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Solving problems Kindy-style

What do you do when life doesn’t go to plan? Ms Bouterakos’s Kindergarten students have been learning all about problem-solving as part of their PYP Unit of Inquiry into Who we are.

After four weeks at school, Kindergarten are discovering that there are many different people and factors that combine to make them who they are. This also happens to be the line of inquiry that they are pursuing as part of their very first PYP Unit of Inquiry. They’ve started to consider how school, people and their new environment influences them, and what their own individual rights and responsibilities are when it comes to influencing how they behave and interact in the classroom and the playground.

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As part of their approach, Kindergarten have been thinking long and hard about problem-solving and what they can do when things don’t go as planned. They were very excited to read Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. It’s the tale of Floyd whose kite gets stuck in a tree. He's determined to get it out and decides to knock it down with his shoe. But then his shoe gets stuck, so the only logical course of action, Floyd decides, is to throw his other shoe. Only now it's stuck too! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door?

Stuck made Kindergarten think about the problems they’ve encountered so far at school and all the different strategies they’ve used to solve them – particularly by being persistent or thinking creatively like Floyd. It made them reflect that whenever a difficult problem presents itself, there are always solutions. The important thing is to never give up. And if you make a mistake or you don’t work out the answer first time, try again.

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What problems have they solved so far, asked Ms Bouterakos? Well said, Kindergarten, what about when they noticed that their playdough was becoming really sticky. They’d highlighted the problem and Teacher’s Aide, Ms Bollard had helped them to come up with a solution: make some new playdough and add in more flour so they could get the texture just right. Problem solved!

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On Thursday, Kindergarten used their new – non-sticky – playdough to do their Maths and practise their counting and make numbers. When Ms Bouterakos noticed that her playdough was crumbling a little bit, she asked Kindergarten what she should do. Be a problem solver they said. Roll it in your hands and make it moist.

Deputy Head Teacher of Junior School, Ms Collier was very impressed with Kindergarten’s numerical ability. They did some great addition, some of them even adding up big numbers like 15 + 7! They drew flowers, carefully counting out the petals and then used their playdough to make numbers.

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Kindergarten have made an ‘All about me’ bag, bringing in books and objects to share little snippets about their interests, passions, families and backgrounds. It’s making them appreciate their differences and similarities. This week, Sophie brought in the book ABC What Can She Be? in her All About Me bag to share with her classmates. It gave them all a window into a colourful world of future career possibilities - from astronaut to zoologist and everything in between – something for every girl.

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With International Women’s Day coming up on 8 March, Ms Bouterakos is going to ask the students to make a poster with their own photograph and a picture of three women who inspire them – either in their own lives or people they admire. They will also make a statement about what they want to be, connecting it to the PYP learner attributes: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. For example, perhaps they want to be kind and caring like their grandmother or knowledgeable and principled like mum. It’s a way for Kindergarten to connect who they are now to what they want to be as they grow up.
Ms Bouterakos is hoping to make a display of Kindergarten’s posters in a prominent position around the School to prompt others across the Wenona community to add their statements of what they want to be.

We look forward to sharing more with you over the coming weeks.

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