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Understanding PYP with the help of Kindergarteners

PYP at the German International School

Translating the PYP (Primary Years Programme) lingo into German can be challenging.  The Learner Profile for “caring” for instance translates into the tongue twister “Fürsorglichkeit”.  In the beginning of our PYP journey we sometimes worried that students would not easily understand the Learner Profile in German – especially since most of our students are not native German speakers.  Nobody anticipated that our very own Kindergarten students would come to the rescue:   

When our Kindergarten team mapped out the plan for the transdisciplinary theme “how we organize ourselves”, they decided to inquire about the process of producing and selling products. 

Implementing PYP in the classroom

During Show and Tell, students were invited to bring any product to school and tell the class how it was made. This prepared students for the next step: Producing their own product. The Kindergarteners started to inquire about a product that they could sell in school: Something that would be healthy, fun, playful, sustainable, fairly inexpensive, and safe. They came up with home-made playdough. The class decided to produce different colored playdough with fragrances. With the help of Kindergarten teacher Kati Heckmann, the slogan “Dough for dough” was created (Knete für Knete).  Soon students formed teams and started the messy production of dough.  

The Kindergarten students and teachers decided to sell the playdough to the school community with a little twist:  As payment students could not use regular money, but “Fürsorglichkeits-Dollars” (“Caring-dollars”). So Kindergarten students designed their own money. The Fürsorglichkeits-Dollar was born.

All teachers received packs of “Caring-Dollars” to distribute to their classes: Whenever students showed sensitivity towards the needs and feelings of their classmates, they could earn one “Fürsorglichkeits-Dollar”.  Soon enough the whole school was enthusiastic about “caring”. Suddenly the German word “Fürsorglichkeit” was buzzing through the hall ways. Everybody wanted to earn a “Caring Dollar”.

What did the students take away?

During market day, the Kindergarten team sold a lot of playddough. The sale was a huge success earning 200 Fürsorglichkeits-Dollar in total. But more importantly: The Kindergarten team raised awareness of the Learner Profile Trait “caring” and thus had an impact on our whole school culture.

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