A regular feature from our Monthly Newsletters to Parents, written by our Teachers.
WATERPLAY … SPRINKLERS … SANDPIT RIVERS … MUDPOOLS – This sums up the month of February here at Pathways with us making the most of the hot weather! And the trusty grapefruit tree supplied us with LOTS of grapefruit to quench our thirst. Tamariki enjoyed squeezing and squashing grapefruit for us all to savour. I am sure our whānau have noticed the hazelnuts in children’s bags and pockets every day! Yes, we’ve had a few hazelnut gatherers in our midst, starting each day with a good shake of the hazelnut tree and using the hammers and our strong muscles to break open as many hazelnuts as possible!
We started with paper-making as one of our inside focus activities. This involves ripping paper into small pieces, soaking it in water and then using sieves to shape it into the right sizes and consistencies. What a fun way to learn about sustainability and looking after our environment.
Our February story, Te ika a Maui, was told by Fi and came with the moral of getting along with siblings, problem solving and making plans. The tamariki loved taking part in the action of rowing their waka, learning new words such as “hoha”, and then having an imaginary swim in the moana to finish off story time.
Our tamariki have been enjoying lots of play outside lately that involve working together, especially in their pretend play of building and constructing. Our March story, ‘The enormous turnip’, will link into this theme of teamwork and collaboration.
Welcome back everyone. Nearly all our children have returned from holidays and it’s great to see you all relaxed after having a long break. We are ready (after some injury and study breaks) to get busy learning at Pathways Kindergarten.
Just a gentle reminder that our session starts at nine am. We are keen to all start together with our morning circle – you are welcome to join in if you are still here.
Our story for January has been about a Te Arawa explorer Ihenga. The children enjoy hearing about how the places and names they are a little familiar with came about and we’re growing a gentle understanding of te ao Māori and Tangatawhenua Rotorua.
Thank you all for the chance to study Steiner Diploma of Early Childhood Education. I had an amazing week at Titirangi Steiner school and am feeling more confident about the concepts and theory of Steiner Education.
At this tricky tail end of the year I would like to pause and share how grateful the team are for you, our wonderful community. With your support, confidence and trust we have grown a kindergarten to be really proud of. A place where children thrive as children. We are looking forward to seeing you all at the advent celebration lunch. This year the children and team would like to provide lunch for our wonderful community to show our appreciation of everything that you have done for Pathways throughout the year.
We are excitedly singing our Christmas carols and our advent story is plotting the nativity journey. So far Mary, Joseph and their donkey have walked across stones, met an angel and listened to gnomes singing. They are now in a forest listening to the wind and smelling the scents of home and remembering spring.
Our emergent curriculum has seen lots of running races happening daily and a return to grapefruit juicing; children are confident working through this whole process themselves, right from shaking the tree to drinking their cup of juice. Inside, children’s storytelling has mostly been replaced by more active play.
If I don’t see you on or before the advent festival, have a lovely family time and see you next term in the new year.
The children’s waiting and anticipation for this event was truly paid by the happy community vibe everyone felt. What an amazing day this was. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the attendance was outstanding. We loved seeing ALL of our children on the day and the sense of community was so strong. It truly could not have been as successful as it was without the commitment of the Spring Fair Parent Committee who worked tirelessly coordinating the fair, and everyone who pitched in to help in so many ways (baking, selling raffle tickets, donating items, shopping, setting up, packing up, crafting, manning a stall, putting up signs/posters, growing plants, approaching businesses for donations, the list is long…). The money raised will go directly back into our kindergarten and to our tamariki. A sincere thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Visit to Four Seasons
Helen and I had a morning in Four Seasons Steiner kindergarten in Taupō to experience a different version of Steiner education. I came away with some good ideas to work on for the Pathways programme. Excursions (especially to ngahere / the forest) are a feature of their learning in the Taupō community and this is definitely something we would like to work towards introducing at Pathways.
We are starting to reap some rewards of the mahinui in our vegetable garden. Children have been eating broad beans and strawberries, it’s such a natural way of learning biology when you experience the full cycle.
Our spring story was transformed by our children’s interest in Te Reo Māori. Together we translated the names of butterfly – purerehua, ducks – rekireki, sheep – hepi, flowers – putiputi, house – whare, te awa – river and family – whānau. The story is a great, purposeful way of using te reo. Our new story is about maunga Ngongotaha.
Goodbye September and Takurua/Winter, hello Koanga/Spring and October. Thank you to all our whānau who could attend our spring festival picnic, sharing this time as a community is so special. What I wanted to say at the festival was a heartfelt thank you to you all for your continued support to our team through change and growth. There’s pressure and lots of hard work and then there’s our parents, our community, helping in so many ways. It’s overwhelming the support we have received from our community. A sincere thank you.
Koanga/Spring also brings a change in rhythm with our morning session starting off outside, then moving in for Kai at 11am. This is followed by inside play, with the afternoon routine flexible – outside or inside, what the children wish.
Our curriculum will have more gardening as we sow and plant our Kai gardens. We’re ready to plant tomatoes, basil, spinach and lettuce. Seeds are about to go in trays and seedlings coming soon. At the moment our strawberry bed could do with some pine needle mulch. If anyone is able to pick some up it would be most appreciated.
Several whānau have commented on the te Reo Māori their children are bringing home. I’ve put some of our words and songs up on a noticeboard so you can sing along at home. We started with songs about body parts and movements (up, down, in, out). It’s exciting to hear children using these words in contexts other than waiata, they have flown with this new knowledge. If there are any other waiata you would like us to include, or if you want help with pronunciation or the tune…just ask us. We welcome any interest and input from our community, your needs and wishes are important to us.
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.