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Welcome to 2021! Our year started out on a bright note with two celebrations: Gabriela’s 10th birthday and Antonio’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Gabriela and Antonio!
Since our last blog, we've had two IPC units of study: ''Gateways to the World'' and ''Do You Live Around Here?''. We flew into our ''Gateways to the World'' unit with an entry point inspired by travel. The children dashed around the sports hall, packing suitcases and pretending they were pilots flying a plane through turbulence and low visibility. Our Gateways unit was based on how travel connects us, and we focused on geography (mapping skills) and technology (designing and making products to meet specific needs). The children designed, mapped, and created their very own airport for our school Beebots, and then programmed the bots to move through the airport with different goals and stories. For example, Kred the Beebot snuck through security without a ticket and made it to the international terminal to board a flight. He was a very sneaky Beebot! We wrapped up our studies with an egg drop STEM project to see if we could design a vessel to protect an egg from breaking when we dropped it out of the school windows. The children used masking tape and cardboard to create their airborne contraptions…and we were all thrilled to watch two out of four eggs survive the big drop!
We began our next unit, ‘’Do you Live Around Here?’’, with a trip to the forest, where the children built survival shelters using found and foraged materials. Their structures were varied and creative, and they used ivy, sticks, branches, leaves, trees, and their imaginations to build. We’ve taken a local walk, mapped the area around ISG, catalogued the different types of homes around the school, investigated how home design is influenced by climate and culture, and talked about our various homes from around the world. In this unit we are focusing on science (carrying out investigations) and art (choosing materials and techniques appropriate for their task), and we are integrating geography, history, and technology as well. We are also tying our study of homes and habitats into writing non-chronological reports and using topic-specific vocabulary.
One of the most exciting aspects of our new IPC unit has been our mini habitats project. Every Tuesday afternoon we head into the woods to study small patches of ground that we have demarcated with string. Each child has their own habitat that they draw, observe, and make predictions about. Even though it’s winter here in Belgium, you wouldn’t believe how much the children’s habitats are changing every week! We are discovering feathers, tiny mushrooms, slugs, sprouting acorns, berries, moss, and more in our habitats. The children are so eager to get outside and check their special spots, and their observations and notes are full of life and detail. We recently found animal tracks in the snow and discovered that the snow revealed secret animal movements and trails to us that we wouldn’t have been able to see without it. We found a ‘’bird highway’’ right next to Enrique’s habitat! Back in the classroom the children have written mini reports based on the living things they’ve been finding in their habitats. We’ve all learned about moss, slugs, earthworms, beech trees, and ants, and practiced our skills writing reports and formatting text in Google Docs in the process. We’ve created Venn diagrams comparing and contrasting our habitat discoveries, photographed and taken samples to identify with field guides, measured, sketched, labelled, made predictions, and thoroughly enjoyed our moments in the woods. Our mini habitats project has been such a highlight of the unit and brought us closer to our natural environment and the ecosystems right here in Ghent.
During our Daily 5/Literacy time we have been delving into the world of fantasy! We have started reading a book called Nevermoor about a little girl who is selected to try out for the Wundrous Society in a magical realm that she has never heard of, filled with wondrous characters, animals and mischievous classmates. We have been working on finding new and interesting words and then finding new and creative ways of enhancing our writing. The children have been using a thesaurus to help them find alternatives for verbs and adjectives. We have also been trying our hand at creating our own Wundrous Society names, drawing Morrigans’s ever changing bedroom from the descriptions in the book and we are now writing questions for an interview with Jupiter North, Morrigan’s patron.
In Numeracy both Year 3 and 4 have been working towards their mid term tests and been doing very well. We have also started working on our times tables to see how many we can do in 60 seconds!
The students who arrive before school are also working on painting an amazing rainforest banner for the classroom and last week they started on a coral reef! They really are enthusiastic painters!
Our days are filled with scientific observations and walks in the woods, taking flight into fantasy worlds, approaching numeracy in creative and hands-on ways, and expressing ourselves through art and writing. The children remain eager and spirited learners, and it is a joy to spend our days together. Best wishes for Krokusvakantie!