Working together creatively
Waimea is a kindergarten that merged as a single centre (with two learning spaces – one for younger and another for older tamariki) from two separate Early Childhood Education Centres, Te Puna and Te Awa, a couple of years ago. About 1.5 years ago, Te Puna held a modest Enviroschools Bronze reflection to align them with the other part of their centre Te Awa.
Sharing and decision-making day
Waimea is very committed to the Enviroschools Programme and has been able to incorporate the Enviroschools Kaupapa into all aspects of kindergarten life. When we arrived in the morning to observe their practice and hear their stories, the tamariki welcomed us on the site with a very moving waiata. Tamariki then excitedly showed us their kindergarten environment and the activities they love to do.
We had already noticed outside the gates, an area that has been planted by the kindergarten and their community. They proudly told us about this area they have planted as a fruit garden and learning area.
Focus on insects
A project that they are particularly proud of is their butterfly rearing house. This was a project that carried on over the whole summer and the last few butterflies hatched in lockdown.
“We created a pūrerehua whare at kindergarten again this year. With the support and assistance from our community we converted our outside whare into a safe butterfly enclosure, with swan plants where Monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies could be viewed by the tamariki and whānau. Our tamariki were captivated watching the life cycle of our Monarch butterflies play out in front of them. Our tamariki know how to identify whether a butterfly is male or female by looking at its wings.” Waimea Kindergarten
We heard how meal worms have been a great way to demonstrate life cycles to the children. These insects move quickly through their life cycle stages so can be easily observed from start to finish over a short timeframe. The meal worms are a great food source for our frogs (so they are happy and healthy).
“We are able to explore them with ease. Our children can see and feel the eggs, the larvae, the pupae and the beetles. Our children are kaitiaki for our meal worms and make sure they have food and moisture, but not too much. Our children help clean out their enclosures and separate the different life stages to successfully breed them. We love our meal worms and the learning it provides children.’ – Waimea Kindergarten
There are many teachable moments and learning opportunities that bring joy and delight to Waimea Kindergarten tamariki, and with that, a growing interest in kaitiakitanga – caring, respecting and being guardians for the caterpillars and butterflies.
Tamariki have also created a beautiful bug hotel as well as a wētā house and these are now awaiting lodgers.
To help the Holistic Reflection Process teachers gathered comments and ideas from the community and captured tamariki voice on leaves. Teachers had spent some time prior to the sharing and decision-making day reflecting on their practice and recording how they considered they aligned with the Enviroschools Guiding Principles and the Silver statement.
It was evident that every teacher felt engaged and enriched by the Enviroschools process and that the Enviroschools kaupapa is being integrated into teaching, daily practice and place.
“I am really proud to see what this team and community have achieved.” – Andrea Goodwin NTK Enviroschools Facilitator
With all the staff fully committed and motivated to weave the guiding principles into daily life, this kindergarten is poised to pursue a range of next steps identified through their reflection process.
Banner photo: Pressed and dried leaves were prepared and used to record evidence of the Enviroschools Guiding Principles and place on a ” reflection tree”.