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. Our Programme of Inquiry outline for the coming year is posted below.

Our Vision

Inspiring active learners, developing global citizens

Our Mission

In our community we foster passionate, collaborative, and internationally minded individuals through an engaging and supportive education.

Learn more about our vision, mission, and core values.

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:

What is the PYP
PlayPlay

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 PUBLIC SAMPLE OUTLINE of the Programme of Inquiry for 2021-22 year at KIS can be viewed here. Parents should log into their ManageBac account for details and reports for their children. Please note this a sample and is subject to change.

Pre K
Year A

WHO 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 family community
● How our actions can impact our family community

Key concepts
Function, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
We use our hundred languages to express ourselves through play

Lines of inquiry
● The hundred languages
● Different types of play
● How play inspires us

Key concepts
Perspective
Function

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Performing Arts, Visual Art

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Light behaves in different ways.

Lines of inquiry
● Light sources
● How light is used
●How light can be changed

Key concepts
Form
Function
Change

Subjects
Science, Math

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

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

Pre K
Year B

WHO 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 school community
  • How our actions can impact our school community

Key concepts
Function, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
We use our hundred languages to explore nature.

Lines of inquiry

  • The hundred languages
  • What is nature
  • How nature inspires us

Key concepts
Perspective
Function

Subjects
Social Studies, Science, PSPE, Performing Arts

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Change can be measured and observed.

Lines of inquiry

  • Changes over time
  • Different ways to measure change
  • The impact of change on our lives

Key concepts
Form, Change, Causation

Subjects
Science, Math, Visual Arts

SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Resource sharing in learning spaces builds community and equity.

Lines of inquiry

  • Caring for our learning community
  • Understanding how one’s choices affects others

Key concepts
Responsibility,
Form

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

Kindergarten

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Understanding each other’s cultures and traditions connects people to their families and communities.

Lines of inquiry

  • Exploring personal values and beliefs
  • Understanding different cultural values and beliefs
  • How culture influences our actions

Key concepts
Form, Perspective, Connection

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Visual Arts, Performing Arts

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
We use our hundred 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

Subjects
Social Studies, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Math

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

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

Lines of inquiry

  • Materials and their properties
  • Designing for a purpose

Key concepts
Change, Causation

Subjects
Science, Math

SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
Living things share habitats.

Lines of inquiry

  • Habitats
  • The characteristics of living things in each habitat
  • Human interaction with habitats

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Science, Social Studies

Grade 1

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Communication builds relationships.

Lines of inquiry

  • Different ways people communicate
  • Our home languages
  • Communicating in an international environment

Key concepts
Function, Connection, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Japanese

WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

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

Lines of inquiry

  • Personal histories
  • How history is documented
  • Changes in how generations live

Key concepts
Change
Perspective
Form

Subjects
Social Studies, Visual Arts

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
Stories are responded to and shared in different ways.

Lines of inquiry

  • How stories are told
  • Feelings stories can cause
  • How to connect to stories

Key concepts
Function
Causation
Connection

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Music

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

Subjects
Science, Math

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
Function, Connection, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, Math

SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
The impact of our consumption on our environment.

Lines of inquiry

  • Living things
  • How our consumption impacts living things
  • Sustainable consumption

Key concepts
Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, Science

Grade 2

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Making choices affects our well-being.

Lines of inquiry

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • The relationship between choices and well-being
  • Reflection and consequences of our choices

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Perspective

Subjects
Science, PSPE, Math

WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea
People’s lives are influenced by the places in which they live.

Lines of inquiry

  • Cultural and physical features of where we live
  • Ways culture and physical features influence people’s lives
  • How technology allows us to adapt how we live

Key concepts
Form, Causation, Change

Subjects
Social Studies, Science

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
We use language to express ourselves

Lines of inquiry

  • Figurative language
  • Forms of poetry
  • The power of oral expression

Key concepts
Form, Function, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Music

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Natural phenomena drive human understanding of
their surroundings.

Lines of inquiry

  • The impact of geological forces on features of the
    Earth
  • Atmospheric conditions
    and meteorology
  • Human response to their surroundings

Key concepts
Form, Causation

Subjects
Social Studies, Science

HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES

Central Idea
Human made systems help us navigate locally and globally.

Lines of inquiry

  • Signs and symbols
  • How systems help us
  • The impact of systems on our lives

Key concepts
Form, Function, Causation

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Visual Art, Japanese

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
  • Responsibility of people to maintain the ecosystems

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Science, Math

Grade 3

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
Our human body is made up of interconnected systems.

Lines of inquiry

  • The ways our bodies and systems interact
  • Maintaining healthy body systems

Key concepts
Connection, Function, Responsibility

Subjects
Science, PSPE

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
  • The attributes people who push boundaries have

Key concepts
Causation, Change

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
Inspiration and creativity can lead to thoughtful action.

Lines of inquiry

  • What inspires you
  • Creativity and the creative process
  • Action and its impact

Key concepts
Function, Causation, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, Visual Arts, Music

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
How we live is a result of the Earth’s journey through space.

Lines of inquiry

  • The impact of Earth’s orbit and rotation on our life
  • The impact of other bodies in the solar system on our life
  • Our responsibility in space exploration

Key concepts
Function, Causation, Responsibility

Subjects
Science, Math

HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES

Central Idea
Public spaces provide people with opportunities to make connections and establish a sense of community.

Lines of inquiry

  • Purpose of public spaces
  • Characteristics of different public spaces
  • How people use public spaces

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Japanese

SHARING THE PLANET

Central Idea
We become knowledgeable by exploring big ideas in our local and global world.

Lines of inquiry

  • Current Information on the SDGs
  • Local and global efforts to support the SDGs
  • Informed action

Key concepts
Form, Responsibility, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

Grade 4

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
With rights comes responsibilities.

Lines of inquiry

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The relationship between rights and responsibilities
  • Efforts to support our rights

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE

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, Perspective, Function

Subjects
Social Studies, Science, Visual Arts

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
Beliefs can have an influence on culture.

Lines of inquiry

  • Major world religions and beliefs
  • How beliefs are expressed artistically

Key concepts
Form, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, Math, Visual Arts

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Energy comes from a range of sources and its use has a variety of impacts.

Lines of inquiry

  • The different sources of energy
  • How energy is used and transformed from a natural resource
  • Factors that influence opinions on energy

Key concepts
Form, Change, Perspective

Subjects
Social Studies, Science

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
  • The impact of social entrepreneurship

Key concepts
Function, Causation, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, Math, Japanese

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
Change, Causation, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Music

Grade 5

WHO WE ARE

Central Idea
There are changes that affect us and others during transitions.

Lines of Inquiry

  • The physical changes we experience
  • Social and emotional changes
  • Ways of managing these changes

Key concepts
Change, Perspective, Responsibility

Subjects
Science, PSPE

WHERE WE ARE IN PLACE AND TIME

Central Idea
The story of humanity is the story of migration.

Lines of Inquiry

  • The reasons people migrate
  • Impact of migration
  • Mapping journeys of migration

Key concepts
Causation, Change

Subjects
Social Studies, Math, Music

HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES

Central Idea
The principles of design allow us to communicate in a meaningful way.

Lines of inquiry

  • The principle and purpose of design
  • Using feedback to change and evaluate ideas
  • Being a responsible digital citizen

Key concepts
Function, Change, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, Math, Visual Arts

HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea
Understanding physics helps us design improvements for all.

Lines of inquiry

  • Newton’s laws of force and motion
  • The uses of Newton’s laws
  • How we can apply the laws of force and motion

Key concepts
Form, Function, Causation

Subjects
Science, Social Studies

HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES

Central Idea
Governments influence behavior.

Lines of inquiry

  • Purpose of governments
  • Structures of governments
  • Responsibilities of governments

Key concepts
Form, Connection, Responsibility

Subjects
Social Studies, PSPE, Math, Japanese

EXHIBITION

Service Learning

View / Download PDF versions of PoI

Click to open viewer or download PDF versions of current 2021-22 or previous 2020-21.

2021-2022 Programme of Inquiry
2020-2021 Programme of Inquiry


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.