Monday, October 20, 2014

Scientific Inquiry All Around!

There are so many ways for children to use inquiry in daily experiences. Looking at the sky and wondering where a bird might be heading, studying a tree to determine what animals call it home, or gazing at the ground to watch a worm's movement are all valuable science opportunities. The best part? This seems like play to children. And IS the business of childhood!

Take a look at this short video I captured while on a playground.

While watching this worm, I was struck by the number of learning opportunities. To help children ask their own valuable questions, I would pose a broad question: "What do you notice about this worm?" Responses might be that it looks like the ground. What a wonderful chance to talk about nature and camouflage. Some children might note its movement. When you get back to the classroom, children can act out the worm's movement on the classroom floor. This gives them a good chance to experience how animals in nature move in different ways. It can lead into a movement learning experience: children role-playing the movement of various animals they see in books.

They may even pose questions for which you have no answer. This is my favorite type of inquiry! It allows adults to say the important phrase, "I don't know but I know how to find out." What a model this is for children. It shows that no one has all the answers but by using references, we can find out.

Additionally, it is a good beginning science activity to have children draw pictures of what they see, such as the worm on the playground. This helps prepare children to document their observations.

For a home-school connection, you can give children something specific to look for on the way home. Ideas include a yellow tree, any kind of water, or a park. Post a sign and/or picture outside of your classroom so families understand what children are to look for outside of school. This helps develop verbal skills as children are encouraged to discuss observations about their surroundings. In our experience, families love to have this opportunity to help children with "school work."

Standards Alignment:
Knowing and using the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines
Head Start:
Expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe and discuss the natural world, materials,
living things and natural processes.
Begins to describe and discuss predictions, explanations and generalizations based on past experiences.

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