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Inspire Curiosity

Are you struggling to come up with some educational activities to do together as a family? I've got an idea that I'm sure you will enjoy just as much as your kids!

Recently, I came back from a children's book conference where there were many amazing speakers sharing their process to creating their work. One word that came up in nearly every speech was - curiosity. Children are curious about the world around them and I have to admit, I'm pretty curious, too. I had to do several inquiry projects in our teaching science class and I just loved finding out little details about the world around me. In one project we studied birds. I happened to have a lot of black capped chickadees at my bird feeder. They are a very interesting bird with a very fun tweet!

Here is the process for encouraging curiosity that I learned in my teaching science class.....

Step 1 - Find out what your child is curious about. This works best if they can find something they can observe first hand, but it doesn't necessarily have to be since the internet is full of videos. If they don't have any answers, go on a walk around the neighborhood and have each child take a notebook. They can record their observations with drawing or writing. You may even have them take some photos of things they find interesting. If you have an old phone, they can use it to take pictures. That way if it breaks it won't be a big deal.

Step 2 - Gather together and ask your children what they noticed on their walk. Was there anything interesting? Do they have any questions? Do they want to share anything with everyone? Write down their questions.

Step 3 - Observe & Research. It is really awesome if you can somehow set up experiences for them to observe things in real life. It is more meaningful to children if they can experience things first hand rather than reading about it in a book. Even though I say that, it is also equally important to research information from text to learn facts and it encourages them to read. There are many nature related websites for children where they can read and watch videos to learn about topics. I also utilize YouTube, but please use caution and watch the videos with the sound on first to make sure it is appropriate.

Example Lesson - Birds

1. What do we know about birds? (Possible answers: They tweet. They fly. They have feathers, etc.) Write their responses down.

2. What do you want to know about birds? Are there any birds that are your favorite? On another sheet of paper, write down any questions or thoughts they may have about birds. Encourage them to be curious and you be curious too! What do you want to learn? (Examples - Do they only eat worms and bird food? How do their nests stay together? What do they do in the winter? What sound do the red birds make & what kind of bird are they? What sound do Robins make? Do they chew or have teeth? How do birds fly and why don't they fall to the ground?)

3. Observe birds. Set up a bird feeder near a window and have a notebook available for each child to record their findings. It might help if each child chooses a different bird to observe/study. That way they can compare and contrast the similarities & differences. For watching wildlife, I like having observations at certain times of the day. There might be patterns to the birds behaviors and the number of birds at the feeder at certain times.

  • Let the kids take pictures of the birds and the things they notice. Show them how to zoom in on the phone/camera.

  • Have binoculars or a magnifying glass. This always makes the kids more interested in observing. Plus, it's pretty neat to see things up close.

  • Watch videos online to observe birds in their real habitat. Search for videos that will answer their questions, if it is something they cannot observe on their own.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the things that I've done with my children in the past as well as things we are currently studying. Here is a list of topics that we have done over the years.

  • Turtles

  • Bees

  • Woodpeckers (Early one morning a woodpecker was pecking our house! So we decided to study them.)

  • Ants

  • Snow

  • Worms

  • Rocks & Fossils

What will you be curious about? I would love to know what you study!

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