Mentari School Jakarta

Grade 1 Cares for Plants

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The transdisciplinary theme, ‘Sharing the Planet’, and the central idea, ‘Plants are a life sustaining resource for us’, made up a five-week unit in Term 2 for Year 1. It is an inquiry into                      

  • Taking responsibility to care for plants as they grow
  • Changes that occur through plant growth
  • Purposes and uses of the parts of a plant

How did we do our inquiry?

     See, think, wonder was used as an entry point for exploration and discussion in this topic. The children walked in the school’s gardens and considered such questions as: What are the parts of plants we can use? Their carefully considered observations were recorded to allow them to investigate further.

     In sorting out their observations, the students took responsibility to care for the plants. Together they shared their knowledge and asked: How can we care for plants as they grow?   We worked to expand the students’ vocabulary for plants and create a word bank. Using non-fiction texts, we explored how pictures and words work together to give us information.

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What was very effective?

The rich classroom environment was a wonderful catalyst for student questions and discussions. Through visuals around the room, students had a clearer picture of plant parts. This made the children very excited about planting and growing the plants.

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Field trips are rich in educational possibilities as students learn from actual hands-on experiences. The grade 1 students visited Godong Ijo. Godong Ijo is “one of the largest Nursery in Indonesia who successfully developed various types of ornamental plants.” ( Here, our students had the opportunity to plant in pots and test out their green thumbs.

Enhancing creative and critical thinking skills were practiced through reflection and giving tips on how to care for plants.

Giving students the opportunity to explore and engage themselves into their learning gives them a more enriching experience and appreciation for what they are learning. Our grade 1 students are now better equipped to care for plants and the environment.

By Divya Pokardas

Grade 1 Homeroom Teacher

Mentari Intercultural School Jakarta


Music and integration with other subjects

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Teaching music in a PYP school is a fun experience for the students and teachers. We are encouraged to integrate with other subjects. It takes process and learning for me to get the whole idea of it. As a music teacher, what I did was to teach songs which are related to the theme of the grades to the students. It’s easy now because you have YouTube, pinterest and other social media that has a lot of material for teaching the songs. At the same time, singing is also a fun way to learn something. It helps the students understand and memorize because it’s fun, it’s musical, and it rhymes.

As the time goes by I found that I can do more than just teach them the songs. I learned a lot from other teachers, books, common planning time or even just casual talk. We can also find a way to integrate through other things. The key concepts of the theme is one of the things that you can integrate because it’s the questions that you will ask when you learn a new concept. It can be applied to all the subjects.

Experience on integration.

I had a fun experience with the grade 3 students during “How the World Works” unit. During that unit they learned about materials. In music, I integrate by teaching them about timbre of the of the music instruments. Using the inquiry cycle, I asked the students to bring stuff from home that they think can produce sounds. So the music class turned into a workshop. They brought boxes, bottles and most of them mix the materials that they have to make a diy instruments. They learned that different materials that can produce different sounds.

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Performing the song using their materials

During the “How the World Works” unit with the grade 4 students they learned about systems. In my class, they learned how music is like a system through music notation. They learned how small parts work together for a bigger function, which is a lot like notes and rests are used in a music composition.

In PYP there are a lot of ways that music can be integrated into student inquiries. All you have to do is to be creative and open your mind with the idea that music is not only about singing. Asking around and attending collaborative meetings will help you to get ideas on how you can integrate. Always be curious about exciting learning activities that you can share to your students. Try to understand the unit as deeply as possible and don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they don’t seem to fit in at first. The PYP is a lot more fun when teachers are having fun, too.

Tamara Nilla

Music Teacher

Mentari School Jakarta

Tuning In to Fractions

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I think the biggest struggle of teaching Math in the PYP curriculum is veering away from the traditional classroom set up of being teacher-centered and worksheet-heavy. In our 6 years as a PYP school, innovating and adapting to a more student-centered practice has been a struggle but quite a challenge.

For the theme on HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES, although the unit on fractions does not directly connect with the central idea “Self-expressions celebrate individuality and bridge human differences”, we focused on the conceptual idea “Fractions may be expressed in different ways to show equivalence.”

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The unit opened with the word FRACTION written on the board. The students created a mind map by writing words or ideas that they know about fractions. Remember! No looking at your notes. After all ideas have been exhausted, the students will take 2-3 ideas from the mind map and write a meaningful sentence about fractions. They may write as much as three sentences using an assortment of ideas.

In groups, they share their sentences and pick two that they will present as a group. Naturally, tweaking and combining sentences is allowed. On strips of paper, they will write down their sentences and post them on the board. During a gallery walk, students may write down questions, corrections and additional information based on each sentence.


I use this exercise as a way of assessing prior knowledge as well as a spring board to teaching fractions.


Since some concepts are already clear with the students, only a brief review is necessary.


Simplifying fractions, getting a higher term, changing improper fractions to mixed numbers and vice versa, changing dissimilar fractions to similar fractions are all chunked under the concept of renaming fractions. Through a gradual unfolding of the different ways of renaming fractions, students develop an understanding that fractions may be written differently but they still represent the same thing. Going further, this understanding of equivalence has helped students work better with the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. mentari 2


Pat Manning

5th grade teacher and PYP Coordinator

Mentari Intercultural School Jakarta

Our Study of Numbers

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The students in Grade 3 showed how they construct their understanding of numbers, from different ways of representing number values, place values to using numbers to make patterns. The situations created for students helped them to make the necessary constructions. We have attempted to aim for more meaningful learning by veering away from too much repetitive number drills in class. Here are some sample works:

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Karen Chacon

Homeroom Teacher Grade 3

Mentari School Jakarta

Action Impacts Our World

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In line with our UOI Sharing the Planet, Grade Two students learned about endangered animals and animal conservation. It all began with posters from World Wildlife Fund, followed by one question: What do YOU think about this? This was the starting point into our inquiry about this pressing global issue.


With “Extinction impacts our world” as the Central Idea, our curious students gained more knowledge about endangered animals by going through The Inquiry Cycle. The deeper they got into their research, the more it got each of them to reflect: What choices can I make? What actions can I do to help?

One group embarked on a campaign to raise awareness about the illegal poaching of African rhinos for their body parts. They created pamphlets and distributed it to their family, friends and cousins so that they can learn more about it. Another group created a visual campaign by making posters about endangered seals and posting them around the school. One group wrote to the Forest Minister of the Madagascar Government. They requested that a law be made that protects the Aye-Aye Lemur from being hunted and killed. Another group has turned to the power of social media to spread their message about saving pink dolphins from extinction.

Their passion to make a difference, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, also led other students to come up with the idea of raising funds for WWF and its many conservation programs. Without any help from their teachers, these caring and principled learners took charge of planning, organizing and holding a one-day mini-bazaar at school during their snack and lunch breaks to earn money. They coordinated with their parents to help bring the items to school, but our students sold the cold drinks, delicious snacks, unique artwork, and old and new things on their own.

As a result of their unwavering enthusiasm, cooperating and commitment, these students from Grade Two raised money that allowed them to make symbolic adoptions for endangered animals they researched about. They were able to adopt a Cross River Gorilla, Giant Anteater, Giant Panda, Sumatran Tiger, Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, Pink River Dolphin, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle and Loggerhead Sea Turtle!


This donation to World Wildlife fund will help their conservation efforts to protect the world’s most amazing places, benefiting animals, people and the diversity of life on Earth. It helps protect these endangered species and their habitats, to fight global threats like climate change, overfishing, deforestation and wildlife trade that determine the fate of nature.


They also donated to “Send a Turtle Back to Rehab” Program. In this program, one of thousands of sick or injured turtles are regularly brought to the Bali turtle center for recuperation. They will be nursed back to health and re-released back into the wild. The center educates local people and visitors on the importance of conserving and reviving turtle populations. WWF can train and work with locals on turtle-based eco-tourism, providing other livelihood options for turtle traders. They also work with government and businesses to help lessen habitat destruction.

These actions are being done by our Grade Two students on behalf of MSJ. We are very proud of our Grade Two students who proved that when individuals (no matter how young) work together, they can make a difference and bring hope to our planet.


John M. Decena

Homeroom Teacher Grade 2

Mentari School, Jakarta


Being a Better Player and Better Person

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meh.jpgBeing a winner is a dream many boys and girls strive to achieve. They will try their very best to win in every game they play, during an inter-school competition, PE class or even on the playground. Mentari School Jakarta students are no exception. As a result, good manners are often neglected, as the excitement of scoring a goal and the euphoria of winning takes over. They forget to “think before they act”, leading to accusations of being a ‘show-off’ and to hurt feelings.

Being IB learners, we teach our students to be balanced and well-rounded. Thus, students not just learn the physical skills of a sport, but the social skills necessary to be a true winner, on and off the court. Emotions run high during PE class, ranging from tears being shed after losing a match or getting mad at an opponent for “cheating”. Therefore, learning about the PYP attitudes plays a major role during PE classes. The attitudes of cooperation and respect, and the importance of sportsmanship are emphasized daily.

What Is Sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is defined as:

  • playing fair
  • following the rules of the game
  • respecting the jjudgementof referees and officials
  • treating opponents with respect

Yet learning about sportsmanship begins even before PE class. The IB learner profile attribute, ‘principled’ teaches MSJ students the good habits of “playing fair” and “following the rules of the game”. Being open-minded teaches students to respect jjudgementsmade by referees and officials. The attitudes of respect and tolerance teach students even before they play a game, to be polite and kind to others.

Some people define good sportsmanship as the “golden rule” of sports. Yet good sportsmanship is a by-product of the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. When students apply the 10 attributes and 12 attitudes daily at school and at home, good sporstmanship naturally follows. It becomes easier for students to understand once they step on the court or play during recess time. There are fewer tears and more smiles for everyone.


PE Teacher

Mentari School Jakarta