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A Toy Story - An PYP and MYP Collaboration Design Project

Starting in early September, students in Kindergarten from our Hongqiao Early Childhood Education (ECE) campus and Grade ten design students from the Hongqiao main campus have been forging a meaningful relationship. This partnership was born from a Middle Years Programme (MYP) provocation, to design and build a toy. Within the different phases of the project, there have been natural and mutually beneficial opportunities for the two groups of students to meet and play. 

upper school design student demonstrating toy to early childhood students

 

The MYP students naturally called upon SCIS’ experts in play on the ECE campus to serve as a focus group and assist them in the research process. Small groups of teenagers entered the ECE armed with clipboards, notepads, cameras, and audio recorders ready to inquire and gain an understanding of what their potential clientele might value in a toy. Their Kindergarten counterparts curiously awaited their arrival, unsure of what to expect…or even do when they met. As the two groups met, there was a bit of an awkward standoff, initial probing questions were met with blank stares and confused looks from the Kindergarten audience. Luckily, a few toys were soon taken out, eyes lit up, and both groups used play as a vehicle to work towards their goals. One group soon became more comfortable with the tall middle school strangers in their space, allowing the other group to capture observations of likes, dislikes, and ideas from their younger and at times timid counterparts. 

lower and upper school students playing together

 

Play has a way of bringing people together. In this case, it helped the Kindergarten students to become comfortable, allowing them to engage in conversations about their toys, that initially seemed overwhelming. The play allowed Kindergarten students to express more details about the color, size, shape, and most importantly the functionality of their toys and types of play they enjoy engaging in. The MYP students observed and collected data using photos, videos, written notes, and even recorded audio files to capture the type of play they witnessed. Grade 10 students also realized the children were not the only people with knowledge regarding play and began interviewing the teachers in the room as well. Play allowed the MYP students a chance to build a relationship with their Kindergarten counterparts and create a dialogue to discover interests and preferences that went beyond initial failed conversations and observations, to a greater understanding of the desires of their potential clients. Similarly, the Kindergarten students’ comfort level increased as they expressed their knowledge through the many tools, toys, and materials at their disposal in the classroom.  

Early childhood student collaborating with upper school design student
early childhood students raising their hands inside upper school design classroom

 

After the initial meetings in September, the upper school students have been working hard to organize the data collected to create a prototype. In mid-November, the ECE students were able to visit the Upper School Design Lab to reconnect with their elder counterparts and see the design process in action. Additionally, the trip served as a source of inspiration for the Kindergarten students as they too will soon begin to design and create a game of their own as part of their ‘How We Express Ourselves’ unit. While the materials and design concepts used will vary dramatically from Grade 10 to Kindergarten, play will still very much be at the heart of both projects. 

 

In early December, the Grade 10 Design students will put the finishing touches on their toys and rejoin the ECE students to do what they do best. It is fitting the final step of this semester-long project will result in a play session back at the ECE, where the process began. Play is the basis for learning within the early years, and play is what has driven this design process through the data collection, sketch, prototype, and completion stages. 

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”-Fred Rogers 

Guest post by Andrew Bissonnette, Early Childhood Education Co-Coordinator at SCIS Hongqiao 

 

SCIS. Knowledgeable Inquirers.

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