ICS Early Years Center Blog

Inter-Community School Zurich, Switzerland

October 20, 2014
by Rajeshree Rao
0 comments

Developing Language and Mathematical Skills using Stories

IMG_2857

As a class we read and enjoyed Julia Donaldson’s picture book ‘Stick Man.’ The rhyme within the text is simple and repetitive, allowing the children to join in with the ‘reading’ and predict and identify rhyming words within the story. The fact that the story begins in autumn and finishes in winter is represented by the eye-catching illustrations.  These allow the children to make connections between elements of the illustrations and the seasons of the year. It also helped to form understandings related to our year long Unit of Inquiry,  ‘How the World Works’, in which the children are exploring  how changing seasons affect the environment.

After we read the book several times, the children drew their own ‘stick man’ from their perception and understanding of the story.

The children planned to make these drawings come to life, and to collect natural materials to create their own ‘stick man’. Before heading off to the forest, there was a class discussion about the kinds of things that would be needed.

These were some of the children’s ideas:

‘We need long sticks to make the daddy, small sticks for the children and middle size sticks for the mummy’

‘We need a big stick to make a family home’.

After a successful time in the forest gathering all they needed, the children then made their own individual members of the stick family, adding detail such as eyes, hair and hats.

These explorations not only helped children to develop their language and communication skills, but also evolved into mathematical thinking, as the children counted and compared the lengths of the sticks as needed.

IMG_1483  IMG_1457  IMG_0949  IMG_1545  IMG_1560  IMG_2016

IMG_1948  IMG_1868  IMG_1930  IMG_2052  IMG_1533  IMG_2038

November 11, 2013
by Rajeshree Rao
0 comments

Integrating the IB Learner Profiles through Stories

Last week in EY2RR, we read the book, ‘Owl Babies’, by Martin Waddell. This delightful story tells the tale of three baby owls who wake up one night to find their mother gone from the family’s nest. This well-written and beautifully illustrated book has many relevant themes as well as opportunities to build understandings about language.

Bill’s repetition of ‘I want my mummy’!, is a familiar sentiment with which most young children can identify. The class eagerly predicted what Bill would say and joined in with the story. The book covers a range of themes such as separation, relationships, fear and anxiety. It was clear from the children’s engagement that they were able to make many meaningful connections. Some of those connections were related to the Learner Profile. We noticed the owls wereThinkers’ as the text tells us, “Owls think a lot”. We brainstormed about what the owls might be thinking. Here are our ideas:

Ffion: They were thinking and missing their mummy.
Annabel: The mummy has gone to look for food.
Karson: Mummy could have gone too far and got lost
Alexander: Mummy could have been eaten by a bad fox.
Zane : A bad owl ate her

Could the owls be ‘Risk- Takers’?

Nicolas: Even though they were frightened, they still waited outside their homes for their mummy.

The owls were ‘Caring’.
Walker: Sarah looked after Percy and Bill when their mother was away.
Amy: Sarah shared her branch with Percy and Bill.

After reading the story, we created a class book. The children were inspired by the life-like illustrations in the book. All were eager to take part and the teachers transcribed the children’s texts. Here is some of our work:
IMG_2962
IMG_2971
IMG_2966
IMG_2973
IMG_2974
IMG_2520

October 10, 2013
by Rajeshree Rao
0 comments

Block Play in Early Childhood Development

In our class blocks have been a hotspot of inspiration and learning. Playing with blocks keeps children very engaged and interested. Using blocks creates challenges and repeated use inspires children to be more creative and work on more complex structures.

Through block play children learn:

block_play_diagram

(Image sourced from: http://www.stevenscoop.org/news/article/index.aspx?linkid=60&moduleid=39) 

IMG_1584

Ffion, Alex, Walker and Nicolas decided to draw a plan on how to use the blocks to build a train, plane and a castle. In order to put their plan into action, there was a lot of sharing of and building on ideas.

When building with blocks the children are not only using their imagination but are also able to describe and narrate their story.

Here are some of their descriptions:

“A very tall tower for all of us to live in and hide from the baddies.” Karson and Walker
“A scary dinosaur castle and the dinosaurs are looking for children to eat.” Edward
“A castle with wheels.” Alexander
“We can do a train and also a bridge.” Edward, Walker and Nicolas
“A garage for the trains.” Ffion, Anika, Edward

IMG_8919

IMG_8929

IMG_9534

The range of math skills the children are exploring are: counting, measuring, comparing length and width, names of shapes, and how to combine some geometric shapes to make other shapes. They are even learning the basics of addition when they discover that two short blocks will be the same length as big block.

IMG_1458IMG_1459

“Look Mrs. Rao, if I put two small blocks they are the same as the big one.” Karson

“Two small rectangle blocks are the same as the big rectangle one.” Walker

IMG_1475

“We have 13 blocks and you have more.” Edward.

“I am taller than this tower.” Zane
“I am taller than the tower, but shorter than Zane.” Amy
“I am shorter than the tower. I cannot see Zane.” Annabel

IMG_1478

“Thank you for sharing the blocks with us.” Nicolas

IMG_8913

Children experiment with science concepts such as forces, when they learn how to balance the blocks to avoid their constructions from falling.

IMG_1450

They learn the use of simple machines such as ramps and slides through their buildings.

Here the children are experimenting to discover:

How many blocks until it topples over?

What can we do to make it balance?

What will slide down easily and what will not move when we put it on the ramp?

IMG_1489

Block play encourages healthy social development among children. When groups of children play with blocks together, they learn how to share, cooperate and build on each others ideas.

September 15, 2013
by Heidi Harman
0 comments

Fostering language development in the Early Years

083

079

081

In the Early Years we have many learning outcomes related to the four language strands of reading, writing, listening and speaking, and viewing and presenting (some outcomes addressed in this experience are listed below). Our class recently engaged in a wonderful learning experience, which helped to facilitate the development of some of these goals in all the four language strands. Together we read the lift-the-flap book, ‘There‘s a Dragon at my School’ by Philip Hawthorn and Jenny Tyler, which Ms. Judith in the library had ordered specially for us. During this shared story time, the students were encouraged to participate as active listeners. They also had the opportunity to help with the story-telling by taking turns to come and lift the flaps in the book and talk about what was happening in these hidden pictures. The story has repetitive phrases running through it, which while helping to develop language for all children, is particularly helpful for children learning English as an additional language (EAL). It wasn‘t long before everyone was joining in with these familiar phrases and we were all reading aloud together. We all agreed that we wouldn‘t want this dragon at our school, as he was always breaking the school rules! The children were encouraged to draw their own picture of a dragon at school and everyone was incredibly enthusiastic to make their dragon as naughty as possible! The children showed a real desire to draw and write and were keen to dictate the meaning of their picture stories. We put all of our drawings together to make one story book and we even made it into a lift-the-flap book! Everyone was so excited to share and present the page they had contributed to our re-told dragon book and it has been delightful to see the children imitating adult demonstrated reading behaviours as they share it together. Our book has now become part of our classroom library and is a very popular read!

Here is the link to a video of some of the children reading the book:

The password to view the video is: icsz

Language learning outcomes

Speaking and Listening

Look at the speaker when they are listening in a pair, small group or large group

Participate as speakers and listeners in group activities

Retell or tell a story with regard to sequence of events

 

Reading

Understand that both illustration and text carry the message, but that the reader is reading the words

Demonstrate conventional book handling skills   eg. Turning pages carefully, pointing to text, understanding left to right directionality

 

Writing

Continue to convey meaning through drawing which may then be described in dictated text where an adult scribes

Respond to correct pencil grip (when drawing)

 

Viewing

View and listen to media

March 21, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

How We Express Ourselves

How We Express Ourselves

EY have been exploring and expanding our ideas related to the Central Idea that There are different ways and reasons for sharing stories.

The experiences we have engaged in were designed to help us to develop questions, theories and understandings focused on the Key Inquiry areas:

  • Stories can be shared in different ways
  • Stories are shared for different reasons
  • How stories express different perspectives

Please click on the following link to view a movie which shows many of these learning experiences (in EY2 Yellow) and how they encouraged us to make discoveries and meaning throughout this Unit Of Inquiry.

https://vimeo.com/62296581

To view the video you must use the password: 4eyparents

March 8, 2013
by Andrea Mills
0 comments

A Trip to the Theatre

As part of our Unit Of Inquiry, “How We Express Ourselves”, EY2 is exploring stories. We had a wonderful opportunity to take the learning outside of the classroom and experience a live performance in a theatre.

On a chilly February day, we ventured out to the Forchbahn for the journey to Hechtplatz in Zurich for a performance of “Pippi in Takka Tukka Land”.  As we left school, the children excitedly told everyone we met, “We’re going to the theatre”! Each child came with different background knowledge about what a stage performance might be like. For some, it was a unique experience and for others a more familiar one. The children shared their expectations and thoughts.

The entire experience was exciting and significant, from waiting in line with our tickets, sitting in our seats with programs and waiting for the lights to dim. The performance was in Swiss German dialect yet most had no trouble following the plot. Back in the classroom the next day, we drew our reflections from the show. It was interesting to note what was memorable for different children.

As we hoped, this trip was a successful addition to our unit. The children visibly built their understanding of another medium to tell a story through dramatization. Perhaps equally meaningful was the shared experience of this special event beyond the classroom walls. Sharing the journey and the performance as an EY2 group meant that the children could benefit from conversations and interactions with each other, which helped to construct more sophisticated understandings. The children and their teachers will have memories of a beautiful afternoon spent together sharing a meaningful experience, which ultimately enriches our learning community.

Skip to toolbar