Tai Tamariki Kindergarten explore the Aztecs

This blog provides an excellent opportunity not only for us to share with you, but  for you to share with each other.

How do you use our museum as a learning resource? What do you find to be best practice? Why are museum and gallery experiences important for your tamariki?

This story comes from ngā kaiako (teachers), Maiangi and Becs, of Tai Tamariki Kindergarten:

Kia ora,

Recently the children of Tai Tamariki Kindergarten visited the Aztecs: Conquest and Glory exhibition at Te Papa. Many of them did some observational drawings of things that took their interest – the ceramic pots with fierce faces; the huge temple with the little people on top; the stone statues – particularly the ‘God of Death’; and an amazing diorama of a traditional Aztec marketplace.

“If you listen carefully”, said April T, ” you can hear the sounds of a real marketplace in Mexico.”

We spent a lot of time really taking in all the tiny details – the people selling fish, pots, oranges, cloth…

“If I was there, I would be a man” said Nika, “…oh, no, I would be a small child.”

Our tamariki also took great interest in the chinampas display, with it’s floating fruit and vegetable gardens too!

We looked at the pretend water in the exhibition made of resin. What could we use to create this effect? Ice and jelly were two suggestions.

We thought - how fun it would be to make our own ‘Aztec Market’ dioramas at Kindy using modelling clay and anything else we might think of!?

Our 3 and 4 year old tamariki worked on this project over the following 3 weeks or so, using mixed media, and based on their own drawings made at the exhibition. They used the skills they have been practicing since starting Kindy to make them.

Kaiya, age 4. Aztec inspired diorama featuring 'water', a man and a goat.

Kaiya, age 4.
Aztec inspired diorama featuring ‘water’, a man and a goat.
Materials: Plastic trees, paint, fabric, glass stones, PVA, magazing cut outs.
Photograph: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

Piperita, age 3. Taking great delight in working with and painting modelling clay to create her diorama. Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Piperita, age 3.
Taking great delight in working with and painting modelling clay to create her diorama.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

Max, age 4.Creating his diorama with a mirror 'river', magazine cut outs, fabric, and hand drawn 'God of Death'.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Max, age 4.
Creating his diorama with a mirror ‘river’, magazine cut outs, fabric, and hand drawn ‘God of Death’.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

Isla, age 4.Aztec inspired diorama featuring clay 'Aztec person'.Materials: modelling clay, fabric, plastic trees, paint, glass stones, PVA, magazine cut outs, cardboard.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Isla, age 4.
Aztec inspired diorama featuring clay ‘Aztec person’.
Materials: modelling clay, fabric, plastic trees, paint, glass stones, PVA, magazine cut outs, cardboard.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

April, age 3. April made a second diorama, this time incorporating her own 'God of Fire' and 'God of Water', along with 'Mickey and Minnie Mouse'.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

April, age 3.
In her second diorama, April incorporated her own ‘God of Fire’ and ‘God of Water’, along with ‘Mickey and Minnie Mouse’.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

April age 4. Working on her diorama using cardboard hand drawn figures, mirror 'pool', fabric, plastic trees.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

April, age 4.
Working on her diorama using cardboard hand drawn figures, mirror ‘pool’, fabric, plastic trees.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

These diorama pieces make up our very own Aztec Market, and are on display in our very own display case – of which our tamariki are very proud.

Take a look at some of the children’s observational drawings:

Solar Disc Stone by Tiana.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Solar Disc Stone by Tiana.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

The Temple by Isla.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

The Temple by Isla.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Aztec Sculpture (God of Death) by Max. Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Aztec Sculpture (God of Death) by Max.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Aztec Warrior by Roger. Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Aztec Warrior by Roger.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

 

We have also enjoyed some Mexican inspired cooking and eating as part of our interest in the Aztec exhibition.

Here we are making guacamole and mexican sugar cookies. We tried some different recipes using the grain, amaranth!

Making guacamole.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Making guacamole.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Mixing the sugar cookies together.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Mixing the sugar cookies together.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Ready for the oven!Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Ready for the oven!
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

We looked at some traditional Aztec head-dresses and drew our own feathers!

Our Aztec Headdresses.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Our Aztec Headdresses.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

April said, ” I’m an Eagle Warrior!”, remembering the statue she had seen in the exhibition, and in the images we had printed out at Kindy.

Our tamariki were interested in going inside the Aztec temple, and remembered the spider projection crawling up the walls. Back at Kindy we made our own spiders to hang in cobwebs above the sandpit!

Sandpit spiders!Photographer: Tai Tamariki,  © Tai Tamariki

Sandpit spiders!
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Ngā tamariki have expressed some of what they have seen and learnt during their exhibition visits through socio-dramatic play! Kaiako Andrea made some awesome Aztec inspired outfits and we have had many small Aztecs at Kindergarten role playing such things as tending to crops, and selling fish and vegetables at the market.

The children have been the subject of some Aztec photos – and have explained some of their poses.

Aztec body language.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Aztec body language.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

“This is a fighting move, because that’s what Aztecs do”

“This is how Aztecs drink”

These pictures have been transformed into our very own Tai Tamariki diorama – it looks a bit like our mini Aztecs might pop out of their box at any moment!

Strike an Aztec Pose!Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Strike an Aztec Pose!
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

We also took part in the Te Papa Early Years Aztec programme, called Connecting with the Aztecs. Our tamariki had a great time learning about some of the ways their lives were different and the same as the Aztecs.

It was also a real treat to make our own 3D wheeled animal toys (like the Aztecs had), which we raced up and down the classroom. The children where asked to choose an animal to make that they felt they had some connection with. This is because the Aztecs believed they each had a special animal.  There were lots of different selections – someone even made a dinosaur toy because they were really good at roaring! The toys were decorated with geometric patterns.

Taking part in Connecting with the Aztecs, an Early Years Programme at Te Papa.Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

Taking part in Connecting with the Aztecs, an Early Years Programme at Te Papa.
Photographer: Tai Tamariki, © Tai Tamariki

As you can see, the Aztecs exhibition lead us to explore lots of new interests and many different curriculum domains!

In order to connect the different learning environments, and provoke further interest, the Kindergarten environment was filled with Aztec inspired resources – Aztec patterns were put around the art area and beside coloured shape blocks; home made dressups were created; images of Aztec objects were placed around the Kindergarten; and we made our own books to document our travels and what we had seen and learnt. Learning documentation and creations were displayed proudly for our whānau, friends and visitors to see.

The Aztec exhibition has been inspiring for both Kaiako and tamaraki, and we will be off for another visit soon. I wonder what we will discover next!?

Some comments from the tamariki about the exhibition:

Kaiya: “The Aztecs lived in America. The Aztecs made sacrifices to the gods to make them happy…but the gods are not even real…They killed a leopard beacuse they wanted to make a korowai.”

Isla: ” They were selling food in the market and some were fishing on boats. The ones you could hear if you listened carefully were standing on real sand.”

Children’s favourite parts of the exhibition:

* The temple

* The rubber ball

* The character trail stamps

* The non-fiction books

 

Thank you for sharing your story Tai Tamariki! What amazing historical enquiry you have done!

 

2 Responses

  1. read more

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

    Reply
  2. Masako Shimizu-Beesting

    Dear Taitamariki kaiako,

    Thank you so much for sharing this great story. It covers a wide range of multi-literacy and other aspects of learning. It captures amazing journey of your tamariki’s discovery, exploration and achievements.
    I’d like to share this story with my colleagues at my centre as this will surely inspire our learning as teachers. :)

    Nga mihi,
    Masako

    Reply

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