Are there wars now? Do soldiers die? Can I write to say I am sorry.

They do not believe they can stop war, but they do believe they can help people feel better. These are children who know they can advocate and help others. The are empowered by their work with the homeless shelter. These are children who believe in their ability to help others.

When children ask me questions I always tell the truth in a form I think they can understand.   Leela asked to speak to me.

Leela: Are there really wars now?

Zoe: Yes there are.

Leela: So there are soldiers?

Zoe: Yes, there are soldiers.

Leela: Do some soldiers die?

Zoe: Yes, sometimes soldiers die.

Leela: Their families would be very sad.

Zoe: Yes, I think some families would be very sad.

Leela: I want to write to them and tell them I am sorry. I am going to put it on the agenda.

Leela presented her idea to the group and several children wanted to share their personal understandings of war. Some children had family members who had been involved in wars. One child had a family member die, another talked of letters being sent to the house to tell people to fight. Another said someone had been shot, but not killed. Yet another child said someone in their family drove a tank. I carefully gauged the comfort level of the children as they discussed this issue and quietly listened to them.

Leela explained her idea of writing letters and the children asked how she would find people and know who to write to. Ophelia noted this was like the Grade Four campaigns and that Leela might like to make posters.

Leela and Yellana made posters with their Grade Four buddies and asked to put them around the school. I suggested they start with Grade 4. The children explained their ideas to Ms Finnimore and she said she thought she could help find people to write to. There is a group at Brisbane University in Australia who support soldiers with PTSD, we said they were people who war had made very sad, and the children could write to them.

The children in their own words

Our friend the park as a stimulus for sketching.

We have been developing the skill of representing our observation of our world as a sketch. This is very challenging. We wondered whether the children would be able to interact with the park through the sense of seeing. We also wondered whether the children could take their physical appreciation of this space in 3 dimensions and represent it in a 2 dimensional sketch.

The children were happy to sit in the autumn sun and draw their representations of the park. They noted the challenge of sitting still and focusing on one thing. As adults we released it it very important to make a physical connection with the park, by running, playing and touching before they sit with a sketch book. We all agreed this was something we wanted to do again.

If we have a prolonged absence from our friend the park the children begin to miss this relationship. The children have noticed the change in seasons and asked to revisit the park. Time was given to rejoice in the space, run and laugh. Then the children moved closer, touching the buds and new leaves. Only after these physical connections were reestablished  did the children sit and represent their observations as a sketch.

Sometimes it is a little to wet to sit and sketch, but we can still appreciate the park.

Revisiting Our Friend The Park In Springtime by Ms Connie

Spending the money we raised on what people really need.

IMG_3982We had a long conversation about the need to ask what people really need, and to make sure our money is used wisely.

We had thought we would need to go to Homes to buy some food for the onigiri making. The excellent news was that 1S managed to buy most of the things with their money. We gave Mrs Weekes 2,000 yen for a massive can of tuna, she brought on Amazon. This meant we had 11,000 yen left.

We thought we could buy some soap for the homeless people, but the school already had 150 bars of soap, Seira from the Chiku centre group said we can take some of their soap for our new project.

What could we use our money for?  Mrs Weekes contacted the Sanagitachi centre,  they told use people really need wash towels. With this in mind we set off to buy some. The children asked the cashier where we could find the towels.

There were so many, which ones would we buy? The children had many IMG_3988reasons for their choices. We could buy lots of cheap ones and help lots of people, but these are not good quality. We could buy the hotel type, but these a were expensive, but it would be nice for people. Would they take along time to dry? Some are white and that is not a good color, it gets dirty.

The general consensus was that we buy medium and high quality towels, so people could have nice things. The children asked the lady working in this section what her opinion was. She suggested micro-fibre towels.  Leela suggested we take some of each kind, we thought this would be best

The children worked out the cost of six packs of towels and then everyone made a choice and carried it to the cashier. The children politely asked for no plastic bags, as we had seen some in the canal and remembered how turtles eat them and die. The towels were placed into backpacks and carried back to school. On the way back we stopped to collect some toad spawn, but that’s another story…


An Appreciation of the Creative Expression at YIS

We had the opportunity to share the creative expressions of our community of learners. This enabled us to view the work of others and join in conversations about their work. The children actively engaged with the IB ELC art exhibition for about an hour. The children posed questions about the materials and  posed questions about the messages the pieces were conveying.

Thank you Ms Connie for these collections

An Appreciation of the Creative Expression of Others on PhotoPeach


ELC & Gr 12 – An Appreciation of Creative Expression at YIS

From helpers to leaders, Grade 1 to Grade 12, parents, grandma and teachers too!

There was no them and us, no adults and children. This was one YIS community coming together to support others. Jun, from the canteen called this an Onigiri Matsuri (onigiri party). We agree, this was a celebration of the essence of YIS, one community committed to each other and ready to extend our support to our wider world.

Empowering young children to become leaders and act on the behalf of others.

It has been a month since the Grade One students shyly entered the canteen to watch the Grade 12 students make onigiri for the homeless shelter. They quickly became a hard working component of the team.

From this gentle beginning the children have taken on the challenge of being responsible for the ongiri making, supported by Melanie in Grade 12. They have brought in 45kg of rice from home, carried out jobs and made a market/arcade to raise money for onigiri. The children have transitioned from helpers to leaders. They have a real sense of the cost of food and the expense incurred in feeding people.

At 8am the canteen was already filling up with high school students, Grade one children and their families. Stemming rice was being fanned, flavoring was added and teams were formed. Each onigiri was wrapped and a sticker added. The children wanted the homeless people to know people cared about them.

We hope that this short video helps convey the spirit of the event.

Service learning One School, Grade 1 to Grade 12

This is an example of a service learning initiative that started in high school and has authentically connected to  Grade One. The children observed homeless people in the park and on a field trip and often made reference to them. As teachers we always seek authentic opportunities to engage with our curriculum, this is an example of being driven by children’s passions and interests

The children had an opportunity to meet with Melanie, Grade 12,  to discuss any questions about the Chiku Centre and onigiri making. At this stage the children have about 31kg of rice and two jars full of coins (from doing jobs at home and the cardboard arcade) to help fund the onigiri making.

Onigiri making will take place on Friday 6th March from 8am, all parents are welcome to join us for this service learning opportunity. Thank you for your support. Thank you to Melanie for all the help and advice she has given the teachers and children.


If you copy instructions is it art?


Was devised by artists in 1993. It stemmed from a philosophical discussion on whether artists could work from instructions, the way that musicians work from a score. Would this still be called art? Artists sent out instructions in 9 languages and the results have been curated around the world, online and off line in galleries for 20 years.

Adapted from

Boltanski, Christian (1993) Les Ecoliers

Make a collage of various sized family photographs. This is a Grade One community provocation for our Unit of Inquiry, “Family history provides insight into personal identities.”

Our learning community reaches round the world

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 8.07.04 AMOur friends in America, (Jenn’s class) sent us a video they made to show how they celebrate. They made it using Google Glass. Here is a picture of the glass. We have already made videos for each other.

(Image Reuters)

IMG_3601 IMG_3613Before the holiday the children sent New year cards to their Twitter buddy class in Canada, America and England. The class in England sent us a card each, a story, a train map and some homemade worksheet games to play. This is our thank you video. KinderPals, in Canada sent us Valentine cards, the children sent thank you tweets and pictures.

The children choose to share their learning with their buddy classes. The other classes ask the children questions and offer feedback on their learning. The children have a desire to share with others beyond the wall of their classroom. They have a sense of being a community of learners they can reach out to. When Troy left to go to America for a semester the children tweeted him and sent him pictures of what was happening in the class.

Kingfisher class sent us a tweet with a list of questions and we responded on their class blog.

KinderPals would like use to make Lego castles.

Developing our Maths curriculum through Twitter.

The children have been sending Kingfisher class pictures of their shapes and designs. Kingfisher class sent us a puzzle to solve.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 8.10.10 AM








Service learning and our Maths Curriculum in partnership

photo-1There is lots of Maths in helping others.

The children have been applying their understanding of number through their service learning. The children want to support the homeless people by making them food. This requires the application of mathematical thinking.




The children decided to make an arcade and charge their parents to play the games. They had to work out how much to charge for tickets. This helped them learn about reasonable amounts of money to charge for things. It should their understanding of  large numbers.

The children have also been carrying out jobs at home, 10 jobs for 10 yen. This will help children count in 10’s. Then count in 100’s. The children have put all this money in a jar and the video below shows the children’s estimates and their methods for counting large sums accurately.

The next step will be to bring in rice from home and weigh it, this will help the children develop their sense concept of weight and  weighing in standard units.

Heidi brought in some rice. The children wanted to work out how much was in the bag. Was it 2kg? They decided it couldn’t be because the bag wasn’t full. This lead to an authentic mathematical conversation about fractions.