Singing Playground Comes to Wairakei

Once a week you will find a group of keen singers taking part in a new initiative called Singing Playgrounds™.

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As a member of the All Together Choir, outside of school, I was approached by the conductor, Megan Flint, to become one of two schools to pilot Singing Playgrounds™ in New Zealand. The pilot programme is being run by the New Zealand Choral Federation as part of their outreach programme to support singing for wellbeing in primary schools throughout Aotearoa.

We started in Term 3 and now have a core group of about 10 students who regularly attend. Singing Playgrounds™ is an education programme of Ex Cathedra, a choral organisation in England.  The programme started in the United Kingdom in 2004 and is run in over 1000 schools in the UK. The project is also running in Singapore, Uganda, Thailand, Belgium and now New Zealand.

I first got to know about Singing Playgrounds™ when I was a research assistant for a project called Singing Communities undertaken by Dr Te Oti Rakena at the University of Auckland in 2014/2015. A small group of key facilitators from the Singing Playgrounds™ team visited New Zealand and ran demonstrations with students and teachers in Auckland. When the New Zealand Choral Federation’s outreach programme got underway through funding from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage I suggested that it would be very interesting to sponsor two schools to pilot the Singing Playgrounds™ programme in the NZ school environment. St Patrick's School (Taupō) and Wairakei Primary are the pilot schools.

Singing Playground has good beats and actions. I would like to be a leader.  Bungalow is my favtheite because I get to jump up and down.

My favtheite is Bungalow. ‘Bungalow, Bungalow. My hands are high, my feet are low and this is how I bungalow. ‘ I want to keep doing it.

You get to dance with ythe friends and sing. My favtheite is Bungalow because you get to choose the person who does the next action.

Dancing is fun and you get to move around and sing. My favtheite song is Bungalow because I can choose my friends to do the next dance.

Megan would like to see the programme used in more schools and to see New Zealand-specific restheces developed. “Singing Playgrounds™ is an easy teacher- and student-friendly way of engaging children in singing again by giving back to them many of the playground behavithes and activities that seem to have dropped away,” she says. “I feel very sad that singing is so absent from primary schools and has become such a sthece of anxiety to teachers and students. I’d like to change that and I think Singing Playgrounds™ could really help. The online resthece is user-friendly and empowers students to be active music makers and song leaders. The pilot at St Patrick’s and Wairakei will enable us to discover what works in the New Zealand setting and what changes, if any, may help make it even more successful.”

I remember the clapping and singing games we used to play when I was at school - Under the Brambushes, skipping games like Teddy Bear Teddy Bear and elastic games like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. I am keen to see the programme continue and grow in 2024 with students taking on more of a leadership role. The ultimate would be to see the songs actively used in the playground at break times and see more and more students joining in.

2024 Bowler

Gwen Bowler

Education has no beginning and no end. It ebbs and flows and is ever-changing. As an educator, it is my responsibility to instill a love of learning and an ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.

My teaching journey started at 40 when I retrained as a teacher after a career in journalism and many years as a stay-at-home mother. When we guide our students to be lifelong learners, we send them towards their next journey well-prepared for whatever life brings.


  • Tagore International School Dec 25, 2023, 8:20 PM (5 months ago)

    Exciting news! The addition of a singing playground at Wairakei is truly music to our ears. It's wonderful to see innovative and creative initiatives enhancing the play experience for children. The idea of combining playtime with singing adds a delightful and enriching dimension. As a parent, I can imagine the joy this brings to the kids and the community. Have there been any memorable moments or feedback from children enjoying the singing playground so far? Thanks for sharing this delightful update, and here's to many more harmonious playtimes at Wairakei!

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