Learning / Early Childhood

Kindergarten Glimpse


Chinese Unit: 海洋动物 Ocean Animals | English Unit: Ocean Animals

Kindergarteners stand in a circle in Chinese class, singing Xiao Yu, Little Fish, and wiggle their hands like the fins of swimming fish. The teacher finishes the song and tells a story about a little fish who is sick because of pollution, showing images of debris in the ocean.  A child raises her hand to ask why the ocean is dirty. During choice time in the classroom, one student counts sea animals with a teacher, another child builds with LEGOs and a third student draws a shark and matches his drawing to Chinese characters for “this is a shark”.  The child goes into the hallway with his teacher and glues the paper shark and characters onto a class mural. The teacher calls the students back to the rug for their favorite song and the students excitedly arch like dolphins jumping, scuttle like crabs walking and chomp their arms like the giant jaws of sharks while chanting the Chinese words for the animals and their actions.  At the conclusion of the unit, the students work on iPads to draw ocean pictures, match Chinese characters to the sea creatures, practice sentence patterns, and record oral stories about sea animals on. Students also share ideas about what they can do to protect the environments where sea animals live. 

In English class a student throws an inflatable globe across the circle and the teacher asks, “Did your hands mostly touch water or land?”  The teacher adds a tally mark to the class chart and a girl raises her hand to say, “Most of us landed on water. There is lots of water in the world!”  Last week, the class visited the Aquarium of the Bay and explored with their five senses. A boy tasted salt water and fresh water, and said, “I remember when I was in the ocean and I tasted salt water and it was so yucky.” They experienced echolocation through sound with dolphins, smelled how salmon found their way home and touched bat rays and starfish in tide pools. Later in the unit when the students learn about the different ocean zones, a girl busily cuts out an image of an octopus and pastes it into the midnight zone section of her paper. “The octopus lives in both the twilight and midnight zone. The sperm whale will go into the midnight zone to eat the octopus but doesn’t live there.”  She looks back at the jar of liquids the class created, with the midnight zone represented by corn syrup with blue food coloring, the twilight zone with water, and sunlit zone with vegetable oil. “Well, the fish in the midnight zone have lights because it is so dark and they need light to protect themselves and find their way,” another student shares. The teacher claps to call the students to the rug and has a mini lesson about informational versus fiction books while reading aloud and comparing Clark the Shark to National Geographic:Sharks. Afterwards, one boy excitedly selects a book about coral reefs from the ocean animals book bin during independent reading, trying to sound out words and gather information by looking at the pictures. 

Examples of Enduring UnderstandingsExamples of Essential QuestionsFocus of Integration
ChineseAnimals are dependent on their environment to live

People have responsibilities to protect the environment that animals live in
How do ocean animals live?

What do animals need to live in their homes?

In what ways can people protect animals’ homes?
EnglishOcean animals have unique skills and adaptations to help them survive.What kinds of environments do ocean animals live in?
What do ocean animals need to live?