Japanese Culture: Koto

As part of the Kindergarten Japanese Culture program and our unit of inquiry into how we express ourselves, the children had the opportunity to work with Dr Amato, head of our International Center for Japanese Culture, who is a passionate and accomplished koto player.

Thank you to Yuri for creating this slideshow.

Using multiple apps

Having for several year explored various ways of using table computers to support children’s inquiry and learning, we feel that it is more useful to focus on a few core apps that enable students to record and create their own original work. Once the children are familiar with the core apps that we use, we begin exploring ways of combining apps to create more sophisticated work. All the images below have been created by the children, without any adult assistance, combining two or more of three core apps; DrawingPad, Comic Strip and the camera on the iPad. We chose these apps because of their open-endedness which allowed for limitless possibilities and because they supported twitter which is our main platform for sharing work beyond the classroom. (We quickly realized that apps which allow the children to create but not share were limited in their usefulness)

Kitchen Science -exploring properties of materials

As part of our unit of inquiry into the properties of materials, a team of Kindergarten parents came into school this morning to do some ‘kitchen science’ with the children. They offered five different cooking activities, each of which explored changes of state, from solid to liquid and liquid to solid. There was a purposeful buzz as children and parents worked together, discussing scientific properties of the materials they were working with.

Kitchen Science on PhotoPeach

Thank you to the parents for taking the time to plan and offer this hands-on experience. The children thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fractal patterns

As part on an ongoing inquiry into pattern and in response to an emerging interest in the concept of infinity, I showed the children some images (click here for some great examples) and YouTube clips of fractal patterns. This provoked a huge interest. The children have asked again and again to watch the clips. They are particularly interested in Mandelbrot’s fractal shape.

The videos have inspired the children to experiment with pattern making themselves and there has been an injection of enthusiasm for pattern exploration.

Today we talked about patterns in nature.

If your child is interested, you could extend this inquiry by looking for interesting patterns at home and when you are out and about.

Making music

In music class, the children have been working with Ms Bridgewater to develop the musical skills, attitudes and understandings using the Orff approach. The children’s performance at our Friday assembly was a culmination of the work they have been doing this semester. The children performed two songs, one in Japanese and one in Korean. Each class took turns singing and playing accompaniment with percussion instruments. This was a truly collaborative effort as several parents helped the children learn the songs in music class, to ensure the correct pronunciation. It was a delight to see the children rise to the occasion, standing on the stage as true performers, singing clearly and trying to keep time with Ms Bridgewater.

Thank you to Ms Yuri for these wonderful videoes.

Morning Assembly -Sakura sakura- from Yuri Air on Vimeo.

Morning Assembly -Dahl- from Yuri Air on Vimeo.

Lauren Child – author focus for June

Our author for June will be Lauren Child, an award winning children’s author from England, best known for the Charlie and Lola stories. Child writes about characters and events that five and six year olds can relate to from their own first hand experiences. The stories are a great way of getting the children to think more deeply about the characters in a story and about why authors portray characters in a particular way.

As the children become increasingly aware of text and text styles, they get particular enjoyment from the way that Lauren Child mixes text fonts, sizes,bold and regular, upper and lower case letters etc to create particular effects.

Many of the stories have been made into animated cartoons, available on YouTube. Below is one that we watched at the sleepover and which the children thought was particularly appropriate!

One night in Kindergarten!

A landmark event in the Kindergarten learning journey:


Exploring in the dark:

A communal breakfast.

As happens so often, I am inspired by the independence and initiative of these five and six year olds as they manage their belongings and take responsibility for their needs. And I am humbled by the empathy and compassion with which the children treat each other and the way they comfort and care for one another. The sleepover has been a bonding experience for the children and an important part of their personal and group learning journey through Kindergarten.

A shopping trip

We have dedicated a few meetings to discussions about our meals during the sleepover. First we figured out which meals we would need to provide for. We did a think, pair, share thinking routine. We came up with this list:

  • afternoon snack
  • supper
  • midnight feast
  • breakfast

Next, we had to decide what to eat. After much data collecting, recording, analyzing and interpreting, we came up with these lists:

We made shopping lists, divided up into small groups and off we went!

(Many of the photographs are of one group -sorry, we only had one camera. The process was the same for each group.)

Preparing for the Kindergarten Sleep-over

The children are very excited about sleeping in school next Friday. For many, this is a landmark in their personal learning journeys; the first night they have spent away from their parents. School is a great place for a first sleepover as it is space the children know well and in which they feel comfortable. Over the week, we have discussed the sleep-over in detail.

The things that the children are most excited about are:

  • sleeping with their friends and teddies
  • exploring the school at night time
  • playing outside in their pyjamas

The things that the children are most concerned about are:

  • missing their mums
  • sleepwalking
  • someone’s teddy will get lost

We used a think, pair, share thinking routine to come up with a class packing list.

  • 1 teddy bear or night-time toy (not electronic)
  • pyjamas
  • sleeping bag or blanket
  • toothpaste and toothbrush
  • hair brush or comb
  • face cloth
  • wash bag to put wash things in
  • optional -pillow (we have lots of pillows in school but some children have special pillows they wanted to bring
  • full set of extra clothes (some children have a full set of extra clothes in school and do not need to bring more)
  • flashlight

The children are excited about managing their own belongings and routines, “just like grown-ups!”. It will be easier for the children to look after their belongings if they are clearly labeled. This weekend the children should practice packing and unpacking their bags by themselves, several times, so that they know exactly what they have in their bags, where to find everything and how to fit it all in. (Sleeping bags can be particularly tricky.) This will help the children feel a sense of control and independence and will ease anxiety. 

We talked about how everything has to fit in one overnight bag and the importance of “packing light”. While we have discouraged the children from bringing big suitcases (for space and storage reasons), it is important that the bag is big enough for children to fit  ALL their belongings inside easily.