Winter Virtual Conference
Winter Virtual Conference

Winter Virtual Conference

Date and Time:

July 10, 2023 9:00 am - July 14, 2023 - 5:00 pm

Event Location:

Keynote Speakers *Select image to learn more about the speakers*

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About The Event

The Longworth Education Winter Conference is back for 2023 and is now being offered in an online format from 10th of July – 14th of July 2023.

We are so excited to be bringing inspiring speakers and a variety of play educators, advocates and researchers to the online event from around Aotearoa New Zealand.


Presentation Sessions Available Across Conference Week:

Being the hero of change: Building strong bridges for successful transitions in an educational context. 

Erin Martinez – Little Feathers

In this workshop, Erin dives into understanding the complexities and importance of the transitioning experience for children and their families whilst equipping the educator with tools to support a successful transition. Topics discussed include understanding transition and change and the importance of a strong transition program. How to build strong bridges and reduce the threat response, preparing the parent for transition and the power of play within the transition program.  It creates awareness about the unspoken gap between ECE and primary school and the cost of this gap for our children and their future if we do not bridge this gap correctly. 

School is a changing environment, and this presentation takes a critical look into the skills that needed to nurture in our children to help them thrive through change and become passionate lifelong learners.  

 You can see a bit of Erin’s work on Facebook and via her website: www.littlefeathers.co.nz

The Power of Loose Parts Play in Schools

Kate Webber  – Junky Monkeys

Junky Monkey’s goal is to share their experience and knowledge in running loose parts play programmes so that schools feel empowered to activate their own. Whether you’re creating your own collection for your class, or thinking big and organising a loose parts shed on your school grounds, this workshop will give you some skills and ideas to get you started and keep the momentum going. Kate will unpack why loose parts play is important, share how to source loose parts, give ideas for storage, and get you thinking about the culture you need to cultivate for loose parts play to last the distance.

Junky Monkeys are specialists in loose parts play within Aotearoa, and is run by play advocate Kate Webber. They’ve worked with hundreds of schools across Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, giving them the experience of what loose parts play looks like, and planting seeds of why play is essential in our schools and kura for ALL kids. To find out more about us, head to their website – www.junkymonkeys.org

Going to primary school, a gentle approach to a big transition.
Memory Lyon, Principal, Mangaweka School

Transitioning from early childhood education to primary school is a significant milestone in a child’s educational journey, it can be both daunting and exciting, as they leave the familiar and enter the new. ‘Continuity of experience’ is one way kaiako can support tamariki and their whanau as they start school. Join Memory Lyon, tumuaki at Mangaweka School, as she unpacks what continuity looks like in a classroom environment and the collaborative mahi their school and local early childhood centre have been engaged with. This workshop will share practical ideas and inspirations for implementing a culturally responsive and whanau approach to going to primary school. 

From Knowledge into Practice: Sharing the Passion for Play and How to Make it ‘Work’ in a New Zealand Classroom

Amber Donaldson – Oxford Crescent School, Upper Hutt

This workshop will share Amber’s experiences as a passionate play advocate, implementing play pedagogy over the last few years in the junior team Oxford Crescent School in Upper Hutt.  She will unpack how she translates her knowledge and belief about the power of play into her everyday practice.  This will include outlining the structure of her day and the management of child-led play, versus explicit acts of teaching; planning for play and responding to interests/urges; the arrival of structured literacy and its impact; and how now as a Play Lead in her kura she supports others to embed these practices.  


R4L Foundation Skills and Struggling Students: Identifying learner needs and strengths using the R4L foundation skills

Nicole Lowry – Ready 4 Learning

This presentation will give examples of how to implement R4L assessment to consider our struggling learners’ skill gaps and strengths to tailor learning experiences that use the learners strengths in one area to develop other areas of learning. 

Nicole Lowrey offers practical examples around how we can assess struggling students’ foundational skills and use these to plan to lay the foundations for struggling learners to move forward, retain information, and progress. Examples include how we can use multi sensory learning, to develop working memory, visual memory and visual discrimination, and strengthen hearing skills to support higher order learning. 

Access to Play for Tamariki During and Beyond a Crisis

Adam Gard’ner – Sport Canterbury

Educational settings play an integral role in helping communities respond to and recover from crisis. Crisis, and related trauma, can be broad and far reaching, and each crisis is of significance for those affected by it.   The way in which a crisis affects one individual may differ from how it affects the next individual, and therefore, trauma recovery can also differ from individual to individual. 

Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa have engaged with Sport Canterbury and their Healthy Families Ōtautahi Christchurch team to review and provide an Aotearoa New Zealand perspective on resources created by various organisations around the world in relation to Play during a crisis. The resources, ‘Access to Play for Tamariki During and Beyond a Crisis – Phase 1 and Phase 2’, details a phased approach to support the process of establishing a more strategic approach to Play, in particular, in times of crisis in Aotearoa New Zealand.  It is hoped that the resources can provide educational settings and various other organisations, including Councils, and the neighbourhoods and communities they are situated in, with a way of supporting the wellbeing and recovery of those affected by, and those providing support through, trauma during and beyond a crisis.   

Nurturing Learners to Navigate Pathways for the Future: Te Kura o Take Kārara

Jodie Howard (Tumuaki) and Estelle Moore (Team Leader)

Te Kura o Take Kārara is a school located in Wānaka dedicated to provide deep learning experiences that foster and ignite a passion for learning and discovery. As part of their deep learning framework, the team integrate the practices of play pedagogy, place-based, project based, environmental and sustainable learning and inquiry in order to foster student agency.  Supporting teachers to develop high quality pedagogical practices is the goal of the senior leadership team.  In this workshop, Jodie Howard (Tumuaki) and Estelle Moore (Year 0-2 Team Leader) will share their journey, their celebrations and challenges, and what works for them in this process.  

Learning through Play- Genuine NZ Curriculum Delivery

Mike Moriarty, Deputy Principal, Eskdale School

The pedagogy of Play (the four-letter word) delivers the NZ Curriculum far more effectively than a traditional industrial model classroom. Knowing how Play epitomises the vision, values, and principles of the NZ Curriculum, can help justify our Play journey in our own minds, and to those sceptical colleagues and parents. This is epitomised by Play being a ‘both and’ learning structure, where busy time activities and classroom management-based instruction are ditched and replaced by student led activity and explicit focused acts of teaching.

Eskdale Primary School is a full primary, located in the Esk Valley, 15 minutes from Napier city. 

Building Connections through Musical Play

Julie Wylie – MNZM. Mus.B (Hons), B.A. Dip Tchg. ATCL. IRMTNZ

This workshop is for parents, teachers, therapists, caregivers and illustrates how to lead through play, how to establish Intergenerational play for seniors, transition to school and incorporate children’s creative playful offerings.

Predictable, enjoyable musical play activities engage the whole brain, calming the lower brain, engaging the midbrain and stimulating the upper cortex. Children are the leaders. Everyone is a key player. In this workshop participants will explore the elements of music and play, strategies for group music, daily routines and playful interactions. Learn how to follow the leader, to follow the child and build structure and meaningful relationship through  musical play.

Julie Wylie MNZM founded the New Zealand Musical Parenting Association in 1992. She was the founder of the musical play programme at the Champion Centre, Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand, where she was the senior music specialist for 28 years. She has received awards for her music leadership, and her music resources have won international awards. Julie was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018, has her own music school for mothers and children aged 0-8 years, and is the Director of the Postgraduate online training programme: “Certificate of Musical Play as Therapy”.

Play and the Brain: Why Play is So Much More than Being Social

Dr Sarah Aiono, Longworth Education

Play is most widely recognised as an important way to support children’s socio-emotional development.  However, what if we saw play as the key to ensuring children are prepared for success in the workforce – both in their cognitive AND people skills?  This workshop will unpack the impact of play on brain development, and why understanding this is critical for teachers looking to explain (or justify) the use of play as a pedagogical tool in their school setting.  It will touch on the links between the amount and type of play children experience in childhood and their successful transition to the workforce as adults. 

Dr. Sarah Aiono is an educator, researcher, international presenter and CEO of Longworth Education.   She hosts the podcast Play Conversations on Spotify and works around Aotearoa supporting teachers to understand and use evidence-based play pedagogy in their school settings.  Learn more about Sarah’s work here.

Play: The Magic and the Logistics!

Carolyn Dodd and Bianca Caske, Russell Street School.

Anchored to stories of real-time play moments for their ākonga, Bianca and Carolyn want to inspire you with the joy and accessibility of play for all, with a glimpse into their play in action. In this korero about the joy of play, keep an eye out for provocations, loose parts, play tips and ‘systems’ that you can perhaps adapt and try in your own spaces. 

Woven into celebrating the magical play of their tamariki, Bianca and Carolyn will share the realities, practicalities and challenges of implementing and continually developing a play-based approach, based on lessons learned on their six year play journey. If you are new to play and wondering how it actually looks and works, this workshop is for you. 

Bianca and Carolyn  are two of the kaiako in Waka Huia – a new entrant/Year 1 team at Russell Street School in Palmerston North. Play, along with a transition-to-school approach developed at a similar time, is a fundamental part of their team’s teaching and learning. 

Te akiaki I te kōrerorero: Encouraging Conversations 

Jo Newburry – Reefton Early Learning Centre, West Coast

“There are so many parallels between Te Whāriki  and The New Zealand Curriculum. In both, learning is seen to take place between what the educational environment offers and the knowledge and experiences that children bring with them” page 51, Te Whāriki . 

As a Kaiako of ECE for nearly  20 years, Jo has loved watching the rise of Kura moving towards a more play based practice. However, she is aware that there are still so few conversations or understanding around how our curriculums interweave and/or compliment the goals and values of each other. With the NZC rewrite on the horizon now is the perfect time to support Kura to recognize, and value the funds of knowledge the ECE sector can provide them for their journey.  This workshop will explore these connections and draw on Jo’s knowledge of play and Te Whāriki to aid teachers in the school sector to connect with the importance of play as a teaching and learning tool. 

Observations: The Key to Teaching through Play

Linda Cheer, Longworth Education

We will not know how to respond to the play in our classrooms if we do not set time aside for regular observations. How can we ensure that the time we spend observing children during play will lead to successful teaching through play? In this workshop we will discuss what is meant by focused, effective observations. Using photos and videos we will practice these observation skills and try to pinpoint the urges and the learning areas we have observed. From there we will discuss how to respond to the play building up a bank of shared ideas. Teachers will be able to take these ideas away to use in their classrooms.

Linda is the co-director, presenter and in-school consultant for Longworth Education.  As an ex-Deputy Principal of Lucknow School in Hawkes Bay, Linda has significant experience in implementing play-based learning from both a classroom practitioner and senior manager perspective. In 2014, Linda established Longworth Forest School. Longworth Forest was recognised in 2017 as one of a hundred global innovations in education by the Finnish organisation hundrED. Learn more about Linda’s work here

Creating a Nurturing, Safe and Connected Start to School

Estelle Moore – Team Leader, Te Kura o Take Kārara, Wānaka

In this session, Estelle will share her knowledge and use of play within her stunning modern learning environment at Te Kura o Take Kārara in Wānaka.  Led by her, the team in Tuna support their Year 0 – 2 students to settle into school and develop habits of learning while exploring through play.  Estelle has a wealth of knowledge and strength of practice that she will share in this session, so that those attending can leave with a vision for what is possible when using play to support learner skills and knowledge development. 

Event Location:

Leaders in the education sector for play pedagogy