Music and integration with other subjects

Posted on Updated on

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.

mentari 4.png

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


Fun with Art

Posted on

Art is becoming an attractive activity for children. It is an engaging and fun activity that develops children’s creativity and imagination. Art makes children freely produce their creation using their own ways and styles. Through art, children are able to express their ideas and explore their talents and skills more not only in drawing but also in making arts and craft stuff.

Every week, our students eagerly await their art elective class. They can’t wait to know what lesson or what activity that they are going to learn. They keep on asking the activities that will be done in upcoming weeks. Every session gives a different experience of learning not only to our students but also to us as their teachers.

Introducing self

In the beginning of our art class, we introduced ourselves to each other as part of building relationships. In introducing ourselves to each other, we used the “throwing ball” activity. During this activity, a student who has the ball will introduce himself or herself. Students tell their friends about their name, hobbies, what they like most about learning art and their reasons for joining the class.


We have essential agreements in our art class. The students agreed to follow them every time we have our art lesson. We called these agreements, 3Bs. 3Bs means Be focused, Be independent and Be creative.

Staying focused is one of the most important skills that the students have to develop in our class. Students are encouraged not to get distracted easily while they are finishing their artwork. Being independent in working means that the students should be able to create their artwork by themselves. Their work result must be authentically made by their own hands and from their own ideas. Being creative is not only our agreement but also one of the goals that students should achieve. Through our art class, we are hoping that students will be able to produce original, unique, imaginative and innovative ideas.


Art lessons can be either fun or uninteresting. It all depends on how teachers create and deliver their lessons for the students. If we have engaging activities, our students will be more enthusiastic and motivated in expressing their creativity and producing best artwork

Basically, we can choose and make art activities based on students’ interests and age level. Some of the activities that we prepare for our students, aged 6 to 8, are paper folding and painting.


Materials can be taken from any resources, including recycled items. In our art class, we prefer to use recycled stuff such as old t-shirts, socks and CDs. Using recycled materials for our lesson will help the students learn how to appreciate more their belongings. This will let students to discover that art creation can be produced and reproduced from other materials, even from unused or old stuff.

Creating Art using recycled materials

Recycled materials are easy to get and students also don’t need to spend much money to buy them. They just utilize any items at home that they don’t use any more.

By using recycled materials as our art resources, we are hoping that our students will learn not to waste any items. Here are some activities that we did using recycled materials.

T-shirt painting

blog jan 2018 1.png

 blog jan 2018 1 2.png

Some of our unforgettable activities

Matthew’s Dream

Students watched a video about the story, “Matthew’s Dream” by Leo Lionni. After watching the story, they created abstract designs. This was a great start for our art elective class as our students were just beginning to learn new skills and friends.

Most of our students were able to complete this project easily since they only needed to compose an abstract object using simple shapes and lines based on their own imagination.

blog jan 2018 3.png
There was no limitation on how many shapes or objects that they had to draw and color. In this activity, students only used colorful markers and pencils for sketching.


The most interesting one

Night Sky Crayon

“Night Sky” crayon activity was inspired by Carla Sonheim online art classes. In this activity, students learnt about mixing media. They liked it so much and found this activity interesting. The process of mixing different media such as crayon, salt and water color resulted in colorful artwork.


  • A4 drawing paper
  • Water colors (dark blue, red purple)
  • Crayons(yellow, red, pink, light green)
  • Sea salt
  • Black paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

How to make it:

 1. Draw a sky on A4 paper with red, pink and yellow crayons. Draw also the ground with light green crayons to form the land and grass.


 2. Paint the sky with dark blue and red purple water color paint. You may mix and form different patterns of color from dark blue to light blue or the opposite.


3. Once you finished painting, put some sea salt on the surface of the painting.


4. Make and draw patterns of city view or any landscape view on black paper. Cut the patterns.

5. Stick the patterns of city view or any landscape view on the painting using glue.



 Students found this activity interesting and others considered it a little bit challenging. No matter what, the students were able to produce their own colorful paintings and express their creativity.

By: Meylia Rianawati & Sylvia Rakhmi Dwi Iswari

Grade 3 Co-Teachers


The Power of Observational Drawing

Posted on Updated on

How many times have we asked our students to draw (both in their Unit of Inquiry or during single subject time)? For example, as a part of their Tuning in, teacher asks students to draw objects in their surroundings that belong to “living things”; as a part of their formative or summative assessment, teacher asks students to draw their understanding about what friendship is; or students draw their observation in their science experiment, draw about their responsibility towards plants and  animals. In religion, teacher asks students to draw symbols to express their beliefs; In music, students draw and group the musical instruments, and so on.

Drawing leaves at different stages, looking at the concept of “Change”

The question is “how far have we supported our students when it comes to drawing?”. Is it only the responsibility of Visual Art Teachers to teach our students to draw? What does it have to do with observational drawing? On the other hand, how often do we hear somebody say “I don’t know how to draw” or “I am not good in drawing”?

Drawing is a skill that everybody can learn, just like how we learn to write and make our writing readable. Talking more specifically about observational drawing, it simply means to draw something “as it is”. Edwards (1999) says that “Ability to draw depends on the ability to see the way an artist sees, and this kind of seeing can marvelously enrich your life”. In PYP, we encourage students to draw something or an object based on their perspective, imagination, from what they see or memorise. For example when it comes to drawing people, we let the kids draw people from their perspective, not to tell or show them step by step how to draw people, and let their skill develop alongside their age.

Observational drawing is a great way to increase drawing skills. In observational drawing, we want students to see something without looking at it as an object that they know. For example, when they draw a bottle, we do not want them to think about a “bottle” but we want them to “see” it in a different way, paying attention to the lines and contour as it is (not the shape of bottle in their mind). Gertrude Stein asked French artist Henri Matisse whether, when eating tomato, he looked at it the way an artist would. Matisse replied: “No, when I am eating tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently” (Picasso, 1938). Therefore, “seeing” or “how do we see things” is what observational drawing is all about, and this is very important if we want to improve our drawing skills.

Other than that, by doing regular practice in observational drawing, we will become more “sensitive” when it comes to paying attention to details such as shapes, size, contour, proportion, and colors. It also improves hand eye coordination. The purpose of this article is to encourage homeroom teachers to do regular observational drawing in their classroom, or even set up a special centre in the classroom for observational drawing and prepare sketch book for students to record their drawings. This is an exercise that will not only benefit our students, but also for us, as teachers. We do encourage teachers to sit and do the activity together with the students.

In the early years, students can start with simple objects such as an egg or a ball. As they grow older they can have other objects such as: Fruits with different shapes, sizes and textures (banana, apple, mango, grapes, pineapple, etc.), stationery in the classroom, leaves with different shapes, colors, and textures (one of my favourite!), different types of flowers, toys, shells, even using their own body such as drawing the lines on their palm. Basically, everything can be used for observational drawing. Sometimes, it is good to give them objects that they cannot relate to anything, for example a piece of metal, bended wire, crumpled paper, etc.

1Different centres of observational drawing in Visual Art class.

There are different exercises in observational drawing. For example, draw an object without looking on the paper, draw an object without lifting the pencil, or upside-down drawing (print a picture and ask students to draw it upside-down). The idea goes back to seeing the object and drawing it as it is without thinking about what the object is, but paying attention to lines, distance between lines, how long should we draw the lines, the angles, direction of the lines, and so on.

Upside down drawing by Grade 5 student

So… going further.., are there other effects of observational drawing? Is it only to develop drawing skills? In her book, Edwards (1999) says that drawing opens the door to other goals. Learning to draw will help us see things differently, develop our ability to perceive things freshly in their totality, and see underlying patterns and possibilities. It will increase awareness of our mind, develop creative abilities, and enhance our confidence in decision- making and problem-solving. As she said, “The potential power of the creative, imaginative human brain seems almost limitless. Drawing may help you come to know this power and make it known to others”.

For some ideas on observational drawing:



Edwards, B. The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.


By Peggy Ratulangi (

PYP Coordinator & Visual Art Teacher, Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (Batam)


What is Language Arts in BPK PENABUR Banda?

Posted on Updated on

A new school year has started in BPK PENABUR Banda, and so its International Baccalaureate courses. For many new parents in our institution, it is a legitimate question that to ask what the topic L.A. is you can see on your children’s journal?banda 2

Language Arts Program is designed to promote the use of, and appreciation for the varied aspects of the English language. We seek to guide students toward a clear understanding and fluent expression of ideas through the cultivation of precise thinking, speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. These skills encourage the personal development of students, the acquisition of knowledge, and the understanding of cultural and religious differences.

We believe students construct meaning in Language Arts best when they are encouraged to read for comprehension and for an appreciation of the wealth and subtleties of prose and poetry. They are exposed to a multicultural language arts program that helps students gain broadened and perspectives of literature and human thought. They are also encouraged to express their thoughts with a firm support basis and a cultivated correctness of spoken and written English. Finally, students have a firm understanding of the different uses of the English language as it relates, describes, evokes, persuades and expresses the mind and imagination of the individual.

In our school, Language Arts teachers agree to provide many and varied learning opportunities using the writing process and grammar instruction. They try to expose students to a variety of literary genres and provide opportunities for students to use different methods to communicate in Language Arts: oral, written, visual, and technological media. We give opportunities for students to recognize and interpret literary devices. We do our best to evaluate student work using a variety of assessment methods. Everyday, our team try to provide models of the various aspects of Language Arts.

To sum up, L.A.’s aim in BPK PENABUR Banda is not only to teach English but to teach students how to understand, think and express themselves.

*(William K. – BPK PENABUR Banda)