This term, we are introducing our new Unit of Inquiry –
How The World Works
"We construct theories about how the world works through playful exploration."
This unit is an inquiry into:
- How we can manipulate materials for a purpose
- How forces can cause change
- How we can use our understandings to design and create
As we encounter new materials, we will explore their form, observe what they are like, and discover how they can change and be manipulated and used differently. We aim to develop children'scuriosity and image of themselves as inquirers, thinkers, and communicators.
Our learning experiences will be playful and hands-on as we experiment and develop our understandings of cause and effect. We will be using the following skills as we play, design, and create:
- Thinking skills – critical thinking, problem-solving, forming decisions, and creative thinking
- Research skills – observation, questioning, gathering data, evaluating & communicating
- Communication skills – sharing our thinking, developing thinking, recording predictions and results
We will continue to revisit our other Units of Inquiry "Who We Are" and "Sharing the Planet," in response to the children's needs and interests throughout this term.
Grandfather Sun Project
'When you begin, begin at the beginning. Begin with the magic, begin with the sun, begin with the grass." Helen Wolfert.
Last term, we met Uncle Lionel from Living Culture, who came to visit us to learn more about Aboriginal ways of learning and being. Uncle Lionel shared many essentials, and something that has captivated the children is the story of 'Grandfather Sun.'
We wondered if we could explore more deeply the meaning of 'Grandfather Sun'?
How could we acknowledge and show respect to the spirit of 'Grandfather Sun'?
We listened closely to Uncle Lionel share his cultural knowledge of 'Grandfather Sun' on YouTube through the recent Mornington Peninsula Shire NBN Aboriginal Art Node Project.
"We call our sun' Grandfather.' So, what I put in the design, you can see the beams coming out of the sun. They're like his arms coming out and giving us a big hug and warmth and giving us, filling us with all his positive energy. That's what he does. So, all those designs, and you'll see the animal tracks around them as well, and camps, well that's the sun, Grandfather that shines down on all those animals and all those creatures and our camps. It gives us all positive energies. The plants, the animals, and us the children of Bunjil as well. You know those beams, those big arms that are reaching out and giving us a big hug." Lionel Lauch, Gunditjmara/ Kirrae-Wurrung/ Bundjalung artist.
We thought it a beautiful metaphor to imagine the spirit of the sun giving us a warm hug during the challenges of the recent lockdown.
Together we researched the meaning of the Australian Aboriginal flag; Black representing the Aboriginal people of Australia, the yellow circle representing the sun, the giver of life and protector, and red representing the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal people's spiritual relation to the land.
We invited the children to imagine and create their own "Grandfather Sun" through drawing and watercolours. We listened to the children's ideas and theories about the sun.
"The sun doesn't talk." Penelope
"Some suns can talk." Jordyn
"Maybe they could say, "Hello, I love you." Penelope
"When I am driving in the car, the sun follows us." Penelope
"The sun goes with us because the sun wants to keep us nice and warm. I love the sun. Jordyn
"The sun is a ball of fire. That's why it is so hot. It has gas," Felix
"First goes the arrows. The arrows tell you where the sun goes at night-time. First, the sun goes up; then it goes this diagonal, then it goes this diagonal, and then it goes down." Ollie C
We were interested in the idea the children shared that the sun 'goes with us,' so our sundial experiment was set up to explore the sun's movement in the sky. As we waited patiently for the winter sun to appear, some children shared their predictions and thinking through rich conversation together.
"The shadow will go from the stick all the way to there." Felix
"The line will move because the sun will move." Edie
'The earth is spinning, and the earth makes it look like the sun is moving, but it is staying in place." Kai G
"When you see the sun following you, the earth is moving the sun." Felix
"The earth is spinning around you." Kai G
"But we are not spinning around." Edie
"The reason we are not spinning around is because the earth is spinning so slow that you won't even feel it." Kai G
On the day that 'Grandfather Sun' appeared while we sat in Morning Meeting, we invited the children to notice the weather outside.
"Grandfather Sun." Ollie C
"It's Winter, but the sun has beaten Winter and come back." Kai G
"There are no clouds because the sun is blocking them." Eli
"I saw one cloud on the way here." Olivia
"First the sun comes up, then it goes diagonal, then it goes down." Ollie C
"Every time the sun sets, it goes into the water." Ollie W
"When the sun sets, it goes down and makes the sky a different colour. The sun maybe hides in the hills." Kai G
"The sun is always in space." Lewis
A collaborative artwork of 'Grandfather Sun' inspired by Uncle Lionel is in process. We have painted the Wirra Wirra, the Boon Wurrung/Bunurong Sky, and collected nature from Boon Wurrung/Bunurong Country to create the sun.
"The sticks could be the arms of the sun; it's like a hug." Felix
We explored the ephemeral nature of Mandalas to play around with nature sun designs.
The spirit of 'Grandfather Sun' is truly within us, the Bubups, the children of Bunjil, the plants, and all the animals. We wonder how reassuring it is for us all to know that we experience sunrise and sunset every day.
"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter." Rachel Carson.
How the world works-PYP Unit of Inquiry.
Material Encounters- How can we manipulate materials for a purpose and use our understandings to design and create.
Our current unit of inquiry is an excellent opportunity to explore and experience various materials both inside and outside. The children have welcomed the addition of different sizes of transparent pots into our building area to provoke new ways of learning encounters.
The pots have been transformed by stacking, lining up, things placed inside, balanced on top of each other, and combined with the blocks. A small group of children was inspired to build 'the friendship place' as they placed all the class statues on top. Loose parts such as tiles, paint colour samples, and stones further extended the children's thinking. We turned off the lights and darkened the room to shine a light on the 'friendship place' and celebrated the incredible achievement by the children involved in imagining it and building it.
The children arrived with much excitement one morning as a rainbow greeted them in the sky. We noticed the colours and shape of the rainbow, and we observed that the sun and the rain were happening simultaneously. We watched the rainbow disappear in the sky.
"The rainbow is because there was rain." Olivia
"It was sunny too." Luca
"Sun and rain make a rainbow." Christopher
"Water and sun reflect to make a rainbow." Fletcher
This became the opportunity to gather some coloured ribbon and material offcuts to repurpose into our rainbow in the sky. We proudly hung our rainbow on the fence to bring joy and happiness to all that pass it.