meet our expert


Curiosity Curator

Student Support Specialist

Sequoyah School

M.A. Elementary Ed & Teaching, USC

“Even the youngest students… know systems, even if they haven’t thought of them as systems, so, we show them!”

Grace’S 1st Grade CLASSROOM

The very young people in my classroom have only been here on earth for five or six years, and maybe they can remember three or four of those years. That is plenty of information to fuel systems thinking in the classroom. Even the youngest students have already had a lot of experiences, and those experiences all are prior knowledge about how our world works. They know systems, even if haven’t thought of them as systems, so, we show them!


Maps make it easy to see how systems work. Every kid has brushed her teeth or flushed a toilet, so, kids show up in kindergarten already knowing about the water system. And with a map, we can show students more about it.

Here’s a sink, the pipes that go out to the street and the water purifying plant near your house. Rain? The beach? We can answer questions about other wet stuff, too. And from there we can jump off into a global citizenship lens. The oceans connect us as part of a giant system. And yes, it is the same system that‘s part of the water you use when you brush your teeth.

The cozy system

Yep! What are the systems that make you feel like you belong? My lovie, the blanket I snuggle in, my dad or mom, my books, my dog, a couch or the fireplace. These are the parts of the cozy system that work together to make me cozy. So the feeling is abstract but the stuff is stuff you know.

Grace’S Experience

Kid-led conversations really are about traveling without a map to create a map. That analogy illustrates what we try to capture when kids share ideas. By putting the words on paper, the students’ ideas become visible and when we stop brainstorming, step back, and draw lines to connect different ideas that are linked in real life, kids see a system.

Coming from a more traditional school, I just couldn’t imagine exactly how systems would work. I let myself try it. I experimented. I could see it working.


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grace’s lesson plans

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Systems Thinking Schools is a program of the Wildwood Outreach Center
at Wildwood School
Elementary Campus / 12201 Washington Place / Los Angeles, CA 90066
Middle-Upper Campus / 11811 Olympic Blvd. / Los Angeles, CA 90064

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