Review and Connections: Ada’s Violin


“With her violin, Ada could close her eyes and imagine a different life.”

Ada is a young girl who lives in a slum on a rubbish tip. Everyone in her family and community earn a living by collecting materials to recycle. It is a hard and difficult life.

Ada and many of her friends love music. They sign up for lessons; but, unfortunately it is not safe to keep the expensive instruments in their homes and they need to practice. The community comes together to make instruments from the materials that they find at the rubbish tip. The children are able to practice and they form a ‘recycled’ orchestra.

Ada’s Violin is a story about a community that showed how creative and innovative they could be when faced with a problem to solve. It shows perseverance; and, individual and communal commitment towards a goal.

To find out more about the true story that inspired this book:

Recycled Orchestra a Video


Learner Profile Attributes: Thinkers (creatively used recycled materials to create instruments), Communicators (used music to express their ideas and communicate with others).

Attitudes:  Commitment (Ada showed commitment to learn the violin), confidence (demonstrated confidence in her own ability when performing in front of an audience), cooperation (to be a successful orchestra you have to have a cooperative relationship with members), enthusiasm (regularly practiced to improve her musical abilities), creativity (creatively used materials to make musical instruments out of recycled materials)

PYP Concepts: Connection (e.g. How is music linked to Ada’s self belief?), Causation (e.g. Why do people live in rubbish dumps?) , Form (e.g. What is a slum?),  Function (e.g. How does a musical instrument work?), Perspective (How would the audience view Ada’s life differently?)

Links to transdisciplinary themes: How we Express Ourselves , Who We Are, Where We Are In Place and Time, Sharing the planet.


Illustrator Study: Unpacking Form Using See Think Wonder

Grade Two classes explored the central idea, “Creativity enables us to express ourselves.” This unit provided an excellent opportunity to authentically look at picture book illustrators. The exploration focused on illustrations as a form of self-expression. 

Small groups of children in each class were given a selection of titles by a particular illustrator (e.g. Emily Gravett, Anthony Browne, Graeme Base, Eric Carle). They were asked to identify the key element of the illustrations that combined to create a particular artistic style. The “See Think Wonder” routine was used to facilitate an in-depth analysis of the illustrations. The children were provided with a graphic organiser with guiding questions to help support the investigation. Their findings about each illustrator were shared with the class.

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The children identified the artistic elements that were used by the specific illustrators to create their images. They could see how they could apply these styles in different contexts. The “Think” guiding questions prompted a lot of discussions about creativity and who was creative. Lively debates about the creative merit of each illustrator followed. The children had a lot of wonderings for the authors and illustrators. For example, Why did the illustrator use dark colours? How did the author choose the illustrator that they wanted? Why were the pictures drawn in this way?