A Pedagogy of Listening

Dear Prep 3.1 Parents,

If you had the chance to read last week’s blog post and aren’t yet familiar with inquiry-based learning, it is a possibility that many of you might have wondered why did we used a query that stemmed from a particular student – Mia: why do children bleed when they hurt themselves? – to provoke further inquiry about Who We are. Well, as Reggio Emilia pedagogista (pedagogue) Carlina Rinaldi explains: ‘When children are working together, each is developing her own process by learning from the processes of the others’; this statement couldn’t be far from the truth!

This week our class students were fascinated to find a new learning space that ‘fitted’ well with our latest class investigations, and which allowed them to further co-construct learning together by identifying the purpose of this new space and the roles that doctors and nurses have in our society. The essential question that was used to gage students current understanding of Who We Are was: What is our body made of?

Unsurprisingly students’ responses were a clear testament to their thinking abilities, as they offered their own interpretations, constructed explanations and expanded their understanding by listening to other students’ perspectives.


Molly: Blood and a brain.

Bella Lhamo: A neck.

Tenoch: Bones!

Isabel: Rainbow colours [referring to skin]

Mia: If you don’t have a heart you die.

Molly: Yeah and if you have tight hairbands around your body your blood won’t swirl.

Sarah: Your heart goes bump, bump!

This conversation about our bodies prompted Bella Lhamo to question ‘why do we have a tummy?’ and Djasmin was quick to respond that ‘we use our mouths for eating and then [the food] it goes to your stomach (new word presented by Djasmin). So once more, the students were leading the learning inquiry; students comments were expressive and telling and new lines of inquiry were open! The reality is that in our class teachers pride themselves in facilitating our youngest learners to learn how to think by promoting agency, choice and voice amongst our classroom community!

From myself and Ms. Joana,

Have a peaceful holiday break and don’t forget to email your holiday snaps when we resume to school on the 23rd of October!



Me and my amazing body!

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

As part of our inquiry into Who We are last week during free inquiry time Mia put forward a thought-provoking question:

“Why do children bleed when they hurt themselves?”

Consequently in order to help promote understanding of this question, teachers set out a provocation to instigate further discussion. On Monday morning when the students arrived in the classroom they were surprised to find a human skeleton and see-through pictures of different body systems to tinker with using the overhead projector. And to help them dig deeper into it we used the see, think, wonder thinking routine and this assisted students to explore and discover what they knew about their bodies. Throughout the week students hypothesized about possible reasons as to why people bleed, naturally leading students into learning more about the science aspect of who they are. This is a clear example of how inquiry-based learning affords students the opportunity to learn in a transdisciplinary way.

As our week unfolded and students’ comprehension of the characteristics of the human body grew, the students who had initially drawn an observational drawing of the skeleton started to want to add more details to their pictures, such as blood, hearts and skin. Some students wondered why Mr. Skeleton had no skin since ‘adults and children’ have it. So in our attempt to nurture students curiosity on this topic and promote agency in their learning, next week the students will be surprised by a complete revamp to our role-play area which teachers have turned into a doctor’s surgery. We cannot wait to report back on this!

From myself and Ms. Joana,

We wish you a fun-filled weekend!

What is this? Let me take a closer look!

Is it real?

Isabel and Molly drawing Mr. Skeleton

Isabel suggested boys and girls also have bones

Bella Lhamo wondered if the beetle she found also had bones whilst Aydan claimed that it hurts when we bleed!

Molly adding skin to her skeleton drawing and Djasmin carrying an observational drawing of the skeleton

Isabel added hearts to her skeleton drawing and rainbow colours to represent blood

The class talking about the things that can be found under our skin

Bella Lhamo used playdough to explain caterpillars also have bodies

Our new learning space

Growing in awareness of self

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

As Trevor Mackenzie would agree “Great ideas start with a question”, so this week we investigated further what students are presently able to do and what they aren’t yet, without any particular focused area. During one of our morning meeting discussions we created a mind map to help us examine, compare and contrast students abilities and here is a summary:

Molly: I can ride a bike without training wheels.

Bella Lhamo: I sleep on my own!

Aydan: I can play by my own.

Djasmin: I can dance.

Tenoch: I can come to school by myself.

Mia: I can paint.

Divansh: Sing. Mummy.

Isabel: I can play with toys

Tomás: Eu sei jogar futebol! (I can play football!)

Sarah: Play with toys and my family.

João: I can eat biscuits and bread.

This discussion enabled students to enter into a dialogue about the different abilities each of them has, consequently leading to a higher understanding of self. Next week we will merge this line of inquiry with students newly developed curiosities about their bodies to inquire about how their bodies are similar and different as well as what they are capable of doing with it.


The environment as a vehicle for learning

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

This week the students continued with their inquiries into Who We Are. During free inquiry time several students engaged in play with real bugs found in our classroom garden and were seen making connections between our unit and their immediate environment. For example, grouping beetles in a small container according to their size and then using specific vocabulary to describe them:

Tenoch: ‘This is a mummy beetle because it’s big’

Aydan: ‘Baby beetles are small and tiny!’

Divansh: ‘Big. Yuck!’

Molly: ‘I have a family beetle and a baby one!’

Teacher: ‘How do you know it’s a baby one?’

Molly: ‘Because it’s smaller. I’ m half big!’

Teacher: ‘Why are you half big and not a baby?’

Molly: ‘Because mum says I am.’

Bella Lhamo: ‘I like beetles’

Teacher: ‘What do you like about beetles?’

Bella Lhamo: ‘They are my friends.’

Teacher: ‘How are they your friends?’

Bella Lhamo: ‘We play and have some much fun. I look for them…’

Later on during outdoor play, some of the students continued to demonstrate their appreciation for nature as they set out to find a home for small world bugs and used mathematical language to comment on their characteristics such as their patterns.

Additionally, during guided-inquiry students also had the opportunity to further develop their understanding of self as they used people counters to represent each of their family members and then recorded their thinking in individual family drawings. The students were also encouraged to reflect on how they were different from and similar to their families, and below is a snapshot of some of the children’s comments which shows their reasoning:

Sarah: ‘My dad has eyes, eyebrows, a nose, legs, ears, hair. My dad is really big!
My mum has hair. She gets her hair done at the hairdressers. Ginga has long hair. She has earnings on he ears.
Neusa cleans the house. She has a nose.’

Molly: ‘My family likes to eat carrots.
Dad has muscles and is strong. He is not fat
Mamma have eyes and strong muscles
Max is like me and likes to play LEGO; he plays with me.’

Tomas: ‘My family has the same colour.
My brother is big.’

– After starting to draw Tomas begun to reflect and realised someone was missing…

‘I almost missed my nanny! My daddy has brown hair and I have blonde hair. My mum is Aline and she looks like me
Dudu (brother) is big and I am small.
My nanny has her own family but they are far away.’

The color of us learning provocation proved to continue to be a very popular centre as many students were keen on finding a colour that matched their own skin tone. Interestingly, students started to compare their skin colour to that of things they like such as chocolate, flowers and even pancakes!

Next week we will dive into a new line of inquiry about Our Abilities after Molly happily shared with us her newly developed ability of ‘zooming’ on a bike without training wheels!

Myself and Ms. Joana hope you enjoy this ‘window’ into the students learning experiences after a week filled with great imagination and creativity.

Enjoy a happy weekend.

Molly sharing her special achievement with her peers during our morning meeting

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

This week the learning provocations set out in our classroom spaces were all a result of the dialogue that has occurred recently during our inquiries into Who We Are.

After reading ‘The color of us’ story book by Karen Katz, the students immediately begun to make connections as demonstrated by the following comments:

‘We all have hands’ – Molly

‘But we have different colors!’ – Tenoch.

‘I am the colour peachy’ – Aydan

To further promote the understanding of the related concept of identity, students were encouraged to examine the colour of their skin and an eye colour survey was also carried to help us find out which was the most common eye colour amongst the students.

Next week students will continue to examine the characteristics of their own families and reflect on the things that they like and dislike. If you get the chance, have a conversation with your child about this topic. Let’s all work in partnership to get students excited about Who they Are!

From myself and Ms. Joana,

Have a restful weekend

Developing our Understanding of Self (continued)

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

This week students continued to develop their understanding of self by identifying themselves in relation to others. The girls in our class noticed that they all shared the same eye colour and the boys pointed out that their noses had different shapes. The topic of skin colour also became part of our class discussions after Tenoch mentioned that João had a ‘chocolate’ coloured nose. This new discovery will lead to further inquiries about student’s physical characteristics as we carry on developing an awareness of how we are similar and different from others.

Some students also had the opportunity to present to their classmates their family portraits, and describe what they enjoyed doing with their family members. If you haven’t yet sent a photograph of your family, kindly do so to ensure your child gets the opportunity to make and share these personal connections with their peers.

Furthermore, developing pre-writing skills in early years is fundamental to the development of literacy. Some of the students have begun to give meaning to the marks they made as they drew pictures of things they liked, such as flowers and balls. To ensure that we continue to engage students in writing, every week we will aim to have an area in our classroom where students can experiment with as well as use different media to express themselves through mark-making.

From myself and Ms. Joana,

We hope you enjoy the long weekend!

Developing our Understanding of Self

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

This week the direction of our inquiry into Who We Are begun to take shape. The students were encouraged to attentively examine their physical characteristics leading to a reflection on what students like about themselves. In addition, students also encountered several learning provocations that have contributed to development of their understanding of ‘self’.

Based on this week’s inquiries, next week we will begin to investigate the concept of friendships and family, so if you haven’t yet sent or emailed a family portrait, you are kindly reminded to do so by next week.

From myself and Ms. Joana,

Enjoy a restful weekend!

‘Building faces’

Tomás asked the teachers to take a photo of him smiling after realising that he had a sad expression on the photo that had been used for the ‘building faces’ provocation

What do boys and girls have in common?
Whose eyes are these?

We all have eyes but they certainly have different characteristics!

We are Boys and Girls!

Dear Prep 3.1 parents,

This week has zoomed by, but believe it when I say that so much learning has taken place in such short amount of time! We have continued to establish our class routines and our morning meetings have offered students and teachers the chance to come together and begin to unpack our Unit of Inquiry’s Central Idea of: ‘Knowing how we are similar to and different from others helps shape our understanding of self’. We used a story entitled ‘All Kinds of People’ to provoke student’s thinking into who they are and how they view themselves as individuals. Interestingly, students used the concept of gender to describe their reasoning. This has been a key initial revelation, that will be further explored as we carry on inquiring into Who We Are.

From myself and Ms. Joana,

Have a lovely weekend!