Kyoto International School, KIS, uses the IB framework for developing the curriculum. We have been authorised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation to use the Primary Years Programme, PYP, since 2006. Both the Early Years and Primary Years use the IB PYP. A sample of our Programme of Inquiry outline for the coming year is posted below.

INSPIRING ACTIVE LEARNERS, DEVELOPING GLOBAL CITIZENS

Active Learning is….

  • … a Dynamic relationship and interactions between teachers, students, and the environment 
  • … designed to be Challenging to push learners beyond their abilities
  • Engaging for students and focused on issues that are relevant 
  • … develops knowledge, character, and skills in a growth minded and Positive manner
  • … planned to be Intentional, inspiring, and purposeful
  • … a Collaborative effort with students learning to be constructive members of a community

Global Citizens ….

  • … are aware of the wider world and have a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • … are respectful of and value diversity
  • … have an understanding of how the world works
  • … are committed to progressing social injustices
  • participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
  • … are willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place
  • … take responsibility for their actions

What Is the IB Primary Years Programme?

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 – 12 nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.

The IB Primary Years Programme, or IB PYP, aims to promote responsibility, critical thinking, and independent inquiry.

This is an outline of what the IB PYP is and how it works. We’ll go over the curriculum framework and answer the following questions…

What is the IB PYP?

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) offers four distinct types of learning programmes for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

One of these programs is the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), an internationally recognized educational framework geared toward primary school children aged 3 to 12. The three others are the IB Middle Years Programme, the IB Diploma Programme, and the IB Career-related Programme.

The IB PYP was introduced in 1997, and its curriculum is taught at nearly 1,800 schools in more than 100 countries around the world. Many different kinds of schools teach the IB PYP, including public, private, and international schools.

The IB Primary Years Programme is the first of the four IB programmes and was designed to ease the transition for students into the IB Middle Years Programme. The program aims to promote inquiry and foster the development of the whole child through a unique transdisciplinary framework, meaning that children learn in terms of issues and themes rather than categorically defined subjects.

Through the IB PYP, as well as the other three programs, students will come to exhibit these 10 traits, which make up the “IB learner profile”:

  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open-minded
  • Caring
  • Risk-takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective

With the IB PYP specifically, children learn how to become more self-reliant and independent, and how to take control of and responsibility for their learning.

Here is a video produced by IBO, which should give you a clearer sense of what the program entails:

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Why should children do the IB PYP?

The IB PYP is a unique approach to learning that offers many benefits to primary school students.

For one, the IB PYP encourages children to think independently and take responsibility for their actions and learning. Students are taught the basic tenets of the IB learner profile to help them develop positive, open-minded attitudes toward a variety of topics, skills, and issues.

The program’s “inquiry-led approach” allows students to be active participants in their learning by asking questions, exploring ideas, and sharing knowledge with their peers. The classroom is a dynamic atmosphere that encourages students to make discoveries and choose what they would like to study—characteristics that are reminiscent of the Montessori method.

The IB PYP also emphasizes “international-mindedness,” or becoming more culturally aware and empathetic toward others. This is where the key element of “attitudes” comes into play: students learn how to interact appropriately and openly with others from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and languages.

It’s also where the idea of learning a foreign language comes in: all IB Primary Years Programme students who are at least 7 years old have the option to learn another language. At KIS, this additional language is Japanese, which is divided into a acquisition class and language & literature class.

Additionally, through the IB PYP’s transdisciplinary curriculum, children can engage with issues and subjects in multiple ways. While students will still study traditional subject areas such as math, science, and social studies, they will also learn how to apply the knowledge and skills they gain from each subject to other issues and areas.

Regarding academic performance, participation in the IB Primary Years Programme has been proven to strengthen students’ critical-thinking skills and improve comprehension.

What is the IB PYP Curriculum?

The IB Primary Years Programme uses a unique transdisciplinary curriculum, which encourages students to make connections between local and global issues in a real-world context and using an inquiry-based approach.

The main aims of the IB PYP curriculum are as follows:

  • Address students’ personal, emotional, and academic needs
  • Encourage independent thinking and responsibility
  • Support students’ learning
  • Promote international-mindedness

Specifically, the curriculum consists of five basic elements, which IBO describes below:

The five essential elements of the PYP are:

  • Knowledge, which is both disciplinary, represented by traditional subject areas (language, maths, science, social studies, arts, PSPE) and transdisciplinary
  • Concepts, which students explore through structured inquiry in order to develop coherent, in-depth understanding, and which have relevance both within and beyond subject areas
  • Skills, which are the broad capabilities students develop and apply during learning and in life beyond the classroom
  • Attitudes, which contribute to international-mindedness and the wellbeing of individuals and learning communities, and connect directly to the IB learner profile
  • Action, which is an expectation in the PYP that successful inquiry leads to responsible, thoughtful and appropriate action.

The PYP curriculum is described as “rigorous and challenging,” so students can expect to be fully immersed in their learning. That said, there are no required IB tests in the IB PYP, and grades are not moderated.

For the “knowledge” element above, learning is underscored by six transdisciplinary themes, which students are expected to apply to real-life issues and topics, regardless of subject area:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

Transdisciplinary Themes

WHO WE ARE

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
WHERE WE
ARE IN PLACE
AND TIME

An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how
humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of
scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and
communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal
decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
SHARING THE PLANET

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite
resources with other people and with other living things; communities
and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

From the age of 7 onward, IB PYP students are also given the option to study a foreign language. Exactly how this is implemented at schools can vary. For example, one IB elementary school might be fully bilingual, whereas another might offer a program taught in a language that is not the mother tongue of most students.

In the last year of the IB Primary Years Programme, students are required to work on an in-depth, collaborative research project called the “PYP Exhibition.” This project allows teachers to evaluate each student’s individual abilities and understanding of the concepts they’ve studied. It’s also a way for students to synthesize their skills and prepare for the IB MYP should they choose to enroll in it.

What is the PYP Programme of Inquiry Plan at KIS?

A SAMPLE OUTLINE of the Programme of Inquiry for 2020-21 year at KIS can be viewed here (please note this a sample and is subject to change):

EY1 



WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Our differences make us unique.

Lines of inquiry
● How people have different features.
● How people behave differently in different situations
● How to be responsible

Key concepts
Form, Causation, Responsibility

HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Our uniqueness is reflected in how we play.

Lines of inquiry
● Types of play
● How we play in safe and appropriate ways
● Social interaction in play

Key concepts
Form, Causation, Responsibility
HOW THE WORLD
WORKS

Central Idea 
Change can be measured and observed.

Lines of inquiry
● How changes occurs when matter moves from one state to another
● How change occurs over time
●How our lifestyle is connected to the earth’s natural cycles 

Key concepts
Function, Change, Connection

SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Taking another perspective allows people to understand each other.

Lines of inquiry
● Common feelings people experience
● How we can imagine what others are feeling
● How we can use our understanding of feelings to solve conflicts

Key concepts
Causation, Perspective
EY2WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Learning happens in play.

Lines of inquiry
– creativity in play
– expressing oneself in play
– play

Key concepts
– causation/ connection
– perspective
– form
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Through the arts people express feelings and ideas.

Lines of inquiry
●different ways to express our feelings and ideas (expression is individual)
●how art makes us feel
● ideas inspired by art

Key concepts
– function
– perspective
– connection
HOW THE WORLD
WORKS

Central Idea 
We learn by inquiring into (interacting with) the world around us.

Lines of inquiry
– our senses
– how we use our senses

Key concepts
– form
– function



SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
People’s actions impact living things.

Lines of inquiry
● living things 
● how our actions make a difference
● our responsibility for the well-being of living things


Key concepts
– form
– causation
– responsibility
EY3WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Making balanced choices affects our well-being.

Lines of inquiry
● What is well-being
● The choices we make
● How choices impact peoples’ lives
● How to be balanced

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Perspective


HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
We use our 100 languages to express our passions and knowledge.

Lines of inquiry
● The hundred languages
● The passions of different people 
● The journey into discovering my passions.

Key concepts
Form, Function,
HOW THE WORLD
WORKS

Central Idea 
Materials have different properties that affect how we use them.

Lines of inquiry
● Materials and their properties
● How materials can be manipulated for specific purposes
● Designing for a purpose

Key concepts
Change, Causation



SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Living things share habitats.

Lines of inquiry
● Habitats
● The characteristics of living things within each habitat
● Humans interactions with habitats 

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility
Grade 1WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Communities we belong to depend on who we are and what we value.

Lines of inquiry
● Different types of communities
● What connects people within a community
● How our actions can impact a community

Key concepts
Function, Connection, Responsibility
WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea 
Documenting history allows us to investigate who we are.

Lines of inquiry
● Everyone has a personal history
● How history is documented
● How we live changes over generations

Key concepts
Change, Form, Perspective
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
People express and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas in different ways.
  
Lines of inquiry
● Forms of self expression
● How we create for an audience
● Using ___ to express ideas, thoughts and feelings

Key concepts
Form, Perspective, Causation
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
People use their knowledge of force to accomplish tasks.

Lines of inquiry
● How we learn about the world by observing
● Different forces that explain how the world works
● Forces connected to our daily tasks

Key concepts
Causation, Function, Connection
HOW WE ORGANIZE
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Products go through a process to meet our needs and wants. 

Lines of inquiry
● Needs and wants
● How a process works
● How goods are made during the production process

Key concepts
Perspective, function, connection
SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
We consume what the Earth produces.

Lines of inquiry
● Who and what we share the earth with

● The impact of our consumption
 
Key concepts
Connection, change
Grade 2WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Humans have specific needs in order to grow and stay physically and mentally healthy. 

Lines of inquiry
● We have needs and wants
● Our physical and emotional needs affect our behaviour
● How relationships affect us

Key concepts
Form, Responsibility, Causation
WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea 
The environment influences the way people live.

Lines of inquiry
● Environments are different
● Homes have changed over time
● Technology allows us to adapt how we live

Key concepts
Causation, Change, Form
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Artistic creativity can act as a form of communication between the creator and the viewer.
  
Lines of inquiry
● Creativity starts from inspiration and experience 
● There are different ways to interpret others artwork 

Key concepts
Connection, Perspective, 
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
The world is a phenomenal place because of natural transformations.

Lines of inquiry
● Natural transformations occur on large and small scales, both cyclically and linear
● Transformation can include both growth and destruction 
● Transformation is an integral part of our planetary system and affects our daily lives  

Key concepts
Form, Change, Function
HOW WE ORGANIZE
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Using symbols and conventions, maps help us navigate and explore the world.

Lines of inquiry
●What maps are
● How maps allow us to orientate ourselves
● Maps allow us to connect with our surroundings 

Key concepts
Form, Connection,
Function
SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Living things are involved in relationships that affect survival.

Lines of inquiry
●Components of ecosystems
● The relationship between living things
 
Key concepts
Function, Causation
Grade 3WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Cultures contribute to values, beliefs and actions.

Lines of inquiry
● Exploring personal values and beliefs
● Understanding different cultural values and beliefs
● How culture influences our actions

Key concepts
Form, perspective, connection
WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea 
Exploration has impacted our world by pushing beyond known boundaries. 

Lines of inquiry
● Why and how people explore
● The impact of exploration on our world.

Key concepts
Causation, Change
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
People can use creativity to persuade audiences.
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
People use the scientific process to inquire into the structure of matter. 

Lines of inquiry
● Properties of solids, liquids and gases 
● How matter can change
● The process of the scientific method

Key concepts
Form, Change, Function
HOW WE ORGANIZE
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Services work together to support the community. 

Lines of inquiry
●Different systems in the community 
● How the system works
● How sustainable systems enable a high quality of life 

Key concepts
Form, Function, Connection
SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Human activities can challenge the survival of living things.   
Lines of inquiry
●Threats to the environment 
● Conservation and action

Key concepts
Form,
Responsibility
Grade 4WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
The human body has systems that interact to keep us healthy and active.

Lines of inquiry
● Each system of the human body has a specific function
● The systems of the human body affect one another 
● Maintaining a healthy body is dependent on the choices a person makes 

Key concepts
Connection, Function, Responsibility
WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea 
Evidence of the past still exists in the present.

Lines of inquiry
● Types of evidence 
● How the past is used/absent in modern culture
● The value of preserving the past

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Perspective
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Stories are a way of sharing perspectives and understanding about the world. 

Lines of inquiry
● There are a wide range of stories around the world and in our daily lives
● Why people create stories 
 ● Feelings and emotions stories evoke  

Key concepts
Form, Causation, Perspective
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Scientific processes can be used to investigate how forms of energy are stored and transformed.

Lines of inquiry
● The different forms of energy
● How energy is used and transformed
● Factors that influence opinions on energy


Key concepts
Form, Change, Perspective
HOW WE ORGANIZE
OURSELVES

Central Idea
The exchange of goods and services affects people and the environment.

Lines of inquiry
●The provision and exchange of goods and services 
● The role of supply and demand
● Local and/or global impact 

Key concepts
Causation, Function, Responsibility
SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Unequal access to opportunities affects human societies.

Lines of inquiry
●The factors that lead to inequality 
● Our role in reducing inequality  
● Historical changes that reduced inequality

Key concepts
Causation, Responsibility, Change
Grade 5WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
A person’s identity is shaped by a range of factors.   

Lines of Inquiry:
● what influences people’s identity
● how identity influences the way people behave
● how people use their awareness of differences to interact with others
 
Key concepts:
Causation, Connection, Perspective
WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea 
The story of humanity is a story of migration.
 
Lines of Inquiry:
● The reasons people migrate
● Impact of migration on Japan
● Mapping journeys of migration
 
Key concepts:
Causation, Change
HOW WE EXPRESS
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Media influences our thinking and decision-making. 

 Lines of inquiry
● Different forms of media 
● The strategies media uses
● The validity and reliability of media 

Key concepts
Form, Function, Perspective
HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Natural changes in the Earth’s atmosphere can have devastating effects.

Lines of inquiry
●  The causes of severe weather 
●  The impact of severe weather 
●   How science and technology are used to predict, prepare and respond to severe weather

Key concepts
Causation, Change, Function
HOW WE ORGANIZE
OURSELVES

Central Idea
Philosophy is a tool that creates wisdom. 

Lines of inquiry
● Traits of a philosopher/critical thinker
● Purpose of being aware of one’s thinking 
● The impact of one’s thinking on self and others 

Key concepts
Form, Function, Responsibility
EXHIBITION




Service Learning

Conclusion: What to Know About the IB PYP

The IB Primary Years Programme, or IB PYP, is one of four educational programs designed by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). It’s geared toward primary school students aged 3 to 12 and focuses mainly on inquiry and helping children develop skills such as responsibility, independence, critical thinking, and international-mindedness.

The IB PYP curriculum is unique in its transdisciplinary approach, which encourages students to make connections between local and global issues across traditional subject areas.

If you wish to enroll your child at KIS in an IB Primary Years Programme, you can start with checking the application outline.