Curriculum Guide



Mission and Guiding principles


Teaching and learning at UNIS


Pre-K Learning Approach


Pre-K Modules of Inquiry


Overview of Math, Language Arts and Science


Library Program


UNIS Benchmarks


Mission & Guiding Principles


Under the auspices of the United Nations and guided by its ideals, UNIS provides an inclusive and diverse learning environment in which rigorous international programs foster academic excellence, innovation, creativity and cross ­cultural communication to educate and inspire its students to become an active force in shaping a better world: peaceful, compassionate, and sustainable.


Within this context we believe that:

UNIS students are committed to the spirit of the UN Charter by:                                                

●  Demonstrating respect for human rights

●  Demonstrating respect for the principle of equal rights irrespective of race, sex, language or religion

●  Developing skills for the peaceful resolution of conflict

●  Practicing tolerance and living together in peace

●  Understanding individual responsibilities within society

●  Understanding the relationship between rights and responsibilities

●  Acquiring knowledge of universal ethics

●  Providing leadership that demonstrates awareness of ethical and moral issues

UNIS students benefit from an international education whereby they:

●  Gain historic and contemporary knowledge and understanding of the world through intellectual endeavor

●  Acquire international understanding through interaction with the uniquely diverse school community and by studying and experiencing other cultures and belief systems

● Maintain the fluency of their mother tongue while valuing the acquisition of other languages

UNIS students strive for academic excellence by:

●  Learning how to learn

●  Discovering the joy of learning

●  Attaining depth and breadth of academic knowledge and understanding

●  Acquiring the skills that support intellectual endeavor and academic success

●  Solving problems independently and in cooperation with others

●  Acquiring aesthetic appreciation

●  Understanding modern technologies and using them wisely and effectively

●  Preparing themselves for the demands of higher education

UNIS students must be part of a caring community which encourages them by example to:

●  Share, cooperate, and contribute responsibly to a global society

●  Develop sensitivity to appropriate work and social relationships consistent with the principle of equal rights, including gender equality

●  Display sound decision ­making skills by reflecting on choices and consequences

●  Think and act critically, creatively, and independently

●  Lead a positive, healthy life

●  Care for others, as they would have others care for them

●  Share resources

●  Build understanding and trust

UNIS students, being individually and culturally diverse, appreciate the significance of

●  Developing personal values

●  Respecting the values of others

●  Valuing one’s own culture

●  Understanding and demonstrating respect for the culture of others

●  Understanding multi­culturalism within a global society

●  Being able to make a difference

Teaching and Learning at UNIS

Teaching and learning is at the heart of a school, and successful schools place the student at the heart of their learning environment.  Teachers systematically plan, use evidence to inform their practice and employ a range of teaching strategies and methods to support and improve student learning.  Learning involves students making sense of the world.  It is not simply about absorbing information, but it is an active process of constructing meaning.

At UNIS we recognize that students making sense of their learning will help them become independent learners.  UNIS’ learning targets and outcomes, and supportive inclusive environment, foster opportunities for students to develop a lifelong love of learning where skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and adaptability, are developed and honed as our students move continuously and seamlessly from Junior A through Tutorial House graduation.

Moreover, teaching and learning is most effective when there is commitment to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment.  As such, we believe that the learning experience at UNIS offers a unique opportunity for each child to engage in a coherent curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and has clear learning outcomes for each stage of the learning experience. Through integration, innovative and research-proven teaching strategies, modern learning technologies, and real world resources and contexts, the UNIS curriculum goals help students understand their place and role in their learning. Moreover, timely informative feedback on their learning helps students develop the skills, attitudes, and dispositions necessary to systematically improve the quality and understanding of their learning experience in an international context.

Teaching and Learning in the Junior School

From the very first year, the social, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and physical needs of the student are central to the curriculum, so that the classroom becomes a world in which the acquisition of skills and conceptual understanding goes hand in hand with the freedom to inquire, explore and create. The integrated learning that characterizes school life in the early grades builds a deep understanding of who the children are as inquiring independent critical thinkers and learners in an international environment.

Every day our children have the opportunity of experiencing a safe and secure inclusive learning environment to work, learn and play with peers from different countries and cultures from around the world. The connections made between subjects, people, times and places, characterize the interdisciplinary nature of the Junior School curriculum.

Pre-K Learning Approach

In the Junior School students must be ready to be a helpful member of a community, they must feel connected, passionate about learning, embrace the UNIS Learner Profile characteristics, be prepared to ask questions and know how to solve problems both on their own and collaboratively. With all of this in mind, the UNIS Pre-K program was designed.  We take a Reggio-Inspired, Inquiry and Play-based approach to learning.  We encourage student agency through calculated choice and student independence.  A child who knows how to be an active member of a community and care for others is a child who will be successful from JA onwards!


In short, the Reggio-Inspired approach works to empower children to be in charge of their learning while simultaneously being community and environmentally minded.  The tenants which ring true in the UNIS approach are:

Inquiry and Play-Based
We follow the rest of the Junior School in having an inquiry-based approach to all learning.  In the Pre-K years this comes out in the form of play-based and project-based learning.  For example, a child may find a spider on the playground that interests them.  The child is encouraged in this moment to draw the web or the spider, use what sounds or words they do know to document their thoughts.  The child may then go to the dress-up area with friends in the classroom and dress-up as a spider and play bugs in the classroom.  The teacher, acting as an active participant in this spider research, may then get a book about Spiders to read to the class.  Children may then build a Spider web in the block area or design one through visual art. The child may be encouraged to figure out how many legs and how the legs of a spider work.  Which may lead to an investigation of the number of legs of different insects.  In this example alone, we covered language arts, mathematics, science, visual and performing arts, physical education, design and engineering and more. This is the kind of learning that happens on a daily basis in Pre-K.

Modules of Inquiry in Pre-K  

***A note about Pre-K: While this guide may separate subjects for ease of reading, all subjects are integrated together in the Pre-K learning environment, specialists and classroom teachers collaborate to plan all learning engagements and goals.  

Community Goals

I am a Storyteller


Build It

Module Understanding

Learners understand that in a group we can help each other to achieve a goal sometimes better than we could on our own.

An inquiry into:

  • Our Relationships
  • Goal Setting
  • Collaboration
  • Ways to reflect on growth

Key Concepts and Related Concepts:

  • Connection
  • Responsibility
  • Community
  • Problem- Solving
  • Organization

Time period: All year, culminating in a large class community project

Module Understanding

Learners understand that storytelling allows us to share ideas, feelings and experiences in different ways. Multiple tools and materials allow us to tell stories in different ways.

An inquiry into:

  • Variety of ways of expressing ourselves creatively
  • Materials and tools for expression
  • Exploring different methods of communicating

Key Concepts and Related Concepts:

  • Form
  • Perspective
  • Patterns
  • Reflection

Time period: October- December

Module Understanding

Learners understand that journeys are made for a variety of reasons and a variety of methods.

An inquiry into:

  • Different modes of transportation
  • How we move around the space around us and around the World
  • How the natural environment changes the ways in which we travel
  • Growth and learning as a journey

Key Concepts and Related Concepts:

  • Function
  • Transport
  • Movement

Time period: January- March

Module Understanding

Learners understand that the properties of a material will determine how useful it is for particular purposes.

An inquiry into:

  • Force
  • Material strength and characteristics
  • Geometry
  • How the environment affects the structures that are built in the World

Key Concepts and Related Concepts:

  • Change
  • Form
  • Force
  • Geometry
  • Materials
  • Cause and Effect

Time period: April- June

Math Overview

While all subjects are completely integrated below is an overview of the math concepts that will be covered in the different modules. Please note while this is when these concepts will be looked at in-depth, they will come up throughout the year as the children explore and discover.


Storytelling through 100 Languages


Build It

Classroom Routines

Workshop Structure

One to One Counting


Structure of 5

Pattern Recognition




Addition & Subtraction (conceptually)

Geometry and Navigation

Shapes: Circles, Squares, Triangles Rectangles

Language Arts Overview

While all subjects are completely integrated below is an overview of the language arts concepts that will be covered in the different modules. Please note while this is when these concepts will be looked at in-depth, they will all come up throughout the year as the children explore and discover.


Storytelling through 100 Languages


Build It

Classroom Routines

What’s in a name

The shape of letters and numbers

Listening Skills

Book making

Recording our thoughts on paper

Wordless picture book study

Defining a reader and writer in a broader sense

Expressively speaking to our other community members

Sign Making

Book Making

Using drawing and writing to provide information

Using the phonetics we know to begin to form words

Book making

Phonetically sounding out words

Beginning inventive spelling

Empowering ourselves as writers and readers

Expressing our opinions in speech and in writing/drawing

Science Overview

While all subjects are completely integrated below is an overview of the science concepts that can be introduced in the different modules. Please note while this is when these concepts will be looked at directly, they will all come up throughout the year as the children explore and discover.


Storytelling through 100 Languages


Build It

How do we observe

How do we record

The natural world around us everyday

Asking questions and defining problems

Developing and Using models

5 Senses

All about Us (scientifically)

Sinking and Floating

Weather and where we live


Light and Water



Force (pushing and pulling)

Our Environment

Solids and Liquids

Homes and Habitats

Library Program

The Junior School Library fosters a community of learning and literacy that leads to high academic achievement, independent reading and learning, integration and collaboration.


The Library is a powerful intellectual and social space where students and teachers gather ideas, exchange points of view, and learn together. Under the guidance of certified school library media specialists, the Junior School Library promotes learning within and beyond the library walls by:


• provoking the intellectual, social and personal development of all students to become motivated and independent learners.


• providing physical and intellectual access to information, in a warm, stimulating, and safe environment.

• providing instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using ideas and information for effective learning. • integrating the library program throughout every student’s education through collaboration and advocacy.


Students from Pre-K  to J4 develop and employ information literacy, technology and critical thinking skills in integrated and collaboratively taught learning experiences. Students are engaged in independent reading and inquiry-based learning.


Pre-K/Junior A        


Students are introduced to the organization of the library and independent book selection. Students learn about the role of authors and illustrators and the difference between fiction and nonfiction. They begin to explore different genres with a particular focus on folk and fairytales.