What learning outdoors teaches us.

We spent a day immersed in the outdoors. The children climbed concrete embankments  and trees. They engaged in observations of worms. They ran and ran, waved sticks and defined their own social relationships.

The Tamagawa river excursion gave us a day to observe the children in a  different learning environment. Our sincerest thanks go to our parent volunteers who respected the children’s ability to learn as we watched them climb and explore.

Observations on learning. The natural and man-made environment as a provocateur of thinking and learning.

Children will always find a way to learn through play. Even sitting on a train to the river the children were swinging their legs as they explored motion. They played their own version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Children are keen observers and quickly act upon their observations, using their own value system. The children wondered about the homeless peoples houses. the children asked whether they could go to the Chiku Centre.

Children work within their boundaries of comfort and risk. Every space provides an opportunity to play and learn. The children walked past a concrete embankment and spent twenty minutes climbing the structure. Someone  noted this was, “scary, but fun!”. We made careful observations of the children. We noted that children climbed as high as they were comfortable and only then carefully pushed their boundaries. This is the embodiment of education in an atmosphere of wise freedom.

Children can concentrate for extended periods of time. The children decided to make a tree house, they applied all their collective skills to the task. Other groups made shops and birds nests.

All this occurred before 12.00, the learning went on and on.

Reflections from the adults

Parents: The children can do so much.

Teachers: Children should not have their time over-planned, they are capable of self-directed learning. Children are able to sustain peaceful play for hours in a natural environment. They can concentrate and focus for extended periods of time.

Article Children focused through free play

Photographs by Ms Connie


Author of the month, Oliver Jeffers.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.47.26 PMThe author of the month  is Oliver Jeffers. We have chosen him because he creates beautiful stories from simple text, but very challenging ideas. The stories are poignant and convey emotion through words and illustrations. He is a great mentor author as his books offers us the opportunity to deconstruct fictional texts.

One of the areas of writing we will be focusing on will be creating fictional texts. We have begun to have discussions about elements of a fictional texts. The children are focused on character and Jeffers books will help us explore the narrative devise and problem and solution. The books will also help the children develop the vocabulary needed to convey emotion.

A wonderful video about the day in the life of an artist. How he captures ideas and creates books.

Oliver Jeffers Author Film 2013 from Oliver Jeffers on Vimeo.

We have begun discussing how people are inspired to entertain people and show their creativity.

Oliver Jeffers created a video for a U2 song.

K-2 Technology Challenge

Whilst we engage with design and technology on a daily basis at school, we wanted an opportunity to highlight all the forms this can take. Thank you to Mr Broughton for organizing this.

Here are some of things the children took part in


Boat making

Design electronics

Lego Technics

Tower building

TV program making

And more…

Thank you to Ms Connie for the photos.

Mathematics, being challenged at your level… or “This is so much fun!”

Each day we present some Maths challenge to the children, they also have lots of opportunities to develop and solve their own problems. Our class Maths challenges can be accessed on many levels. The children like to return to old favourites… as the children’s skill develop their strategies change and become increasingly complex. One favourite is how can you make 10.

“Make a donation, that means the money is not for us.” Making an arcade to help feed the homeless.

The children spent along time deciding how to raise the money needed to make onigiri for the homeless. As leaders they decided upon a cardboard arcade. After lots of thinking, designing and redesigning it is ready. The children invited their parents to come and play. There were donation boxes outside the room explaining what the money will be used for. As the children noted, we need to use the word donation because then people know it is not for us. The money is to make food for the homeless people. The chidlren are very committed to helping others.

To all who came to play the arcade, thank you! We raised…. 32,178 yen! THANK YOU


The arcade. You can aslos hear your child talking about their game on their Learning Journal (Seesaw)

Thank you Ms Connie for the pictures

The Making of The Arcade on PhotoPeach

An Arcade For A Cause on PhotoPeach

Why We Are Teaching Coding In Grade One.

We constantly read about the need for programmers and the advantages this gives. Coding is challenging but fun, just like grade1!

The children are learning how to develop sets of logical instructions to program into our toy robot. We discussed this as a form of writing. The children are developing their understanding that the robot only does what they program. This has proved challenging… especially if they forget to program the “clear” command and get the last person instructions!

Why is this Maths?

We have five areas of Maths we cover (Number, data handling, measurement, shape and space and patterning). Shape and space encompasses the language of direction. As with all good Mathematical thinking this affords an opportunity to be creative in our thinking and application.

Check out your child’s Seesaw account for personal examples!

The Mathematics Of Giving. Real reasons to count.

We constantly strive to find authentic reasons for children to apply and transfer learned number facts to real-world situations. This is a true indicator of what children understand.

The reason for doing this

The children will lead the onigiri making for the homeless of Yokohama. They have taken this responsibility and leadership challenge very seriously. They realise they have to raise all the money for the supplies. There was some money left over from last year and the children decided to count it.

The Mathematics involved

Each child guessed how much there was. We discussed the importance of naming items which are counted. If you just say 300, no one knows what you are referring to and it is not accurate or mathematical.

The children started to take the money, some children took piles for themselves, others realised it would work better if they sorted the coins into different types. The next issue was removing coins from other countries. The children are increasingly aware that this can not be used in Japan,

The children were then faced with large amounts of coins… how would they count it and not lose track of the amount? Someone started sorting by tens.

The amount was recorded and then checked by someone else. The children are becoming aware of the need for accuracy, especially when dealing with real items like money.

The amounts were put together… no one felt they wanted to add up all these numbers!

Video taken from Seesaw (online learning journal)

Grade One, Social entrepreneurship.

The children have shown initiative and entrepreneurship as they are working out how to raise money for others.

The children are excite to be given the responsibility to lead the onigiri making session for the homeless of Yokohma. We asked the children where they were going to get all the supplies from. Who will pay for it? Many conversations ensued. The children thought they could ask for money. We told them they were responsible for raising the money.

How will you raise the money?

Ken said he had made a lemonade stand. Vita said she had made a circus show for her parents, both of these activities were rewarded with money. We showed the children what the children did last year. We also showed them the video of Caine’s arcade. The children were very taken by this idea.

How will this raise money?

The children decided their parents could play the games and pay.

How much will you charge?

The sums ranged from 100 yen a turn to 300 yen for a Fun Turn (unlimited turns). Caine made a Fun Pass in his video, but the children noted you can’t take his word – but you can be inspired by him.

Chloe and Sophia often make restaurants, cafes and banks so we asked them what we should do. Chloe suggested tips. She explained this way people only paid if what they made was good. Vita said if people didn’t pay she would explain she had worked very hard on the game.

The games are being developed, prizes are being made.


Come and play the grade 1 arcade Wednesday 25th 8.20am to 9.00am


Author of the month, Leo Lionni. Being inspired by others.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.01.02 AMWe are beginning to think about a new genre of writing, narrative fiction. The children were rightly proud of all the forms of writing and book making they have created: poetry, illustrations and personal narrative.

Each month we take inspiration from other authors. This month we have chosen Leo Lionni. We have guided the children through a series of mini-lessons about what authors do to make their books interesting.

The children noted that Leo Lionni:

  • Uses illustrations such as think bubbles,repeating images, white space and cutting off an image.
  • Some pages have few words and some have lots of words.
  • The print is organized differently on each page.
  • Each book has a good idea and a great story.

About Leo Lionni Why Leo writes animal books, Leo’s inspiration

“From time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge.”—Leo Lionni

Lionni started to write children’s books in 1959. He was on a train journey where he wanted to entertain his grandchildren.  This turned into a new career. He said it wasn’t always easy to get ideas but these are some of his ideas:

  • Picking a strong hero to begin with.
  • Starting with the end and making a suprise beginning
  • Pick a conflict or a big problem.
  • Doing a drawing which turns into a story
  • Sometimes words come into your mind and make a title.