Nagoya International School

Elementary Inquiry Questions

Q: What can we do to save animals from extinction?
An image of a book "On No! Endangered Species


Gr. 1 students were inquiring into living things, and what they need to survive, for their UOI “Sharing the Planet.” They inquired about what plants and animals need to survive, and how they change their environment to suit their needs. As they went on researching the needs of different living things in diverse environments, they also learned how to handle data and compare and contrast animals using graphs and Venn Diagrams, making connections to their Math unit. Watch the video as a student explains how his skills and knowledge have connected.

In addition, during the unit, a student who was particularly interested in horseshoe crabs got concerned after learning that not only horseshoe crabs but lots of other animals are listed as endangered species. To help protect horseshoe crabs and raise awareness about endangered species, he came up with an idea to create books about endangered species, sell them, and donate the profits to a conservation group that has been working on the conservation and breeding of horseshoe crabs.

Boys researching on the Internet with an iPad
Girls writing on a sheet of paper while researching on the Internet
A student writing on sheets of paper


Everybody in Gr. 1 agreed, and they started working on creating the book. They were busy researching, planning, and making a draft of their book on endangered species in Japan. Following that, each of them became editors, carefully checking each other’s work for content and technical mistakes, all the while learning to be kind and constructive in their critiques.

Even after the book was completed, and while they were waiting for the printed books to be delivered, Gr. 1 students were busy strategizing how they should market their books to get as many people as possible to buy them so they could raise a lot of money to donate to the conservation group. They brainstormed and decided to make posters and present them at the primary assembly to promote the book. They also filmed a short video to use during their presentation. 


students posing with the book they created

When the finished books arrived from the printer, they were so proud of their work! The book was so popular that all 70 copies printed were sold out quickly! 

The unit was a perfect example of how the PYP curriculum works at NIS. It started as a science unit where students learned about animals, their habitats, and what they need to survive. But then it was connected to math, where they learned data handling using graphs and Venn Diagrams. While they were creating the book, students used their research skills and practiced non-fiction writing. As one area of learning informs the other, the understanding deepens.

Also, the greatest thing about this unit is that it followed the students’ interests and passions which modified the unit into a larger project resulting in their very own book! The classroom is not the only place where learning happens. Learning and understanding deepen when students make connections between what they learned in the classroom and the world around them. And what could be better than when their new learning and understanding of the world creates a positive impact?