Month: December 2016
Leading up to our Unity in Diversity Day and as a part of our yearlong Who we are unit of inquiry; our current inquiry into How we organize ourselves; and our language focus Writing to Instruct/Explain, we read Jon J Muth’s version of Stone Soup. This is a story about three monks who try to understand what makes one happy. During their journey, they visit a village with frightened villagers, who keep their doors and windows locked. When they cleverly entice the villagers with making soup from stones, the villagers discover how much they each have to share and what they can gain in return. The story ends with a big feast and offering the strangers a place to sleep.
Our initial reading session focused on creating curiosity about the story (and print in general); using illustrations to predict and respond to the story; making links to the students’ own experiences; the structure of the story (how information is presented); the information shared (e.g. how to make Stone Soup); and the big question ‘What makes one happy?’
In order to address our inquiry into how information can be gathered and sorted and how it can be documented, we introduced a new graphic organizer. We explained that T-charts can help us to examine two facets of the monks’ inquiry into what happiness is? The students were invited to use Post-it notes to brainstorm about happiness. They made ‘draft’ drawings and in a quick personal teacher-student interview, comments to these drawings were documented, before the students sorted them using the T-chart. The students had a lot of ideas about what makes them happy, e.g. “Thinking about school”; “Playing together” and “She is at the playground. She is so happy”. Although they concluded that there were less ideas posted about what doesn’t make them happy, they thought that these few thoughts matched their personal experiences very well, e.g. “She pushed the boy” and “Somebody doesn’t want to share”.
With the older students of this combined Early Childhood class (4-6 yr.), who stay after lunch, we read a much older version of Stone Soup by Ann McGovern. After revisiting the Chinese version we read in the morning, we compared the content of the story, the message and the symbols used by the illustrators. The students noticed the bright yellow color of the little girl’s dress versus the poor clothes of the young man. They compared the black cat with the black bird. And they thought that the young man had taken advantage of the old lady (old version), but that the monks had brought happiness by teaching how to share.
After reading these stories, the students initiated to use elements of the Chinese version of Stone Soup for their play. They collected stones from our Sensory Path and started a lovely cooperative play elaborating on the books’ ideas. Their play expressed the desire to make real Stone Soup.
Our upcoming Unity in Diversity Day, with a focus on Food Sustainability, offered an excellent opportunity to make this cooking activity a more meaningful experience while including all the Early Childhood students. As a provocation, we took all the food items from the home corner and asked the students to think of criteria to sort them. Two sorting circles were formed one for possible Stone Soup ingredients and one for ‘others’. The students were invited to think about ingredients they might be able to find at home and using this sorted ‘data’, the students created a visual reminder to take home. We discussed and compared the pros and cons of each student bringing something from home, which helped the students to understand sustainability. It was fantastic to observe how the students’ thinking evolved into thinking about “pollution if you go shopping by car” and comparing it with more sustainable ideas like “you have to take your bicycle” (Dutch student) to “using an electric car”.
We invited the parents to collaborate by respecting the children’s thoughts re. shopping and our intention to focus on foodstuffs that do least harm to the planet. The children concluded that they should all “bring just a little bit” so there “we don’t waste food” and that “we need to share if a friend brings no food to wash and cut”.
The morning of the Unity in Diversity Day, the students proudly presented their ingredients. After the flag parade, assembly and photo shoot, we started with addressing the expected learning outcomes for the actual cooking activity:
- personal hygiene
- fine motor skills
- food choices can affect our health
- cooperate with others (share and take turns)
- celebrate the accomplishment of the group
- understand the impact of their actions on the environment
We labeled the ingredients and discussed how to wash and cut them. We revisited the instructions on how to cook Stone Soup and explained which areas to use for their cooking activities. We included the youngest Early Childhood students and together they created a very rich, sustainable Stone Soup which they ate together with their teachers.
Here are some comments the EC3 students shared about our ‘sustainable’ community vegetable soup:
JA: “We made our own ‘to do’ list.”
All: “We made the soup together … EC1, EC2, EC3.” LE: “Eating together!”
CH: “Everybody (brought the ingredients).” LE: “We don’t get pollution!”
JO: “It was fun, we could cut our own food.”
JA: “It makes us happy, because it is so yummy when you make it together.” LE: “Happy, because your heart is GOOD!”
LE: “IF you go to the shopping (mall), the smoke (of the care) is not good for your heart or your body.”
JA: “Or you can go on your bike.”
LE: “If you want to go shopping, you need an electric car … no pollution!”
Nicolette Brata-Coolen MA Childhood Studies & Early Years
SENCO & PYP Early Childhood Teacher
Bandung Independent School
The grating sounds of saws at work and of nails being drilled into hard bamboo filled the air as children, totally immersed in their project, carried 30 foot poles of bamboo to makeshift stands made from chairs, measured them carefully into different lengths and sawed, drilled and hammered away.
It had been an exciting few weeks. The Grade 4 children at Bali Island School had been looking at how the design of buildings and structures was dependent on environmental factors, available materials and human ingenuity. As part of the inquiry, the children had met and interviewed two well-known architects in Bali, visited an indigenous Balinese compound, as well as a marvelous centre for yoga, built completely from bamboo. The children were curious to find out why certain materials were used for building in modern and traditional Balinese structures. So they devised many scientific experiments to test a variety of building materials for strength, insulation and waterproofing qualities. This helped the students to understand their properties better. They were astonished to learn that bamboo was as strong as iron of the same mass!
The next question was how could they apply their newfound knowledge to an authentic, real life situation? The result: A desperately needed Lost and Found Property Centre for the Primary School.
The children first decided to brainstorm ideas of what had to be considered before starting the project. They looked closely at the lost property in the school to see what they had to plan for. Many questions arose that ranged from which building materials would be the most suitable to how to decide the right measurements. They wondered how different kinds of lost property would be best stored. What if it was a wet swimming costume and towel? Should they have pegs or a bar with hangers for clothes? Did they need drawers in which to lock valuable things or should they stick to shelves? They decided to measure bottles, bags and lost kits to understand the shelf size needed. They considered the average heights and arm lengths of the children and teachers to decide on how tall the centre should be and how deep.
What else did the children gain from this experience? By being challenged and actively engaged in tasks that were authentic, relevant to them and significant to the entire community, this project helped to promote self-management, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to different roles and collaborate respectfully over different ideas and assume responsibility. In short, many of the skills necessary to help our students thrive and succeed as responsible citizens in a changing world.
Grade 4, Classroom Teacher
Bali Island School
(Formally Bali International School)
I found a very interesting artist for my grade 5 visual art lesson on the unit of inquiry, “How the World Works”. The name of the artist is Tony Orrico, an American and best known as “human spirograph”. Spirograph is like a mathematical toy that creates elaborate circular shapes known as “hypotrochoids” and “epitrochoids”.
Tony Orrico is famous for his “Penwald Drawings”, which consist of a series of bilateral drawings in which the artist explores the use of the human body as an instrument to create geometric patterns through movement and course. Through a series of careful movements and repetition of his arms, Tony Orrico creates compelling and beautiful geometric artwork. Tightly clenching carbon sticks of graphite in his fists, he makes series of repeated and varied movements involving his entire body over predetermined periods of time or until certain numbers of strokes, cycles or rotations are done.
Tony Orrico does not only use body movements to create his masterpieces but also his teeth. He spends between 15 minutes and seven hours to complete one of his artworks.
In the end, I was surprised when we did a reflection. Students commented that they admired Tony Orrico’s stamina in doing his masterpieces. Students said that Tony Orrico’s artworks look very easy to do, but in reality one has to work hard to follow his style. Students noted that Tony Orrico can spend 15 minutes to seven hours non-stop, but when they were doing it as a group, they felt tired even just for a minute. It made them realize that creating a masterpiece does not only require creativity but also passion and perseverance.
By: Irma Dwi Savitri
Visual Art Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug