Our January Unit of Inquiry

Dear Parents,

After the holiday, Kindergarten will start a new unit of inquiry based on the theme Where WeAre in Place and Time. In this unit, students will use artifacts to look into the past and see how life was similar or different to our life now.

To do this we need your help. We would like to ask that you help your child find about 3 artifacts from the past. These artifacts can include, but are not limited to photographs, clothing, cultural relics, books, games, music, family artifacts, a replica of historical objects, etc. These artifacts can, but do not need to be, from your personal family history. These artifacts will stay at school for a while so please make sure they are labeled in some way.

We are sending this information to you before the holiday in case you need to collect these artifacts while visiting your home country or if you find something that represents a time in history while on your travels. Please have your child bring these artifacts to school after the break and before Friday, January 12th.

If you have any questions, please ask.

Kind Regards,


Kinders are computer programming!

Last week, the children learned to do simple computer programming (coding) by using a robot called a Beebot. The children thought critically, planned, used directionality, counted and used their number sense. They also worked collaboratively by reflecting on and solving problems as they arose.

Initially, the children needed to understand programming by being the Beebot. First, they programmed their friends to go forward, backward, turn right or turn left with picture cards. Once the children were comfortable programming each other, they tried an App on the ipad called ‘Beebots’. The children then transferred these skills to an actual Beebot and made the Beebot go to different shapes on a grid map.


Your child is bringing home a ‘cookie’ they made this morning. It goes with a story I read to them called, ‘Mmmm…Cookies’ by Robert Munsch. The cookie is to inspire them to retell the story to you. Please encourage your child to retell the story to you to enhance their retelling skills.


A summary of our inquiry time

Building a sense of community is one of Kindergarten’s central ideas. Helping others in the doctor’s office is a positive way to do this. Most days, our doctor’s office opens at 9:30. Come by and be a patient around 9:30 if you are free.If one looks closely while the children are busy in the doctor’s office, you can see writing happening…when appointments are being made, when rooms are assigned to the patients and when medication is being prescribed.

Clay: While digging outside in the dirt a couple of weeks ago, bits of ceramic tiles were discovered. This lead to an interest in clay which was then ordered on Taobao. Once it arrived, the clay was used to make clay pots for our plants. Next week, we will paint our clay pots.

Planting: A few weeks ago, we planted the pumpkin seeds in our cups. After a few days they started to grow.

Then we planted some more in a big planter. After a few days…

and after a few more days…

Then they discovered some seeds hanging on the trees. These were collected and planted in a third planter.

It was also fun playing in the mud that was in the third planter!

Now we are busy planting many kinds of seeds.

Inquiring outside can get messy so it’s important to clean up too.

We also grew some seeds without dirt so we could observe what happens under the dirt.

Meanwhile inside… one of the girls found a book on how to make a rabbit. So they started making rabbits with paper by following the directions in the book.

Ballet shoes were also being designed with paper. By glueing the paper to the bottom of their socks, the shoes stayed on!

While some children were creating with paper, these 2 boys invented a watch to time their friends every minute that they were working (complete with a Nepalese dot on their forehead and saying ‘Namaste’).

Some of the children discovered that hitting objects with sticks creates different sounds. Watering cans and stools were 2 of the objects used. Sliding a stick along the bench also created a xylophone sound.

That prompted children to create musical instruments. Cardboard was used to create drums, a guitar, a piano and a microphone. After the instruments were made, we were treated to a musical performance.

Do you like to listen to readers read?

Children love to have their family members be part of their learning. So, I am looking for parents/grandparents to come in for 15 minutes at the beginning of the day (8:00-8:15) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You will help children read their ‘take home book’. You can come any day you are free. You can come as often as you like. Your job is to help children with words they may not know and/or listen to a child read their ‘take home book’ to you. Please send an email to me at scormack@sis.org.cn if you are interested.

Here is what the 15 minutes looks like:

The children pick one book from their book basket. Then they sit down at a table and read their book two times. If a child raises their hand, it means they need help. Go over and help them. Once you have helped them, walk away so they can develop their independent reading skills. If they need more help, they will raise their hand again. After they have read their book twice, the children go to the carpet and find a partner. They are expected to say, “May I read this book to you?” and the partner is expected to say, “Yes”. This is where you can ask a child to read to you or they may ask you to listen to them. Your job is to praise, encourage, and compliment the child on their reading.


We are practicing ‘whole body listening’ when we read with a partner.

The listener (that’s you) will:

*Look at the book

*Listen to the story

*Help when needed

*Ask them questions about the story they are reading.


The reader will:

*Hold the book so their partner can see it

*Speak loud enough for their partner to hear

*Point to each word

*Say ‘thank you’ to their partner for listening

Once we are done, the children will put their book in their ‘take home’ bag and go to the carpet. This is when you leave and we will start our morning meeting.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are available to volunteer.

  1. Children are at different levels of their reading ability. That’s OK. We help the children get better by encouraging them to read, read and read.
  2. We do not discuss children’s abilities with anyone. We keep it professional. Some children have very little English and will need time to learn the vocabulary that is necessary to read in English. Other children need time to learn the letters and sounds that are necessary to read.

Thanks so much for your support,


Learning our ‘snap’ words

The children are learning some common words we call ‘snap’ words. They are the words that are being placed above our alphabet letters in our classroom. We are slowly adding ‘snap’ words above our alphabet letters as we discover them, use them, and learn to read and write them. We call them ‘snap’ words because we want to be able to read and write them without having to sound them out or think about it.

Occasionally, your child will bring home a slip of paper we have used with the ‘snap’ words on it. Feel free to help your child learn them. We have all year to learn them so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away.

Here are the words we are working on so far: (the line in front of some of the ‘snap’ words means that we can add a letter or letters to the beginning of the word to make new words.We are also learning that some of them rhyme (have the same sounds at the end), some of them have the same sound at the beginning (be, by), and some of them have 2 letters to represent one sound (she, the).

Here are some fun ideas to help your child learn these words (or other words they may want to learn if they already know these words).

International Bazaar information

Dear Kindergarten Parents, 
The International Bazaaar is approaching and we are excited to share the cultures, traditions, and holidays from our homes. We are entering the season of holiday traditions for many families at SIS.  This is the perfect opportunity to participate as Global Citizens by celebrating each other’s different customs and family traditions. 
The kindergarten teachers would like to invite parents and/or parent teams to teach either a cultural aspect, activity, or holiday tradition from your home country. Some examples of holidays celebrated from previous years are: Hanukkah, Saint Lucia Ceremony (Sweden), La Befana (Italy), Weihnachten (Germany), Chuseok (Korea), Chinese New Year (China).
Who: Kindergarten Parents/Parent Teams 
What: Teach a cultural, traditional activity, or holiday. Please prepare a short hands-on activity for all four KG classes (about 30 min per class).
Where: Kindergarten Classrooms
When: November 19 – November 22 from 8:00 – 10:55
How: Follow the Sign-Up link. On the “My Comment” box, please include the name of the holiday tradition you would like to share. If you need supplies, please email Mrs. Erlendson at nerle1@sis.org.cn with specific details about what you need at least 2 days before your scheduled time, if possible.
Volunteers will be grouped by country and asked to collaborate on an idea. If you are interested, please sign up. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s teacher. You can start collaborating with your country group as soon as you sign up. The Kindergarten teachers will contact you and provide more information regarding specific dates and times.
Kind Regards,
The Kindergarten Teachers