Grade 4 units of inquiry: 'Natural Systems' & 'Interconnectedness'

Grade 4 units of inquiry: 'Natural Systems' & 'Interconnectedness'
Serrin Smyth

How The World Works - Natural Systems

Throughout the How The World Works unit of inquiry 'Natural Systems', students inquired into how 'Communities depend on understanding and preparing for natural systems'.

Lines of inquiry:

Measuring and predicting natural systems

The impact of natural systems

How communities prepare and respond to natural systems

To ignite excitement and tune in to learning, students visited the Science Lab to investigate the questions - 'When and why does a cloud rain?', engaged in a gallery walk looking at different images, books and weather tools and considered what scientists look like and do.











Students then spent time developing their understanding of the vocabulary of the unit by matching pictures and words and using the dictionary to assist them in this process.

The Seisen Firebird Team lead a lesson for the students on how the Seisen weather station functions and how they collect and measure weather data. (

In connection with the Readers & Writers Workshop Programme, students created a nonfiction text on a natural disaster or extreme weather of their choice. 

Students share their 'lovely mess' of the process as they gathered notes, researched and used the success criteria of the writing unit to enhance the features of their books.

Please visit Seesaw to read your child's nonfiction text! 

Each book had an example of how to test the natural system or extreme weather through a science experiment. Students taught each other through modeling their experiments in class and through home learning. 

Who We Are: Interconnectedness

In the next unit of inquiry, students have been inquiring into the central idea: 'The interconnectedness between human body systems contribute to health and survival.'

They will be investigating: 

  • Body systems and how they work 

  • How body systems are connected

  • Access to medical advances & care contributing to health 

In our aim to further develop globally minded citizens, this unit focuses on the ability to see oneself as a responsible member of the community and a global citizen. Students will be exploring this through local, national and global perspectives by exploring body systems and how they are connected (personal), access to medical advances in Japan and how they contribute to health (national) and access to medical advances around the world and how they contribute to health (global).

In connection with the PSPE Curriculum (Personal, Social & Physical Education), the unit began with developing an understanding of the physical, emotional and social change that happens as we mature (change) and the components of safeguarding; protecting ourselves during times of change (protection).

What changes as we get older? Student responses included: 

"Our body changes, when you are older you can have babies, you get taller, you are able to work harder, your bones get stronger but then as you get older they get weaker, our thoughts and actions change, communication gets better, we play when we are younger then as we get more mature we have more responsibility, our personality changes, kids care more about what other people think of them, we try to act cool and like grown ups, fashion changes, we focus more on other things than just playing."

Ms Etsuko and Ms Line came into the classroom to teach us more about the physical changes that occur during puberty.

The High School SV Med Club came to visit Grade 4 and share with them their recent work on creating Period Packs for the homeless.

Students are currently in the process of creating their own Brain Pop videos of a body system in connection the line of inquiry: Body systems and how they work. Their next step will be teaching their classmates about the body system they have researched and  connecting their ideas by investigating how these body systems are connected.

Below you will find the SOLO taxonomy for this units including guiding questions to support parent/child discussions at home and word vocabulary lists.

SOLO Taxonomy:

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.

Vocabulary Lists:

The Vocabulary Lists are a guide for the possible vocabulary that may be explored throughout the unit of inquiry. You may wish to 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. 

SOLO Taxonomy and Word Vocabulary List 


Students have begun a unit reading Historical Fiction in Book Clubs. In this unit, students practice reading analytically, synthesizing narratives, comparing and contrasting themes, and incorporating nonfiction research into their reading. 

This unit prepares students for their next unit of inquiry, Where We Are In Place & Time: Explorers, where they will be reading and writing about famous explorers throughout history. 


Finally, 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 email Ms Smyth, or your child's teacher to share these moments.)

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