Who We Are

To inquire into Who We Are, we looked at the children’s background such as places they call home, where they come from, language they speak and the food they eat. The children explored and discussed their characteristics, abilities, interests, likes and dislikes. They brainstormed their ideas about who they really are and what do they want others to know about them using Mindmap. They shared their ideas and documented them on Seesaw. The children were encouraged to find out about who their friends are and search for something new about their friends that they didn’t know before. Their reflections are on Seesaw. 

We posed these three questions for the children to ponder:

What can you tell me about who you are?

What do you want other people to know about you?

What have you learned in Kindergarten?

I’m six years old.

I go to international school and I learned lots of things and I play with my friends.

I’m in Kindergarten and I learned how to play math games like One More.

I can go fast. I can climb well. My birthday is in March.

I am good at drawing and painting.

I am good at sports.

I learned ants eat rolly polly. And I saw it in real life.

I learned how to write.

I learned how to read the letters.

I can swim.

I am a girl. I like rolly polly and tadpoles. I can do art. I have glasses. I’m 5 years old.

When I grow up I want to do diving. Swimming ocean.

I want to be a movie maker.

In Japanese Culture we inquired into a concept of Cultural Obento. We looked at different colors of food in an bento, read books about food from different cultures. The children thought about their own food culture. The children created a plan for their bento considering their own food culture and incorporated school made Maki Roll as a representation of the Japanese culture. They enjoyed having the Cultural Obento picnic in a park. 

Who We Are – Cultual Obento from Kindergarten S on Vimeo.

Corelex…Making paper is very very hard!

On April 14th, 2017 the Kindergarten class visited Corelex, a paper recycling plant in Kawazaki. This field trip is a direct result of our unit of inquiry about how materials can be manipulated to suit our purpose and the children’s desire to reduce waste in the classroom. During our weekly big tidy up, a few children noticed the amount of wasted paper in the classroom as well as other materials such as plastic tape, markers and etc. These few children took initiative and presented their findings to the class at a meeting. This action prompted the rest of the class to take bigger actions: they reflected upon their use of paper and started to think about how they can reduce wasted paper in class. Some children found a book that teaches them how to reuse recycled paper to make other beautiful creations such as collages. 

Our purpose for this trip is to extend the children’s knowledge and experience about recycling paper. We first asked the children what they think Corelex factory is and what it does.

Osembe factory.

It’s a paper factory.

Books. 100 books factory.

It has big machines. 

We used Making Thinking Visible Compass Routine to help us clarify our thinking about this trip. Some children expressed excitement that they will get to see giant machines , some were worried about natural disasters while others offered suggestions on how to be safe.

Stay on pathway- walk in a straight line.

Don’t touch machines.

Stay with teacher or mom.

Don’t be silly.

Sensible mode.

Walk not run.

Stay in a group.

Careful of the truck- look and listen.

Don’t play with machines. They have buttons you cannot push.

We discussed what we needed to bring for ourselves and what we could bring for Corelex as a token of our appreciation. The children decided to make presents and coincidentally all of their ideas involved the use of paper. To their understanding, using paper is the best way to make presents as one child put it “…they are Corelex, they love paper so they will love our presents.”


After our visit to Corelex, we spent a few minutes discussing what we learned. We posed these questions for the children to ponder:

What do you know that you didn’t know before?

What was exciting and interesting for you?

What do you remember?

We asked the children discussed their experience using Think Pair Share routine. They proceeded to draw and post their learning on Seesaw.

I didn’t know toilet paper make out of machine and it was fun because I saw lot of machines.

I didn’t know we need train tickets to make toilet paper.

It was so interesting when the toilet paper are wrapped in the plastic bag because I never seen that before.

We saw giant toilet paper.

I saw when the toilet paper goes into small and they went to the different place.

I remember it going down the hall in the machine.

It goes to the bin.

They could make papers again.

It was really cool we could touch the big toilet paper rolls. I thought we couldn’t touch but Corelex said ok.

Big paper making and cut small rolls.

I saw lots of place there was a water they were washing the things, They need lots of water to make paper.

Paper making is very very hard. Water so hot. People work so hard.

There are already many learnings and inquiries happening in the classroom as a result of our trip to Corelex. The children have become more careful about using paper in class. We’ve noticed them picking up paper around the classroom with comments such as “This is wasting paper!” or “We can still use this.”  Another small group of children discovered a book about materials and this book showed them how to make eco glue and how to create beautiful things out of recycle paper. While another group of children have shown interest in paper making using milk and juice cartons.

Student-Led Conference 2017

The Kindergarten students have been busy preparing for their first Student-Led Conference. The process started two weeks prior. We introduced this conference as a day for the children to be a teacher to their parents. A question then was “What do you want to teach?”

Lin – Pencil roll.

Daniel – egg roll.

Kodai- egg roll.

Lubna – I wanna teach my mum how to do race 100, and I wanna teach her draw.

Kaito – Teach how to make a cup from clay.

Kai- I wanna teach my mum build stuff.

Silas- I want to teach my mummy how to play “make big dots”.

Grace – I want to teach my mummy how to do chicken game and also – the poking also how to do peekaboo.

Elayna – I wanna teach how to teach the chicken game and I wanna teach my mummy how to cook outside.

Zahra –  I want to teach my mum sweet potato book.

Yuri – Magic number and how to make snow flakes with origami.

Sophia – I wanna show my mummy that (collage).

Nico –  I want to teach my mommy how to draw. She said she is not a good drawer so I’m gonna teach her. 

Caden – Writers workshop.

Yanchuan – Doing camera.

Zahra- Crown.

Emma- Pencil rolls.

Elayna – We learned dangerous roll too.

Lerah- writers workshop and magic number.

After this initial brainstorm, we continued to gather more ideas and came up with this plan.

We organized our ideas into groups and we also used different colors to help us remember each areas of learning.  The children began to think about the many areas and one child commented, “I won’t remember everything.”  They realized that they needed a plan and a bit of practice. Most plans utilized many forms of mark making including words and illustrations to make meanings. Some children organized their plan in sections, some used multiple pieces of paper, and some color coordinated their plan according to the master plan above.


Emma –  Pink is for reading and blue is for making stuff.


The children also planned and discussed how they wanted to organize the space. They designed and designated each learning area to a particular spot. The whole process required them to listen to others’ ideas, negotiate and develop their ability to work as a team. It really showed their ability to organize, plan and execute their objective as well as working cooperatively within a group.

We hope you enjoyed our Student-Led Conference.

Kindergarten visits DP Art Exhibition

We were very excited to visit the DP Art Exhibition in the auditorium this year. The exhibition, true to previous years, offered many variety of art pieces for the children to explore. We discussed about how everyone is an artist and artists communicate or express their ideas or feelings through their art pieces.

The children were tasked with a question to ponder as they experience the exhibition, “What is the meaning or purpose of the art?” In addition, the children also brainstormed other interesting questions to ask at the exhibition such as: “How did you make it?” and “What gave you the idea?”  The children used sketch books to draw any art pieces that speak to them.





Upon reflection, the children each chose their favorite piece and share their thinking. There are two guided questions to help the children form their ideas:

Which piece of art did you like the most and why?

What do you think the artist is trying to say?

Lubna   I like to draw ghost because it’s difficult to me. It’s cool, the ghost.

Zarah   It was on the picture frame. It had curls it had a lot of details on that picture. That’s why I wanted to draw it. There was a picture that was 3D and I wanted to draw it because I like 3D things.

Cole     I think this artist is trying to tell you don’t waste plastic. Because there’s so much plastic on it.

Lin    I think this artist said don’t waste tape.

Caden       I think this artist is saying don’t waste power.

Yanchuan     I think it is in the sea.

Grace     I really like the computer that’s stuck in the sand and he put water so it could stay hard, so it could grow hard. The other thing that I like was the nose, just the nose and it was white it was very funny. She made it with clay and water. 

Yuri   I thought the picture that the bird is on the telescope. She said to me the telescope is for a dream that you could see up in the sky.

Yibo   I like this head because it horse. It’s cool.

Elayna    The artist was trying to say to me that this bird and these things are made out of clay and these are ropes. Fake plants. Real stick.

Daniel     This is a computer is broken in the mud and I saw it the people say… I say how did you make the mud. He said with water and sand. And he made some mud. He had a computer and he put computer in the mud. Because maybe it first was broken.

Learah   This artist paint curlies. It was beautiful so draw it.

Kai    This piece was the light piece because the roof was shining with the light.

Silas   I think it’s trying to say to me that it’s beautiful because it has a really nice shape and a really nice color.

Kaito   I like this one because it only arm. (It means) Itchy.

Rain   The eye is asking me “what do you see?” (response to art on site in Japanese)

Kodai   Like a shark.

Nico    I think the artist wanted to say there is the other umbrella. But Artist forgot to draw the other one.

Emma   I like it. It’s saying to me “pick some apples”.

We highly encourage you to support your children’s learning by asking them to think about the meaning of what they see and experience outside of school. Our aim is to develop an inquiring mind in our future generation; to have a habit of asking questions, in depth questions, about the world around them and to seek answers to those questions.

Ohinasama exhibition

Our inquiry into how people communicate their ideas and feelings continues to deepen with an opportunity to experience a variety of dolls as well as Hina dolls at the museum. At the entrance, a small group of children noticed a notification saying, “Ms. May, we can take photo but cannot use flash. Look! it says here with the pictures,” thus exhibiting their ability to understand different forms of communication and make sense of the world around them.

As always, the children were full of excitement and enthusiasm for our walking field trip to the Doll Museum to view Ohinasama exhibition. As we revisit our experience, the children were inspired to create their own Hina dolls using clay and other materials. Most of the creations are displayed in and around the classroom. Please feel free to drop by and ask the children to explain their creation.

A new feature this year that the children were drawn to the most was an area which the children can have a hands on experience arranging the Hina dolls themselves. Another feature of the museum that the children were drawn to showed how two different types of dolls were made. There was a display of equipment and materials used that the children can physically explore. We also wonder ‘What the artist is trying to communicate by creating these different dolls?”  They look like they are getting married.  One child explained.

Please ask your child what he or she think about the exhibition. Here are some guiding questions:

  • What do you remember about the experience?
  • What the artist is trying to communicate by creating these dolls?
  • What do you notice and what do you think it means?

KS- Yokohama Doll Museum from Kindergarten S on Vimeo.


Our discussion about Measurement started with our inquiry into our height. The children already had a few ideas of how to measure and why measurement is important.

Grace   Measure means like Kai and me are standing up and if Kai was around like this (standing up against each other) so Kai is bigger than me.

Silas    When you want to measure something, measure it, and the woods and you use it and mark things.

Yuri     In ELC we measure everyone’s height. 

Grace   Important to measure yourself because we don’t know how tall we are. 

Silas   There is so much people on the elevator, if the people are too heavy it will be … too much weight. 

Lerah    I am small.

Caden    Yuri is the tallest.

Kai   No MS. May is the tallest.

After the children shared their prior knowledge, they began to devise a method that they think will help them measure themselves and record their findings.


Silas    What I think we should do is see how everyone’s weight. That one (pointed at height chart).

Caden    That is how tall. 60,70,80…..

Cole   This is the thing to measure how tall you are.

Grace     We can use the piece of paper that we got.

Yuri     Ms. Cancemi was lying down like this.

Silas   Make a line on the paper and write our names.

Yanchuan   You need to take off your shoes.

Theories were tested and information obtained. Through this inquiring process, the children explored and learned to compare size and length of objects using non-standard units as well as use appropriate language to describe and compare objects. The children used different objects (non-standard unit tool)  to measure each other to find out how tall they are.


We will continue to find more opportunity to use our new measuring skills in a real life situation. And you can do the same by making fun for the children to explore measurement at home. The more opportunity for them to practice the more they will be able to consolidate their new learning.

Hiking With Our Takarajima Friends

After much anticipation, the day of the hike finally arrived! The children were eager to see their friends from Takarajima again and to share this special experience together.

Enkaizan Hike with Takarajima 2017 from Kindergarten S on Vimeo.

Upon returning to the school, we reflected on the experience together. The following is a transcript of our discussion.

Lubna – I just play the Takarajima friends. I play a lot with Takarajima and I so happy that Takarajima want play with me. Played like slide. A big, big, big slide. It was so fun. That’s why I happy.

Grace – It was difficult when I was trying to get to the big slide because there was lots of stairs. I just wish there was an elevator to take us up. That was really hard. I feeled puffed.

Zarah- When we were meeting Takarajima, I was happy with them because you played on the slide.

Sophia – It was so fun. The other slide. Not the big one. The red one. Because I no like fast.

Yuri – I played with many hills. We go up the mini hills and I was very tired at the bus. I played a doctor with Zarah on the bus. It was really fun. Sophia was sitting with Kai’s mom.

Yibo –  Good.

Lehra – It was fun on the bus.

Yanchuan – It was boring on the bus. I didn’t have someone to talk. I was sitting with nobody. Next time, I sit with somebody. The hike fun. The slide.

Lin – It was fun going on the slide. Playing with Takarajima friends. The slide.

Kodai – Korioni. Ice tag.

Elayna – When someone touches you, you freeze. If someone is in the group and he touches you, you run away

Caden – It was so fun going up the slide. It was so tired going up the stairs. Remember the bridge we made across that table.

Kai – It was so fun playing the slide. I was so tired going up the stairs.We saw lots of bridges.

Elayna – I was playing with the Takarajimas and I was sliding with them.

Nico – When I was going on the bus, I go past your home. Its is big. It’s a zig zag. Ms. Yuka saw my mom. On the mountain, there was lot of water dry but there was a little bit water not dry.

Cole – There were lots of that really big ponds. We saw also a squirrel nest in a tree. Because Takarajima teacher knows.

Daniel – The same as Lubna. I find a lot of leaves in my shoes.

Rain –  I like ice tag. I play ice tag and we like to play it. Happy.

Silas – I saw there was rocks coming into my shoes. I saw a squirrel and I picked up leaves and put them in my pocket. We saw a  two bat nests

Emma – So we were pretending in front of the moms that there were lots of cheetahs and we were pretending that we ran as fast as we could and there were lots of stairs. We were just pretending that. I saw the blackbirds. I saw a crow.  

Grace – There is a song about blackbirds (sings the song)

Kaito – There were lots of arthritic the park. It’s like a little rock climbing and a string.

Yanchuan – The circle is the tricky.

Kaito – Oh yeah, the net.

Grace – And it was so small.

Zarah – The climbing was tricky. Climbing from the rope was hard.

Silas – We saw snow!

Emma – First the teachers thought it was flowers.

Lubna – I was eat the snow. It tastes like little bit of spicy.

Caden – It was so cold when it touched my fingers

Kai – It was just a little bit.

Thank you so much to the parent volunteers who helped out and made this such a successful trip!

Planning Our Hike With Takarajima

This week, the children have been planning our third and final visit with our friends from Takarajima. The returning students showed the new students a picture from a previous field trip to help give them a better understanding of what to expect.

To help the children frame their thinking, we used a compass point thinking routine. We discussed over several meetings what we were excited about, what we were worried about, what we might need and any suggestions we that had for the trip. The following is a transcript for our discussions. 


Back to School

The children returned to school eager to see their friends! We exchanged stories from our holiday break during the first morning meeting. The following is a record of the children’s discussion.

Kai – I went to America and I went to game center.

Daniel – I went to America and I played with my friend and there is a puppy and big puppy. And played with lots of times.

Caden – Go to Tokyo

Nico – I went to my grandma’s house. That is my mum’s mum. I made a snow flakes with her.

Lerah – I go to grandma’s house. With grandma. Hose game.

Cole – My mum’s dad came. Play.

Kodai – Yuzawa. snowboarding.

Kaito – I did ski at Karuizawa.

Sophia – I go to my grandpa’s house in Mexico. He has lots of dogs. Big and small.

Rain – Mansion. Went to grandma. I fed to sheep.

Yuri – I went to the Disneyland and sleepover and I sleep over at grandma and grandpa 2 times.

Yanchuan – I go somewhere Japan and I go ski. Daddy fall every time. Mommy go to work.

Zahra – I went to Emiji castle. I fed the deer. I stayed in 3 hotels.

Elayna – I went to grandpa and grandma’s house and played with dogs, medium dogs. There is kind like a puppy and named piggy. That is not my dog.

Lubna – I go to the sea with my mum and dad. I played in the sea.

Emma – I had lots of things. We went to Japan. Then living in a hotel.

We have also been talking about what readers do to help them understand what they are reading. The students share their thinking in the following comic strip.


“Takarajima friends are here”

The Takarajima Yochien came to visit us at YIS. This Unit of Inquiry, Sharing the Planet, encourages students to develop their understanding about sharing the environment. The compass routine helped us with organizing our thinking and sharing our thoughts. The children thought about the limitations we face as a school in terms of shared spaces. They were concerned that Takarajima children may not have fun at YIS. They wrote letters to inquire about available spaces, drew a map to ensure their friends will not get lost. The children considered different activities to offer as well as what type of gifts they want to make for their friends from Takarajima.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  A schedule for the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  A map of YIS and how to get to YIS from Takarajima.


After a day of fun, playing at YIS and a picnic at Yamashita Park, the children reflected upon their experience of the day.

What do you think about today?

Nico    I had so much fun playing with Takarajima and I was so happy because I was throwing hat. Some hat got stuck.

Yuri    I was so happy that they come because I play a lot with them. I play with climbing tree.

Zahra     It was fun climbing up the tree.

Lin      It was fun. I played with Takarajima friend. Play home.

Kai      It was so fun playing with Takarajima and I play soccer with Caden and Cole, Daniel and Nico.

Grace     I like dancing with a partner and showing her the sandpit.

Rain    I play with Takarajima race.

Daniel   It was fun playing with Takarajima and I play with glue gun.

Caden   It was so fun playing with Takarajima. We play soccer.

Yibo    I think it was good that they came. We played. (In Chinese)

Cole   I had fun playing soccer with Takarajima.

Lerah   It was fun because I did the Mario dance.

Kodai   Soccer. Kick.

What was difficult for you?

Nico     It was difficult putting the hat down from the tree. It was fun. Some Takarajima friend put the ball in the tree and it fell down.

Yuri      It was difficult making them fun and happy. And when you think something they will be happy maybe they gonna be happy too.

Cole    It was very difficult getting the ball from Takarajima.

Grace   What was difficult was trying to get…all of us trying to speak to them. It was really hard to speak to the Takarajima because they are all Japanese and most of the English people had a bit of trouble trying to speak to them. I was trying to do what we wanted to.

Caden   I agree with Cole. Getting the ball from takarajima.

Lin      It was difficult jumping from the tree.

Rain     Me too. I not scary but I did it. Jumping.

Takarajima Kindergarten from Kindergarten S on Vimeo.

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