas evolve, who knows these children may be entering their masterpieces in the WOW shows in years to come.
I think we really need to visit again just to absorb a little more, as the experience is overwhelming at first, but inspirational and the creativity blows your mind and your senses.  Take the opportunity and visit with your children.