Kindergarten Local Environment Unit of Inquiry - PYP

  • Kindergarten
Kindergarten Local Environment Unit of Inquiry - PYP
Serrin Smyth

Students in Kindergarten have begun their next unit of inquiry exploring the central idea: 'The local environment shapes how we live.'

This unit of inquiry is a part of the Transdisciplinary Theme: Where we are in place and time - An inquiry into orientation in place (geography) and time (history); homes and the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

Students will be inquiring into:

  • Line of inquiry 1: Ways our local environments meets our needs and wants

  • Line of inquiry 2: How location and culture influence our local environments 

  • Line of inquiry 3: Our responsibility towards local environments

In our aim to further develop globally minded citizens, this unit focuses on students:

  • Being open minded about the common humanity of all people (Line of inquiry 1)

  • Identity &/or Cultural Identity (self perception/self concept - nationality, ethnicity, religion etc...) (Line of inquiry 2)

  • Diversity  (Line of inquiry 2)

  • Learning about and respecting others perspectives, cultures and beliefs   (Line of inquiry 3)

  • Awareness that the world is much larger than the community in which we live   (Line of inquiry 3)

  • The ability to see oneself as a responsible member of the community and a global citizen  (Line of inquiry 1)

Students will be exploring this through local, national and global perspectives by investigating how the local environment at school, in Yoga & Setagaya shapes how we live (Local), customs in Japan (National) and how location and culture influence environments in other countries (Global).


As a provocation to ignite students interest, Kindergarten classes ventured on a Learning Walk. The role of the provocation is to create excitement and engagement for the unit of inquiry and bring to the surface students current understandings, knowledge and possible misconceptions about the concepts about to be explored. 

The Kindergarten Classes have started to visit the library. This seemed a wonderful opportunity for students to observe and question the school environment outside of the Kindergarten. 

The Daffodil students shared, “Along the way we saw friends from Kindergarten, Ms Smyth, Ms Rogers. We saw the statues along the way - “Oh a king.” “I think that’s God.” 

As the Violet Class visited the Media Centre, they observed the school environment and thought about what do we need in a school for it to be safe, for us to learn and to have fun? Students noticed nurses, the gymnasium, the cafeteria, the Seisen logo, cleaners, soccer field, sinks and sanitizers, social distancing on bus benches, children’s toilets, statue.

As the Primrose class took a walk to the library, they saw St Raphaela’s statue and asked to take a photo of it. They noticed, “This is god and god needs to protect us.” “There is a speaker outside Mr Lewis’’s office - when there is a fire announcement we will hear it.” “Fire Hydrant - if there is fire we need water.”

Marigold students went for a learning walk around their most immediate environment - the kindergarten! Students started to define what the environment is by looking at the places, things and people around us. The children said the following things: “I see PE (The field)” “There is my classroom, I’m Snowdrop!” - “Classroom is (for) playing with teachers and friends,” “It is for learning!” “That’s Ms. Kyoko’s office!” - “We need it for snacks!” “No running!” (A sign along the hallway) - “if you run, you will bump your head and an ambulance will come” “The playground” - “We can play and run” “The picture (bulletin board)” - “The teachers change the trees (children’s work?) there” “The computer” - “teachers need to work” “The toys” - “we play with our friends” “The flowers” - “We smell them, they are pretty” “The teachers” - “They play with us” “The children” - “we play together” “Ms Sheila” - “the children wait in her room” “We play, we have teachers, we see friends, we see playground, we see toys…”

SOLO Taxonomy & Word Vocabulary:

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 formulated.

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. 

Local Environments SOLO Taxonomy & Word Vocabulary

How can parents support learning about the Local Environment? 


- Go for a walk in your local neighborhood

- Take photos of places, people and things you see along the way

- Label these photos using words from the Word Vocabulary List or write what each part of the community helps us to do, e.g. 'this is a big building, this letterbox help us write to people and communicate'

- Is your child interested in a particular part of the community they wish to learn more about? For example, hospitals, parks, fire station, police, supermarket. There are many great picture books about local community helpers

- Draw a map of your local environment - can you draw signs, symbols or labels to show the different places on the map? (Idea from Crayola)

- Interview a friend or family member that lives outside of Japan - can they share photos of their local environment or home? How is their home different or similar to your own?


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.)

Ms Smyth PYP Coordinator


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