Hunting for Japanese Writing around YIS

The children have been comparing different writing systems in Japanese and English. We have been talking about the difference between alphabets like the English (Roman) alphabet, katakana and hiragana, and symbol/concept based writing systems such as kanji.

We went on a hunt around YIS to search for Japanese writing. The children discovered many different kinds of alphabets, symbols and pictures. We took photographs. Over the next week we will be discussing the photographs and the children will record their comments on the VoiceThread below. Please feel free to add your own comments to the VoiceThread. Your children can teach you how to do this.

You can help your children to make connections to their Mother Tongue or other languages by discussing writing systems used in your family.

Counting Large Numbers

Recently some of the children have shown a particular interest in counting larger sets. I was intrigued to see what strategies they would use for counting numbers over 100, and I wanted to see how much they understood about the relationship between ones, tens and hundreds. I told the children that I had noticed that some of them were interested in working with bigger numbers and suggested that they count all the cubes in our math tubs. The children liked this idea. I explained to them that I wanted to know about their mathematical thinking and the strategies they were using, and that I would be recording their conversations. Below is an example of the conversations the children were having.

  • When we finish all of them, lets put all our piles to together so we are not in muddle.
  • I got 148
  • Now lets put them all together
  • No, lets add them with the numbers (goes to get whiteboard and marker)
  • How many have you got?
  • I cant quite remember because there is so much. It’s because everything is in a muddle. That’s why I’m putting them together. I’m making a line. It’s easier if you do that, then you can count better.
  • Well I counted in twos and it was much easier. But you can count like that in twos, in a line.
  • Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, to count in twos. Then we can make pairs and count the together.
  • Will I help you? It will be quicker if we make tens.
  • Yeah, its easier because this way is very easy. Otherwise if you do it in ones it will be very hard because it will take a very long time.

Counting Large numbers on PhotoPeach

The children conducted their inquiry with very little help from the adults.  They were engaged for a two hours, spread over two days. As the children worked, they were:

  • exchanging and building on each others’ ideas
  • developing, testing and modifying theories
  • problem solving and trying new strategies
  • explaining their thinking as they helped each other

KC Movie Makers

KC students have been making a stop-animation movie. This has been a LONG process involving huge amounts of problem solving and team work. The children have had to:

  • conduct Internet and library research to come up with an authentic setting and credible characters
  • plan, draft and finalise the movie script
  • make characters and props, paying close attention to the details in the script to ensure concistency
  • experiment with a wide variety of materials to find the most effective way of making sure that the characters and props can perform their role/ function effectively
  • work collaboratively to solve a multitude of problems
  • plan and work as a group, communicating with team members to assign jobs and roles, and to ensure that all the parts come together to create the final masterpiece.

    The movie is nearly finished. Have look at our photopeach to see some of the process.

    KC Movie Makers on PhotoPeach

    You can find out about the process in more detail by scrolling down to the bottom of the Unit of Inquiry page (see tabs at the top of this page) to the section entitled KC Movie Makers.

    Where do writers get their ideas?

    We wondered where writers get their ideas. We had a discussion. I recorded the children’s comments and put them on wallwisher. Use the scroll bars at the side and along the bottom to view all the wall posts. You can add your thoughts to our wall by clicking on the pink “post a sticky” tab at the bottom. Your sticky may not show immediately on our blog; the stickies need to be approved first. We look forward to learning where other writers get their ideas.

    Poor Sandy.

    A couple of days ago, the children noticed that one of our goldfish, Sandy was bent double and was lying on the bottom of the fish tank. Lego, the other goldfish was also looking a bit sick. We observed the fish carefully for the next two days. Lego seemed to get little better. However, Sandy was bent double and was not moving. But the children noticed that he was still breathing. We did some internet research and found out that Sandy had bacteria in his stomach which was making him bend in the middle. We found out that there was no way to help Sandy because the bacteria was already in his stomach, and that Sandy was going to die.

    We talked about what we should do about Sandy. After much discussion, the children decided to take Sandy out of the fish tank so that he would die quickly, and so that he wouldn’t infect the other fish.

    The children wondered where to bury Sandy. They remembered burying Madeline and were able to transfer knowledge and understanding from that experience.

    Where can we bury Sandy?
    We can’t bury him with Madeline because the children planted seeds and we might dig up the seeds.
    Yeah, because now it’s a garden with things growing.
    Before it was nothing growing.
    So maybe we can put him in another garden?
    But we don’t have another garden.
    How about if we went to the park to bury it?
    Yes. I agree with Jenny’s idea.
    No, we can’t bury in homes. I think he don’t understand.
    It’s okay.
    It’s because we buyed the fish at Homes, that’s why he think that.
    Yeah, he’s good at remembering.
    No space in the park.
    No way to dig.
    Like moles.
    We are not moles.
    We can’t put in the desert because it’s too far away and there might be sandstorms.
    Anyway there are no deserts in Japan.
    Egypt maybe?
    It’s too far away. We have to go in a airplane but we can’t do that.
    So where?
    I have an idea. Maybe we can bury the Sandy outside of the school? We can put it in a zip bag and we can bury him.
    Yeah! Good idea.
    We need somewhere.
    How about the ocean?
    But how can we get there?
    It’s too far.
    No, we can go on the train.
    Nihon Odori. It’s the next stop.
    Yes, it’s only one stop.
    It’s not too far.
    But not in the ocean.
    No, not the ocean, only in the sand
    Or we can bury him in Yamashita Koen?

    The discussion bounced from child to child with very little adult intervention. It is interesting to see how much the children’s speaking and listening skills have developed since the beginning of the year. The children are listening to each other and are building on and developing each other’s ideas; every child contributed; all of the contributions are relevant and logical; the children are supportive of each other and everyone’s ideas are respected.

    It was time for lunch and we still had not reached a consensus on where to bury the body. So for now, Sandy is literally sitting on ice, in the freezing compartment of our fridge, while we decide what to do. To be continued …

    Uh oh! Carl just noticed that now Lego is bending in the middle.

    Clever Ways of Using Space in Motomachi

    We went for a walk around Motomachi to see how people use spaces in clever ways.


    The children took photographs of the interesting things they saw. When we got back, we printed the photographs. Together, we at the photographs and shared ideas the clever ways of using space. Once the children had had a chance to discuss their ideas verbally and listen to other people’s ideas, they wrote comments about the photographs on posties and stuck the posties on photographs.


    Afterwards we read all the comments together to see what different people thought of each photograph. Once the children had shared and developed their ideas through talking and writing, they made a voice thread about the photographs.