ECE Services

Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!

Milford Kindy Blog photo resized4LBH

Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!


Milford Kindergarten recently received their Third Pā-Harakeke Healthy Heart Award and appear to have created a culture in their centre that lends itself to perpetual Gold Award achievement. Educator Amanda Bowen shares the scientific way that the children are engaging in healthy eating experiences.

-     Milford Kindergarten’s teaching has strong biology leanings.  How did you come up with these ideas? 

I remember Mum always talking about the natural world, anatomy, digestion, respiration, and circulation. I must have really enjoyed listening to her because I have remained interested in those subjects for many years.  Now that I am a kindergarten teacher, I enjoy sharing these interests with children and whānau.

At work, our philosophy focusses on well-being, nature, sustainability, and kaitiakitanga and is a great fit for my own values. For example, we regularly facilitate a ‘Kai Moana Experience’ which I regard as a strong example of integrated learning, incorporating hauora, science, technology, mathematics, and literacy into a very interactive activity that could appeal to many children. Thanks to Devonport Kindergarten for first sharing this experience with me nine years ago.

-     You use quite confronting hands-on methods in your learning, e.g. fish and worm digestive systems. 

 How do the children react to these methods? 

Kai Moana Experience

Before the children arrive, we arrange whole fish, filleted fish, bivalves, cephalopods etc. on trays of salt-ice.

Those children that show interest are invited to look at the fish and spend time finding out more about them. The children’s most asked question is, “Can I touch it?”.

First we removing the edible fillets, before encouraging them to handle the fish, examining and feeling the lips, teeth, tongue, gills, guts, tails and scales. Some children, and whānau hold their noses and move away, others hold their noses and come to take a closer look. We get loads of comments like, “Kindy’s a bit on the nose this morning”, or, “Something fishy’s going on at kindy today”. 

Some children appear to find the fish confronting, and often we see whānau supporting their children’s learning by recalling past events, “Can you tell Amanda how many fish you caught with Grandad?”, or by enabling the child to touch by holding the child’s hands in theirs and discussing their own knowledge and experiences with the children. Throughout the morning we continue to talk about digestion, respiration, and circulation, linking what we notice to our own bodily experiences. Often we use books, internet video, or whānau knowledge to extend what we are learning.

The activity concludes with the children washing and cutting the fillets into fish fingers, and preparing the prawns and squid, before frying or steaming them ready to share at morning tea. We use the fish heads and skeleton to make fresh fish stock, which we either freeze or share with whānau. Nothing is wasted, even the intestines etc. go into our bokashi system to recycle.

-     What have been some of the children’s learning outcomes, in line with your Pa-Harakeke Gold award this time around?

Learning outcomes stemming from this activity are varied according to the interests and engagement of individuals. For example, mana atua/well-being is supported through promotion of hauora, healthy lifestyle, healthy food production and consumption. Children experience opportunities to express confidence, independence, self-help and self-care skills relating to food preparation. Knowledge of bodily systems is increased through hands-on exploration and teina/tuākana knowledge sharing. Through these activities we are able to reinforce the tikanga of kaitiakitanga, as we teach and learn about conserving, preserving and protecting nature through interactive learning activities.

-     What has been the feedback from parents?

I believe that this is the kind of teaching and learning that creates boundless curiosity and an enduring interest in the natural world. Today a parent commented, “This stuff really makes me want to be a kindy teacher”… “Me too!”