Big Cats

Early Years

The Big Cats classroom is often noisy, exciting, messy and full of little egos vying for supremacy in the environment: just the way it should be for ages from 4 and a half.

The teacher is seeking to help them progress to the next level, where working with others is better than working alone. This stage is incredibly important to honour as it sets up the healthy sense of self-worth that carries us through life – Big Cats need time and opportunity to explore their own personal needs and passions.

Big Cats are about hands-on, concrete experiences, where our senses tell us how to experience the world. The Prep classroom has many of the same elements as Pre-prep, as many children need time to get comfortable understanding themselves in this shared space with others.


The Big Cat classroom organisation is very focused upon helping these precious egos begin to perceive that their inherent need for gratification can best be served by considering others.

A Day in the Life of the Big Cats:

  • Morning meeting

    Every morning at BIS starts with a morning meeting. For the Big Cats this is an opportunity for everyone to connect with each other and the group and understand what needs to be done for the day. This plan for the day, the ‘Daily Timetable’ is visually displayed on the board and the children and staff connect and refer to it at various times throughout the day.

    An important part of the morning meeting is passing the morning greeting around the circle, by saying a verbal and physical hello to the person next to them in a circle. Children have choice in what verbal greeting they say to each other and what physical greeting they feel comfortable with – high five, fist bump, hug, wiggly-finger touch etc. Supporting the children with body autonomy and seeking consent to touch and engage with THEIR body, happens right from the start of the BIS journey.

  • First session: Training

    Each morning focuses on individual progress through the academic curriculum program in English and Mathematics.

    Students work with the teacher, teacher-aide and parent helpers to achieve learning goals, games and mini lessons. The Big Cats teacher will often have a one-on-one and small group lesson during this time to help children move through the academic program.

    The learning at this stage is very concrete and hands-on with students counting with materials, feeling the sounds of vowels and consonants and exploring science through observation and hands-on experiments.

  • Second session: Exploring

    Depending on the day of the week, the temperament of the class and the week of the term, this middle session will be when the Big Cats work on additional Training activities and/or the term project: the integrated unit that includes Science, History, Geography, Technology or the Arts.

    As experiential lessons or projects to work on together, these sessions are about sharing ideas and knowledge, and learning how to work with others to achieve results. During these sessions the Big Cats may work with the Dolphins or Penguins, depending on their skill level.

    The term project is always a highly engaging, hands on and playful study into that term’s broad theme – all children across the school are learning each term under the same broad theme. Past Term Adventures: Raising chickens, growing various vegetables, fruits and flowers, BIS school history, Indigenous Country, overseas country studies, recycling and caring for the environment… and one year there was even a term theme devoted to Pokemon!

    A balance is imperative; process is the key focus. We want Big Cats to explore and play with, and grow passion for learning.

  • Third session: Reflecting

    During this afternoon session the Big Cats take a back seat as they enjoy Rest, Relaxation and Recharge. This session always begins with activities to refocus the children onto themselves after the social excitement of lunch and connect the children to their bodies and quieten and relax their minds; reading stories, listening to stories, mindful colouring, meditation, study of self lessons.

    Some days they may go for a walk to practice being quiet in nature, there may be a session with their Dolphins Buddies, extra term project activities or whole school events like incursions, afternoon sports or Whole School Meetings hosted by the Senior Dolphins.

    Sometimes the deep thinking of the day has left the Big Cats needing periods of undirected play or “processing time” to allow their young minds to think up new ideas, or relax their cognitive mind and explore their feelings. This part of the day is always about connecting to self or connecting to others. It is our chance to review the day, think about tomorrow and dream. A circle of gratitude is the final meeting of the day before home time.

Courage, balance, play

Approx. gradePrep - Year 1
Approx. ageusually 4.5 - 7 years
Moral development stage(s):
Egocentric - Rule Oriented

Big Cats Educators:

Big Cats Basecamp:

A 20-minute overview of the Big Cat student’s journey: classroom structure, rules, academic goals and more.

Resources & Downloads:

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