Friday, 14 December 2018

And that's a wrap!

2018 comes to an end.

It's been another fantastic year of learning and working together.

As always I have been blown away by children's ideas, observations, creation, knowledge and interest.

Thanks to the many parents who have helped out in various ways this year - with trip supervision / transport, with equipment, with knowledge and contacts. I appreciate your support.

I look forward to working with students who are at Whangaparaoa Primary again next year. I will organise a timetable in January and publish it when it's finalised. Quest will start in week 3 (the week starting 18th Feb). It will be on a Tuesday or Wednesday again at this stage. Likely to be the same format as this year - year 5&6 in the first blocks, Year 3&4 in the middle blocks, and year 2 in the last block. I will be busy looking at identification of new or younger students too in term 1.

To those leaving Whangaparaoa Primary - good luck at your new schools. For the year 6's - I look forward to hearing about you in the future - hopefully you keep in touch.
Year 6's got a little story and a Christmas decoration from me this week - hopefully something to think about and to remember their time at Whangaparaoa Quest in years to come.

Here is the story I gave them. It's a little story taken from the thought-provoking book 'The Monk who sold his Ferrari' by Rob Sharma. It's worth thinking about!

Peter and the Golden Thread

Peter was a young boy who could never live in the moment.
When he was in school, he dreamed of being outside playing.
When he was outside playing, he dreamed of his summer vacation.
Peter constantly daydreamed, never taking the time to savour the special moments that filled his days.

One morning, Peter was out walking in a forest near his home.  Feeling tired, he decided to rest on a patch of grass and eventually dozed off.
After only a few minutes of deep sleep, he heard someone calling his name.
“Peter! Peter!” came the shrill voice from above.
As he slowly opened his eyes, he was startled to see a striking woman standing above him.  She must have been over a hundred years old and her snow-white hair dangled well below her shoulders like a matted blanket of wool.
In this woman’s wrinkled hand was a magical little ball with a hole in the centre and out of the hole dangled a long, golden thread.

“Peter,” she said, “this is the thread of your life.  If you pull the thread just a bit, an hour will pass in seconds.  If you pull harder, whole days will pass in minutes.  And if you pull with all your might, months – even years – will pass by in days.”
Peter was very excited by this new discovery.
“I’d like to have it if I may?” he asked.
The elderly woman quickly reached down and gave the ball with the magic thread to the young boy.
The next day, Peter was sitting in the classroom feeling restless and bored.  Suddenly, he remembered his new toy.  As he pulled a little bit of the golden thread, he quickly found himself playing in his garden.
Realising the power of the magic thread, Peter soon grew tired of being a schoolboy and longed to be a teenager, with all the excitement that phase of life would bring.

So again he held the ball and pulled hard on the golden thread.
Suddenly, he was a teenager with a very pretty girlfriend named Elise.
But Peter still wasn’t content.

He had never learned to enjoy the moment and to explore the simple wonders of every stage of his life.  Instead, he dreamed of being an adult, so again he pulled hard on the thread and many years flew by in an instant.
Now he found that he was transformed into a middle-aged adult.  Elise was now his wife and Peter was surrounded by a houseful of kids.
But Peter noticed something else.
His once jet-black hair had started to turn grey and his once youthful mother, whom he loved so dearly had grown old and frail.
Yet Peter still could not live in the moment.  He had never learned to live in the now, so once again, he pulled on the magic thread and waited for the changes to appear.
Peter now found that he was a ninety-year-old man.  His thick dark hair had turned white as snow and his beautiful young wife, Elise, had also grown old and had passed away a few years earlier.
His wonderful children had grown up and left home to lead lives of their own.

For the first time in his entire life, Peter realised that he had not taken the time to embrace the wonders of living.
He had never gone fishing with his kids or taken a moonlight stroll with Elise.  He had never planted a garden or read those wonderful books his mother had loved to read.
Instead, he had hurried through life, never resting to see all that was good along the way.

Peter became very sad at this discovery.  He decided to go out to the forest where he used to walk as a boy to clear his head and warm his spirit.
As he entered the forest, he noticed that the little saplings of his childhood had grown into mighty oaks.  The forest itself had matured into a paradise of nature.
He laid down on a small patch of grass and fell into a deep slumber.
After only a minute, he heard someone calling out to him.
“Peter! Peter!” cried the voice.
He looked up in astonishment to see that it was none other than the old woman who had given him the ball with the magic golden thread many years earlier.
“How have you enjoyed my special gift?” she asked.
“At first it was fun, but now I hate it.” he responded bluntly, “My whole life has passed before my eyes without giving me the chance to enjoy it.  Sure, there would have been sad times as well as great times, but I haven’t had the chance to experience either.  I feel empty inside.  I have missed the gift of living.”
“You are very ungrateful,” said the old woman.  “Still, I will give you one last wish.”
“I’d like to go back to being a schoolboy and live my life over again,” Peter quickly responded.
He then returned to his deep sleep.

Again, he heard someone calling his name and opened his eyes.  “Who could it be this time?” he wondered.
When he opened his eyes, he was absolutely delighted to see his mother standing over his bedside.
She looked young, healthy and radiant.  Peter realised that the strange woman from the forest had indeed granted his wish and he had returned to his former life.
“Hurry up, Peter.  You sleep too much.  Your dreams will make you late for school if you don’t get up right this minute,” his mother admonished.
Needless to say, Peter dashed out of bed and began to live the way he had hoped.
He went on to live a full life, one rich with many delights, joys and triumphs, but it all started when he stopped sacrificing the present for the future and began to live in the moment.

To the year 6 Quest kids of 2018
I wish you a life full of many experiences, and that you take the time to notice and enjoy each moment.
Life can be a bit like a ball of string – sometimes it gets tangled and knotted, sometimes it unwinds smoothly. You can untangle the knots if you persevere – sometimes you may need to ask for help. You can create many interesting and useful things with string, as you can with your life.  I have really enjoyed working with you and getting to know you and be part of your journey. Best wishes for your future at your new school. I look forward to seeing where the future takes you. Keep in touch! I love hearing from past students.
Mrs Thompson (Debbie)

Creative stop-motion

Last week children were given some plasticine - a limited amount in just one colour. I was inspired by one of my year 6 students who showed me his creative stop-motions he had made in his own time.  I used these as examples for other children. Thank you Devon for sharing your animations and inpiring others!

It was great to see their creative thinking - firstly with what they created out of a single-coloured blob of plasticine, and then how they animated it.

Stop motion is a lot of fun and there are many free apps out there. Those with Chrome books have one from the Chrome store - stop motion animator. On apple there are several free apps - we used imotion, but there are others such as 'I can animate,' 'Stop motion studio,' 'Lapse it' etc

Stop motions take patience and perseverance, and can be done with anything. They can be as simple as making a sock look like it's moving across the floor, to more complicated animations such as Aardman's Wallace and Gromit with facial expressions etc.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Creative house design

This week we looked at house designs and drawing a floor plan. We tried to draw floor plans of our houses.
We did a survey on the number of bedrooms in people's houses and found that the majority of people in our classes have 3 or 4 bedroom houses.

Image result for kyosho jutaku
A micro house in Tokyo
We thought about differences in houses, and reasons for differences. We looked at houses in Japan - especially Tokyo where there are so many people (more than twice the population of NZ!!). In Japan there are 'kyosho jutaku' - or micro houses -utilising small areas for living spaces. Architects need to be very clever with the design of these micro houses, to fit everything in and to give the illusion of more space.
This video of a micro house just 24m2 is fascinating - very clever use of space.

We looked at reasons for building micro houses / tiny houses, and the kids discussed their ideas of what would be good about living in a micro house, and what could be not so good.

This 9 year old is inspirational - she's building tiny houses for homeless people!

Many kids then went on to design their dream bedroom - so many creative ideas! 

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


Over the last few weeks at Quest we have been looking at creativity through a variety of lenses. We look at advertising and examples of creativity used to grab our attention or to persuade us to buy a product. We thought about strategies used by advertisers - humour, shock, persuasiveness, luxury, colours, sounds, storylines etc.
In groups, students were given a random everyday object and they had to come up with a creative way to advertise it.

Last week we looked at the creativity of Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance period. We noted how Leonardo was very observant - his Vitruvian man sketch shows his findings that a person's arm span is usually equal (or very close to) their height. We measured this for ourselves and many children were surprised to find that he was right! We also noted that Leonardo was very creative - designing new ideas and inventing machines that were far ahead of his time.

This week we have been looking at creative thinking - the different types of thinking that encourage creativity. We completed tasks to try out the different thinking. Try this one for 'fluency' (many ideas) - how many things can you list that keep something or someone out? eg - an umbrella keeps the rain out, eyelids keep the light out.
We looked at a very creative artist - Victor Nune - who uses everyday objects as inspiration for his drawings. Google his work - it's fascinating! Children drew their own pictures incorporating an object I gave them - we had our own 'art gallery tour' to see each other's ideas.

Here are a few of the year 1-4 students' Victor Nune type sketches. This was looking at imagination.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


This term we are looking at learning through the concept of creativity. 

We started this week by collaborating to make some crazy animal pictures.

We then looked at creativity with animals - selective breeding and hybrid species like designer dogs. The older groups thought about the ethics of selection when breeding, and compared it to Hitler's desire for an Aryan race.

There are some great sites that show people's creative ideas for hybrid fruit (photoshopped). All of this is great for getting students to be creative in a fun way and not worry about mistakes or being perfect as there is no right or wrong. By tying it in with selection and hybrids they can see that this creative thinking can actually lead to changes over time, but we need to be careful as not all ideas work out well. Some of the older students looked at defects and difficulties with some cross-breed dogs.
Image result for de bono creativity important quote
In the next few weeks we will look at creative advertising, the renaissance period, creative design, and inventions. Hopefully this will allow children a chance to be creative and to take risks with their thinking and see that new ideas can be useful, as can learning from mistakes.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Kaitiakitanga - guardianship / protection

This week is Maori language week. We explored the concept of Kaitiakitanga - caring for the land, being sustainable to ensure there are resources for future generations. We though about taonga (treasures, things we value) and how we could be kaitiaki (guardians).

The older groups began their projects to make a difference in the world. They can work alone or in groups. I am so impressed with the level of ideas and ambition that many have - we have children researching how to raise money to donate to organisations, some designing bird feeders, bee gardens, inventions to help the planet, some carrying out surveys, some raising awareness by writing a song, making a website, creating posters, making a powerpoint, writing a book, making videos etc.

The year 1&2 Quest groups looked at the native garden and the importance of trees. We used our 'thinking hats' to help us stretch our thinking about trees - yellow hat - positives about trees; black hats - negatives; green hats - ideas for how to look after trees. Next week we are going to plant native tree seeds that were donated, and care for our seedlings until they are big enough to add to the native garden (probably next year sometime if all goes well!)

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

What can we do to help?

Over the past few weeks we have been exploring ways people are helping to make the world better. We looked at helping the environment, helping animals, and helping people.

We saw examples of people who are doing something to help - either with actions or by raising awareness. We thought about what we could do to help.

This week we looked at helping people. We started by looking at philanthropist Bill Gates with the Gates Foundation, and all the people they are helping with their money.

Then we thought about how we could help people without using money. We role-played situations such as seeing someone fall over, seeing someone looking lonely, and thought about what we could do to help.

We then learnt about the bystander effect - it has been found that if people are in a group they are less likely to help - it's all about the 'diffusion of responsibility' - the presumption that someone else will do it. Here is an interesting video where they experimented with this.

Some of our senior students decided to try their own social experiment about the bystander effect at morning tea time. I hear that Whangaparaoa School kids are very helpful and generally didn't take long at all to step in to help when they thought someone needed it - nice to know!

Our example of people helping others in our community was to go and look at the Community fruit and vegetable stand by the Motutapu Rd carpark. This is run by the kindy, and supported by the school. It is where people can donate surplus fruit and vegetables for others to help themselves to - a good example of community support.

In the next few weeks we will be looking at actions we will take to make the world a better place. Senior students will have the option to follow an idea they are passionate about, although there will be suggestions of actions for those who don't have their own ideas.  My hope is that students will feel empowered to make a difference and know that their little bit can help. I love this quote from Auckland Zoo's director, Kevin Buley. 

"We can sometimes feel overwhelmed and think, that as individuals, we can’t really make a difference. But we need to remember there are millions of us, and every little positive action we each take counts - there is enormous power in our collective efforts."

And that's a wrap!

2018 comes to an end. It's been another fantastic year of learning and working together. As always I have been blown away by childre...