Tuesday, February 23, 2016


This post is proudly brought to you by John Carter, our amazing teacher's aide!

Five years of children will remember their Nature Discoveries on the infamous Rotten Log!  We have been revisiting this favourite site with the children recently but this often water immersed area and the old willow log has been almost fully reclaimed and recycled by nature after so much playing, sawing and investigating.

Today it was to be a butterfly train with Judy as a passenger in not -too-serious playwork led by Karmen, Bella, Delta, Zōe and Charli.

Another nearby Willow tree has had some broken deadwood branches hung up for a while that have caused the kaiako some consternation so on an accidental MUM FREE MONDAY MORNING this week three dads, two teachers and 12 children engaged their efforts to release the dead wood:

Heaving and pulling to Sam's waka shifting chants the combined efforts were no match for the branches, which really were as loose as Tracey correctly identified: CRASH!

The second and third timbers required the sling to tighten before splitting and falling, much to the delight for the children who really mastered their own safe surrounds.

We then lay a blue ribboned track for the Wednesday's Women-led team to follow: "We made a bendy circle track" said a delighted Lucas to Sam when Sam described between laughs that we were "ending just where we started": 

Zōe wondered aloud if Mrs Shaw would like the twiggy squeeze and/or the muddy crawl...I think she would!

It is wonderful for the children to realize they can leave positive marks on the park for their other Kindergarten friends to find their enjoyment to then later link the learning when talking back at the Kindergarten. We will take down the blue flagging tape on a later visit this year, but it is still there now to be enjoyed if you want to be led by your child and see the park from their perspective on a different day.

Lucas' Dad Chris happily remembers how "many families used to picnic in the park" when he was a child - Charlotte's Dad Dean remembers planting the trees "which now almost reach the helicopters!" and mowing the park as a young Lands & Survey Ranger: it used to take him three days!

Kaiako/John Carter 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bush bashing and Problem solving

Wow, what a busy day we had today at Nature Discovery.

We started the morning with a trip to the big rotten log. Most of this group haven't visited this area before and it was interesting to see what they made of it.
On the way there we reset a stoat trap. It didn't smell very nice, but it is a necessity to keep our park's flora and fauna protected from predators.
Everyone was excited about climbing up the rotten tree, but most didn't know what to do when they got to the far end. It was a little high for comfort to jump down and there was no teacher there to catch them. How would they get down? This was a great activity in problem solving and communication.

First they needed to make a space for themselves to manoeuvre. This was no easy feat as almost all of the children had wanted to climb the tree, and there were several children vying for space.
Negotiation was what was needed and most of the tamariki had a go at talking and listening to each other so that they could get the space they needed to get down.
The tamariki also needed to figure out how to use their bodies to navigate the tree safely.
Some tried some interesting techniques, such as over stretching themselves on the branches  and some had to learn new ways of moving their arms and legs at the same time.
All of the tamariki were able to safely shimmy down from the tree without any physical adult help.

While we were at the tree,  Mahe set himself the challenge of sawing through a branch. He worked hard for ages, working the saw through the tough old wood. The joy and pride on his face was evident when he finally made his way through the branch. It created a loud noise and Mahe asked Tracey later if she had heard it as it, "made a crack like thunder!"

While all this sawing was going on some of the other children had discovered a hole. It looked a bit like a rabbit hole, so they decided to put a stick in it to see what they could find. Soon they realised that it wasn't a rabbit hole at all but a pocket of grass that had been created by the roots of a large tree. An exercise in measurement began as the tamariki tried to push a stick from one end of the hole through to the children on the other end. The children at either end couldn't see each other because the grass was so tall on either side, so the only way they knew that their stick had gotten through was the response on the other side.

After our visit to the tree we went on a bit of a bush bash. We pushed ourselves through prickly foliage, sometimes needing to go on our hands and knees to get through.
Being on our hands and knees meant that we noticed things that we wouldn't have walking normally through the park.

During our adventure we discovered two rabbit skulls. There was a bit of mulling over how the rabbits may have died, based on the size and shapes of their skulls.
One of the children pulled a tooth from the dead rabbit's jaw to take home. He wanted to put it under his pillow to trick the tooth fairy! I wonder if it will work?

On the way back to the shed we found a great big mud puddle. The children had heaps of fun jumping and crawling in the mud. As we say at Nature Discovery, the best way to teach respect about nature is to develop a love of it. What better way to get in touch with nature, than to enjoy the sensory experience of mud!

"While kids are braving the mud, sloshing and squelching around, they are challenging themselves, expanding their experiences and in turn, their world. Instilling and nurturing this constructive foundational style of critical thinking and risk assessment in children builds and strengthens their values and attitudes toward adventure, and develops important skills that can be carried through to adulthood."-Moser 2015  (http://www.natureplayqld.org.au/article/why-playing-in-the-mud-is-more-than-just-fun

To end our busy Nature Discovery day we made our way back to the shed and made damper.

Post written by Tash

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Watering the trees

Third of February

It has been so wera (hot) in Te Anau lately and the team at Nature Discovery today had noticed that the soil was very dry. 
Part of our learning at Nature Discovery is to be good guardians of the land and to take care of the special area that we learn and play in. Noticing how very hot and dry the soil was, we decided to take care of the young trees that we have planted by giving them a bit of a water.

We have a tank at the shed that we can use for this very purpose. The tamariki filled several heavy buckets of water, working in teams of two, to keep the soil around our trees nice and moist.
It was hot and hard work but with teamwork and a positive attitude we got the job done.

After the busy start we decided to retreat from the heat to the coolness of Fern Gully.
Once there we set up the ropes to climb across. We all had a go. Some children were a bit outside the box in their technique but we all made it across the ropes in the end.
Tino pai te mahi!

Post written by Tash

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

i te aha - what's been happening?

Wed 27 Jan

It was the last day of Nature Discovery for Sam. Because it was his last day he was allowed to choose what areas he wanted to revisit and say goodbye to.
Sam decided that he wanted to go on an exploring adventure.  He lead the way. It wasn't long until the tamariki came upon  their first challenge. Some fallen logs.
Despite some of our children being out of their comfort zone, they showed great determination and courage and we all made it over. 
Next Sam decided to lead us up the hill following the bike trails. We haven't walked this path much recently and after a long time walking we were starting to feel a bit lost.
I asked a couple of the children near me if they knew where we were. Most were unsure but   Fletcher said that we were near the jumping rocks.  He was adamant of this!  He pointed to the fence and said we should go over to see them.  Sure enough there they were.  Fletcher knows the park very well and his sense of direction is amazing! Well done Fletcher for finding the way back!
Afterwards back at Pinecone World, we set up a rope bridge between the trees to challenge our balancing skills.

Monday 1st Feb
Today was another brilliant sunny day. We decided to revisit the huge fallen tree that we had discovered at the next of last term.  We took the long way around Lake Henry to get there and discovered a large rabbit hole on the way.
It had 2 entrances and we put a long stick inside to see how far it went. The rabbit burrow was so long that we couldn’t the stick when we looked in the other end.

When we got to our planned destination we discovered to our disappointment that  the tree had been cut up and taken away. Only the large stump at the base of the tree remained. 
Despite our tree being cut up, it still provided a challenge to climb over and we discovered a cave on the other side to explore.
We noticed that while most of our tree was gone, there was heaps of sawdust left on the ground.  We made it useful by gathering up a bagful to take back to the shed for kindling for the fire.
We found some  great  trees  to climb of which the tamariki had fun climbing and challenging out their physical capabilities on.

Back at the shed at lunch time, Billy had brought a large bag of huge marshmallows to cook over the fire.  They were so big that most of the children had to put them in their lunch boxes to take home to finish!!

Post written by Tash