A Little Bird Told Me
As the dawn chorus has filled the morning sky this term, our Kindergarten students have ventured outside, watching, observing and learning from nature as part of their latest PYP unit of inquiry into Sharing the Planet.
Even if we live in the middle of one of the world’s major cities, surrounded by roads full of cars, there’s always nature outside. Along with the sun, the sky and the stars, there are trees and flowers, animals and insects all around us. And as Ms Bouterakos’s Kindergarten students have discovered in the course of their inquiry, all these living things have needs in order to grow, change and stay healthy.
To kickstart this unit of inquiry, Kindergarten took a leisurely nature walk (with their parents) through their neighbourhoods, looking for living things that provoked a sense of wonder. An unusual-looking tree. A mysterious bug. A strange-shaped leaf. Some sticky sap. Quite a few of the students were unsure about all the water they saw on their walks, so they watched some videos with Ms Bouterakos to find out if water could be classified as a living thing. They discovered that while it was not ‘living’, water was an essential component for all living things to thrive and grow. This made them reflect on the needs of living things.
To help further their inquiry, Kindergarten watched a livestream presentation from Taronga Zoo to learn about the exotic animals in the rainforest and find out what they need to survive. With help from Junior School Art Teacher, Ms Lewington, Kindergarten then decided to create their own habitat artwork, focusing on the plants and animals that live in the rainforest. In doing so, they discovered so much information about their chosen animal and its diet, that Ms Bouterakos suggested they could write their own speeches for the Junior School Public Speaking Competition. Quite a few of the Kindergarten students felt they were up to this challenge – even though it wasn’t compulsory – and many of them practised their communication skills and making eye contact, by presenting their speeches to their toys at home before presenting them on Zoom to their peers.
As part of the resource pack that Ms Bouterakos sent home to Kindergarten students at the start of term, they were intrigued to find packets of grass seed, as well as bird seed. This immediately piqued their interest. So, with Ms Bouterakos’s support, as well as the support of their parents, they planted their grass seeds into two separate containers: one would receive sunlight and water and the other just water. Over the ensuing weeks, Kindergarten have been sharing their observations of their grass seeds. For example, Ani and Scarlet noticed how living things like bugs and ants have crawled into their jars. At the end of term, Kindergarten will compare their two containers and discuss whether or not plants need sunlight to grow.
When they were on campus last term, Kindergarten were often distracted by the birds in Woodstock – particularly the more adventurous ones who would try to steal their food if they left their lunchbox unattended! Ms Bouterakos asked the students to make a bird feeder, using recycled materials as part of their STEM activity. She challenged them to find a location for their bird feeder – either at home or at someone’s else’s home – so they could observe birds in their natural environment.
Kindergarten thought long and hard about the sort of birds that might visit their bird feeder. To help prompt their curiosity, they read lots of non-fiction books about birds and learnt about the foods they eat. This week, Ms Bouterakos invited children’s author Andy Geppert to read his book, Backyard Birdies to Kindergarten via Zoom. He came up with all sorts of creative ideas for the students to do at home to learn more about birds, using a range of materials that they could find at home, in their garden or at their local park.
Next, Ms Bouterakos will collate all of Kindergarten’s learning and creativity into an online display to share with students and their families. This PYP unit of inquiry has really opened up their eyes to the beauty and wonder of nature, and made them reflect on the diversity of living things that surround us. They’ve also discovered a new-found love for our feathered friends, as well as an appreciation for their diet and habitat.