ISY Elementary Blog

Happy Thadingyut!

Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

23 October 2020

We have made a good start to this year like no other. I’m very proud of our students and teachers who have all continued to adapt to life online over the last 8 weeks and I’m also very grateful for the support of our families. The Thadingyut break comes at a perfect time for us to rest and reflect. We have learned a lot in a short space of time and we now have a chance to reorganize ourselves to be even more effective after the break. On behalf of all Elementary teachers and staff, thank you for your support and we wish you a happy and restful Thadingyut.

Happy Thadingyut!


Happy Halloween!


ONLINE LEARNING TIP: How was school today?

It can be difficult at the best of times to get our children to talk about their school day. But it is important to understand how they are experiencing learning online so we can support and motivate them. Each Friday for the next few weeks, we will post five different questions that might help your child open up about their experience online. Here are this week’s questions:

  1. What are you looking forward to after the break?
  2. What are you reading?
  3. What was the hardest rule to follow today?
  4. Teach me something I don’t know.
  5. If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?



We’ve nearly completed one quarter of online school.  Typically families would be heading off to relax and unwind during their October break.  This year, as we all know, the airport is closed and our social options are limited.  This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the week with our children.  Here are a few suggestions to help encourage some family time.

Storytime: Read a book out loud or better yet, act out the story after you have read it.  Children love to play make believe.  Become the characters and take the story to the next level.

Physical Activity: Organize physical activities throughout the day and week.  Be creative, make up a new sport, for example, combine two sports into one or use an unusual ball, like a rolled up sock.  You don’t need the official equipment, just your imagination.

Obstacle Course: Children love to create and race through their ideas.  Brainstorm ideas for what might make an interesting tunnel or stepping stone.  It gets them critically thinking and physically moving!

Dance Party: Who doesn’t enjoy dancing?  Set the mood, decorate and put on some dancing outfits.   Share music from your past with your children.  Play freeze dance or put a few moves together and create a family dance. This gets your family moving and brings a smile to everyone’s face. 

DYI Challenges: offers weekly challenges to get families thinking and working together.  Develop a marble run, build a costume out of cardboard or create an invisible ink message are just a few ideas.  The site groups activities to ensure they are age appropriate.

Gardening:  With the rainy season nearing an end, think about starting a garden.  This website has everything you will need.

A few online Ideas:

Tour a famous museum from the comfort of your own home and without the hassle of long hours traveling.  This site from Travel & Leisure allows you to explore 12 famous museums from London to Seoul.  The Smithsonian also offers a wonderful tour of The Museum of Natural History.

GoNoodle: Is a website filled with songs and dances that your children love and know.

Animals:  Switch Zoo allows students to create a new animal and build a habitat from them.  It’s fun and educational.  Explore Live Cams of animals in their natural habitat.  The US National Aquarium offers a virtual tour that gets you up close to the sealife. 

However you choose to spend your October break, I hope you return feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and above all healthy.  To those celebrating the upcoming holiday, Happy Thadingyut!

Warmly, Ms. Patty  

Virtual Recess will be offered again after the break from 1:00-1:30 PM.  Students should use the All Grade Specialist Link to join on their assigned day.  All activities will be student driven but will include fun and games.

Grades 4 & 5: Tuesday
Grade 3: Wednesday
Grade 2: Thursday
Grade 1: Friday

A Feeling for Fiction: The Power of Stories to Build Compassion

The benefits of reading are many but sometimes I think we focus on the academic benefits and forget about the potential of books, especially fiction, to ‘help train us in the art of being human.

I was reminded of the power of stories to deepen our humanity and connect us to others by a short essay called ‘A Feeling for Fiction’ published in a book that our ISY Leadership Team is reading, ‘The Compassionate Instinct.’

Children love stories and this shows that they enjoy feeling with other people, even when the feelings are sometimes negative. Whenever we read a story or watch a movie we feel pleased when a well liked character does well or a disliked character struggles. We are displeased when the opposite happens. This a basic process but potentially a very powerful one. This process can transcend the limits of our own culture, identity, perspective, and experiences and connect us to people who are, on the face of it, very different from ourselves. 

Children experience stories through their favorite character, usually the main character who is usually the hero. If the main character or hero’s culture, identity, perspective, and/or experience is different to their own, a child is connecting and empathizing with a person who is not like them. To like a character who is not like them exercises a child’s sense of empathy and develops their openness and capacity to understand the culture, identity, perspective, and/or experiences of others in the real world. 

At ISY, we are committed to developing compassionate global citizens and we are using stories to do this. Each week, in exploring the idea that ‘we are all connected,’ our Early Elementary students share in a story around which all of their learning revolves. Our teachers have taken great care in selecting stories that represent different cultures, identities, perspectives, and experiences. A student may immediately identify with a character as being ‘like them’ one week and the next week they are identifying and empathizing with a character who, on the face of it, is very different to them. 

This is one example of how we are striving to value the cultures, identities, perspectives, and experiences of all of our students and of those of people that our students may never have the opportunity to meet. By extending our students’ understanding of humanity through the stories we expose them to (at all grade levels), we are developing global citizens who will become agents for positive change. 

Keltner, Dacher, et al. The Compassionate Instinct: the Science of Human Goodness. W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.


The Compassionate Instinct is a collection of essays that appear in UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good Science Center’s Greater Good Magazine


Thursday, November 19 will be dedicated to Parent Teacher Conferences. There will be no classes on this day for students. Parents will receive a written progress report prior to this day to help guide the conferences with their child’s teachers. 

Previous Elementary School Posts