How Little Kids Appreciate Little Things

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Nowadays, our kids are exposed to facilities like having cars to bring them to and from school, nannies, gadgets etc. It is normal that parents want to give their kids the best in everything. However, sometimes or often they don’t realise the way parents give or provide all the best things to their children can bring about a negative effect later on. Children become more dependent than ever on all these items. Somehow, they do not even need to ask… Voila! Everything is ready in front of them.

I realise that my students have become more and more dependent. One time, without any words, one of my students gave me her lunch box. At first, I automatically opened it and gave the opened snack box back to her. Then I regretted it. How come I gave in to such an inappropriate request? From that experience, I started to introduce to them 3 magic words: “please”, “sorry” and “thank you”. Using those three magic words made them more “human.” Their empathy and appreciative feelings have grown and their behaviour became more polite. Eventually, those magic words become a habit for them.

In my school now, teachers always bring a small broom and a dust pan during snack time. Since I teach kindergarten students, those two things are very useful during that time. We have a janitor who is always available to clean students’ rubbish. Instead of asking the janitor to clean the students’ mess, we teach them how to do it themselves.


Perfection does not come immediately, of course, but we can see the effort of the students and how they feel about themselves. They try hard to use the broom and the dust pan, which is also a good practice for their fine motor skill. Students also feel proud of themselves after they are done cleaning their own mess. The most important thing is that by doing that, students appreciate others’ feelings and job. They will try first to clean their own area before they ask help from the janitor by using those three magic words. However, they have become more careful in eating, so they will try their best not to spill anything on the table or floor.

One day, I look forward to seeing the kids develop their independence and willingness to help others in school, not only to those who are in need, but also to the strangers they see along the streets, neighbourhood and around the community.  Little practices can make a difference in building big goals for children’s learning which start from the little things that young children can manage to do by themselves.

By Dian Anggraini (, K2 Homeroom Teacher,

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (Batam)


Training Students to be Entrepreneurs

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Trade is based on a human’s capability to assess, price and market a product. Conducting trade is a skill that helps develop the intellect and willpower of an individual. It is a positive thing to teach children to trade and have children learn to do business at an early age. Teaching children to trade does not only help them to become independent and confident, but also makes them aware of their community.

In the unit of inquiry, ‘How We Organize Ourselves’, Grade 3 students organized a mini-bazaar last as their summative task.  The central idea of the unit was “marketplaces rely on the production and distribution of goods and services”.

The learning objectives of organizing the mini-bazaar are as follows:

  • Develop an awareness of different perspectives and ways of organizing economic activities
  • Develop a list of criteria for ethical practices regarding products and services
  • Explain how supply and demand are affected by population and the availability of resources
  • Identify roles, goals, rights and responsibilities in society
  • Learn to make a profit from their business venture
  • Train students to be entrepreneurs

For this task, students were divided into four to five groups in each class. To prepare the mini-bazaar, teachers and students talked about what the students were going to sell. Students also decided on the prices and discussed their roles and responsibilities in the group, such as who would be the leader and cashier during the event.

To raise the capital, the students collected money by doing household chores for about a month prior to the mini-bazaar. Getting involved in household chores is one way the students can learn how to earn money and be responsible. After earning enough money, students used the money to buy the items to sell.

In order to support the event, teachers asked for parents’ assistance in preparing the items that the students were going to sell. One day before the mini-bazaar, the students were very enthusiastic in preparing their booths, including putting prices on the items.

1                           3 Students preparing their booth decorations

Students named their booths creatively. They came up with interesting names for their booths, such as “Funny in My Tummy”, “Fun in Wonderland”, and “Amazing Surprise”.

When the big day finally arrived, the mini-bazaar was held from 7.30am until 1.00pm. Teachers, staff, parents and students from other grade levels, including middle school and high school students came and supported the event.

4.jpgTeachers, parents, and students at the opening of the mini-bazaar

In total, there were 18 student booths offering a big variety of things for sale. Healthy snacks, fresh juices, and handicrafts were some of the items sold by the students. Students also came up with educational games for their booths.

Selling a variety of items, including food
Attracting customers through games

The parents and students worked together to serve the customers. Several students walked around to entice customers to visit their stalls, while others preferred to wait in their booths for buyers.

After the mini-bazaar, parents and students went back to the classroom to count the money. The students received their capital back and divided the profit equally among the group members.

Parents and students counting the money
Students were happy with their profit

The event was successful! The students were so excited leading up to the event and had a great time organizing their mini-bazaar. Some of the lessons learnt by the students were marketing strategies, dealing with customers, earning money, saving money and managing money. The mini-bazaar will be an essential part of the students’ learning experiences in Grade 3.


By: Eka Fridayanti

Grade 3 Co-Teacher


Using a “Mystery Box” for Inquiry

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One of the strategies that we can use for promoting inquiry is a mystery box.  A mystery box is a great way to introduce any concept and grab students’ interest and attention. This strategy can be used over and over again.

In exploring the unit of inquiry on “How the world works”, students were introduced to a mystery box filled with 10 to 15 objects. The unit of inquiry has the central idea, “machines bring efficiency and convenience in people’s lives.”

In making use of the mystery box, examples of simple machines like rolling pin, a pair of scissors, and a paper hole punch machine were in it.  Students were then asked to grab one object from the box with their eyes closed. Afterwards, they guessed the object and described it through their sense of touch.

The learning engagement was integrated with language. Students used adjectives to describe the object that they got from the mystery box as shown in the following example.

“I feel it is smooth. I think it is made of wood and I can feel one part is moving.”
It is a wooden rolling pin. It is hard and smooth. If the rolling pin was not invented, my hands will hurt”.

After using a few adjectives to describe what they had touched, the students were then asked to open their eyes to talk more about the object as presented below.

It is a wooden rolling pin. It is hard and smooth. If the rolling pin was not invented, my hands will hurt”.
The paper punch machine is heavy and hard. It looks shiny.  If the paper punch machine was not invented, we cannot fix the papers in the folder and we might miss the papers.”

During the learning engagement, students talked about the name and use of the object as well as what would happen if the tool was not invented. Students gave responses such as, “It will be difficult to knead the dough flat. We will feel tired if we have to use our hands” and “It would be difficult to cut vegetables and fruits if the knife was not invented.”

Apart from using their senses, the mystery box learning engagement helped the students practice on their language skills, learn new vocabulary, and enhanced their thinking skills. After the learning engagement, students reflected and collected their thoughts using a concept map, which they used for writing a descriptive text.

Students found the mystery box learning engagement interesting and they were able to make a connection with their daily life. Students also better understood the importance of machines.

By: Rajeswari Chandrasekar

Grade 1 Class Teacher


Preparing for and celebrating the PYP Exhibition

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Planning for our school’s PYP Exhibition last academic year started as early as October 2015, when all the Grade 5 class teachers met to discuss the immersion programme which will be one of the learning journeys of the students for the PYP Exhibition under the transdisciplinary theme “How we express ourselves”. Below is a timeline and descriptions of our journey with the students from planning to celebrating success:

October 2015

The class teachers met every week and discussed the transdisciplinary theme for the PYP Exhibition as well as the objectives of the in-school and Bali immersions. Rich with arts and culture, they believe that Bali will offer great opportunities for students to gain deeper understanding of the ways people discover and express their ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values through arts. The students will be able to experience it, instead of just reading about it. Moreover, interacting with the locals will help our students extend their creativity and appreciate the aesthetic. While these programmes take a great deal of work and energy, the class teachers believe that broadening the horizons of the students will be worth it.

November 2015

Parents were invited to a Parent-Information Session on Bali Exploration.  The objectives of the programme were shared as well as the learning engagements that are crucial for the students’ exhibition journey. Parents’ feedback and suggestions were taken into consideration, and revisions were made in the programmes.

January 2016

The teachers started meeting all of the grade 5 students every Thursday to discuss the PYP Exhibition; the transdisciplinary theme, “How we express ourselves”; the central idea; lines of inquiry; key concepts; and approaches to learning. A video of the last school year’s PYP Exhibition was shown for the students to have an idea of how it is done. Before each session, the students were encouraged to write down their questions on their journal and ask them during the meetings. The roles and responsibilities of the students were also enumerated and explained.

The students also worked in groups and showed their understanding of “How we express ourselves” in the form of mind maps or any type of graphic organizers. After several art forms were identified, the children chose an art form that is the most interesting for them. Second options were also written down in case a group is too big.  The teachers then grouped the students accordingly and eventually had four groups with five to six members each. Each group came up with their “Group Essential Agreements”.

It was also during this month that teachers announced the guidelines and criteria for PYP Exhibition t-shirt and invitation design competitions. Most of the students were eager to join the competitions. Class teachers and single-subject teachers regularly met to delineate roles and responsibilities.

February 2016

Grade 5 parents were invited for an information session on the PYP Exhibition where their roles and responsibilities were discussed. During the session, former grade 5 parents shared their experiences as mentors for our previous PYP exhibitions.

Final preparations were also being made for the In-school and Bali immersion programmes. The supervisors in charge of both programmes met regularly to make sure that everything was in order.

The Grade 6 students were also invited to share their experiences during their PYP Exhibition. They also answered the Grade 5 students’ questions. They showed how they did their blogs and gave advice on how the groups can maximize their time and ensure a fair share of roles and responsibilities. It was also during this month that the winners for the t-shirt and invitation design competitions were announced.                                       

The students also brainstormed ideas, views and opinions on their chosen issue. They came up with mind maps and listed the things “that matter to them”. They also came up with questions and “wonderings”.  These and the school’s PYP coordinator’s session with the students helped them in formulating their central ideas and lines of inquiry. Our PYP coordinator explained each key concept to the students, and they identified the key concept for each of their lines of inquiry. The students were also taught how to fill in the PYP planner. The group members discussed how they were going to gather resources and information. They started to identify the people they can interview who are experts on their chosen issue. They planned which places they can visit in order to gather data for their research.

March 2016

To guide them in their research work, the students had a session on academic honesty with the school’s head librarian where they learnt what academic dishonesty means as well as examples of academic dishonesty. They also realized that it is very important to properly acknowledge their sources instead of merely copying others’ work. Our head Librarian taught them the MLA citation style using the application Citefast. The students did great at acknowledging their sources in all their research work.


Session on academic honesty with our head librarian

In the previous years, the students would present their information through posters, brochures and other hard copies. For 2015 – 2016, the students did something different. They created blogs which contained their research, reflections, photos, interviews, etc. The change was done to minimize paper wastage and to maximize students’ time, as in the past they had spent so much time just decorating their booths. And so this month, the students had sessions on how to create blogs.  All the groups used the blog application “Weebly”. It took some time for the students to get the hang of using the blog, but in the end they yielded exceptional results. The students’ blogs are listed below:

Grade 5A Culinary Arts –

Music –

Movies –

Photography –

Grade 5B Dance –

Music –

Photography –

Drama –

Grade 5C Pottery:




Grade 5D Movie Making –

Animation –

Movie Making –

Visual Art –

April 2016

Parent-mentoring started this month. Every Thursday, one to two parents from each group came to mentor the students. Guidelines were given to parents so that they could better facilitate the mentoring sessions. Parents asked the students questions and gave suggestions on how they can gather resources, maximize their learning and improve their blogs. At the end of each session, they reported to the teachers and also gave feedback and suggestions. Forms were also given for them to fill in.

The assessment rubric was introduced and explained to the children. The groups met and discussed how they are going to achieve each criterion. The teachers regularly met with each group and discussed any issues or problems they were facing and how they could solve them. The teachers also gave a lot of prompts to guide the students in their research and action plan. Every end of the week, the class would gather and report on what they have achieved.  The class also reflected on the attributes of the learner profile, the PYP attitudes and the approaches to learning that were demonstrated during the week. Each student listened intently, and they learned a lot from these sharing and reflection sessions.

The students worked very hard to research and gather information. Some of the groups met on weekends to interview experts on their issues.  Weekly reflections were done, too. The students were careful in acknowledging their sources, and they made sure that everything was being cited, including photos or images.

There were also guest speakers invited to share their knowledge and expertise with the students. They conducted very meaningful and worthwhile sessions with the students who did not run out of questions to ask.

May 2016

The students were very busy during this last month of preparations for their PYP Exhibition. Their blogs had been constantly revised and updated. Teacher mentors started coming to ensure that the students are ready for the BIG day.   At this time, the rehearsals for the stage performance had been in full blast. Students and teachers practiced at least twice a week. The groups had also started presenting to other groups and everyone gave constructive criticisms to improve their work. The students were also on their final stage of completing their PYP Exhibition planner and reflections.

June 2016

June 1 and 2 were two very exciting and memorable days for the Grade 5 students as the culmination of their PYP journey finally arrived. On the first day, the Grade 5 students and teachers invited the students and teachers from Grades 1 to 4.  On the second day, parents and guests from other schools arrived. It was a day full of achievements, and the students felt very proud of what they have learnt and accomplished throughout their Exhibition journey. This year, we will continue with the practices we deemed went well last year, and make changes and adjustments for improvements.


By: Corita T. Silapan

Grade 5 Class Teacher and Level Head


Using Anecdotal Records to Assess and Document Student Learning

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One of the assessment tools that teachers can use is an anecdotal record, which is a written note based on student observation.

An anecdotal record does not need to be written like a long narrative report, but it is recommended that it should be brief and contain significant details such as the first name of the child, date when the record was conducted, setting and event. In addition, an anecdotal record becomes more authentic if the teacher can capture the direct quotes stated by the child.  The direct quotes need not be edited for the purpose of preserving the originality of the student’s utterance or work.

binus-12Making use of an anecdotal record helps teachers further understand their students and is one way of documenting their learning. It also helps teachers track student behavior changes that can be used for future observations, curriculum planning and student or parent conferences.

Furthermore, an anecdotal record provides evidence of a child’s development. Specifically, an anecdotal record is used to:


  • better understand children’s learning over a period of time
  • provide ongoing records about individual instructional needs
  • capture significant student behavior that might otherwise be lost
  • provide ongoing documentation of student learning that may be shared with parents and teachers

Teachers can maximize the use of an anecdotal record if they do the following:

  1. Plan ahead to collect information. Teachers are suggested to identify ways on how to collect information, including using sticky notes, journals and mobile phones. In taking notes or in recording, teachers can explore different strategies such as writing a word or phrase and making codes in capturing the child’s action, words, phrases and expressions.
  2. Choose the skills to observe during different activities. It is recommended to select certain skills or approaches to learning. Teachers can also focus on certain learner profile attributes and attitudes in doing the anecdotal record.

Schools can come up with an essential agreement on the use of anecdotal record. Using an anecdotal record is aligned with IB programme standards and practices on assessment.

When teachers make use of an anecdotal record and embrace the practice, it becomes a routine. Once it is a routine, it becomes easier for teachers to write anecdotal records, which are valuable tools for assessment and help enrich the teaching and learning process.

By: Zaida Puyo

Grade 2 Level Head


Teaching Students the Value of Money

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As part of our learning engagements for one of our units of inquiry, Grade 3A students went on a field trip to Ranch Market in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta. Each student brought a shopping binus-11-alist, a reusable shopping bag and money – maximum of Rp. 100, 000. The field trip aimed to teach the students how to value money, know the production and distribution processes of goods and services, and to find out the different sections in the modern market, which were connected to our central idea, “Marketplaces rely on the production and distribution of goods and services” in our unit of inquiry under how we organize ourselves.

Prior to their field trip, the students were divided into four groups. There were five or six students in each group. A supervisor was assigned to look after each group – a class mom was one of them.

When the students arrived at the area, they could not contain their excitement. They could not wait to shop, but their excitement was put on hold because they were first taken round to the different sections: the fruit section, the vegetable section, the meat section, the fish section and the dry goods section. While listening to the tour guide, we overheard them asking about the time for shopping. We just laughed because the students could not wait any longer.

As the tour endbinus-11-bed, the students were asked what they wanted to do next. All of them replied in unison, ‘Shopping!’ Since they were too excited, we jokingly said that it was time to go home. All of the students said ‘No!’ and looked gloomy, but to bring back their excitement, they were told that they were right – It was time for shopping! They were ecstatic and readied their shopping list, money and shopping bag. They were told to stick with their groups and to their assigned supervisors. They enthusiastically searched and picked the items included on their shopping lists.

Most of the students made sure that their chosen items did not exceed the amount of money that they had. However, there were few of them who did exceed and the cashiers told them to put back the items that they did not want so much. The students made sure that they calculated the prices of their chosen items before heading to the counters to pay.

After all of the students were done shopping and paying, we had time to take photos. Then, we headed back to school with them beaming with happiness after their recent experiences. When we arrived in school, they wrote their reflection about their trip with these guiding questions: Where did you go and what was the objective of today’s field trip? How much money were you given by your parents? Check the receipt that you received from the store. Make a list of things that you bought and write down the prices. How much change did you receive? Did you have any problems while shopping? If so, how did you solve them? What did you learn from your shopping trip? Write/draw your memorable part of your trip.

Most of them said they wished that they could go back to the supermarket and shop again with their friends not with their parents as they “want to be independent and have freedom in buying what they need and want”.

A few said that they were confused on where to locate the specific items they needed since the market was huge and wide. Others learned that the products or goods on their shopping list were not available all the time and had to be quick to think of the replacements, which could be other brands or items.binus-11-c

It was indeed a wonderful experience for the students. Most of them were able to find out that the goods and services at the supermarket are divided into different sections so it is easy for shoppers to locate and find what they want. The students also realized the importance of choosing the fresh produce and the best quality products and most of all, check the expiration date to make sure the goods are still alright to be consumed.  Likewise, they learned that as early as possible, they have to start saving money instead of spending it on unnecessary stuff or their wants.

The students also pointed out that they now value money and emphasized that they should only buy what they need. They know now that they should not spend beyond their means so they do not end up starving the next day.

As teachers, it was wonderful to see our students learning how to be independent and experience first-hand how grown-ups shop and budget their money. It was also wonderful to see students learning how to queue, wait for their turn and realize that they need to make sure that the things they have chosen do not exceed the money that they have.

It is indeed remarkable to teach students at a very young age how to value money – to check their budget, lessen their expenses, and that to earn money entails hard work.

By: Mr. Freitz Gerald Talavera and Ms. Martha Carolina

Grade 3 Teachers

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, Jakarta;

Involving Parents in Play-based Learning

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On November 18, 2016, early years classroom teachers facilitated an information session on play-based learning for parents at BINUS School Simprug in Jakarta. It was an informative and engaging session. The teachers shared their knowledge and experience in teaching children using the play-based approach.


At the beginning of the session, parents were asked to recall and share an early memory about learning through play. It was interesting to know that some of the parents who are from different countries played similar activities such as hopscotch, jumping with rubber-band rope, hide and seek, role playing and jackstones. They also used native materials or instruments due to limited resources or creativity. Parents came up on inventing games without the need for anything but themselves. Many of the traditional games shared by parents appeal to a broad age and don’t require much equipment.

In this session, the definition of play was emphasized as any activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially for children. It was pointed out that play without enjoyment is not play. Children do not necessarily need expensive toys to enjoy playing. It is even encouraged for the children to explore their surroundings and materials when playing. In that way, they will be more creative and spontaneous.


As adults, it is important to interact and observe the children when they play so that we will be more aware of their interest and to have a better understanding of our children, including how they think and behave. It is through play that children learn or acquire information, develop physically and socially and express themselves confidently. German educator Friedrich Froebel stressed that “play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”

The poem, “The Hundred Languages of Children” by Loris Malaguzzi beautifully conveys the important roles imagination and discovery play in early childhood learning. The poem points out that “the child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred…”

The hundred languages are the endless number of children’s potentials, their ability to wonder and inspire. The poem reminds us that there are multiple ways of seeing and multiple ways of being. As adults (parents and teachers), we should not hinder them but support them instead.

The “Not a Box” story also captures children’s imaginations at play and how boxes or other objects can become anything. It brought back a particular memory of the box I took from my mother’s kitchen. I used it to become the flooring of our toy house, which was made of banana and coconut leaves. I had fun playing in my house with my siblings and friends and until now I still recall how we helped each other in building it.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, who is an expert on learning and children’s education, “imagination is the source of all human achievement.” Imagination is essential in the learning process and can advance cognitive development. Young children often learn about events, cultures or people that they will never meet, and imaginative play is a way for them to discover the world that surrounds them and collect experiences. Through imaginative play, children are more likely to adapt learning habits and to develop their communication skills.

Children learn important skills through play such as solving problems, thinking creatively and critically, and interacting with others. There is also a link between PLAY and foundational skills and complex cognitive activities.

After the sharing session, our Early Years parents realized the importance of play in their children’s development and their roles as parents in supporting them as they play.

By: Lea S. Carbonell

Early Years Class Teacher and Level Head