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Tempus Fugit for Year 1

Time, as Einstein once showed us, is a tricky concept to nail down. So, Ms Christofa’s Year 1 students donned their thinking caps and came up with sophisticated solutions to measure it.

Today we live in a world of artificial time, with digital signals beamed to our smartphones and computers 24/7. But the way we define time ultimately comes from the Sun. As part of their latest PYP unit of inquiry into How the World Works, Year 1 have been exploring the central idea: We can measure time by observing the sky and the land. They have pursued the following lines of inquiry: There are changes occurring in the sky and on the land. People use the earth’s resources in different ways. And materials can be changed for different purposes. And through the course of their research, Year 1 have discovered some deep connections between the Earth’s motion around the Sun and our concept of time.

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In order to provoke their thinking about the concept of time, Ms Christofa encouraged Year 1 to do a ‘See, Think, Wonder’ exercise, showing them a variety of photos to spark their curiosity. As a result, Year 1 came up with lots of ‘I wonder’ statements.

Audrey said, “I wonder how many countries there are. I wonder why the sun looks so small. I wonder if the clock has a battery. I wonder why there are different types of moons.”

Abigail said, “I wonder how old the clock is and how you use it. I wonder how big the sun is in real life.
I wonder if the clock helps people to learn.”

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Bella said, “I wonder how does the timer work. I wonder how the sand timers were made.”

Using their research skills, Year 1 explored the concept of change by investigating the different changes that occur in the sky and land over time. For example, they looked at the Ivy House that overlooks the Woodstock playground and they thought about how the ivy changes colour throughout the year, from green to russet red to losing its leaves completely.


They then studied the changing phases of the moon and were excited to discover that the moon goes through a complete cycle every month. They thought about why the names for the days of the week came about and were astonished to discover that they share a connection to astronomical objects. For example, Sunday is connected to the Sun, Monday the Moon and Tuesday is connected to Mars.

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Year 1 then observed how the Sun changes places in the sky and how this alters their shadows over the course of a day. The students became very interested in space during this investigation, so they decided to use augmented reality to look at the planets in the Solar System, as well as the Earth and the Sun on JigSpace.


Working collaboratively in groups, the students brainstormed all the words to do with time and sorted them into an order, from the shortest period of time onwards.

The students were then interested to find out more about the Earth’s resources and decided to explore the function of different materials that come from the Earth. This prompted them to test different materials to find out which would be most suitable to make a 3D printed timer. Most of the class decided that plastic would be the best material to use as it could hold a mixture and wouldn’t break easily. Using their social skills, the students worked collaboratively to design a timer on Tinkercad to be printed out in 3D.

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Digital Learning Leader, Mr Kolbe showed the students how to work in 3D space and how to use measurement to discover the size of the timer. Together, they investigated what happens when they combine different materials and discovered that they could make a mixture or a solution. They experimented with this to create a mixture or solution that they could add to their 3D timer.

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The students thought long and hard about what their timers could be used for and decided that in order to deepen their understanding, they would collect data from the other students in Woodstock to see how they would like to use them.

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Finally, Year 1 used their communication skills to create an advertisement to show how their timer met the needs of their targeted audience. They displayed their advertisements in the classroom to persuade their peers in Woodstock to use them.

On Thursday afternoon, Year 1 were very excited to be given the opportunity to present their timers, along with the promotional videos and posters they’d made, to their peers in Woodstock. It helped to reinforce the concept of time to all our Woodstock students.

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They say that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and our Year 1 students could not agree more. Not only have they deepened their understanding about the concept of time, they’ve had lots of fun doing it!