Units of Inquiry

The students engage in six Units of Inquiry throughout the year. These units are designed to enable students to construct knowledge and understanding of the world around them through meaningful and purposeful engagements relating to the students’ own first hand experiences.

Throughout the inquiries, students reflect on their learning, continually constructing and modifying theories and making connections between their learning within the school environment and their experiences in the wider world.

Unit 1: Where We Are In Place and Time (August/ September)
Unit 2: How We Organize Ourselves (September/ October)
Unit 3: Sharing The Planet (November/December)
Unit 4: How We Express Ourselves (January/ February)
Unit 5: Who We Are (February/ March)
Unit 6: How The World Works (April/ May)

Unit 1: Where We Are In Place and Time (August/ September)

Transdisciplinary Theme:

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

Central Idea:
Personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.

Lines of Inquiry

  • Important events that lead to change
  • How we have changed over the year
  • How we know we have changed

Key Questions:

  • How have you changed?
  • How do you know you have changed?
  • How did you learn to do that?
  • How has that helped you?

Supporting Questions:

  • What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
  • What would you like to be able to do at the end of Kindergarten?
  • How will you learn to do that?
  • How could you record your learning?

Key Concepts:
change, reflection

Related concepts:
growth, sequences, review, progress evidence

Unit 2: How We Organize Ourselves (September/ October)

Transdisciplinary Theme:
An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision making; economic activities and their impact on human kind and the environment.

Central Idea:
Communities function more effectively when systems and routines are negotiated with all members.

Lines of Inquiry

  • What makes a community
  • The purpose of systems and routines
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Reaching agreement and compromise

Key Questions:

  • What is a system?
  • Why do we need systems?
  • What system could we create to solve that (particular) problem
  • How do systems affect us?

Supporting Questions:

  • What systems do we have in our classroom/ the elementary school/ at home?
  • What would happen if we didn’t have those systems?
  • Who decides the systems?
  • Who makes the systems work?

Key Concepts:
function, responsibility, reflection

Related concepts:
communication, cooperation, conflict, communities, systems


Unit 3: Sharing The Planet (November/December)

Transdisciplinary Theme:
An Inquiry into the rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

Central Idea:
People have a responsibility to share and care for the environment.

Lines of Inquiry

  • How people care for their environment.
  • How people share resources.
  • Our responsibility towards sharing and caring for the environment.

Key Questions:

  • Why do people share resources?
  • What resources might we have to share?
  • How can we be responsible with resourses?

Supporting Questions:

  • How can we share a particular resource?
  • How can we care for a particular space?

Key Concepts:
function, causation, responsibility

Related concepts:
cooperation, roles, relationships, fairness


Unit 4: How We Express Ourselves (January/ February)

Transdiciplinary Theme:
An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

Central idea:
People use a variety of languages to communicate their ideas and feelings.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Forms of communication
  • Possibilities with particular media
  • Representing ideas and feelings

Key Questions:

  • What are some of the ways (languages) that people communicate ideas?
  • How could you communicate that idea? (what media and what specific techniques within a particular media)
  • What does this (particular) piece make you think of/ feel?

Supporting Questions:

  • Is there another way to represent that idea?

Key Concepts:
form, perspective, communication, imagination

Related Concepts:
communication, imagination

The YouTube videos below show different examples of the ways people express themselves through music and dance. You could watch these video clips with your child and discuss how the artists are expressing themselves. Write your thoughts in the comment box at the end so that your child can share their ideas with the rest of the class.

Please note that your child can access YouTube through the video links below, so make sure to supervise your child in case they unwittingly access unsuitable sites.

If you find any other good youtube video clips, please help your child to write down the URL so that we can watch the video clip together at school. Have fun!





As part of our Unit of Inquiry into how we express ourselves, Elif showed the children some stop-animation movies that she had made with another Kindergarten class. The children thought the movies were “cool” but they didn’t think that they could make a movie.

Saku No way!
Eileen It’s too difficult.
Jenny Yeah, we don’t know how to do that.
Aika You have to know movies and how to do movie.
Lisa We could try to do it.
Aika We need camera.
Jenny We need a movie camera.
Carl But we can not do movie because only daddies can do that.
Lisa I think we can do it if we try. We can ask someone to help us.
Jenny Yes. Like a adult.
Tasha I wonder who we could ask?
Paige You can show us. (To Tasha)
Tasha I have never made a movie before. I don’t know how.
Jenny Well, Ms Elif knows.
Carl No!
Lisa Yes! Yes! She must know if she did it before.
Jenny Oh yeah. She made these ones so she must know it.
Saku Yes! We can do. Because we know. Because we see it.
Issey I think we can do it. But we need some paper
Paige And, did you realize, we can use sticks to move the people?
Jenny We need some characters.
Issey But how they will move and you don’t see the hand?
Aika What you mean?
Issey I mean like you will see a hand is moving
Paige Oh! I know. Issey means that the hands will be in the movie. The hands who are moving the characters. You know, with the sticks?
Lars Maybe we could take photographs?
Aika I don’t understand that.
Jenny Me too, I don’t understand. Because how can we take photographs if we want to have a movie? We need a movie camera. Not a photograph camera.
Lars But I mean that we can take photographs so you don’t need to move. Then we can join all the photographs together to make it a movie.

The next day, we return to the discussion. I read the children the notes I had taken the day before. The children now seem to feel that they could perhaps make a movie, but they are not sure how to start. I suggest that we could begin with a story idea. The children have published several books. I suggest they might like to take one of those stories and turn them into a movie. However, the children do not like this idea. They tell me that they want to create a new story.

The children already know quite a lot about narratives. Over the year, we have read lots of narratives and have analyzed the text form. Together, we have written both non-fiction and fiction narratives. The children are beginning to recognize some of the key elements of a story. Carl says that we will need characters. Jenny reminds us that we need a setting, and Lisa points out we also need a plot. Some children are not sure what a plot is, so Jenny explains, “It’s, you know, all the stuff, everything, all that happens. You know, to the characters, what is happening to them.” “Yeah, that’s right”, Lisa confirms

Issey suggests that I write down the children’s ideas on some chart paper. “So we don’t forget”, Paige tells me. I scribe as the children call out their ideas. I keep reading my writing back to the children, to check that I have documented their ideas accurately. The children correct me and ask me to add details and make changes. I am writing faster and faster as I try to capture all of the ideas. My writing becomes messy and it’s not very easy to read.


Paige You’re kind of making a mess
Issey Oh Yeah! Big mess (laughs)
Lisa But it’s okay. Because you are trying.
Jenny Don’t you know, a mess is okay. Because it’s quick writing. But we all can all read it.
Aika No, not everyone.
Carl Yeah. Because I can’t read.
Jenny But if we help then everyone can read
Carl Yeah. And, you know, sometimes I can read.
Jenny Sometimes you have to make a mess
Paige And it’s okay for mistakes
Jenny Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to spell.
Aika You just have to sound out.
Paige But not if you publish. Then it has to be all right.

I post the flip chart on the wall where the children can refer to it later. I tell the children that we will have to do some research on the characters in the story; I’m not sure if there are ducks in the Antarctic. Several children immediately suggest using Google. I suggest that they children might like to do some research at home. Later in the day, in Free Inquiry Time, I notice some of the children have got the globes and are peering intently at them, and writing notes about the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The following day, several children tell me that they have done research at home. They share their research with the group.

It seems that we have a few problems. The most significant problem is that many of the characters do not live in Antarctica. The children discuss whether this is a problem or not. Some children comment that since it’s a fiction story, it doesn’t matter. Others feel that even though it’s a fiction story, the story should be true to nature. In the end, Jenny has a brainwave. “I know! We can change Antarctic to the Arctic.” Everyone thinks that this is a fine solution.



Someone points out that we still have a problem with the penguins. After a short discussion, the children agree that the penguins will be invited specially for the race. In light of the research, some other changes are made. The ducks become Arctic Terns, the foxes become arctic foxes, and the rabbits become Arctic hares. All of the ideas have come from the children. I am delighted that the children are applying what they discovered in their research to the story, and with their ability to make connections.

Unit 5: Who We Are (February/ March)

Transdisciplinary Theme:
An inquiry into the nature of the self; believes and values; personal, physical, mental social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends communities and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Central Idea:
We interpret our environment through our senses

Lines of Inquiry

  • How we use our senses
  • How our senses are connection to our emmotions
  • Different perspectives

Key Questions:

  • What are our senses for?
  • How can we use our senses to understand the world around us?
  • How are our senses connected to our emotions? (connection)
  • How can we change our environment to change our mood? (using sensory stimuli).

Supporting Questions:

  • What are some of the different ways that (a particular stimulus) make people feel?

Key Concepts:
connection, perspective

Related concepts:
systems (sensory)


Unit 6: How The World Works (April/ May)

Transdisciplinary Theme:
An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; How humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of science and technological advances on society and the environment.

Central Idea:
Materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose

Lines of Inquiry

  • properties of materials
  • changes in materials
  • cause and effect of changes in materials

Key Questions:

  • What is this material like?
  • How can we change it
  • How did it change?

Supporting Questions:

  • What is it like? (how does it feel/ taste/ smell)
  • What did you do to change it?
  • Why did it change?

Key Concepts:
form, causation, change

Related concepts:
properties and uses of material, changes of state, liquids and solids


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