If I could put one word that encapsulates this month it would be ‘purposeful’. There is definitely a purposeful bustle about this place lately.
Our front garden is coming together, the children have spent many afternoons raking wood chips and planting, it is truly their space now. I’ve also had help keeping the vegetable garden weeded and even expanded. We’re all looking forward to that moment when plants are growing, and our own food is on the horizon.
Our daily program includes more purposeful play with children taking responsibility for setting the table, helping with fruit snack preparation in the mornings and choosing to help with meal preparation during our morning session (making bread, cutting vegetables and other kitchen magic). It’s good for children to feel responsible and capable. Thank you to all of our willing helpers.
Our internal evaluation on Steiner and pathways philosophy has received a boost from the input of whānau, good to hear your views thank you all so much I’m really looking forward to setting a direction from this documentation.
We had a story change today. Our winter story about a giant with cold feet has been put away for another year and we have just started another te ao Māori story called Hatupatu and the bird woman. It gives children such a sense of belonging to hear stories with their places in. Lake Rotorua certainly triggered some exclamation and some children even knew where Mokoia island was. Story telling is a growing star in our emergent curriculum with some elaborate setting up happening and also some ‘on the fly’ stories with very simple props. I get to hear the amazing creative narratives and see the cooperation between listeners and performers.
We continue with our winter rhythm during our coldest months of the year, encouraging warmth by wearing slippers inside and winter hats and jackets outside. The children have delighted in watching the process of lighting our fire in the mornings.
Storytime has been presented by Fi – a local Maori legend about how Lake Kuirau got its name. The Tamariki have been intrigued by the story and the taniwha in the lake. We have moved on to The Giant and the Gnome story this week, which has a moral of caring and kindness. Our stories always hold a meaning and convey concepts in ways that young children can absorb.
At circle time we have been learning e rere taku poi, using our poi, ma is white colour song and Tena koe, welcome song to one and all.
Children are increasingly taking up the opportunity to be involved in purposeful tasks, such as cutting fruit and grating apples for apple crumble.
Outside is always a hive of activity whilst embracing the elements. The flow form has been used every day for fishing and collecting water supplies for mixing and creating with sand and mud.
Nursery class education is an education through “doing” and in all doing it is the life of will that is paramount. The objects of play should be as simple as possible, so that the child can clothe them with his own natural fantasy. – An exert from Rudolf Steiner’s Art of Education… an introduction by L.F.Edmunds
With some of our older children leaving for school our group is ‘reshuffling’ finding out who is interested in the same things or leads with great ideas – what a busy time! Lots of family play is happening – great to see generous versions of what a family looks like happening – lots of cats and additional mums and dads when new children join the play. Beautiful.
I also have many willing helpers in the garden outside. We have been weeding nearly every day and talking about all the food we would like to grow. I will need to extend our garden to accommodate our puku wishes.
“Receive the children in reverence,
Educate them in love
Send them forth in freedom.” – Rudolf Steiner
Our chilly winter mornings have seen the children welcome the warmth of the kindergarten when they arrive. Gathering as a small group in our dining area as we wait for friends to arrive is working well. This rhythm has begun to be restored with many children remembering this routine from earlier months. We truly begin our day once we sing our morning song and open the curtains to “rise with the sun and welcome the day”. Our tamariki continue to be offered our daily inside activity. Beeswax Mondays, painting Tuesday and Thursday, baking our bread rolls on Wednesday and handcraft offerings on a Friday. Children feel secure with the predictable nature of our rhythm and look forward to the regular pattern. Whilst these activities are offered, all children delight in the ample opportunity to play freely and uninterrupted. Creating, designing, imitating and pretending.
Warmth is of Paramount importance in Steiner pedagogy. After embracing the warmth inside during the coolest part of the winter’s day, we rug up warm to breathe out and venture outside after a sustaining and delicious meal. The children release their energy as they expand into the coolness and freedom of the outdoors. Always a busy and motivated time of day as they are so eager to “get out there”.
Cooler temperatures are of no consideration to a child who has ideas and a sense of wonder and excitement. Play goes on. Mud pies of various flavours… Ice-cream being whipped up ready to serve.
Kindergarten truly is a children’s garden.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom,
you fix the environment
in which it grows.
Not the flower.” – Alexander den Heijer
Autumnal winds are blowing, and leaves are falling, with an array of rainbow colours on every tree.
At the beginning of this term the children have been reciting the Autumn poem with Susan and Teresa using Eurhythmical gestures with movement, building oral language that shape the resonance of sound and meaning, reflecting the subtle changes of mother nature.
Leaves have been raked into huge piles in the kindergarten, children helping and transporting them in their wheelbarrows back and forth into the leaf compost, then jumping, with laughter and throwing leaves up in the air mimicking ‘leaves falling’ in nature. A wonderful game to play.
‘Let’s dance and sing and play… Leaves are falling red, yellow, gold and brown’, nuts and acorns, and little seeds down they fall, all summer’s deeds…” …a snippet of our poem that has been recited over the last three weeks.
At story time our teachers have been telling the story “Stone Soup”, with props and puppets so that the children are fully engaged in absorbing the message behind our “Stone Soup” story. Stone soup is an old favourite, one of sharing and providing for the whole community. If everyone adds a little, then we have more than we need. Bernadette in the kitchen has been making delicious, nourishing pots of soup with a real stone in it. Bernadette ceremoniously lifts out the large stone from the soup, with her soup ladle… the children are delighted with this real-life example that corresponds with their daily story.
On painting days, we are using the autumn colours of yellow and red, in preparation for the making of our lanterns for ‘Lantern festival’ next month on the 21st June.
And sadly the children said their goodbyes to Sue-Sue, with her farewell Wednesday, fortnight ago.
A change of teacher’s in the daily rhythm has followed; the children are slowly adjusting to these changes, and there are more staff changes happening as you’ve just heard with the restructure, but this will all settle down soon. It reminds us that life and living is all about change. Changes in the seasons over the course of the year, changes as another year passes, another year we become a year older; the children move from playgroup, to kindergarten, to school, and so forth. Children, as do adults, gradually learn that change’ is what it means to be human, in experiencing life and living.
And that brings me to the changes in those Autumnal winds as Winter is biting at our toes. Jack frost will soon be here.
Please remember to provide warm clothing, hats, slippers and coats and out-door wet weather gear so the children can experience these changing seasons with all their senses. Children learn about nature when they can breathe, dance, run and sing in all seasons.
Thank you to those who have provided lemons in the kitchen and jam jars in preparation for jam making for the Spring festival. And thank you to the parents that have provided plants and seeds that have been given for the kindergarten’s garden, the children have been scattering seeds and planting and watering for their late winter blooming.