Nature Walk = Spark for Inquiry

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dear parents,

Here is a photo from one of our nature walks.  On our way back to the school, we found a ladybug on the window.  This sparked a lot of conversation and many thought provoking questions.  Students even began to make connections to our Dot Project and were interested in finding out how many dots the ladybug had on its body.  Finally, this led to purposeful drawing and writing about our experience.

A nature walk is a wonderful way to spend time with your child and promote the wonderment and awe of the world around them.  It can also become the fuel to to an inquiry where you choose to focus on a question that your child is curious about, research the response by visiting the public library or online resources, and draw/write about the learning along the way.

Every time that Mrs. Ham and I have taken the students outside, they continue to surprise us with the questions that they ask.  Over the last couple of years our walks have lead to investigations about pollution in the environment, the colour of the sky and how it changes colours, how birds fly and make their nests, the colour of pine cones, and the beautiful way dandelions float in the wind...

This past summer we invited our students to participate in their own inquiry, by giving them an inquiry notepad with simple instructions on how to get started as an end of the year gift.  A few students pursued and completed their own inquiries.  

Here are a few pictures of when these students shared their summer inquiries with the class (J.A. 5.2 years, T.M. 5.8 years, and R.J. 4.11 years):

J.A. shares about her daily summer inquiries that happened "just when I was thinking!"

J.A.: I was wondering why the leaves fall down always.

J.A. also wondered about stars.

J.A.: I wonder why stars are close to planets.

J.A. writes, Why are stars up in the sky?
How far are the stars?
Why are planets up in the sky?

She wondered about the ocean.

J.A. writes, I wonder why there is so much water in the ocean.
Why are there so many animals in the ocean?

And she wondered about the birds.

J.A. writes, I wonder why birds fly and why birds pick worms in
the grass.  I wonder why sometimes I go to the farm.  I wonder why
sometimes I see blue jays.
T.M.  used his inquiry notepad as a summer journal where he could recount his experiences and pose his questions.

T.M.: Mommy surprised me.  We went for a
car ride to visit my cousins J and E.  We
rode our bikes at Cedar Beach. Then we
had ice cream!
R.J. spent her summer researching about "Prickly" the pumpkin that she planted in her backyard.  She wondered whether or not Prickly was a pumpkin or a sunflower.

R.J. was so excited to share her inquiry with the class.
She even asked to share it with our principal!

R.J.: Today's Prickly's birthday and it has balloons and the sun and clouds wondered, "why is it Prickly's birthday"

R.J.: Prickly looks green and his leaves are shaped like a maple leaf.  Prickly is medium height.

R.J. discusses leaf colours.  "Chlorophyll makes green leaves.  Most plants have green leaves.  Green, purple, red, white."

R.J. asked, "Why are Prickly's leaves and stem green but pumpkin is orange?"  With her family she discovered that it's because "chlorophyll is green and it captures the sun's energy to make food.  Chlorophyll is inside their (plants) bodies (leaves).  The pumpkin is orange to get animal's attention."

Finally, R.J.'s inquiry ends with the wonder "why is Prickly prickly?"

If you go on a nature walk or begin to inquire about something, we would love to have your child share it with our class.  Thank you to the families who have already adopted an inquiry mindset with their child.  

There is so much we can learn from one another!


Ms. Babalis

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