Starting a centre-based ECE service

This is a guide for service providers interested in establishing a licensed early childhood education (ECE) and care centre. Please make sure you read the whole document before taking further steps to establishing your ECE service.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Suggested equipment for licensed ECE services

  • Overview
    • This information has been designed to help you develop a high-quality care and education environment for children aged zero to 6 years.

      Diversity is encouraged and this list can be adapted to accommodate an individual focus or philosophy – such as a language group, Montessori or Rudolph Steiner centre. However, a similar variety, quality and quantity of equipment will be required to meet Ministry of Education licensing requirements.

      Many other items of equipment could be added to this list.

      The principles of Te Whāriki underpin all that we do in early childhood education. When providing an enriched environment for children, we must ensure the principles are at the centre of our planning.

      When selecting equipment for a mixed age centre, it is essential to consider the 3 broad age groups (as described in Te Whāriki):

      • Infants – birth to 18 months
      • Toddlers – one to 3 years
      • Young children – from 2 years 6 months to school entry age

      Safety, size and durability are key issues to consider when choosing material, equipment and resources. Ask the following questions:

      • How long will it last with daily use by 20 or more children?
      • Is it non-toxic? What type of paint has been used to colour it?
      • Does it have rounded edges to prevent cuts etc?
      • Is it safe for babies? Could a baby swallow it?
      • Is the size appropriate for a child's hand or foot etc?
      • Is it easily cleaned?

      The Ministry of Education is able to provide you with information and practical advice about equipment purchases. However, all the equipment in the world will not make up for quality adult interaction with children.

      We trust you will find this a valuable resource that will help you provide a quality early childhood education experience for young children.

  • Te Whāriki
    • The aspiration statement and the 4 principles of Te Whāriki underpin all that we do in early childhood education. When providing an enriched environment for children, we must ensure the principles underpin any decisions.

      It is vital that educators take opportunities to extend children's thinking and encourage children to have a perception of themselves as explorers – competent, confident learners who ask questions and make discoveries.

      Relating equipment to the principles and strands of Te Whāriki

      When providing an enriched environment for children, we must ensure that the principles and strands of Te Whāriki are at the centre of our planning decisions.

      Principles

      Empowerment/whakamana – the early childhood curriculum empowers the child to learn and grow.

      Holistic development/kotahitanga – the early childhood curriculum reflects the holistic way children learn and grow.

      Family and community/whānau tangata – the wider world of family and community is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum.

      Relationships/ngā hononga – children learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places and things.

      Well-being/mana atua – the health and well-being of the child are protected and nurtured.

      Belonging/mana whenua – children and their families feel a sense of belonging.

      • Equipment and resources should reflect Maori tikanga and language
      • Equipment and resources reflect the cultures in the local community

      Contribution/mana tangata – opportunities for learning are equitable, and each child's contribution is valued.

      • Resources should reflect differing attitudes and feelings that will help children to accept other people who are different from themselves.
      • Equipment should encourage children to solve conflicts in a peaceful way and will develop positive and constructive attitudes to competition.

      Communication/mana reo – the languages and symbols of children's own and other cultures are promoted and protected.

      A range of resources that support and promote communication are available:

      • Books, language, talking, storytelling, puppets, listening and Māori resources
      • Papatūānuku/natural materials stones, bark, shells, etc
      • Written language – te reo Māori visually seen, numbers, waiata, etc
      • Equipment and resources to support creative expression in areas such as art, music, dance, construction
      • Greeting each person in their language
      • Visual resources
      • Music and instruments from other countries
      • Fantasy play – dress-up clothes, eating utensils, etc
      • Puzzles and books
      • Resources from support agencies for families to access
      • Opportunities for emerging literacy
      • Equipment, furniture and layout to support conversations, for example cushions, sofas, mat/carpet

      Exploration/mana aturoa – the child learns through active exploration of the environment.

      The following equipment and resources could be available to children:

      • Books and storytelling props
      • Puzzles and manipulative equipment
      • Blocks
      • Materials that foster creativity
      • Dough and clay
      • Dramatic play resources
      • Sand
      • Water
      • Natural materials (for example, stones, bark, shells), animals, and science resources (for example, magnifying glasses, magnets, microscope, experiment books), etc
      • Carpentry equipment and resources that promote physically active playResources (for example, cardboard, blankets, wood) that enable large constructions such as huts, boats, etcPaper, pens, rulers, etc
      • Papatūānuku/natural materials
      • ICT equipment
  • Equipment lists
    • In an environment that provides opportunities for choices, planning and problem solving, children have access to, and can easily obtain, a variety of tools and resources.

      When selecting equipment for children, it is essential to consider the 3 broad age groups (as described in Te Whāriki):

      • Infants – birth to 18 months
      • Toddlers – one to 3 years
      • Young children – from 2 years 6 months to school entry age

      Safety, size and durability are key issues to consider when choosing material, equipment and resources to purchase or enable children to access. Ask the following questions:

      • How long will it last with daily use?
      • Is it non-toxic? What type of paint has been used to colour it?
      • Does it have rounded edges to prevent cuts etc?
      • Is it safe for babies? Could a baby swallow it?
      • Is the size appropriate for a child's hand or foot etc?
      • Is it easily cleaned?

      The following lists provide some ideas of equipment that services may include in their 'resources library'. This enables educators to have access to extra equipment to extend children's thinking and learning. Diversity in equipment is encouraged and these lists can be adapted and extended to accommodate an individual focus or philosophy. Many other items of equipment could be added to the lists.

  • Suggested equipment for children who are over 2 years old
    • This is a suggested list which is by no means exhaustive. Your resources and equipment will grow according to the interests and passions of your children and community.

      Books and storytelling
      Equipment
      Manipulative
      Creativity
      Painting
      Music
      Dramatic play
      Dough
      Clay
      Blocks
      Carpentry
      Nature and science/exploratory
      Sand area
      Water play
      Active play
      Adult education
      Information and communication technologies


      Books and storytelling

      Furniture
      • Display units should be low so that children can see and select their own books. Shelves could be sloping with a lip to allow books to stand up.
      • Provide cushions and/or a soft sofa.

      Equipment

      A selection of at least 30–50 books, including:

      • traditional stories
      • New Zealand stories
      • cultural stories
      • nursery rhymes
      • poetry and songs
      • make-believe
      • stories of people in real life situations
      • gender roles, such as boys caring or girls having adventures
      • large books for shared group stories.

      Props for storytelling including:

      • puppets
      • magnetic stories and boards
      • story CDs

      Manipulative

      Furniture
      • A suitable display unit for puzzles or similar, preferably with sloping shelves with a lip so that children can see the puzzles and choose them.
      • Cardboard puzzles won’t last long, they cannot be cleaned effectively and should not be considered permanent equipment. Puzzles should reflect biculturalism and gender equity and be of varying degrees of difficulty.
      Equipment

      Equipment should include a range of resources:
      • Knob puzzles
      • Picture puzzles   
      • Shapes
      • Geometrics
      • Posting box 
      • Threading 
      • Peg boards 
      • 3-dimensional 
      • Maths games, including natural materials such as shells and stones

      Creativity

      Furniture
      • Large table and seating
      • Storage unit
      Equipment

      A wide range of resources that could be used for creating should be provided. This is likely to include:

      • glue pots
      • glue brushes of assorted sizes
      • variety of glue – PVA, Polycell
      • children's scissors
      • left-handed scissors
      • adult scissors
      • staplerslarge roll of sticky tape/masking tape and dispenserball of string
      • felt pens
      • crayons
      • pastels
      • children's thick pencils
      • rulers
      • non-toxic colouring in a range of colours
      • glitter and containers
      • hole-punch
      • collage materials: material scraps and natural materials (leaves and seeds).

      Painting

      Equipment
      • Easels 
      • Aprons 
      • Non-spill paint pots 
      • Assorted paint brushes 
      • Different coloured non-toxic paint 
      • Paint palette 
      • Rollers 
      • Drying rack 
      • Newsprint/large and small sheets of paper

      Music

      Furniture
      • Storage unit – consider shelves, hooks, baskets or boxes
      Equipment

      Sound can be made from almost anything. Consider the use of natural materials in this area too, for example, stones to bang together.

      • CD player/stereo
      • Variety of CD's/music albums, for example children’s, Māori, classical, contemporary 
      • Music and song books 
      • Variety of musical instruments 
      • Coloured scarves and ribbons 
      • Sandpaper blocks 
      • Poi 
      • Tititorea (sticks)

      Dramatic play

      Furniture
      • Unit for storing dress-up clothes
      • Stove
      • Child size bed/suitable sleeping unit
      • Room dividers/screens
      • Sink unit
      • Small table with 2 chairs
      • Mirror
      Equipment

      Props to allow the dramatic play area to become a shop, a garage, a wharenui or any other environment the children are interested in exploring.

      • Children’s dress-ups covering both genders, like:
        • occupational
        • animal
        • cultural
        • fantasy
      • Tea set and pots and pans 
      • Cooking utensils – for example, a variety of spoons, bowls, whisks, chopsticks
      • Dolls – male, female, ethnic
      • Dolls' clothes 
      • Dolls' pram or stroller 
      • Dolls' bed 
      • Telephone 
      • Iron and ironing board 
      • Clothes line 
      • Bed linen 
      • Variety of medical play equipment

      Dough

      Interesting designs can be made in dough using everyday items like cotton reels and corrugated cardboard.

      Furniture
      • One table and seating
      • Stove
      Equipment
      • Cutters 
      • Rolling pins 
      • Pounders 
      • Knives and forks 
      • Garlic crushers 
      • A variety of cooking equipment – for example, pots, pans, patty pans, etc

      Clay

      Equipment
      • Hessian or canvas 
      • Nylon string for cutting clay 
      • Water container 
      • Sponges 
      • A variety of clay tools 
      • A variety of natural materials

      Blocks

      Furniture
      • Large storage unit
      • Large carpet square or carpet
      Equipment
      • Full set of multiple blocks 
      • A variety of small coloured blocks 
      • Set of interlocking blocks 
      • Plastic or wooden vehicles 
      • People 
      • Vehicle station 
      • Animal set 
      • Large truck

      Extra items like dolls and blankets added to this area can change the play in many ways.


      Carpentry

      Furniture
      • One large carpentry table
      • Storage trolley or containers

      Note: An adult should always supervise this equipment.

      A range of real equipment including:

      • Screwdrivers 
      • Hammers 
      • Vice 
      • G clamps 
      • Children's sized saws
      • Pliers 
      • Carpentry pencil 
      • Tape measure 
      • Containers for PVA and brushes 
      • Hand drill 
      • A variety of soft wood (untreated timber)
      • A variety of nails - flat top are best 
      • A variety of collage equipment – for example, leather, sheepskin, bottle tops, string and sandpaper
      • A variety of screws

      Nature and science/exploratory

      Furniture
      • Display table
      • Storage unit

      Equipment

      • Reference books 
      • Magnifying glasses
      • Insect viewers 
      • Assorted magnets (for example bars, u-shaped, strips)
      • Range of items to use with magnets 
      • Mirror (non-breakable) 
      • Scales 
      • Plants 
      • Variety of living things (fish/animal/insect/bird) 
      • Variety of natural materials/Papatūānuku, for example shells, seeds
      • Variety of gardening equipment (including spades, trowels, potting mix, plant pots, etc.) 

      Sand area

      • Large well-drained sand area
      • Shade provided
      • Water available
      Equipment

      Equipment sufficient for the number of children attending.

      • Spades (graded sizes) 
      • Buckets 
      • Scoops 
      • Rakes 
      • Set of scales 
      • Sieves 
      • Sand shapes 
      • Sand digger 
      • Vehicles 
      • Polythene 
      • Variety of natural materials

      For more information, check out the section on constructing a sand area.


      Water play

      Equipment
      • Large water trough and other smaller containers for different activities
      • Pouring items – for example, buckets, jugs, bottles, and watering cans
      • Water wheels 
      • Hoses – various sizes and lengths 
      • Funnels 
      • Aprons 
      • Water pump 
      • A variety of pipes and plastic guttering 
      • A variety of items for floating and sinking

      Active play

      Provided by either a fixed item of equipment or moveable equipment such as ladders, planks, tyres, cable reels, swings, and slides. Moveable equipment provides greater flexibility and offers greater opportunity for children to be independent and creative. It must have safety surfacing underneath if it’s over 600 mm in height.

      Equipment
      • Ladders
      • Planks
      • Wooden boxes, variety of sizes and heights
      • Tyres (not steel belted)
      • Balls
      • Hessian – large sheets
      • Ropes – several
      • Wheeled vehicles – for example, trikes, trolleys, ride-ons, large trucks, wheelbarrow, etc
      • Hula hoops

      Adult education

      • Range of parenting books 
      • Activity idea books    
      • Health information 
      • Māori dictionary
      • Notice board

      Information and communication technologies

      • Digital camera
      • Video camera
      • Computers: laptop, desk top, software
  • Suggested equipment for children who are under 2 years old
    • This is a suggested list which is by no means exhaustive. Your resources and equipment will grow according to the interests and passions of your children and community.

      Furniture
      Books and storytelling
      Manipulative
      Collage
      Painting
      Music
      Dramatic play
      Dough
      Blocks
      Nature and science/exploratory
      Sand area
      Water play
      Active play
      Information and communication technologies
      Adult education


      Furniture

      • One two-seater soft-sided couch
      • Depending on the number of infants in the centre you may need to consider providing more seating for adults to use when breast or bottle feeding.
      Equipment
      • Tri-pillow
      • Crawling mat/squabs and cushions
      • Platforms, ramps and risers
      • Rattles
      • Sets of stacking toys
      • Activity sets
      • Push- and pull-along toys
      • Interactive/open-ended items and objects that can be put together, taken apart and safely explored in the mouth

      Avoid providing only one type of material (for example, plastic). Provide a large variety of weights, sizes, shapes and textures. Everyday objects can be used.

      Note: If the under 2 year olds are in a separate area, the equipment and resources below could also be included.


      Books and storytelling

      Furniture
      • Display unit, as in the over 2 list
      • Soft sofa or cushions
      Equipment

      Books that cover the list below and are suitable for the age group:

      • Hard covered
      • Traditional stories
      • New Zealand stories
      • Cultural stories
      • Nursery rhymes
      • Poetry and songs
      • Make-believe
      • Stories of people in real life situations
      • Puppets

      Manipulative

      Furniture
      • As described in the over 2 list
      Equipment
      • Knob puzzles
      • Easier puzzles: 2 to 8 pieces
      • Manipulative equipment – for example, posting box, pegboards, and stacking equipment

      Collage

      Furniture
      • As in the over 2 list
      Equipment
      • Glue pots and brushes
      • Children's scissors suitable for the age group
      • Adult scissors
      • Large roll of sticky tape/masking tape and dispenser
      • Crayons
      • Non-toxic colouring, range of colours
      • Glitter and containers
      • A variety of paper
      • A variety of junk and natural materials

      Painting

      Equipment
      • Easels: double-sided
      • Aprons
      • Non-spill paint pots
      • Assorted paint brushes
      • Different coloured non-toxic paints
      • Rollers
      • Drying rack
      • Large roll of newsprint/paper in a variety of sizes

      Music

      Storage
      • Music instrument stand/storage unit
      Equipment
      • CD player/stereo
      • Music and song books
      • Range of instruments
      • Coloured ribbons and scarves
      • Sound toys

      Dramatic play

      Furniture
      • As in the over 2 list, except for room dividers
      Equipment
      • Children's dress-ups suitable for age range
      • Tea set
      • Pots and pans
      • Dolls – male, female and ethnic
      • Dolls' clothes
      • Dolls' pram and stroller
      • Telephone
      • Full length unbreakable mirror

      Dough

      Furniture
      • One table with at least 4 chairs
      • Stove
      Equipment
      • Dough cutters
      • Rolling pins
      • Pounders
      • Plastic knives and forks
      • Garlic crushers
      • A variety of cooking equipment, for example pots, pans, patty pans, etc.

      Blocks

      Furniture
      • As in the over 2 list
      Equipment
      • Multiple blocks
      • A variety of small coloured blocks
      • A variety of interlocking blocks
      • Plastic or wooden vehicles
      • Vehicle station
      • People
      • Animal sets

      Nature and science/exploratory

      Furniture
      • As in the over 2 list
      Equipment
      • Environment for animals, fish, insects, birds
      • Tactile display, for example items to smell, touch, see
      • Insect-viewing glasses
      • A variety of natural materials/Papatūānuku – for example, shells, seeds
      • Plants

      Sand area

      • Large well-drained sand area
      • Shade provided
      Equipment
      • Spades
      • Buckets
      • Scoops
      • Rakes
      • Sieves
      • Vehicles
      • Variety of natural materials

      For more information, check out the section on constructing a sand area.


      Water play

      • One water trough or paddling pool
      • Supervised water available
      Equipment
      • Pouring items – for example, buckets and jugs, bottles and watering cans
      • Water wheels
      • Water pump
      • Hoses – various sizes and lengths
      • Funnels
      • Aprons
      • A variety of items for floating and sinking

      Active play

      • Can be provided by either a fixed item of equipment or as movable equipment, such as a slide, planks, ladders, tyres
      • Must have safety surfacing underneath
      Equipment
      • Balls
      • Wheeled vehicles, for example, trikes, trolleys, ride-ons, push-alongs, wheelbarrow
      • Various sized planks and ladders
      • Various small boxes, variety of sizes and heights
      • Swings

      Information and communication technologies

      Equipment
      • Digital camera
      • Video camera
      • Digital microscope
      • Computers: laptop, desk top, software, Skype

      Adult education

      Equipment
      • Range of parenting books
      • Activity idea books
      • Health information
      • Maori dictionary
      • Notice board