Sinterklaas is coming to town!

O, kom er eens kijken wat ik in mijn schoentje vind…
O, come look what I’ve found in  my shoe…

I’ve heard this song regularly in the last couple of years. Dutch children get very excited in the weeks before the 5th December, as it means Saint Nicholas and his helpers – Black Petes – have arrived. My daughter Nova has been talking about Saint Nicholas in utter excitement, especially after meeting him last Monday at Dutch School in Upper Riccarton Library’s Community Room.

Cover of The Real Santa ClausSaint Nicholas, or ‘Sinterklaas’ as the Dutch call him, was a Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (now Turkey) in the 4th century. His parents were very wealthy and Nicholas is celebrated as a great gift-giver. The most famous story about him is the help he gave to a poor man who couldn’t afford a proper dowry for his three daughters. This meant that they would remain unmarried and might end up as prostitutes.

Nicholas decided to help the family but was too modest to do so in public. He threw a purse filled with gold coins through their window. After two nights of this taking place, the father lay in wait to discover the identity of their benefactor. So the third night Nicholas dropped the purse down the chimney instead. Legend has it that the youngest daughter had just washed her stockings and hung them over the embers to dry. That’s where the purse with gold landed and that explains Nova’s shoe next to the sliding doors last night (we don’t have a chimney).

It is said that Sinterklaas became the model or source for Santa Claus, whose modern name came from Sinterklaas. Other holiday figures based on Saint Nicholas are celebrated in some parts of Germany and Austria,  Switzerland, Italy, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, Slovenia and, of course, Greece.

Nova with Sinterklaas
Nova with Sinterklaas at Spencer Park

Like every year, Saint Nicholas was welcomed in Christchurch, Spencer Park. This was organised by the Netherlands Society and had many families attending who have kids at the Dutch School. Sinterklaas had two Black Petes to help him carry his staff and big book of stories about the children. This year The Netherlands had Petes in all sorts of colours as the Black Petes are seen as historically referring to slaves and deemed to be racially inappropriate.

I remember as a kid that it was really difficult to figure out who was dressed up and painted as Black Pete. It could be your own cousin or uncle in Pete’s outfit, giving you a handful of pepernoten, little spicy speculaas rounds and you would mainly recognise them by their voice.

There was always a bit of warning that you had to be a good kid, otherwise you could end up with a ‘roe’ (cane) in your shoe instead of pepernoten and presents.

This year Nova has put out her shoe three nights and she must have been good as she found small presents everytime. The carrots and pictures she put in were gone which surely will have pleased Sinterklaas and his horse. Friday night on the 5th December we will celebrate Sinterklaas with 3 Dutch/Kiwi couples and hopefully the Black Petes will deliver some more presents for the ‘lieve’ (good) kids.

So if you hear your roofs rattle tonight it could be Sinterklaas on his horse looking through your chimney for shoes with carrots in them… Or just the Northeaster again.

Central Library Peterborough

Exciting school programmes at South Learning Centre


Thorrington School Minecraft sessions

Tuesday 2 December, 10.45am – 12.30pm

This is education within the gaming world. Teaching and Learning in the medium of Minecraft. Students are learning what a community is and how to physically build one. They are discovering the essential workings within a community, for example decision making, voting on decisions and negotiating ideas, and are learning with and from other peer experts.

All you teachers out there this is a chance not to be missed. Be involved in this new opportunity. It’s free professional development to learn the intricacies of Minecraft and see why children are so enthused by it.


Horizons From 2D to 3D

Wednesday 3 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

This programme is experimenting and creating in 3D design. Moving from the 2D world into 3D, students are learning the New Zealand curriculum technology design process of  idea > target market > purpose > specifics > production model > testing prototype > evaluation. Students are learning to create in 123D design software then 3D print their prototype.


Film School with Canterbury Home Educators

Friday 5 December, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Film School discovers script writing, filming and software editing to create short movies and documentaries. Students narrate their own script and learn how to film using good lighting and set design. They collate images, footage and interviews into iMovie software, where they then edit keys, transitions and music and share their final short movie with Youtube and South learning Centre website.

Peter Jackson watch out!

Horizons Robotics with Science Alive

Friday 5 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

image              robotics_content

This is a joint venture with Science Alive with a focus on creating Lego robotic vehicles and learning how to programme them to manoeuvre. Add light and ultra sonic sensors to complete challenges. Be creative and add a pencil/paint brush to your vehicle for your own masterpiece!

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or

2D to 3D

This term our team has been running our very first school programme utilising the Library 3D printer.

Student from 2D to 3D course shows off his

The name of the course is “2D to 3D” and involves 12 students being introduced to a variety of learning and software that allows them to take 2 dimensional design, (arrived at by following a “design process”) through to a finished 3 dimensional product that is printed out on our 3D printer.

We are now just four weeks into this first course and the students have been buzzing about what they are learning. We have taught them how to use the free 123D Design software and most of them are now using it at home whenever they get the opportunity. The first printable project was to create a “pencil copter” which is a propeller device that fits on the end of an HB pencil that actually flies.

Each student (after being taught the basic functions of the software) built their own “copter” in 123D and added their own embellishments to personalise their design. The following week we tested their copters and reflected on what worked well and what could be improved upon.

Great fun!

Some of the students involved in the 2D to 3D course showing off their