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Long term curriculum design example

Co-constructing physical challenges

This is an example of the types of things that could happen at each step in long term curriculum design.

Get to know our people and place

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Kaiako at a kindergarten observed that tamariki were highly engaged when collaboratively using outdoor equipment in creative ways.

The kaiako use this knowledge to inform what they provide for children and how they scaffold learning. They were able to use the strands of Wellbeing | Mana atua, Contribution | Mana tangata, and Exploration | Mana aotūroa in Te Whāriki to guide the learning for tamariki.

Decide on learning priorities

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Guided by Te Whāriki, their philosophy, and related theories, the kaiako aim to co-construct curriculum. This involves valuing children’s contributions while supporting them to learn how to keep themselves and others safe.

When kaiako sensed that tamariki needed further opportunities to develop resilience and risk-taking they worked with them to design and make physical challenges.

Plan our response

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In their initial planning they prioritised:

  • Opportunities for progress and complexity.
  • Challenges available over time so children had multiple chances to feel and see their progress.
  • Materials that were adaptable and not costly.
  • Challenges that involved instability of objects not far off the ground.
  • Co-designing with children which afforded opportunities for genuine collaborative discussions about safety.
  • Equity of access, for example, examining if challenges work for children of all heights.

Make it happen

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Watch the video of the outdoor equipment that was designed with the children.

Video music Perception from 


Find out what and how tamariki are learning

Find out what and how tamariki are learning

Kaiako listen out for language that is evidence of the concepts children are learning. For example, “I kept trying and I am not scared anymore.”

They used photographs and videos to assess challenge and progress. They document some of their assessments as learning stories, always with a focus on the learning they have observed.

Kaiako developed a culture of learning conversations – both planned and spontaneous – where their observations are shared and assessments of learning are triangulated.

Review and respond

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Reviewing risk and ensuring that challenges meet the regulations in terms of safety is seen as a continuous process.

Weekly debrief meetings also form part of the reflection process. For example, a note was made, “Rope challenge and slack line – moving onto problem solving as well as the challenge continuing. Demonstrates the importance of leaving this up for a long time.”

Kaiako observed the benefits of repeated experiences of complexity and collaboration. They adjusted their expectation that challenge demands new experiences. This provided insight into how well they were promoting resilience and risk taking. It was evidence of progress towards the learning outcomes, particularly those associated with the Exploration | Mana aotūroa and Wellbeing | Mana atua strands of Te Whāriki.