Letting your child’s questions drive learning at home- all about volcanoes

Inquiry at home

One benefit of working with my child at home is that I don’t have to worry about following learning standards or curriculum. I can take the time to observe my children’s interests, and let their curiosity determine what projects that they do. After watching the movie ” The Octonauts and the Ring of Fire,” Kai was instantly captivated by the Pacific Ring of Fire and volcanoes. That same week, Kai wrote a fictional story about a volcano adventure that showed his fascination with volcanic eruptions.

After briefly showing Kai some pictures of volcanoes, I prompted him to ask questions about the topic.

It is very important to encourage this line of questioning and reasoning, allowing a child’s inquiries to bring about new perspectives and curiosities

Kai’s questions were:

  1. How come there are different kinds of volcanoes?
  2. How come volcanoes have fire?
  3. Why are some volcanoes inside the water?
  4. How come the volcano is so tall?
  5. How come there is smoke coming out?
  6. How come there is lava inside the volcano?

These questions gave me insights on what Kai knows and doesn’t know about volcanoes, and what aspects he is interested in. I initially recorded the questions in a notebook, but later transferred them onto a WONDER WALL. The WONDER WALL was something I decided to set up after reading “Beautiful Questions in the Classroom: Transforming Classrooms into Culture of Curiosity and Inquiry” I already have a WONDER WALL in this classroom, but thought I should also do this at home as a way to cultivate inquiry.

Displaying questions on the WONDER WALL also helped me guide Kai’s inquiry. Rather than letting him read everything about volcanoes, I could help him focus on the questions that he wants to research about, and find appropriate resources to support his learning. As he researches, Kai writes down answers on sticky notes and paste them onto the WONDER WALL.

In the end, Kai managed to answer all his questions and consolidated his understanding in a research booklet similar to THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS series.

We celebrated the end of unit by making a paper-mache eruption volcano!

In this digital age where everything can be “googled” and found online, it is important that children are encouraged to ask questions as a way to initiate their own learning. As parents, we can capture their questions by documenting, understanding and showcasing them.

Good questions turn a curious idea into an inquiry, an inquiry into an investigation, an investigation into an attitude for life-long learning. After all, as some may say, “learning is an answer to a need or to what springs from our curiosity”

Published by Ms Claudia L. Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

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