BASIS International School Nanjing, our newest campus in China, recently completed a successful founding year with students in grades PreK – 9. Near the end of the school year, primary students participated in an innovative two-week program: Magic School. All subjects were included, and in the end, students certainly felt the magic! In this post, you’ll learn more about this unique and engaging initiative from the Director of Student Affairs – Primary/Director of Academic Programs at BASIS International School Nanjing.

This year at BASIS International School Nanjing, our primary students were introduced to project-based learning (PBL). Upon their arrival at school, there was magic in the auditorium air for our grades 1-3 students. Students settled in, and to their amazement, two professors announced they were going to be in Magic School for the next two weeks. Professors launched a day of Magic School activities to prepare the students for their next two weeks of learning.

Magic School consisted of project-based learning (PBL) across all subjects. The end result of PBL would be a puppet theater presentation. While working in small groups, professors guided students on all aspects of PBL: collaboration, critical thinking, content knowledge, creativity, communication, writing, and presentation skills.

project based learning teamwork

Students work together to create their puppet theater.

The puppet theater presentation required the students to write a story and script, build a puppet theater, and design characters. Students received instruction and guidance in humanities on story structure, developing characters, and how to write a script. In Chinese, they focused on Chinese stories and characters. In visual arts and engineering, students learned how to build their puppet theaters, along with designing backgrounds. While in performing arts, students focused on character development and presentation skills, and during music, enjoyed learning how they could incorporate various sound effects.

Making masks in Chinese class.

project based learning teamwork

Setting the stage for the puppet theater

project based learning presentation

Presenting their puppet theater to the class.

But what is a magic school without potions and quidditch? Our students became potion masters and enjoyed learning the game of muggle quidditch.

Creating magic potions

Enjoying a game of quidditch

Teachers loved the collaboration, engagement, and excitement of cross-curricular learning from students during Magic School.

Ms. Coyle, Humanities: “It was delightful seeing the children’s excitement and creativity come to life.”

Set design for a puppet theater

Mr. Backhus, Visual Arts: “I really enjoyed watching the students get excited and take ownership of their scenery, scripts, characters, and overall projects. I also really enjoyed watching them solve problems as teams.”

project based learning together

Dr. Russo, PE: “During the PBL, the teachers were able to collaborate to create a cross-curricular project that was engaging for the students.”

Ms. Scullion, Math/Science: “I loved the collaboration between all the teachers and showing students how their lessons connect beyond the classroom. I also loved seeing their imagination flow with their script writing, their inquisitiveness in their potion-making/science experiments, and their creativity in their set designs.”

Script writing is a fun part of Magic School.

When interviewing students to determine their thoughts about project based learning (PBL) and Magic School, it was an overwhelmingly positive response. Students enjoyed making potions, building their puppet theaters, writing their first script, working with and learning from a partner, and presenting to their classmates.

Science is magic!

project based learning Magic School graduates

All students are now Magic School graduates!

We highlighted the learning evidenced during Magic School at our end of year awards ceremony. Each student was given a Magic School certificate stating they are now Magic School graduates!

Lynne Morrin is the Director of Student Affairs – Early Years/Primary and Director of Academic Programs at BASIS International School Nanjing.

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