First-graders in Cassingham Elementary School's International Baccalaureate program spent the last couple of weeks studying different cultures.

First-graders in Cassingham Elementary School's International Baccalaureate program spent the last couple of weeks studying different cultures.

Students learned about Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. On Jan. 20, first-graders visited with parent Victoria Zamensky for a lesson on the Easter week celebration of Semana Santa in Guatemala. Zamensky lived in Guatemala for 17 years.

First-graders also participated in a unit on how people use tools. For the unit, a surveyor visited with students and showed them tools used by historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark. He also brought them up to speed about his job and experiences.

"He spoke for an hour," said Sonja Hutchison, teacher leader and literacy teacher at Cassingham. "We thought it was going to be over the kids' heads. They were so engaged for the entire hour."

Speakers enrich the IB program for the students, who get a chance to reflect on the experience and share their reactions, Hutchison said.

"We don't want them to just learn from textbooks," she said. "There are great resources within our community. IB encourages us to tap into those resources."

Hutchison said the speakers were part of a first-grade unit called "How we express ourselves."

"At each grade level when they do a program of inquiry they try to use as many resources as possible," she said. "Within that unit we are talking about celebrations around the world, how we are alike and how we are different around the world."

Cassingham has participated in the program the past four years. There are six units in which the students participate.

This school year, fourth-graders participated in a unit in which "they went from classroom to classroom and learned about different regions" in the United States, Hutchison said.

As part of the IB program, fifth-graders visited the Motts Military Museum in Groveport and learned about the artifacts.

Sixth-graders are preparing for a demonstration based on all their knowledge from a program on the planet.

All of the units are based on state standards, but include the IB program's inquiry-based learning, Hutchison said.