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Lees Street Kindergarten in Southland embarked on an inspiring project last year to create a community sharing shelf, supported by the Earthwise action fund. To begin their inquiry, they visited a local shop that has a community garden and sharing shelf, resulting in kaiako and tamariki discussing what ‘community’ is. Tamariki drew pictures of places in their community and created a community map which was proudly displayed in the kindergarten.

A local café owner came and spoke to the tamariki about their café sharing shelf, and tamariki asked lots of questions about why they have a shelf, what goes on it, who uses it, what it is called etc. The children realised that they had lots of produce and plants at their centre that they could share with their community…. “we could have a sharing shelf”, “you take some stuff off and put some more stuff on the shelf”.

Next they discussed what would be needed to build a sharing shelf for Lees Street. Tamariki thought of all the practical things such as the tools needed, and also created designs of what they thought the shelf could look like. As a group they looked at all the designs and came up with a list of ‘must haves’ for their shelf: wheels, roof, spikes (to keep the bugs and birds away), shelves, lasers (again to keep the bugs away) and a sign (so people know what to share).

One of the centre’s amazing Dad’s took the children’s designs and created a flat pack version of their plans, and then together with the tamariki constructed the sharing shelf at the centre.