Christchurch playground competition a triumph for Kidsfirst Kindergartens...

ABOVE: Kidsfirst Lincoln children and Head Teacher Jeanne Williams collect first place from John Key.
ABOVE: The Prime Minister gives the award for second place to some of the children at Kidsfirst MacFarlane Park, who were accompanied by Head Teacher Fiona Neale.

A monster mouth slide, a fairy climbing frame, a frog pond, a road cone, and a giant jelly mound -  just some of the ideas that helped the children at Kidsfirst Lincoln and Kidsfirst MacFarlane Park win first and second place respectively in the Early Childhood Education division, at the finals of the BNZ Amazing Place City Playground Competition.


It also got them a face-to-face meeting with the Prime Minister John Key, who was at the Hagley Park Geodome to present them with their awards.


Over 6,000 children took part in the project and the competition brief was fairly straightforward; Who do you like to take you to the playground? What do you like to do when you get there? What do you like best? What would make a playground the best playground ever? With these questions in mind the children were free to let their imaginations run wild.


Head Teacher at Kidsfirst Kindergartens Lincoln, Jeanne Williams said the project provided a wonderful learning opportunity for the children and that they were ecstatic to win first prize, “It was great for them to learn about problem solving, sharing their thoughts, being creative and working together. They all got into groups and designed their own different parts of the playground and then we put them all together. The end result was too big to bring to the competition, we had to video it instead!”


“Since the children found out that we were in the final they’ve just been buzzing! They’ve been counting down the days till the bus arrived to pick them up and of course the bus trip here was very noisy.”


A playground designed for a dinosaur was the initial plan at Kidsfirst Kindergartens MacFarlane Park but the concept quickly evolved from there and soon the first idea of having a treehouse had given way to a giant road cone tower instead. This fitted in with part of the brief from The Amazing Place, which asked for the inclusion of a tall viewing area where kids could watch the rebuild of the city.


Kidsfirst Kindergartens MacFarlane Park Head Teacher Fiona Neale says the competition was a wonderful learning opportunity for the children. “It was a chance for them to learn to express themselves. They experienced the process of sharing ideas and bouncing them off one another.”


“It’s a lovely occasion to be part of, as well as learning from the process. The great thing for me is that the children are recognising they’re part of a community.”


Fiona felt that the exercise also gave the children the chance to be actively involved in the rebuild, in their own small way. “For me it was really important that the children got the chance to be part of it, they are taking part in things and contributing to an exciting new Christchurch.”


Jeanne agrees, “It gave them a voice and let them have their say about the future of Christchurch.”


It's not about winning but taking part...




2013 has been nicknamed the ‘Year of the Rebuild,’ and Kidsfirst kindys are keen to get right amongst the action.


So when CERA launched a competition for children to design the new Christchurch central playground, several kindergartens including Kidsfirst Trengrove, Kidsfirst MacFarlane Park and Kidsfirst Beckenham began brainstorming immediately.


‘The Amazing Place’ competition is a chance for kindy kids to get actively involved in the rebuild and the future of this city. And as Head Teacher Jill Peters knows, this kind of participation helps create a sense of pride and ownership as the new city unfolds.


What’s more, Teacher Helen Peters says, is that the competition is suited perfectly to their Beckenham community.


“Like all of Christchurch, Beckenham is seeing a lot of changes. Children hear about the rebuild at home, and now they’re getting involved as well. It’s really bringing together learning in the home and here at kindy.”



The Playground Competition is open to Canterbury students from early childhood to year 6, and with such a large design component, the competition is linked with Te Whāriki and the work our kindies are already committed too.


“There’s a lot of research, imagination and collaborative working involved in a project like this. Each week the children think of more ways to improve or adapt our ideas and bit by bit we get closer to finishing our plan.”


The plan involved having a playdough model complete with a central stream ready for the competition closing date of April 19th 2013.


Kidsfirst MacFarlane Park and several other kindergartens created their own submissions..


Kidsfirst Beckenham received a Highly Commended for its submission.



ABOVE: Relieving Head Teacher Fiona Neale with some of the MacFarlane Park children and their model.


For more information on the competition,



Christchurch kindergartens take part in a competition to design the city's new central playground.


There are valuable learning opportunities in the process of designing the entries.


How did this help with learning?

What did it achieve?

This has been a very multifaceted activity where skills and dispositions in many areas have been fostered. Teacher Helen Peters explains some of the positive outcomes from the process...

• Dispositions for learning include taking an interest and persevering with it for an extended time, overcoming any potential difficulties (for example what to do with the models when they wanted to keep playing with them.)

• Links between Kindergarten and the wider community are being formed and strengthened as children connect places and experiences together.

• Children learn that their ideas are valued ...which contributes to their self esteem and confidence.

• Skills in planning, and making their ideas concrete in models and art are developed.

• Working in groups allows communication skills to be practised as they share ideas
and skills, developing their sense of responsibility, another important learning

• Telling stories of playgrounds they have visited exercises memory, and while
revisiting previous experiences, they have incorporated them into new ideas.

In this way they further develop their theories and ideas about how the world they experience works and reflect on their place in it.

 • Fine motor control is encouraged and they scaffold each other in learning to draw
representational pictures and write some words.

• Other literacy skills are developed including understanding that words have
meaning when others can read the stories they dictate that go with their art works.

Where to next?

The collaborative skills and dispositions above will continue to be fostered and
encouraged in individual and group situations at Kindergarten. We will also watch with interest the development of the playground knowing that we had a part in the plan!

Ka pai tamariki ma

Well done, children. We are very proud of you all.






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