Oh, the stories we tell!
Over the last term, Kindergarten have been working on the PYP unit of inquiry ‘How We Express Ourselves’, exploring the central idea ‘Stories can be told in many ways for different reasons’.
As Kindergarten have discovered over the course of this unit of inquiry, stories are everywhere. Stories are powerful too, because they mimic our experience of moving through the world - how we think, plan, act, and find meaning. To kickstart their unit of inquiry, Music Teacher Dr Langan worked with Kindergarten to discover how stories are connected to music and songs. It prompted Kindergarten to think critically about what they understood a story to be. They realised that many of them thought a story could only be contained in a book. But after much discussion, they realised that a book is just one of many ways to share a story.
Kindergarten then brainstormed a range of story-telling mediums with Miss Bourterakos, including books, written words, verbal stories, songs, comic books and even dreams. Each time they came up with a new way of sharing a story, they added it to their list.
Having drawn up some questions, Kindergarten then conducted their own research to find out how storytelling began. They were very excited to discover that some of the first stories ever shared were written on scrolls and on bits of bark, using tools to carve in symbols.
In the lead up to Mother’s Day, Kindergarten decided to make a book for their mums, designing and creating their own covers. They worked collaboratively to come up with sentences that they could also use as a starting point and that could be extended or added to through illustration. As they were learning about addition in Maths, they decided to choose a scenario whereby they were sharing something with their mums based on something she liked.
They then progressed to learning about fractions, revisiting a story they’d read in Term 1 called Give Me Half! by Stuart J. Murphy. It tells the story of a boy who tries to eat a whole pizza without sharing half with his sister, who isn’t keen on sharing her juice of cupcakes either... that is until the siblings learn about fractions and discover how to create perfect halves. Kindergarten then created their own version of this story, applying their learning about fractions to their writing. Their stories were displayed in the Piazza for other students in Woodstock to read and enjoy.
One of the highlights of this unit of inquiry was when a rather large spider popped out from behind the projector in the classroom and began to make its way down the whiteboard. Miss Bouterakos said, “All at once, Kindergarten began to panic and scream. I told them that ever since I’d started teaching, my class had always screamed when they saw a spider and that I wanted to try and stop them being so frightened. Kindergarten thought about it and suggested that perhaps I could create a story that I could read to my future classes on the first day of school, so they wouldn’t be scared if they saw a spider. I asked them if they could help me to write the story, so they did. Together, we wrote Ruby, the Spider Girl and each student illustrated a page. Mrs Suppiah in the Print Room kindly helped us to publish our book. After that, everyone was very excited when ‘Ruby’ made a guest appearance in our classroom.”
The unit involved exploring stories from different cultures and it was wonderful to hear about stories that students were already familiar with. Siena and Ashleigh knew the story How The Birds Got Their Colours, and Sophie shared a story called Kuwi The Kiwi. This led to Kindergarten sharing words that they knew in other languages and trying to learn some new words from each other.
During Reconciliation Week, Mr Staker read the book Sorry Day and Kindergarten later explored how stories help them to understand the past and make better choices for the future. Kindergarten were also keen to read more Indigenous Stories and learn about their connection to Australia's First Peoples.
Miss Bouterakos invited an Aboriginal Elder from Koori Kinnections to come in to Wenona and talk to Kindergarten about Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, which is the story of how the universe came to be. As she explained, these stories have been passed on from one generation to the next for thousands of years through songs and dances, helping Aboriginal people to understand the past and linking the past with the present and the future.
Students were presented with a wide range of stories from different cultures and asked to read through or look at the picture and make a connection between the story and their own life. Cristina thoughtfully shared how by looking at the pictures, she could see that family was important in the story she was reading. As she observed, her family is really important to her too.
Through exploring this unit of inquiry, Kindergarten realised that across every culture, stories share common themes: the importance of family; caring about others; being kind; making good choices; and our love for living things. Stories also have the power to capture our attention and engage us in a way that facts and figures don’t. And above all, stories give us an opportunity to learn from one another. They can shape, strengthen and challenge our opinions and values. And incorporating what we learn from fictional heroes can have positive effects on our health and wellbeing.