• Grade 4
Grade 4: Students become Explorers!
Serrin Smyth

How do we ignite students interest in our new unit of inquiry and discover what they already know?

As we launch our new Grade 4 unit of inquiry, WWAPT: EXPLORERS, students will inquire into the central idea: 'Exploration can lead to discoveries, opportunities and new understandings.' They will be investigating: 

- Reasons for explorations

- Explorations throughout time

- The consequences of past and future exploration 

As a way of igniting curiosity, stimulating interest and encouraging creative questioning, students went on an "Exploration" adventure around the school!

The Grade 4 Teachers and our ICT Coach Mr G, developed an interactive scavenger hunt, where students used clues to find locations and input answers to carefully crafted questions relating to the unit of inquiry; with a focus on geography, history and mathematics concepts. Each group used the ipad app 'Goosechase' as a way or recording and engaging with the activity. 

First Location Clue: Find the bearded man whose arms are always open!

Students were asked questions relating to a timeline and dates of explorations throughout history, such as:

How long are the intervals on the timeline?

How many years does the timeline show in total? 

When did Columbus discover the Americas?

Who discovered Florida in 1514?

How many years are there between the discovery of the Americas by Columbus and Magellan’s voyage around the world?

Second Location Clue: Go to where you can find shade near your favourite place to play.

Students were asked questions about famous Explorers throughout time.

Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. In what year was she born?

Before becoming an astronaut and being the first African American woman to travel to space, what did Mae Jemison do for a job?

How high is Mount Everest in meters?

What year did Neil Armstrong land on the moon?

Third Location Clue: Go outside your Scottish specialist teacher’s room.

Students were asked geographical questions and referenced the world map to find their answers, such as: 

What ocean is West of Europe?

Which sea is between Korea and Japan?

What ocean surrounds Hawaii?

What is the largest country in the world (land territory)? 

Fourth Location Clue: Go to the play area on top of the gym.

Students were asked questions about location and their ability to identify direction through compass points.

From where you are standing, what direction is the north gate?

From where you're standing, what direction is the kindergarten gate?

From where you are standing, what direction is Mt. Fuji?

From where you are standing, what direction is Komazawa Park?

During the reflection and discussion following on from this activity, students began to share their prior knowledge and also a range of questions they were wondering about. 

They recorded these questions on a Jamboard and noticed that their questions fell into categories of mostly - maps, space, history of explorers and timelines, oceans, seas, countries and mountains. 

Teacher observations were discussed and reflected upon to plan learning experiences for the unit. These observations of prior knowledge, alongside students sorting their developed questions within the lines of inquiry, will support in the development of engaging, relevant and inquiry focused learning engagements. 

Students sort questions into the different lines of inquiry, and identify questions they may choose to explore as personal inquiries as part of their home learning: 


Students spent time planning for realistic portraits of explorers. Details of the guiding teacher questions:

 Examples of student work as they research the subject of their portrait prior to creation:

 In homerooms, students worked independently and within groups to explore the question: What motivates people to explore and what would personal motivate you to explore? 

As students move into the 'developing many ideas' stage of the inquiry, they are using research skills to formulate and plan for investigation: 

Students used the above matrix to delve further into deeper questions:

On Monday 8th March, students celebrated International Women's Day! In connection with their unit of inquiry, students learnt about the life and achievements of inspirational women from around the world:

What can you do at home to connect with learning about Explorers? 

SOLO Taxonomy and Word Vocabulary List

This parent version of the SOLO taxonomy may support you to have discussions with your child by asking some of the guiding questions. The questions develop across the SOLO from a shallow understanding where factual knowledge is developed to a more deeper understanding where conceptual understandings are formulate. The Vocabulary Lists are a guide for the possible vocabulary that may be explored throughout the unit of inquiry. It is encouraged that you explain and explore the words within this list with your child in their mother tongue. Perhaps you may talk about the concept of some of the words in English and also in your home language in order to deepen their understanding of them.

IDEA: You might explore the question: Who/what were some influential explorers/explorations from the past and from your culture?


Additionally, if you see your child taking action as a result of their learning at school, we would LOVE to hear about it! As action is often taken outside of the learning environment, we often don't know about these opportunities that you as parents are witness to, even a short email telling us about something your child did or said at home as a result of their learning helps us know how the PYP is supporting the development of life long learners that take action!

Please contact our PYP Coordinator (ssmyth@seisen.com) or your daughter's homeroom teacher.

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