Primary Years Program (PYP)

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Units of Inquiry

The Units of Inquiry provide students with the opportunity to ask questions, respond to open-ended questions, learn to research, work collaboratively with others, make choices and decisions, use materials in flexible and imaginative ways and extend their knowledge and develop understanding. Our aim is for students to make connections from prior knowledge, to reflect on their new knowledge and take action based on this new knowledge.

Click here to review the PYP Units of Inquiry.


Circle allows for a variety of activities from counting the days on the calendar, singing, finger plays, listening to a story, doing a science experiment, and brainstorming or discussing a topic by answering and asking questions. Often times circle is followed by teacher directed activities related to the Unit of Inquiry.


We emphasize the child's acquisition of language for the purposes of communicating with others and being able to express thoughts, ideas, and feelings. This includes listening and speaking as well as emerging reading and writing concepts. We use a wide variety of strategies to prepare students for the world of reading and writing and expanding their spoken words. This is accomplished gradually through activities such as nursery rhymes, rhyming games, finger plays, stories as well as puppetry and drama. Students are also exposed to rich vocabulary, phonological awareness activities, story sequencing and posted words in the classroom. We also concentrate on name recognition and developing pre-writing skills. Writing skills are also reinforced in the writing center where the students experiment with different writing tools and materials, and in personal journal writing for our Junior Kindergarten students.


Mathematics is a way to structure experiences to form ideas about the quantitative, logical, and spatial relationships between things, people and events. At the Junior School children learn about numbers and numerical representations and simple operations, recognize and create patterns, sort and classify and become aware of relationships, develop concepts of shape and space, and represent and interpret data. This is accomplished mostly through play and hands-on activities at circles, in teacher directed activities, or in block and manipulative centers such as the centers. Students will start using math vocabulary such as more, less, longer, shorter, heavier, empty, full, next to, above, below, behind, up and down when describing their environmental boundaries and position of objects.


Share is a time when a child presents a particular object or event to a familiar audience, often following criteria set by the teachers. Examples could be sharing something that fits in a pocket, an item that the child can read independently, something from another country, etc. This activity helps increase their self-esteem by strengthening their ability to speak in public with ease. It also provides classmates the opportunity to practice being a respectful and attentive audience and asking relevant questions to the topic at hand.

Snack and Lunch

Snack and lunch are social times when a child can converse politely with his friends while enjoying a nutritious meal together. Whether the food is provided by the school, home or cooked by the students, snack and lunch times give an opportunity to teach counting skills when students pass out the snack and distribute a napkin or a cup to each child. Cleaning up after snack is another educational opportunity where a child’s sense of competence and independence are fostered.

Outdoor Play

Running, swinging, climbing, hopping, sliding, digging in the sand, dribbling and shooting balls, and searching for bugs are favorite parts of the child’s day. This time outside refines the child’s gross-motor skills and allows for free exploration.


In this very popular center, children learn scientific and math skills when they experiment with depth, width, height, length, gravity, measurement, volume, area, classification, shape, symmetry, and mapping. Children also learn about spatial relations, stability and balance and extend their language development.


Our tables encourage children to have tactile experiences with the media provided such as sand, rice, corn or water, and to explore and learn about cause and effect. Children enjoy measuring, sifting, “fishing”, and pouring from one container to another or washing items such as dolls or plastic china. Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination are being challenged when playing in dry or wet tables while socializing with classmates.

Drama Center

This center is among the most popular center in the classroom and is stocked with play items, outfits and props that encourage make believe and allows for creative play. Through imaginative play, children learn to be flexible by substituting objects for those they do not have, learn empathy for others and to think abstractly. They practice social skills, learn to take turns and share objects. At times the drama center reflects the current unit of Inquiry.

Manipulatives and Puzzles

While playing with small manipulatives and puzzles, students strengthen their fine motor skills which are a precursor to their ability to write. Playing with puzzles also develops abstract thinking, as it requires the ability to see a space and envision what belongs there.

Weekly Single Subjects

Physical Education: PE at the Junior School begins the journey of guiding children toward a lifetime of being physically active. We offer the children time to play alone, with a classmate, teacher or aide while exploring movement with balls, hoops, balance boards, bean bags, and catching/striking implements. Movement challenges, skills, games and time to play and explore help our students gain confidence and competence in learning physical skills.

Art: In art at the Junior School, the goal is to become familiar with the basic elements of art (color, line, shape, texture), to experiment with various art making materials (e.g. crayons, markers, paint, clay), and to strengthen their visual and tactile awareness as well as fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Various art processes and techniques such as drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, collage, and fabric arts will help to develop the necessary skills for grade level completion. We strive to cultivate creativity while learning that the process is more important than the product thereby heightening the student's personal expression and self-esteem.

French: Students are exposed to the French language and culture through authentic activities such as singing and reciting poems, dancing and miming in action as in Total Physical Response-TPR, reading books and stories, and playing indoor and outdoor games. All activities are conducted in the target language. At this young age, the emphasis is placed more on comprehension than on oral expression, and in order to make learning meaningful for students, the French curriculum is often integrated with the homeroom core curriculum.

Music: At the Junior School we love to sing and dance. In our action packed music classroom, students focus on individual skills like singing in various tonalities, improvising, listening, using language in musical ways, dancing, and learning to play different instruments. Through singing, dancing and playing, the students are introduced to 9 key concepts which are Voice, Dynamics, Pitch, Dance, Instrumental, Rhythm, Ensemble, Tempo and Notation. Our classroom time lends itself to helping each child feel comfortable using music as a medium of self-expression, best displayed through creative moments and lyrical interpretation. In addition to these goals, we also focus on performing skills such as learning to sing and dance as an ensemble while following specific directions. A few performances for the families showcase their skills and the joy of singing and dancing.