October - December

ELC  How we express ourselves

Unit of Inquiry

How we express ourselves

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings...extend and enjoy our creativity

Central Idea: People express their ideas and feelings when they create and respond to art.
Key concepts: form, perspective, reflection

Related concepts: interpretation, imagination, performance

Lines of Inquiry: The lines of inquiry will be co-constructed between child and practitioner based on learner’s interests, curiosities, and wonderings.  

                             The lines of inquiry developed “using close observations of children’s conversational threads, inquiries, and play enactments”.

Approaches to learning (skills)

Communication skills and Social skills

Learner profile attributes/attitudes

Thinkers, Risk-Takers, Confidence, Creativity.

The Learning Environment

“The Third Teacher”

In the PYP Early Years, “the environment” is given great consideration for every corner of every room has an identity and purpose, is rich in potential to engage and communicate, and is valued and cared for by children and adults. In Reggio Emilia, early learning environments, the use of space encourages encounters, communication, and relationships (Gandini, 2004). Much care is taken in preparing the environment because it acts as a third teacher (Fraser, 2011).

Examples of learning environments in ELC are “The Great Room,” the child’s respective classroom, the outdoor classroom and playground - these environments support play and inquiry, [they are] spaces that invite investigation, imagination, deep thinking, creativity, problem solving and meaning making”. ELC environments support play and inquiry and can facilitate learning in math, science, art, language and social studies.

Ways in which the learning environment facilitates learner agency:

  • Loose parts- both natural (e.g. shells, feathers, sticks) and man-made objects (e.g. glass beads or metal objects such as nuts/bolts/washers): Facilitate opportunities for open-ended inquiry, thinking, and creativity.  
  • Purposeful provocations: Invites inquiry into unit or non-unit related learning. Purposeful provocations encourage children to think of prior knowledge and to ask questions which can lead to further research, as well as stimulate conversation and further language development.
  • Construction Area: Children will explore space, shape, balance, and structure as well as have the opportunity to develop skills such as: thinking, communication, research, reflection, creativity, and self-management. It also provides opportunities to learn respect, spatial awareness, collaboration, confidence, and perseverance.
  • Writer’s Area: Children begin to see themselves as writers. Children’s writing is valued and presented and reflection is encouraged, Children begin to tell stories, with support. The area contains multiple mediums to explore writing (markers, crayons, pencils etc.). Children observe authentic uses of writing.
  • Role-play or imaginary play with mirrors: Children explore differences and similarities, facial expressions, emotions, and body movements leading to more body/spatial awareness.
  • Dramatic Play Area- Through role-play, children develop social, communication, imagination, and thinking skills, as well as make connections to real life experiences.
  • Library/Reading Corner - Children will have the opportunity to learn valuable book handling skills, develop their language, thinking, and listening skills. For example: the ability to retell a story, to understand that written language is related to oral language, that illustrations convey meaning, and that they too can be an author.
  • White board for writing
  • Outdoor environment- construction, sand play, water play, exploring nature, ELC garden, mud, bikes, and climbing frames for large motor development
  • Musical equipment to explore sound
  • Open spaces for large movement such as dancing
  • Visual schedules or daily routines
  • Quality learning videos that extend conceptual understandings
  • Documentation of student’s work: Supports communication, reflection of learning.
  • Shadow and light play: Develop science skills such as observation as they manipulate lighting.Encourages exploration of colors, transparency, shades and sizes. Invites experimentation as children work with a variety of objects. Encourages reflection, creativity, and thinking skills.
  • Projects - Throughout the year, independent and group projects will arise. The children will be encouraged to investigate and explore the possibilities within the projects. Information about these projects will be shared with the parents as the projects develop.


Year long

Children in the ELC have time to learn language naturally through play. They acquire language by participating in “social acts” with their peers and teachers.

By the end of two years in the ELC, the children will independently meet outcomes based on Phase 1 of the PYP continuum of language development.

Children will be able to:

(P1) Oral language - listening and speaking:

  • Follow classroom directions and routines using context cues
  • Listen and respond to picture books [with] pleasure and demonstrate their understanding through gestures, expression and/or words
  • Name classmates, teachers and familiar classroom and playground objects,
  • Interact effectively with peers and adults in familiar social settings
  • Tell their own stories using words, gestures, and objects/artifacts
  • Repeat/echo single words, use single words and two-word phrases in context
  • Join in with poems rhymes songs and repeated phrases in shared books
  • Understand simple questions and respond with actions or words

(P1) Visual language - viewing and presenting

  • Make personal connections to visual texts, for example, a picture book about children making new friends in a new situation
  • Show appreciation of illustrations in picture books by selecting and “rereading” familiar books
  • Reveal their own feelings in response to visual presentations, for example by showing amusement, curiosity, and surprise
  • Observe visual cues that indicate context; show understanding by matching pictures with context
  • Recognize familiar signs, labels for logos, for example, pedestrian walking sign, emergency exit sign, no dogs allowed
  • Identify similarities and differences

(P1) Written language - reading

  • Enjoy listening to stories
  • Choose and ‘read’ picture books for pleasure,
  • Locate and respond to aspects of interest in self-selected texts (pointing, examining pictures closely, commenting),
  • Show curiosity and ask questions about pictures or text,
  • Listen attentively and respond to stories read aloud,
  • Participate in shared reading,
  • Joining in with rhymes, refrains and repeated text as they gain familiarity,
  • Recognize their own first name.

(P1) Written language - writing

  • Experiment with writing using different writing implements and media
  • Choose to write as play, or informal situations, for example, filling in forms in pretend post office, writing a menu or wish list for party
  • Differentiate between illustrations and written text, use their own experience as a stimulus when drawing and “writing”
  • Show curiosity and ask questions about written language
  • Participate in shared writing, observing the teacher’s writing and making suggestions
  • Listen and respond to shared books (enlarged texts)
  • Observing conventions of print
  • According to the language(s) of instruction, begin to discriminate between letters/characters, numbers and symbols


Year long

LIS Mathematics Learning Continuum

LIS Number Learning Continuum

Mathematics is viewed as a language used to describe the natural world through tools and symbols as ways of thinking, rather than disassembling mathematical knowledge into broken, unrelated skills based activities. During free exploration the children will have opportunities to collect information to make sense of the world around us, data handling, exploration of number and mathematical concepts such as, measurement, space, shape, pattern, sequencing, and function as they relate to the children’s world. This exploration will be done informally through games, discussions, play based activities and project work.

Science/Social studies

Year long

Children’s natural dispositions to have a sense of wonder and to be curious leads them to make many discoveries and encounter many problems, both outdoors and indoors, which are then, observed and investigated. The PYP framework with its Approaches to Learning, coupled with the Reggio Emilia approach encourages young children to engage with the natural sciences while developing thinking, communication, self-management, social, and research skills. The children learn to see themselves as researchers, in partnership with their teachers, as they learn to embrace exploring and investigating the natural world using all their senses. Children learn about the process of research through observation, making predictions, collecting data, and formulating questions about living and nonliving things. These discoveries provide ideal opportunities to learn science skills, acquire science language, and to use science tools in a playful and authentic way. Consequently, the children learn to see themselves as “scientists”. These authentic discoveries can be one-time provocations or can be extended into project work.

Students will explore their understanding of people and their lives, focusing on themselves, their friends and families, and their immediate environment. They will develop their sense of place, and the reasons why particular places are important to people. (Making the PYP happen, p.110)

Source: IB PYP scope and sequences                                        Updated – May 2017