How do we help children understand works with big meanings?

As we develop our Learning Wall we have found it useful to refer to the colour of the learning and thinking. We have been modelling our thinking out loud to the children. This seems to resonate with them.

“You wondered how to make a space mask, I think that is green thinking which is wondering. I think I used blue thinking which is new learning when I used the internet to search how to plant apple seeds-I didn’t know how to look after apple seeds.”

The children have begun to ask to put their thinking and learning onto the learning wall. They have had several questions from the morning meeting

Owen: “So black holes… how do they get made?”

Sophia: “How do you make the sticks go together?”

These are thought provoking quotes about questions.

A welleducated mind will always have more questions than answers. Helen Keller

“Judge a person [man] by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire

How do we help children develop their personal understanding of words with big meanings?

As part of our Unit of Inquiry we decided which skills and attitudes to focus on. In our new unit we will build on previous approaches to learning and attitudes. We highlight examples and construct a shared understanding with the children. We have also tried to find multimedia resources to help our conversations. We will use this to stimulate discussion as we co-construct a class understanding of these words.

We will explore the attitudes of curiosity and independence, (purple thinking).

We will focus on the skills of (orange thinking)

Thinking skills:

  • Comprehension– When I learn something I can explain it or use it.
  • Analysis – I can find out how things are the same or different.

Communication Skills:

  • Viewing – I can learn by looking at things. I can think about the words and pictures people use to give a message. I am responsible for what I watch and search for.
  • Presenting – I can make things for other people to see. I share my ideas in many ways.

Self-management Skills:

  • Organization– I can think about what I am going to do and then do it.
  • Time management– I get things done.

Research Skills:

  • Formulating questions– I ask questions because I want to find things out.
  • Planning– I think of ways I can find out about something.
  • Presenting Research Findings– I can share what I have learned in different ways  so other people  can understand it.

It would be very helpful if you could discuss any of these areas with your child.

Videos which explore the attitude of curiosity.

Video which explores the attitude of independence (being responsible for yourself).

Author of the Month Valerie Thomas and Illustrator of the Month Paul Korky

We have noticed how the children are engaged with these books. They noticed the repeating use of words like, “ABARACADABERA”. This is our second author of the month and the children have started to read the books as writers. They have noticed the style of illustrations with lots of details. They are able to say what is most compelling to them as readers and writers.

About the books

They are a series of eleven books about Winnie the Witch. We read one book to the children to see if they liked them. The characters, humor and storyline appealed to the children. They instantly agreed to have these as our book focus. The stories have rich, but accessible vocabulary the children can discuss. The idea of a series of books is an interesting concept for the children to explore.

Winnie The Witch story

Winnie’s song

Jimin’s mum reads to us in Korean.

We weren’t sure who it was!

How often do you come to school? Everyday when there are classes.

Do you wear glasses?  Yes

What languages do you speak? English, Japanese, Korean

How many children do you have at YIS? 1

Where are you from? Korea

Please excuse this unusual video of a video! There were some technical issues encountered.. We wanted to find a work around because we were sure you would want to share this story. (TIP, Turn the volume up on your device).


Where is Mad?

We had a meeting with Ms Kumamoto (ES school counselor)  today. She has been discussing how we can monitor our feelings. This was a natural introduction into the links between physical and mental health. The children could explain how parts of the body work together. Masaichi noted that the eye tells the brain something is wrong. In their PE lesson the children are starting to  discover and learn about how body systems working together. Next we approached mental health, what were some feeling they knew. There was a long list. We homed the conversation by asking how they felt on the first day of school.

Then we asked, where is mad? The children shouted out lots of ideas and places in their body.

Head,  arms, face, teeth, feet and eyes. The general consensus was mad could be in your whole body.

Chloe: It’s in your legs.

Jesse: (screws up hands) It’s in your hands

Vita: Teeth (grits teeth together) Is in your teeth

Ken: You would have to be super mad for it to be your heart

The children quickly made connections between a feeling and its physical manifestations. We will continue to work with Eliza Kumamoto,  to build our understanding and strategies for our physical and mental well-being.

Here is a wonderful video about the link between the physical and mental manifestations of feelings. We used this as a provocation to get the children thinking about their physical and mental health.

Sophia’s mum reads to us in Spanish

These were the clues we were given:

    • What do you like to do? To sing 
    • What do you look like? Curly hair 
    • What languages do you speak? Spanish, English, Portuguese, few words in Japanese.
    • How many children do you have at YIS? 2
    • Where are you from? Argentina 

The children are finding the clue about what languages people speak helps them solve the mystery.

Making our mathematical thinking visible to others.

This was the first Maths Challenge we set the children, in August.  You will notice the unique ways children share their thinking and learning. We have many examples to share with you at our Parent, Student Teacher conferences.

We set the children a challenge. It was a problem with no right or wrong way to record the answers. It challenged the children to go beyond an answer and be able to show and explain how they were able to solve the problem. We are inspired by the mathematical research of Jo Boaler, at Stanford University. You can sign up to her site here.

The challenge. A group of 5 or 4 sat at a table and without looking, worked out how many feet were hidden under the table.

Visual Thinking For Learning By Ms Connie

Making our ideas and thinking visible to others. The Learning Wall.

We asked the children how they would design their Learning wall. They had many ideas about sharing the space. This is the second year we have developed a large space to share our thinking and learning with others.

The colours were set last year, and the children were happy to continue with them. We have noticed how quickly the children picked up on the idea of documenting their thinking. We are still in the early stages, where we are gradually releasing the responsibility of documenting to the children. The wall is an array of rainbow colors pieces of paper showing children’s observations on their learning.











img_7637We are noticing the children bringing their parents into the room and sharing the wall with them. Devano proudly showed his mum how respectful and appreciative he was of his family. He helped wash the family car. This was shown as purple thinking (IB attitudes).






This is a video Donna and I made for an IB Innovation in the PYP Webinar. It shows how and why we developed the Learning Wall as a tool for learning.  I also shared it with my family… my dad said I should share it with you.  He said it helped him understand what we were doing.

The Learning Wall September


Author study for September, Joy Cowley.

I have included this video as it shows how we can overcome challenges and thrive. I hope that inspires our developing readers.

Our Author  is Joy Cowley. Cowley writes fun books with repetitive texts and clear illustrations, which make them ideal for early readers. Over the years she has been given several awards for her stories.

The children have begun reading about Mrs Wishy Washy, Meanies, Hungry Giants, Hairy Bears and Jigarees. Through these books, the children are developing their reading readiness skills and are building their bank of sight words. These books also build vocabulary for writing.

The children would love to share some of the their favourite Joy Cowley books with you.

NOTE TO PARENTS Digital Citizenship in Grade One

This is a link to some lovely stories read by Joy Cowley. Please be aware that this site has other content. Please supervise your child’s  use of online sources.