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Kindergarten 2

Project Approach -Where child inquiry takes centrestage

Learning experiences are planned in meaningful contexts as children learn from the experiences they encounter. At Ascension, teachers help children draw meaningful connections across different learning areas. Through the project approach, teachers facilitate children’s understanding of the world around them as a whole. 

A glimpse into our Project …


The aims of environmentalism are already widely acknowledged and increasingly supported. Yet, the current level of awareness of sustainability economics is, by contrast, extremely weak. (Siraj-Blatchford, J. 2008)

In the early childhood sector, we strive to nurture a disposition of self responsibility among children and hone life skills for sustainable living. They include:

  • Reflection
  • Taking responsibility
  • Consultation
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration and
  • Commitment

Children have the right and a responsibility to be involved in achieving Sustainable Development. In class, teachers play an important role to facilitate their conversation or play. As a group playfully working together, children work together to be a collective problem solver. As they progress, we hope to instil in our children, the increasing emphasis on communication, cooperation, collaboration and task sharing so that they become individuals who will be active contributors to the problem solving collective. 

The journey that the children has gone through in this project clearly illustrates their capabilities when we provide the right questions, bring in the appropriate agencies to collaborate with us for wider exposure and allow children to take in the information and simply flourish at their own abilities in the design of the games. It has inspired teachers to continue with this inquiry based curriculum although it can be tricky when it comes to planning as plans can change as quickly as the child’s contribution towards the topic.

We are glad our parents could journey with us and be awed by their children’s capabilities and continue to support them in their 3R quest. Here is a glimpse of one of our projects.

Innovation Project: 3R Ambassador – Taking action!


“Look, a rubbish truck! Where does rubbish go to?” Joshua asked his teacher while she was bringing him to his bus that takes him home.
“Where do you think rubbish go to?” she asked.
“To somewhere far away so that we can’t smell rubbish”, said Joshua
Seizing the opportunity, the teacher extended the child’s inquiry to lead in the lesson the following day. The teacher used the KWL chart to facilitate the lesson: What I KNOW, What I WANT to know, and What I’ve LEARNED. In summary, children know that rubbish go to the rubbish chute and some can say that “we must sort our rubbish” and the term recycling is used over and over again, etc. The teacher explained that Singapore’s rubbish go to a landfill at an island called Pulau Semakau. Then a child questioned what happens if the island is filled to the top. Another child responded with,” Then throw less rubbish! Remember reduce, reuse and recycle?” The teacher took the opportunity to ask what’s the difference between the 3Rs?

That formed part of “What I want to know” and inspired the teacher’s brainstorming session where teachers agree that children are capable of taking responsibility and taking action to make 3R part of their daily life. Lesson objectives include:

  • To understand that we should Reduce first (ie buy only what we need), 
  • To reuse what we already have 
  • To recycle, to turn what we have into something new
  • To know that the above is easy to do.

The following are activities that took shape with inquiry-led approach:

Reduce

Children learned about Pulau Semakau and understood that we should use only what we need otherwise it will be wasted and become rubbish -hence contributing to the already crowded Pulau Semakau. 

Reuse

Little Dots, a company, who recycled milk cartons came to the kindergarten and showed children how to compress the tetra pack so that it can be efficiently brought to a factory to be processed to become paper. 

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Recycling Centre

A Recycling Centre was set up where children brought in everyday household products made from 3 main materials that can be recycled: Paper, Plastic & Metal. Once in school, they sort them accordingly so that their friends can have free access to it to create anything of their choice.

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During the process of this project, another child asked if the milk carton is made of paper as she knows that paper comes from trees. Teachers shared that paper indeed comes from trees and if we do not have trees, we will not be able to have paper. Another child asked how paper came from trees. A lesson was then conducted on the source of paper. Following that, children decided to learn how to make paper. They realised that they could make their own cards for Mother’s Day.

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Show & Tell of my creation

Guided by teachers, children are encouraged to share about their creation with their friends. This process allows them to articulate their ideas in a non threatening environment and think about why they chosen to make their creation. Children stand near their teachers so that they get to make quick references to their teachers- this process allow children to feel secure and thus encourage many other children to volunteer their turn for show and tell. Their friends will also ask them questions about their creation.

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We also saw children collaborating with each other and feeling proud about helping each other.

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Soon, children came up with many creation ideas. Jasmine class made vehicles out of Yakult bottles, attached a ribbon at base of their vehicles and “raced” by rolling the pencil to pull the vehicles towards themselves. 

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At the Art centre, Ixora class made percussion instruments out of the recycled things. Their creations were used as percussion instruments during their music lesson.

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As we went further into this project, another child asked what happens when rubbish are thrown into the sea. Responses include:

“It will destroy the homes of fishes.”
“The turtles will die.”
“The sea will become dirty.”

Then one child asked, “How will it be dirty? The water can wash it away!” The class became lively with differing views. One other child asked,” When the water is dirty, can the fish breathe?”

The teacher then asked if the children would like to learn more about marine life and how they breathe. Apart from lessons, teachers invited staff from Underwater World to provide authentic learning to children, bringing some marine animals for children to touch. They taught our children how to care for the marine animals. We were glad that it included taking care of the quality of the water. From there, children learned that water is where marine animals live in and the water is like the air we breathe. It should be kept clean to ensure their survival.  

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Following the above, children also camped overnight at the Underwater World to gain deeper understanding of the marine animals – how can we take action to keep the water they live in clean. 

When they returned, teachers facilitated the conversation about throwing things into the sea. They agree that it was not a good idea as the marine animals will not be able to live if we continue to dirty their homes. Then another child suggested that we cannot throw rubbish into the sea and maybe we can make something out of it, like when they made something at the recycling centre. Then another child added that it is boring as everyone is making the same things. The teacher asked,” What if we made something that we can play with?” That was the question that stimulated all children with suggestions. The teacher thought since all the children have understood the mechanics behind constructing out of recycled materials, they could plan a game using recycled materials with their parents. They were very happy to take action!

Taking action: Designing my own Marine Life Game

A note was sent to parents to explain what we have been doing and children would like to design games using recycled materials with the marine life theme in mind. Children shared their experiences with their parents on how to recycle materials. They also shared marine life knowledge with their parents and contributed to game ideas. Parents were encouraged to document the process (See Annex A & B) 

In school children were given opportunities to be ambassadors of their games. A show and tell lesson was introduced for the children to talk about their experiences on how they created their Marine Themed game with their parents. They also played their games with their friends.

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An Open-house carnival was organised and children’s self designed games were displayed. As a family they had a good time bonding with each other during the process. As peers, they were exposed to many different games and learned a lot from each other. Today, children continue to talk about their games and visit the learning centre to find out if their games are being featured.

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Challenges faced
  • Aligning children’s thinking with lessons
  • Motivation and management of activities
  • Practical constraints of the learning context :
  • Explaining the difference between the 3Rs to our children
  • Finding time in our short 3 hour curriculum
  • Space constraints

Inquiry activities can lead learners to confront the boundaries of their knowledge-the limits of one’s knowledge are often revealed by the failure of an expectation about a particular situation leading to curiosity. In this case, it’s about the 3Rs. The curiosity elicited by such problematic situations creates a focused motivation to learn. However, in our discussion with children, we find that children come from different family background so they would have different prior experiences. So we have to plan carefully so as not to leave children behind. The KWL method allows us to include every child as they are the ones who tell us what they know and from there, we also talked about what they wanted to know.

For students to engage in inquiry in a way that can contribute meaningful learning, they must be sufficiently motivated. To foster learning, that motivation must be the result of interest in the investigation, its results, and their implications. We hence set up a recycling centre where all children are active contributors. When we do not direct the child on the objectives of the recycling centre, we see many bright ideas flourish and we are able to learn from the children when they talk about their creation.

Although environmentalism has been widely talked about, we find ourselves limited in our in-depth knowledge of the 3Rs. Thus when a child says, 

“The 3Rs are the same.”
 “No!” retorts another rightfully,

We find ourselves going to NEA as our resource to understand the 3Rs better. Having understood the difference, another challenge surfaced – how do we convey it to our young children? 4 class teachers sat down and mulled over the appropriate activities for our children so as to better engage them and bring a better understanding towards the intended outcome. It took time, but we managed!

We have the children for 3 short hours on a daily basis. On top of our core curriculum which covers language, numeracy and physical development, we need to carve out time in our time table to allow for exploration of the activities. At Ascension, we share our classrooms with other K2 classes as we practice an open concept where children go to different learning centres for their lessons. Every space is a shared space so we have to work among ourselves, where we would like to leave our unfinished project and still make it accessible to children who would like to revisit their project. It was challenging but we are glad we managed as a team.

Our pedagogy: Education for Sustainable Development

The aims of environmentalism are already widely acknowledged and increasingly supported. Yet, the current level of awareness of sustainability economics is, by contrast, extremely weak. (Siraj-Blatchford, J. 2008)

In the early childhood sector, we continue to strive to nurture a disposition of self responsibility among children and hone life skills for sustainable living. They include:
  • Reflection
  • Taking responsibility
  • Consultation
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration and
  • Commitment

Children have the right and a responsibility to be involved in achieving Sustainable Development. In class, teachers play an important role to facilitate their conversation or play. As a group playfully working together, children work together to be a collective problem solver. As they progress, we hope to instil in our children, the increasing emphasis on communication, cooperation, collaboration and task sharing so that they become individuals who will be active contributors to the problem solving collective. 

The journey that the children has gone through in this project clearly illustrates their capabilities when we provide the right questions, bring in the appropriate agencies to collaborate with us for wider exposure and allow children to take in the information and simply flourish at their own abilities in the design of the games. It has inspired teachers to continue with this inquiry based curriculum although it can be tricky when it comes to planning as plans can change as quickly as the child’s contribution towards the topic.

We are glad our parents could journey with us and be awed by their children’s capabilities and continue to support them in their 3R quest. Please see Annex A & B, illustrating 2 parent’s journey with their child as they embarked on this project.

Future plans:
  • Blessing other children
  • Research

Moving forward, we are looking into blessing other children with the designed games by going to play with them and showing them how small hands are capable of big things. We are also involved in a research to gain a better understanding if self-designed games help enhance children’s learning.