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Fun Matariki Activities for Preschoolers

Matariki marks the Māori New Year and is the perfect moment to spend time with your family and engage in fun activities with your children. We have selected a few Matariki activities for preschoolers to help you celebrate and teach your little ones about Māori New Year.

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Teaching children from an early age about different cultures enables them to learn more about their origins and identity and to understand the diversity of the world around them.
Matariki has become a unique way to celebrate Maori culture and to unite all New Zealanders in a feast of people, culture, language, and history.
Matariki marks the Māori New Year and is the perfect moment to spend time with your family and engage in fun activities with your children.
We have selected a few Matariki activities for preschoolers to help you celebrate and teach your little ones about Māori New Year.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is the Māori name for the small group, also known as the constellation “Pleiades,” that appears in the night sky before dawn.
New Zeeland celebrates the Māori New Year when this cluster of stars is visible. The name Matariki, translated to English, means the “eyes of the god” (mata ariki) or “little eyes” (mata riki) and is connected to several legends in the Māori culture.
Matariki activities for preschoolers

Matariki Activities for Preschoolers

matariki activities for preschoolers create hanging star

This activity is an excellent opportunity to put your preschooler’s little hands to work to create a craft at the centre of Matariki legends: stars.

Materials you need:

  • 3 pieces of driftwood, about the same size
  • 1 sheet of felt, A4 size
  • 1 special pencil to draw on felt
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Beads your child likes
  • Small craft-feathers
  • Needles large enough for the string
  • Thread
  • Glitter and glue

How to make wall-hanging stars:
Make a triangle by uniting the pieces of driftwood and have your little one help you tie them together with string.
Have your child draw on the felt several stars and help cut them out (or cut them yourself if your little one is not using scissors yet)
Saw the beads on the stars using needle and thread.
Have the little one dip the feathers in glue halfway and glue them to your stars.
The next step is to put glue on both sides of the stars and sprinkle glitter on them.
Tie the stars with string to your driftwoods triangle.
Hang the triangle on the wall with the help of another piece of string, and enjoy the Māori New Year!
This activity has been adapted from Kiwi Families.

Matariki Pūrākau stories

Stories and legends are the oldest way of passing a glimpse of a culture’s richness, values, and teachings to the next generations.
To introduce your children to Matariki’s significance, you can tell them the story of
Tāwhirimātea, the God of the Wind. His siblings separated his parents – Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother, and that upset him so much that he took his eyes out and threw them into the sky.
That is how Matariki stars – “eyes of the god” (mata ariki) or “little eyes” (mata riki) have been born.
Another legend tells the story of Whaea (mother) and her six daughters, Tupu-ā-Nuku, Tupu-ā-Rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi. They travelled each year across the sky to visit their tupuna wahine (grandmother). During these visits, the daughters would help their grandmother prepare for the coming year using their specific talents and qualities, and they would gain new skills and knowledge from her, passed on to the next generations.
You can share these legends with your preschoolers at home or make the experience even more engaging by going to a library that hosts Matariki wā korero story time events.
This activity has been inspired by Te Papa.

More Matariki Activities for Preschoolers

matariki activities for preschoolers create can star

All Matariki activities for preschoolers can teach your little ones what this celebration means, and this one makes no exception.

Materials you need:

  • Gloves for you and the children
  • Tins with lids that peel off
  • Water
  • 1 icepick or a small, sharp screwdriver
  • 1 Long stick
  • 1 LED light candle
  • Masking Tape
  • Hammer
  • 1 nail
  • 1 Pipe cleaner
  • 1 Paintbrush
  • Beads chosen by your children

How to make Matariki tin can lanterns:
Remove the labels and wash the tin cans thoroughly.
Fill them with water and put them in the freezer overnight. This will prevent the cans from bending too much in the following stages of the process.
Let your children have fun by breaking the melting ice with the ice pick or screwdriver while wearing gloves (if they are older and can safely handle these tools). Or wait for the ice to melt and drain the water.
Take the cans out of the freezer and draw the desired patterns (heart, star, etc.) on them, or use masking tape to stick those patterns onto them.
Put each can on a stable surface (like wood) and use a hammer and a nail to make holes into the outline of the pattern. When you finish, add two additional holes at the top of the lantern.
Remove the masking tape (if used) and paint the outside of the cans with two coats at least. Once the paint is dry, put one end of the pipe cleaner into the tin, thread it with your child’s chosen beads and connect the other end.
Put the LED light candle inside the cans. Hang the cans by the pipe cleaner on the long stick.
Take the lanterns for a Matariki night walk to embrace the spirit of the celebration.
This activity has been adapted from Kiwi Families.

matariki activities for preschoolers star cookies

Baking star biscuits is one of the most enjoyable Matariki activities for preschoolers, as all kids love cookies.
Ingredients you need:

  • 125 grams of softened butter
  • 1⁄2 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp of golden syrup or honey
  • 1 1⁄2 cups of flour (a little more if you are using gluten-free flour)
  • Crushed boiled lollies

How to make star cookies:
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Put the softened butter into a large bowl, add the sugar, egg, and syrup (or honey), and whisk until creamy. Sift the flour, add it to the mix, and stir until evenly blended.
Sprinkle flour on a working surface and roll the dough until 3 mm thick. Cut circles in the dough and then small star shapes inside each circle.
Place the stars on a tray lined with baking paper and fill each star shape with boiled crushed lollies.
Put the tray inside the oven and bake until the dough is slightly golden and the lolly crumbs have melted. Take the tray out and leave it to cool until the lolly centres settle.
Enjoy the cookies with your family and friends!
This activity has been adapted from Woman +.

Matariki is a time of great joy and reflection on the past, present, and future. This celebration will be more special for your children if you try one or more of these Matariki activities for preschoolers.

If you are in Auckland or Hamilton, check out our “14 Fun Toddler Activities in Auckland” or “9 Fun Toddler Activities in Hamilton” articles for ideas over Matariki!

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Tanya Vester
Tanya Vester
Our sons attended Bright beginnings early leaning Centre and absolutely loved it. They attended Manuka and Kowhai rooms, and later also Pohutukawa room. The teachers in all three rooms were just SO lovely, caring, attentive and supported their learning journeys and communicated the children’s achievements with us. We are so thankful for the time our kids were able to spend there, and the kids made great memories for life. We highly recommend BBELC to anyone looking for a child care center. We had to leave due to moving overseas and will miss BBELC so much!!!
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
"I don't think I can express in words the gratitude I feel towards you all. My child, Amrin have learnt so much in your care that will stay with her for life. I believe their fondest memories of childhood will include many of you - I truly hope you are all extremely proud your efforts with our children. Thank you for all the wonderful support and care you have given to my daughter. This Centre is a very special place and she has grown so much in your nurturing, inspiring and challenging environment. You are really helping her to prepare for her school foundation." Actually, this is a second home for Amrin, she started her journey from BBELC, Auckland and will leave for school from here. Thanks to all the teachers, If I start typing the names, the list will be so long. In last especially I should not forget Nikita, who is so understanding and caring towards kids as well as families. Thank you with much love."
Anaru Pui
Anaru Pui
We've had our daughter Waikohu pui in the center for over 1 year now And she has Developed into such a beautiful kind person and has gained some great life skills and experiences thank you to all the teachers for there support and care with our baby girl making life alot easier knowing shes getting great education and Aroha (Love) from all the teachers at her Kura ( school ) thanks again ❤️ from the Pui whanau
Jagroop Kaur
Jagroop Kaur
Teachers are very kind and patient. Also they encourage children to learn in different indoor and outdoor activities. I am so pleased in POHUTUKAWA room the teacher do the school transition program, which is really helpful to the kids enter the primary school in the future. Thanks all teacher who support VIRASAT and other kids there quite well.
anne dela cruz
anne dela cruz
We have been with BBELC Hamilton since 2020 during the peak of pandemic and I never doubted to bring my children here knowing that they are on a safe place and the team are all aware of the best health and safety plan to ensure that everyone in the centre are safe. The centre is the BEST for me in terms of CLEANLINESS (the place os very tidy), SAFETY OF CHILDREN (only parents/caregivers can enter the premises on their pin coded door), FRIENDLY STAFF (you will be greeted by a very friendly receptionist, you can talk to the teachers about your concern with your child), OPEN DOOR POLICY (Manager’s door is open all times for parents for any concern or question), NUTRICIOUS FOOD for our kids, SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM (table activities, book reading, sharing with others, simple literacy), MAT TIME IS THE BEST as the kids learn to socialize, listen to teachers, story telling, yoga, dance time, music time,etc. and they also held PARENTS TIME where we can chat with the teacher about our kids, meet other parents, share experiences and strategies, parents gets treat and gift on special occasion like mother’s day and father’s day that will definitely make your day as a parent. And lastly for few years now, my kids have enjoyed their Christmas party where they get gift and enjoy bouncy castle, it’s simple but the experience and memories will be lifetime. THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF AND TEACHERS OF BBELC Hamilton! KUDOS TO ALL YOUR HARDWORK AND DEDICATION. CHEERS TO MANY MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS! - DELA CRUZ Family ( Robb and Reuben)
I love BBELC and my child love it too. As parents ,my husband and I deeply appreciate the staff being friendly ,kind ,patient ,role models and caring .The educators work well with parents to achieve the children’s developmental goals , the manager Leonie and Teachers Mari, Kathryn, Summer and Emma really care about the children and very welcoming. The childcare is secure and this gives us peace of mind in knowing that our little ones are in good hands and safe . The classrooms are clean and nicely decorated. I highly recommend sending your child to this center. It’s become our second home.
BBELC is an awesome environment for my daughter to learn and grow through different types of activities. All the staffs are friendly, supportive and helpful. Highly recommended to all.
Neda Bolouri
Neda Bolouri
A safe, happy and caring place for our children.
Norvega Bantang
Norvega Bantang
Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre - Hamilton is like a second home to my 2 little girls. They are very supportive of the children’s early learning and individual development. The rooms are spacious, warm and cozy and provide different kinds of resources for the children to explore. My girls are always excited to go to kindy every morning. Since I have also recently become part of this centre, it’s good to know and see for myself how things work in the centre and how very passionate the staff are in looking after every child like they are family. As a parent, it gives me the peace of mind that my children are in good hands and are well taken cared of. Definitely made the right decision to enroll our children here.
Diana Villa-Ignacio
Diana Villa-Ignacio
BBELC is a wonderful centre which caters to quality care and learning of children. We take pride in our relationship with parents , whanau and children having positive environment, open communication, flexibility, catering to children needs and working alongside parent's aspiration for their children. Feel free to come and see our Hamilton centre. We will be happy to show you around and be part of our Bright Beginnings Family.

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