To give, to receive, to connect, to learn.

onigiri 1The grade one’s and their parents made 529 onigiri with the middle and high school students. The children know how they are part of a system which supports our wider community. We work with the Chiku Centre group and  this group finds out what people need. Our role was to raise money for the onigiri we made. The Chiku centre group then takes the food to the people. This is one way we are supporting the homeless of Yokohama.

My toes are shivering! Collecting toad spawn

On a glorious warm Friday morning we set off for the park. It was our third trip that week. The change in season and the emergence of the toads has been a great inspiration to the children. On Friday we decided to collect toad spawn, after we research how to look after it.

Initially the children looked into the stream (it is a concrete stream) and tried to get the spawn. We suggested taking their shoes and socks off. The sensation of running cold water thrilled the children. They readily scooped up the toad spawn and squealed with delight. Then a quieter tone ensued as they carefully managed the slippy toad spawn.

The task was complete but the children spent more time exploring and climbing. We noted the children who were really frightened of climbing on our field trip have already become far more capable and adventurous. There is no substitute for being in nature, learning by touching, smelling and sensing the world around us. Though as Owen said the water was cold and his toes were shivering!

Gathering Spawns For The Life Cycle Inquiry By Ms Connie

Responding to shared spaces. The park and the art gallery.

We went to the park to visit toads who were emerging from their hibernation. This gave the children an opportunity to explore their “new” favourite place in the park, the stream. Leaves were moved down stream, twigs were observed in water and bubbles were monitored.

Next we moved to the art gallery (which was once a house) the children changed their mode of movement and tone. Quiet voices whispered about the beauty of the space, even the old bathroom was called, “beautiful bath art”.

Once again we wondered at the adaptability of the children and their ability to find the wonder in every space.

Our sincere thanks to Mr Reed for curating this beautiful exhibition, visit if you can!

Park and Art Exhibition on PhotoPeach By Ms Connie

Snow day things to do at home Monday 18th January, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 6.24.02 AMToday school is cancelled due to the snow. So instead we get to do our learning on the blog.
Note to Parents– The following are suggestions for home learning today and are optional. If your child does complete some of the suggested learning please have your child bring his/her work into school tomorrow to share with the class.



School on the Blog

Writer’s Workshop can be done anywhere. So why not do it today at home. You can write about anything. You can make your own book about anything you want. Write a poem. You have so many ideas.

You can look at the snow to give you ideas for tomorrow at school how is it outside? How does it:

  • Look
  • Feel
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Sound

How do you feel on the inside? Excited, happy,

Share with your parents.

Share a book together with your parents. Fill in your Reading Log.

Mathematical Inquiry at home

We have been creating mazes and obstacle courses at school, today at home, draw a map of one on paper. Use directional language and ask your parents to follow your map. Bring your map to school.

Directional Language includes:

  • inside

  • outside

  • above

  • below

  • next

  • behind

  • in front of

  • up

  • down

  • left

  • right

  • diagonal


When Grade One teach Grade Nine how to play.

We proposed the Grade One students teach the Grade Nine how to play. The Grade One’s were sad to hear the older children didn’t have time to play. They made a list of all the things they could teach them. The emphasis was placed firmly on thinking of others. We told them this wasn’t about them, but thinking of the big kids.

These visits are part of our initiative to develop, “one school” and build community. It also helps us bring to life our school values. This clearly does not need to be top down, Grade One can lead older children, as you can see. We look forward to the next visit, what will the children do next? Will they keep the bonds with their buddies as they see them around school?

Beyond school, the role of outdoor learning to promote service.

DSC_2143If you want children to develop connections between themselves and the community, you need to take them into that community. We are fortunate enough to have a park close to school and take the children there to learn and play outdoors .

When we were leaving the park we saw some very old ladies in wheel chairs, they looked lost in another world, they gazed into the distance. The children were reticent to go near the ladies and we discussed what our body language tells other people. The children moved away and frowned with concern, they later said they were scared to see people like this.

We carefully walked past the ladies and gently encouraged the children to say hello in Japanese. DSC_2145After a few children did this the care-assistants began to beam. Slowly the old ladies realized they were being spoken to and started to focus on the children. By the end of the line one of the ladies was smiling at the children. We reflected on this with the children and thought about the power of a smile and a kind word. Simple acts of giving. It is one thing to give donations to charities and another thing to give a little of ourselves.



Connection. To give, to receive, to learn.

Sincere thanks to Tomoko (Grade 12) for her time, patience, compassion and an ability to relate to people of all ages. She got her message across clearly. It is not easy to balance the factors around homelessness at an age appropriate level, but you can see from the video Tomoko did this.

On a walk in the park we noted a man sleeping on the bench. We were very quiet and careful not to disturb him. The children had many questions about why the man was there. We wrote all these down. What could we do with these questions? How can young children think about service learning? How do we develop the reciprocal nature of service: giving to others, and the learning that comes from this experience?
We want to be able to use the children’s questions to connect to our unit of inquiry, “People create systems to connect people.” We asked Tomoko to come and talk to the children about the YIS Sanigatachi centre initiative of night patrols, where high school students and teachers go and talk to the homeless people and offer conversation, supplies and soup.
The children expressed a desire to be connected to these groups and wanted to know what they can do. They were interested in making clothes, giving food and making things for them. We will forge a strong connection from the children, to service groups and into the local community.
 This is just a short amount of the wonderful conversation.

Grade One poets decide how to share their poetry, includes a poetry reading!

DSC_2262The day finally arrived. Monna came to our class. The mutual love and poetry was apparent as these poets shared their thinking. The children each read to Monna and she in turn shared some ideas on how to publish and share poetry. It quickly became apparent that the children had their own ideas and added them to Monna’s.

How poets could share their work with others

  1. We can use Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and the blog.
  2. We could set up a table or something and give away free poems.
  3. We could put all our ideas together in an anthology.
  4. We could have a book of poetry.
  5. Read poems to people, have a poetry reading.
  6. Write poetry on the playground in chalk.
  7. Have a poet laureate of the day who will share their own work, or those of others.

Hide poems in books in the library and others could find them.

This idea exploded, grew and within minutes it came to life. The children jumped up and started copying their poems. They put a note on the poem saying, “It is for you to keep.”  “If you find it, it is for you to keep forever.” This arose after we discussed how people would know the poem was for them. They thought they may put a sticker onto the poem. The first poems have been hidden…

Our first poetry sharing via You Tube


Dear Monna… a mutual love of poetry grows.

DSC_2263Dear Monna,

Please come to our class and listen to our poems. We will help you by drawing for your poems. It would be great if you were here.


Grade 1 Students,

That is terrific news. I am so happy that you said yes.
I will provide the list of illustrations by Monday 5 October!
I am very much looking forward to hearing your poems.
Have a super-fun weekend.
Monna McDiarmid
We have been approaching the teaching of writing through poetry. We read poetry and write poetry as a class and as individuals. As educators we were inspired by the work of Reggie Routmann and Nancy Atwell. We have been taken on this pedagogical journey of writing poetry at the beginning of the year, by Alie Quinn, who works with us at YIS. She shared some of Nancy Atwell’s findings that writing poetry at the beginning of the school year, rather than the much used personal narrative recounts (things that happened to you), helps build children’s vocabulary.
We are finding this to be true, the language is richer, the ideas are diverse and everyone has been able to put ideas onto paper. The children are building up large collections of personal pieces.
It was with great excitement that they received the email from Monna McDiarmid, our high school counselor and creator of a course about being the poet laureate in your own life. The children have been asked to illustrate the poems for her course.
Monna offered some rewards:
  • Write the class a story
  • Read the class someone else’s story
  • Take portraits (photographs) of each student in the class
  • Prepare some treats like apples and cookies for the class

I suggested one more idea… listening to the children’s poems. They loudly and enthusiastically stated they wanted Monna to come and listen to their poems.

It is a daily inspiration to be around such empowered poets who love to create and share with others.