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Kia kori tahi

Physical wellbeing in early learning

Kia kori tahi is a suite of resources designed to support the physical wellbeing of tamariki. They have a focus on active movement. Movement primes the brain for learning, fostering the neural pathways that form the foundations for cognitive (hinengaro), physical (tinana), emotional (whatumanawa) and spiritual (wairua) learning.

These resources support kaiako to consider the ways in which they currently support the physical wellbeing of tamariki and how that learning is occurring. They encourage kaiako to reflect on how they could further enhance teaching practices and learning outcomes.

The resources are aligned to the concepts and approaches that underpin the He Māpuna te Tamaiti resources which support social and emotional competence in early learning.



These videos show tamariki learning to move, develop, and express themselves physically. They start with a child's voice and draw on the child's questions. Using this voice and these questions is intended to challenge kaiako to reflect on the way they follow the child's lead.

Do you let me fly?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    (The sound of children laughing and music)

    (Child playing with objects on the floor)

    Child narrator: When I move, I’m learning what my body can do. Do you see how I challenge myself to move in new ways?

    (Child climbing on outdoor equipment)

    Child narrator: Do you let me fly?

    (Tamariki playing outside with kaiako in games and on equipment)

    Adult narrator: When tamariki engage in physical play, they learn about their physical bodies and space in a holistic way.

    In this video we look at the fundamental movement skills tamariki develop, and how kaiako can support them.

    From birth, tamariki intuitively start to extend their control over their bodies – playing, gaining agility and coordination, and pushing the boundaries of past efforts.

    (Kaiako speaking to camera)

    Kaiako: We have the space to redesign it every day, based on which children are in there and where their abilities are at.

    (Infants crawling on low outdoor equipment)

    Kaiako: We don't put them into positions that they can't get into or out of themselves. So it's about allowing them the chance to have that moment, "Oh I did it. I finally got to roll over.”

    Or, “I got my leg out of between these two bars by myself.” And that moment when they go, "Hey, I  did that. You didn't need to rescue me."

    (Tamariki climbing and playing outside)

    Adult narrator: As tamariki grow older they continue to challenge themselves physically, building their image of themselves as courageous, exploratory, confident, and successful.

    (Kaiako speaking to camera)

    Kaiako: Most of them take risks and sometimes we have to support them. Not to intervene, but to support them in what they are trying to do.

    (Tamariki engaged in indoor and outdoor physical activities including singing and dancing)

    Adult narrator: Kaiako can intentionally prepare for informal opportunities to encourage tamariki to develop fundamental movement skills.

    Stability skills relate to our body's ability to gain or maintain balance when still or moving. They involve learning about how the body responds to gravity. Learning to sit, stand, balance, bend, stretch, and reach.

    Learning to walk, hop, jump, or dance. Consider the stability skills required for waiata, haka, pese ma siva or other cultural dances.

    Locomotor skills relate to moving from one place to another, either horizontally or vertically.

    (Kaiako speaking to camera)

    Kaiako: Moving through the monkey bars allows them to build up their gross motor skills which then supports the fine motor skills.

    (Tamariki using equipment in their hands and feet to carry out activities)

    Adult narrator: Manipulative skills involve moving or using an object with our hands or feet.

    Tamariki might use balls, hoops, or bats, hammer, paintbrush, poi, rākau, or scissors.

    (Tamariki playing a variety of games together)

    Adult narrator: Movement and body awareness relates to understanding what our bodies are like, how we can move them, and where our bodies are in relation to other people or objects.

    Playing games with other tamariki develops this awareness, along with the cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of their learning.

    Promoting the physical development of tamariki requires intentional teaching strategies that foster freedom of movement, collaborative learning, the desire of tamariki to create their own challenges, and a culture of persistence and celebrating success.


Do you hear me?

  • Transcript

    Transcript Transcript

    (The sound of children laughing and music)

    (Tamariki moving their bodies and doing hand actions)

    Child narrator: When I move, I am rhythmic. Do you see how my body communicates my thoughts and feelings? Do you hear me?

    Adult narrator: When tamariki move through dance and drama, they use all their senses and physical abilities. They begin to learn to tell their own creative stories and the stories of their cultural heritage.

    (Tamariki playing drums with a kaiako)

    Adult narrator: In this video we look at ways kaiako support children's movement through dance and drama.

    (Tamariki singing together)

    Adult narrator: Children are born rhythmic, attuned to the heart beating, the breath moving, and the music of their whānau.

    (Tamariki dancing)

    Adult narrator: This rhythmic communication transcends the spoken word in a way that is inclusive of all. To tamariki, verbal language and movement are entwined.

    (Kaiako speaking to camera)

    Kaiako: Music with our toddlers is the chance to be joyful and expressive with their bodies and to figure out their own rhythm and move in ways they don't normally.

    (Tamariki moving their bodies and doing actions with kaiako)

    Adult narrator: Kaiako can intentionally prepare for informal opportunities to encourage children's rhythmic movements. For example, by having a repertoire of waiata, rhymes, finger plays, and music to initiate expressive movement during everyday routines.

    Kaiako: Just bounce them on your knee and have those interactions while you are talking with them, like action songs as well. So encourage them like our clapping and moving them to the rhythm of the music as we sing.

    (Kaiako speaking to camera)

    Kaiako: They will sing along and teach the child how to sing, and then the children will sing along and do the actions with them.

    (Tamariki doing hand actions with kaiako)

    Kaiako: For some children it's the tempo of the song, the beat of the song, that really ignites the joy of the children to take part in dancing.

    (Tamariki singing and doing actions with kaiako)

    Adult narrator: Kaiako should also provide planned learning experiences, using a variety of intentional teaching strategies, to engage tamariki in physical self expression alongside others and link individual expression to the group experience.

    (Kaiako talking to camera)

    Kaiako: Kaiako re-enact pūrākau. We re-enact dramatic plays. That gets children's imaginative minds thinking and working around moving their bodies. That confidence from the drama has transferred into their dancing and the way they express themselves."

    (Tamariki doing actions and singing together)

    Kaiako: Kaiako also facilitate kapa haka, siva ma pese sessions. They are able to connect to their culture, to familiar songs that help build the connection between home and centre.

    Adult narrator: Promoting the physical development of tamariki through dance and drama requires kaiako to intentionally engage in experiences that foster creative movement, collaborative learning, cultural traditions, and an environment for self expression.


Information sheets

These information sheets expand on the ideas in the above videos. They provide additional information on fundamental movement skills and rhythmic movement. Kaiako can use this information to develop intentional teaching strategies to support the physical wellbeing of tamariki.


  • Stories of practice

    Stories of practice Stories of practice


    A holistic approach to hauora: Lessons from Tāne Mahuta

    Key points

    • Our hauora, our health and wellbeing, is holistic – it is physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual
    • Pūrākau and atua teach us to be kaitiaki of the physical world and our own health and wellbeing

    Nestled into the hills of Wainuiomata, surrounded by bush sits Whānau Treehouse, a privately owned puna reo catering for children from zero to five years old. Kaiako have embedded a kaupapa Māori approach to curriculum design and use a Māui assessment framework.

    For these kaiako, hauora, health and wellbeing, is holistic. Hauora is about physical and spiritual connections to place and atua. This is evident in the ways kaiako and whānau routinely acknowledge mana whenua. As part of their professional learning, kaiako visit sites of significance to experience the pūrākau of the rohe. These local pūrākau, karakia, and waiata are threaded through the lived curriculum and experienced by tamariki, whānau, and kaiako alike. Kaiako use them with tamariki to explore hauora for themselves and for the natural world. Self-care, caring for others, and caring for the physical world are interwoven into their programme.

    A significant part of their programme centres around daily visits to ngahere, the bush. Rain or shine, tamariki head into the bush. Every visit starts with a karakia before tamariki, whānau, and kaiako venture along the tracks, winding beside a shallow stream and disappearing enticingly up hillsides. Tamariki are encouraged to listen, to watch, and to tread gently as they explore. Following their matua lead, they ask for permission from Tāne Mahuta before they pick up leaves, and, unprompted, say a short karakia to express their respect and appreciation for the life found in ngahere.

    Two tamariki examine a fern frond in the forest.

    Kaiako talk about Tāne Mahuta on their walks and regularly remind tamariki about how he teaches them to look after Papatūānuku. When they share the pūrākau about how Ranginui and Papatūānuku were separated, and how ngahere came into being, they’ve seen tamariki lie down on the ground pretending to be Tāne and pushing their legs towards the sky. Tamariki are encouraged to embody the physical experience of feeling connected to Papatūānuku.

    An important element of the Whānau Treehouse curriculum is respect for the physical world and the opportunities for play it offers. Tamariki are free to explore their physical capabilities: testing their stability by walking and running on uneven and, at times, slippery ground; using rocks as stepping stones across small streams and balancing on fallen logs. Tamariki thrive on the gross motor challenges of climbing trees, sliding down slippery slopes, and winding their way up steep banks. Kaiako have noticed how they express gratitude to Tāne for the tree roots to grab as they clamber and scramble along natural tracks under the canopy.

    One tamariki helps another up a slope in the forest over tree roots.

    Kaiako are mindful of the risks and keep a watchful eye on tamariki as they create their own obstacle courses.

    Back at the centre, tamariki practise balancing on the planks and ladders available in the outdoor area, refining and perfecting control over their bodies.

    The daily walks into ngahere support hauora. Tamariki, whānau, and kaiako:

    • understand that the physical world has spiritual dimensions
    • connect pūrākau, karakia and waiata to their physical experiences in ngahere
    • recognise that physical wellbeing is holistic
    • know that people are kaitiaki for all living things in ngahere.

    Further information

    Māui assessment framework – Ministry of Education

    Games from Samoa developing fundamental movement skills

    Key points

    • Reinforcing cultural values with traditional games
    • Supporting the development of fundamental movement skills
    • Nurturing holistic teaching principles to support children's physical wellbeing

    The Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa (EFKS) Aoga Amata in Waitangirua, Porirua emphasises Samoan language and culture along with Christian values. The playground stretches across the back of the centre and is a place where all tamariki join together in play. The younger tamariki usually arrive first to explore the area. Then the three- and four-year-olds join them, often spending time with their siblings before heading off on their own adventures.

    How does Aoga Amata in Waitangirua support children’s physical health and wellbeing? They play the games of Samoa.

    A kaiako helps a child into a sack while others are also climbing into sacks.

    It is never long before one game or another starts, gradually engaging tamariki of all ages. There are small sacks out for use. Tuuga taga, sack racing, is a game from Samoa where copra sacks are plentiful. A tamaiti climbs into the sack and starts jumping, then another, and another. A faia'oga, teacher, will join them and support the emerging sack races. As tamariki compete they perfect their jumping skills. Soon there is a group of tamariki watching and waiting for their turn. Physical play is often a collective experience here.

    A kaiako helps tamariki with a tosogā maea, tug of war.

    The centre plays many of the traditional village games common in Samoa such as tosogā maea, tug of war. Tosogā maea is often played competitively; the largest person is valued as the anchor, while smaller people are at the front leading their team to pull. Everyone in the team is valued for their different strengths. Faia'oga support tamariki as they experience the feeling of being a winner or loser, and enhance the sense of being part of a team.

    Tafue, skipping, is another Samoan game played. Tamariki challenge themselves to skip for as long as they can without touching the large rope. Younger tamariki are persistent in their efforts to get as good as the older tamariki.

    When there are games, there is a sense of excitement in the air. This is also true for indoor games. These are often accompanied with songs such as Ooe Isumu, Tule Tule I, or Po Po Manoō. Many of these games require fine motor movements such as pointing or tickling.

    Faia'oga have observed that along with learning the games of Samoa, children also:

    • gain increased physical health and wellbeing
    • develop their fundamental movement skills
    • grow their sense of confidence and competence
    • experience and understand being a team player
    • experience and understand being a winner or loser
    • support others and receive support from others
    • understand and follow rules.

    Tamariki setting their own physical challenges in the natural environment

    Key points:

    • Supporting the development of fundamental movement skills in natural environments
    • Using community spaces to provide different learning environments

    Working in a home-based setting, the visiting teacher’s focus is supporting home educators to enhance children's learning. The visiting teachers at Creators@home have been encouraging home educators to use community spaces such as playgrounds, bush areas, and gardens to build on the learning experiences in the home outdoor environment.

    Visiting teachers often accompany home educators and tamariki on excursions to promote the learning opportunities that can be found in these environments. This story describes a memorable visit to the botanical gardens with a home educator and the four children in her care.

    Neihana sitting on a branch in a tree.

    Neihana’s response to the gardens highlighted his interest in tree climbing. The large flat logs caught his eye first. He climbed up and jumped off them time and time again as he perfected his landings. After lunch there was a new group of trees to explore. The adults followed Neihana's lead. When they got there Neihana asked for help to get up into one of them. He gripped the branch with his legs for balance as he turned around to survey his surroundings.

    Neihana climbing up the big root network of a tree.

    Back on the ground, Neihana found one of the biggest trees with the most enormous trunk. He started to climb, but soon slipped back down. He tried again without much more success. Again and again he tried. Each time Neihana slipped down the trunk, he would start again, getting a little higher up the tree with each attempt. Another child joined Neihana in his goal to climb the tree and he encouraged them on.

    Neihana's growing sense of māiatanga1 (confidence, self-reliance, leadership, perseverance, and self-assurance) was evident. Taking time to ensure Neihana could explore the challenge he had set himself, the visiting teacher and home educator also noted that Neihana:

    • set his own physical challenges
    • developed stability skills and gross locomotor movements such as jumping, climbing, and running
    • was a brave learner like Māui-tikitiki
    • demonstrated determination and persistence in achieving his goals
    • demonstrated leadership qualities in leading the way and supporting others
    • expressed his enjoyment in the natural environment.

    Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora! – An active soul is a healthy soul


    1. Te Whatu Pōkeka: Kaupapa Assessment for Learning Māori: Early Childhood Exemplars, Ministry of Education.


    Stories of practice

Provocation cards

kia kori tahi cards

Kia kori tahi provocation cards (2.7MB PDF)

These cards support professional discussions about oranga tinana, the physical wellbeing, of tamariki. We suggest you read the cards and choose questions that resonate with your service. Use these questions as provocations for developing practice.

Read More

 An A4 printable version of the provocation cards can be printed using the following link. The text is positioned so the printed pages can be folded in half.

Printable Kia kori tahi provocation cards  (2.5MB PDF)


These posters provide visual reminders for kaiako and tamariki about physical wellbeing. Kaiako can also use them to talk with tamariki about their physical activity and nutrition.

Key resources list

Kaiako can use these freely available online resources to learn about oranga tinana, the physical wellbeing, of tamariki and to find activities they could use with tamariki.