New Year, New Unit- Sharing the Planet

Hello Parents,

Welcome to 2018! Can you believe we are halfway through the school year already!

We have begun a new unit: Sharing the Planet

Central idea Living things have certain requirements in order to grow and stay healthy.

Lines of Inquiry: The lines of inquiry will be co-constructed between child and practitioner based on learner’s interests, curiosities, and wonderings.

Key concepts: form, responsibility

Related concepts: survival, living/non-living things

ATL (Approaches to Learning): Research skills and Thinking Skills

Learner profile attributes: Knowledgeable and Inquirers

Attitudes: respect, curiosity, appreciation

This is one of my favourite units that we teach. The process of researching living things and thinking about  responsibilities we have as human beings to take care of our planet provides a wonderful foundation to build upon as the children grow and mature.

This week we just began by looking at the name of our unit- Sharing the planet- and asking the children what sharing means and what planet means and who/what shares the planet together. So far, the photo below shows what we have discussed thus far:

I love the question asked by Victoria- “How does the planet share?” and Rohan’s additional reply- “It has no hands!”

This question alone has opened the door to all sorts of further inquiry!

I wish you all a restful weekend!


The Importance of Play

Hello Parents,

The ELC teachers have been a part of an IB PYP Online Course over the last few weeks titled Literacy, mathematics and symbolic learning in the early years. Though we already knew most of what we were studying throughout the course, it was a wonderful refresher for us. One of the most important take aways for me was just how really valuable, even necessary, play is for our young learners.

Learning through play is not just something we say, it’s what we do! It’s how all of us have learned and become the people who we are today. I really like that in the video below, Stuart Brown makes reference back to the animal kingdom, sharing that we’ve always thought that animals learn to hunt through play. And yes, essentially they do learn to fight, defend their territory, and essentially live through play!  (We should take play so seriously!)  However, he also points to research that clearly shows that animals would learn how to hunt and defend their territory even without play because it is innate. Therefore, he concludes that play is actually a separate, but deep biological entity that is essential for both humans and animals to find fulfilment and not just something to do in our spare time. He also said that trust is established through play, and that says it all!


Here are some photos of our play this week:


I hope everyone has a lovely break! See you in 2018!


Drama in Prep 4.2

Dear Parents,

Hope you all had a lovely week. I can’t believe it’s almost time for the holiday break!

First, just a reminder that next week on Wednesday, Dec 13 we will have a end of term party beginning at 2:10 after the children wake up. Please check with Heidi if you have any questions. Thank you Heidi for always helping us keep organized!


Last week, during a large group morning meeting, the children were presented with a photo of the painting, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.

Immediately several children said that they had seen and talked about (some even painted it) in Art class with Ms. Solange. So, the teacher decided not to proceed with the See, Think, and Wonder routine and was about to take it down to move on to something different when the children started telling us about what they observed in the painting anyway. 

The Children observed:

  • The moon (luna)
  • The moon is the same color as the sun
  • A ball
  • Stars- a ball star
  • White (swirls) is the wind
  • Sky
  • Castle
  • Little villages
  • Little town

Then, Ginevra had an idea and shared it with us. She said that the little “pink” building (church with steeple) is a castle where a princess lives and the large black “tower” in the front of the painting, is the witch’s castle. The teacher asked the children more questions about the witch and the princess, and before long many of the children shared their ideas and added to the story based on the Starry Night painting. Afterward, instead of painting the Starry Night, the children were asked to use their imagination and creativity to paint the story. Many children connected with the idea and created some beautiful paintings to go along with the story. Next, we had the idea to extend their learning and help guide them towards using the story to perform a drama. It took quite some time, as not everyone wanted to participate, but the story finally came together, we gathered some costumes, split the class into two groups and then they took turns acting out the story. 

Here is the transcript of their story (I estimate about 90% of the story came from the children with a few small ideas from me to help mesh the story together:

The Princess Melody and the witch Maleficent were out near the bakery store. They had a birthday party. They were walking to the Princess Melody’s house and the witch cast a spell on the Princess. She said “abracadabra” and the Princess fell asleep. The witch took the Princess to her castle. Everyone in town came to the witch’s castle to a party. The Prince came and gave the Princess a kiss to wake her up. The Princess gave a dress to the witch because there were no dresses in the witch’s castle. After the birthday party, the witch gave Princess Melody a hug. After that, a monster came but it wasn’t a real monster, it was the prince dressed up as a monster. Then a real monster came. The Prince and the King fought the monster and then the witch casts a spell on the monster and turned him into a mouse. The King, riding on his horse says, “Everyone can go home now.”

The End.

Here are the videos of the children acting out the story, with a lot of help, of course. 🙂

Group 1: (The before lunch awake, more energetic group)

Group 2: (The after rest time sleepy, less enthusiastic group- lesson learned! )

The children seemed to really enjoy seeing their project from start to finish. I think we will watch the videos together on Monday and reflect on our learning.

Have  a great weekend!

Cooking- is it art?

Dear Parents,

We are continuing to explore art in its many varied forms. This week has been no exception. The children have painted, worked with clay, and on Thursday Daniella, Rafael’s mom, came to show us her amazing cake decorating skills.

During our many discussions on art and what the children think art is, a few children mentioned cooking as being creative. This was a pleasant surprise! A few of the other children agreed, but others said that they didn’t think cooking was like art. We then watched a video of cake decorating; some of the cakes were as beautiful as any painting masterpiece. The children thought the cakes were beautiful and creative.

On Thursday, we explored the food pyramid and discussed the importance of eating as healthy as possible; eating sugary things in moderation. After this, we began the process of making our own “healthier” (we added grated carrots) cupcakes, before Daniella (Rafael’s mom) came. Daniella is an amazing cook and baker and so we asked her to come and work with the children. She brought a small cake she had baked and demonstrated the process of how to use icing to decorate a cake. Then, the children got the chance to decorate their own cupcake. It was a messy and delicious learning experience! At the end, the children decided that decorating a cake was a bit like art because it takes an idea and creativity to make it.

A big THANK YOU to Daniella for your hard work and support of our learning!

Here is the recipe we used for the cupcakes (minus the white chocolate chips):

Please enjoy the slideshow below.

Have a great weekend!


Our Week of Learning- Nov 20-24

Dear Parents,

Another busy week has come and gone! Some weeks, we there are so many inquiries that take place during one week, that it is difficult to share everything with you. This has been one of those weeks!

One of the many things we discussed this week was painting, which the children decided was one form of art and one way that we can express our creativity. We discussed how people paint and what types of tools can be used to paint. Most of the children said, brushes, fingers, or hands. Then Adrien shared his idea that we can paint with “EVERYTHING!” And that got us to wondering if there are people who paint with unusual tools or techniques. So, we watched a video of a woman who paints using roller blades. They children were fascinated watching her paint and then got into a debate over what was being created in her painting. If you would like to see this video and others that are similar, you can watch them here. After watching this video, we had the crazy idea to paint with our feet. Some children were really into it and others weren’t so keen. You can come and see the finished painting hanging in the classroom.

After Ms. Luciana came last week and showed us how she weaves mats using a type of grass, we thought we would use our creativity and try our hand at weaving. It was slow going at first, learning the technique, and again, some children enjoyed the experience more than others.

Also based on Adrien’s idea that we can paint with “Everything!” we had the idea to use natural objects such as leaves, flowers, sticks, and rocks as tools with which to paint. The children were a bit hesitant at first, but once they started observing the patterns and shapes made by these unusual painting “tools” most of them seemed to enjoy the process of creating.

Enjoy the children’s creativity below and have a great weekend!


Music and Messy, Sticky, Gooey Clay

Dear Parents,

This week, we continued to inquire into music and the many creative ways that people make music, as well as using clay as a medium to make art. First, we watched a few videos found on Youtube of the group Stomp! as well as other videos of people making music using unconventional materials such as dust bins, marbles, wheels, and car parts. The children particularly loved the following video. It is AMAZING! Watch it with your child and witness their joy!

Look at those faces! 

The children were given two challenges this week. The first, to make their own musical instrument using recyclable materials (junk) and to make something creative with clay. Most of the children have been very excited to accept the challenges. After watching a few videos of artists working with clay and looking at a few artifacts made from clay that the teacher brought from home, the children were inspired to get messy, sticky, and  gooey (some of the words the children used to describe the feeling of the clay in their hands).

On Friday, we also had a special visitor, Marina Verne, the project founder of Aiwe by Verne Project.  She  accompanied five Angolan basket weavers from Mussulo who came into the classroom and shared their creative skills with the children. Ms. Luciana worked with the children in our classroom. 

This is a message from Mariana:  All Aiwé products are produced in Angola with national products and 100% Angolan labor. Under the brand are two lines: Aiwé Home and Aiwé Wear. The first, which originated everything else, aims to help develop the village of Tapo no Mussulo in a sustainable way. We believe that one of the most effective ways to increase the quality of life is through work, and currently this community lives from the work of the male population in the salinas that surround it. Aiwé decided to give empowerment to the ladies of this community who so skillfully work sisal (Mateba in dialect). This task is passed down from mothers to daughters and the material goes through some processes. 

Enjoy the photos below of the children getting creative as well as enjoying the creativity of others!




Music and Movement

Dearest Parents,

This week we have been inquiring into music as one way the we express ourself. In one of our initial morning meeting discussions about ways in which we express ourselves, several of the children indicated that they enjoyed music, some of them specifically mentioning drums and piano. Because of their interest, we contacted some of the teachers in the Secondary school asking if their students might be interested in performing music or dance for our ELC learners. Ms. Rebecca, the Secondary Music teacher happily invited the ELC to observe one of her classes practice a few songs. The children LOVED it!

Here is a bit of video from that adventure:

Continuing with the children’s interests, we borrowed a keyboard from Ms. Rebecca as well and brought it into the classroom. I’ve taken so much video of the children playing it and expressing themselves creatively. I’ll share one below of Janessa, who was one of the children who first expressed her interest in playing the piano. She found it in the classroom first thing in the morning. Look at the excitement on her face! Pure joy! All the children have participated in playing the keyboard this week and most expressed their joy in discovering all the sounds they could make.

We also watched a video of the group Stomp who creates music using everyday items such as brooms, trash bins, and pipes. The children were intrigued. After watching the video, we gathered in a circle and using rhythm sticks, we made our own music on the floor.








Here is some of the video showing the children expressing their creativity with rhythm sticks.

On Friday, we enjoyed the Angolan Independence celebration day here at school. The children were so excited to watch the dancing, singing, and musical performances. It was an amazing celebration!

Even our own Ms. Aisia (Go ELC!) performed a beautiful duet with Angolan singer Mr. Toty. (Forgive the poor quality of the photo.)

Below is one of the performances that was awe inspiring!

Friday afternoon, we watched the video above of the Capoeira dancers and I asked the children to observe what the performers were using to make music. They noticed that they were using sticks to hit the floor! So we got our sticks back out to make music again. Now, on Thursday after the children left, our rug (that got wet during the rain) was brought back inside. So when we sat down on the rug to use the sticks, Janessa pointed out that she didn’t hear anything! She and Hadley thought about why and communicated that the carpet was preventing the sticks from making noise. So Rafael go creative and showed us that we could use one stick on the carpet and one stick on the floor.

It’s been a very creative and expressive week here in Prep 4.2!

Have a great weekend!


Rain, Rain, Rain!

The Carpet Mystery?  

The children came in Monday morning and noticed that our morning meeting carpet was missing and asked what happened. In hindsight, I should have not told them straight away, but I told them it got wet and it was put outside to dry. The children wanted to know how it got wet, (and again I should have had them think about it first) and I told them when it rained.

Later that morning, it rained really hard and water started coming into the room again. I went out into the rain and noticed that the gutter outside was broken and not working properly and tried to fix it. Some of the children were peeking out watching.

Later, when the children came to sit on the floor for morning meeting, they had difficulty finding their places to sit and again asked about the carpet. I reminded them that it was wet and I finally got an “aha moment” and asked them to think about why/how the water came into the classroom in the first place.

They had lots of theories!

Ginevra: “The door not closed.”

Adrien: “The door is a little bit broken.”

Filipa– “Something outside is broken.” (she was peeking out watching me earlier)

Hadley– “Because the rain was super-fast!”

Rohan– “The tank was spreading water outside.” (I think he was referring to our water table)

Rafael: “The water splashed on the carpet.”

Janessa– “The rain!”

Victoria– “Water (took a jar and turned it over to indicate “spill”) on the floor.”

Adrien: Made a connection to the “water spout” and said that it was like the song Itsy Bitsy Spider going up. (he was peeking out watching me earlier)

Ginevra and Filipa are explaining that the water spout is broken and that’s why the water came into the classroom.

Lately, the children have been interested in being “scientists”. So, we’ve taken advantage of that interest and have been asking them to use their thinking skills to make observations, solve problems and make discoveries. Through everyday experiences like this the “wet carpet mystery”, we can help children to use their creativity to construct their own opinions, make connections, compare their ideas with the ideas of others and reflect on their own learning. We just need to look for the opportunities that present themselves.

The rain also provided even more learning experiences for the children outside. Enjoy the photos below:


Dear Parents,

On Wednesday afternoons after rest time, Ms. Catarina from Prep 3 comes and stays with the children. During these times, she has been helping them gain an understanding of mindfulness through cooperative games, songs, discussions and videos. Below, is a message from Ms. Catarina from her time with the children this week.

During our mindfulness session this week we focused on kindness: What it means to us and how we can show it.

The students were given a challenge for the week — to spot acts of kindness, may this be at school, at home, or shown by themselves or others, towards family, friends and/or nature. Parents are encouraged to report acts of kindness observed by their child to the class teacher.
Kindness/Empathy is such a vital social skill for children to learn and they do so through experience and observation of the important people in their lives.

I love this quote from the Dali Lama:  Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.


Luncheon, Dress-up Day, and Mystery Reader

Dear Parents,

A big thank you to Heidi for organising our luncheon. I hope you all enjoyed it. I know I did! I enjoyed watching the conversations going on around the room and everyone enjoying all the amazing food. Thank you all for your delicious contributions!

I was not able to take many photos, but here are the ones I managed to snap:

We also managed to snap a few photos of the children throughout the day parading around in their costumes:

One more thing…I just wanted to say a big thank you to Juliana for being our first Mystery Reader volunteer. To help support our How We Express Ourselves unit, she brought in a lovely book, Giraffes Can’t Dance, to share with the children. Afterwards, we had a dance party and then went outside to blow bubbles!

Parents, please consider volunteering to be a Mystery Reader. The timetable is included below. Just pick a time that works best for you and I will put you on our schedule! Easy Peasy! You may bring a book with you to read or I can provide one for you.

Enjoy the photos below and have a lovely weekend!