Uninterrupted play in nature.

We returned to Tamagawa River Park. The children were highly respectful staying to the left to allow commuters to get past them as we went for the train. Because the children were familiar with the space they quickly started to climb the concrete embankment. We noted their level of confidence and just how big they now seemed in this space. Before the embankment seemed huge and high and now the children were the ones who looked big. Both parents and teachers observed how the children calmly used the space. They climbed, explored, created imaginary play scenarios and enjoyed each others company. In four hours of uninterrupted play one child asked for help to work at a social issue. When they came to the teachers they made the point of sharing how they had worked out the issue.

Thank you to Ms Connie for the photo collection

The Park. Learning Outdoors.

We took the children to see the new flower displays in the park, which were fragrant and beautiful. The children looked with appreciation and respect, but kept asking, when can we run? We were once again reminded of the children’s desire and need to be in open spaces where they can explore, run and play.

Thank you to Connie for the photographs.

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


Feeding the homeless, “Wooo… that will take team work!”

We showed the children a video of the High School students making onigiri (rice balls) for the homeless of Yokohama. The children read that 644 onigiri were made. Devano exclaimed, “Wooo… that will take team work!” The high school students agree. This Service Learning initiative puts the high school students in the role of Learner Leaders for the Grade One students. They will come and meet with the children to explain about the Chiku Centre project. They will need their help to reach their goals.

On Friday 18th November the Grade One’s will work along side the High School to make the onigiri to feed the homeless of Yokohama. The children have learnt to make onigiri in their ICJC session. The children were very interested in the video. They related their experience of seeing homeless people in Japan, Korea and Cambodia. Chloe remarked, “This is great. I will help homeless people two times, in Cambodia and here.” Erik explained that he had seen the Chiku centre.“It is a place for the homeless people to eat and get onigiri.”

The children spent sometime discussing what homelessness meant. They agreed that they wouldn’t like to have no home. Masaichi said, “What would happen if I was homeless?” Owen said, “You would be alone… just kidding… you could come and live with me.”

What is clear is that the children have a sense of compassion for others and want to help. The next question was…

“What can we do to help the homeless people?”

We wonder how this provocation will provoke the children to action.

This will be a year long commitment to helping others and be a major part of of our next Unit of Inquiry. Ultimately we aim for our Grade One students to be the leaders.

To give. To receive. To connect. To learn.

Make more! When children connect to the class blog.

The children enjoyed viewing the class blog and were amazed to read that 221 people had looked at their blog in August.  They were intrigued by the idea that “everyone in the world” could see them and share their learning. The children requested that we share more pictures of them. We wonder when they will ask to document and share their own learning.

1P’s First Day of School! By Ms Connie

Sleepover shopping trip

The children formed groups and started crossing things off on their shopping list. The had calculated how much bread they needed and how much juice to buy. The children found all the items themselves, paid for them and packed their bags. They walked all the way up the steep steps back to school. We are ready for the sleepover. The children have everything they need to make their own food.

1P Shopped At HOMES For Sleepover Day! on PhotoPeach by Ms Connie

Gr1 Sleepover. Building Capacity To Lead from Grade One To Middle School.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 2.58.09 PMThis reflects all the work that has gone into building leadership within our school from MS leadership training courses to Grade 1 service learning. We are starting to feel student strength and reaping the benefits as teachers and students. We find ourselves wondering how we ever did a sleepover without the MS support. We are excited to build on this next year.


The background

We were approached by some middle school (MS) students at the beginning of the year. They wanted to develop IMG_7511connections throughout the school and build our ‘one school spirit’. The MS students wanted to be involved in the sleepover. Whilst we are always open to working with all students we were slightly reluctant to have more students to monitor and support.

As sleepover arrived we connected with Rebekah Madrid, the middle school teacher who had facilitated this link. We were soon contacted by a group of middle school students. We were instantly impressed by their timely and effective communication. We agreed that the students would meet us in the park at 4pm and stay with us until 6pm. We gave the guideline of fostering the Gr1’s  independence.

Sleepover day

On the day of the sleepover the group of 7 students arrived promptly and within 10 minutes Donna and I wondered how we had ever done a sleepover without them. They respectfully observed the children and joined in their play, offering alternate games after a period of time. These were paced to perfection and included: a range of fast tag games, circle games, small group games and individual time with children. The students were highly empathetic, spotted quiet children who were alone, sought them out and spent time engaging them in conversation or play. There was a profound atmosphere of respect between Gr1 and the MS students. Donna and I noted that we had worked with adults and trained professionals who were not as capable as the MS students!