One of my favourite things about getting outside and exploring our surroundings is the natural wonder and curiosity it brings. Each day we meet at “Stumphenge” a name we gave our circle of stumps located in the back corner of our school grounds. These daily meetings allow us to discuss the boundaries of being outside, what it means to be safe while we are outdoors and what respect looks like when we are exploring nature. The conversations are often rich and allows the students connect to the place they are learning in, on a deeper level. They start to care for and grow an attachment to all the living species, including themselves.
Today, after the class gathering concluded; a student spoke up and said “I wonder what lives under the stumps we sit on?” Naturally, we had to tip a couple of these heavy stumps over to take a look. Watching the exploration through my student’s eyes, reminded me that there are micro-worlds all around us that we often overlook because we are too busy admiring the majestic trees or rolling meadows. Tipping those stumps over and watching the array of life that lived underneath them was amazing.
The discussion among the students was rich with wonder and inquiry. The one species that sparked most interest was the abundance of earthworms that were found. I allowed them to dig them up and gently observe them. This opened up more discussion and so many questions that I did not have the answers to. Once, we placed the worms back into the earth and put the logs in place, the class decided that we needed to find out more about these creatures that we found but know so little about. Thus launching our first inquiry based project of the year.
After charting our “Know, Wonder, Learn” chart, we decided to take a closer look at this unqiue species. Our outdoor wagon was packed with observation containers, garden trowels, clipboards, pencils and pencil crayons. We took our knowledge of worms and headed out towards the shady, damp underbrush of the recent fallen leaves, the underworld of the stumps. The students spent over an hour, observing and recording their chosen worms. They found signs of reproduction, watch the physical movements and how the worm uses all it’s body to pull itself and the awe of how fast the worms can dig down into the earth.
Inquiry Based learning, allows the students to have the freedom to show their curiosity and understanding in a variety of ways. For my grade 1/2’s they were able to record their observations through artistic, verbal and written forms. They were eager to share their learning as well as gained confidence in themselves and each other as a positive learning support. Looking forward to the next discovery.