Welcome to Part Three of The FLC First Grader’s Series
Your 6-year-old is asking MORE questions than s/he usually does.
And even though s/he LOVES rules and boundaries in his/her expanding world, those very important inquiries are giving you clues to the puzzles being solved in her/his broadening brain.
Your First Grader’s Inquiry Skills are growing. They are becoming an important part of his/her brain development and academic success.
A “How-To……” book of instructions for everything in life right now would be just fine with her/him!
PART THREE : Inquiry Skills
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. ~ Eugene Ionesco
There is a philosophy that an answer can be found within the context of its question…..or at least its beginning is….
Your First Grader comes home with many new & wonderful ideas to share. S/he LOVES explaining how explorations became discoveries.
And, THEN, “what if…..?” Oh, the imagination of the inquiring mind!!!!
This state of inquiry, however, is not satisfied with thinking about things.
Your 6-year-old and his/her longer attention span likes to learn & problem solve by doing: experimenting, planning, building, collecting, and, maybe even , performing magic tricks just to solve what “appears” to be unsolvable.
You can promote these Critical Thinking questions. BLB’s Library has several ideas for you to use in an interactive resource:
Within that page are 2 downloadable PDFs:
You Can, Also:
- provide storage boxes for her/his special collections of rocks, seeds, shells, leaves
- Add nonfiction books to the library about animals, plants, sun, moon & stars, seasons, weather, holidays & celebrations, world cultures, community helpers, inventors & inventions, machines & transportation
- Take field trips to history & science museums, work places & factories, other neighborhoods
- encourage his/her growing awareness of time & days of the week by including him/her in planning daily events
S/he probably has lots of Giant Ideas (where DO they come from) with lots of Important Questions (how DOES s/he think up all of them)…….
Encouraging The Critical Thinking Process of Inquiry
Do you remember the KWL (What do you Know, What do you Wonder about, & What have you Learned) your teachers may have used during your classroom discussions?
Check out this How-To use a K-W-L Chart site:
Although it can be time-consuming, I found a KWL chart to be a very valuable exploration & discovery tool. Used interactively, it provided me, and my students, with knowledge already in place~no wasted time on redundancy~ and ownership of what was to be learned ~ with a few prompted questions, ideas, & vocabulary clues from me.
When Do We Use A KWL ?
You can use this tool with your child in a variety of scenarios:
- to enrich & reinforce a variety of science, social studies & geography topics being taught in school
- to increase reading comprehension elements in fiction & nonfiction reads at home and for school
- to use as a home-management builder in a number of arenas: chores, safety, nutrition, clothing/weather, etc.
SO~I’ve created something a little different that includes a Resource section in this discovery chat titled KQRL. Here’s a downloadable 8.5×11″ PDF template you can print, laminate & re-use during you & yours’ Inquiry Investigations: KQRL Template
Wondering what science, social studies & geography concepts your First Grader will be learning in the classroom?
Your child’s school district can provide you with a list of objectives & expectations. Ask her/his teacher for assistance and explanations.
Science Explorations in First Grade
Your child will engage his/her 5 Senses to observe, ask questions, and, then, record what s/he is learning. Entering data on graphs (pictographs & bar graphs), hand-drawings as well as written words are products used to show what s/he understands.
This is a “general” list of science concepts your child may (or may not) be learning throughout his/her year in First Grade:
- Forces in Motion: push & pull, balance, magnetism, electricity
- Changes in States of Matter (solid, liquid & gas)
- Properties of Liquids
- Sound Production & Travel
- Properties of Air
- The Universe: day & night sky, moon, stars, sun
- Weather: seasons, temperature measurement
- Properties & Uses of Earth Materials: soil, rocks, minerals, water
- Human Body Systems & Nutrition
- Ecosystems: habitats, survival needs, protection/ecology
- Life Cycles: plants, animals
- Diversity & Variations: plants, animals
Your Home~Grown Science Lab
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. ~ Mary Lou Cook
PBSParents offers some very useful suggestions on how to explore science concepts with your child in everyday scenarios. And just for you, I created a table -YIPEE- to help with that!
Home~Grown Science Explorations & Discoveries
FAMILY ENVIRONMENT PHYSICAL SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS EARTH SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS LIFE SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
Forces in Motion: trikes, bikes, scooter, wagon; playground equipment
Matter: solids, liquids, gases
Sound:different machines in the air/on the ground
Properties of Air: balloons, paper airplanes, Frisbee, kites, leaves
Light/Dark: day & night sky elements, moon phases, shadows, shade, self-reflection in water
Weather: clouds, temperature, precipitation
Materials:different rocks, soil varieties, waters(lake, pond, brook, river, mud puddles)
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems
Stages of growth in plants & animals
In the Car
On the Bus/Train
Forces in Motion: Push / Pull
Sound: Machines at work
Light/Dark: self-reflection in window, vision adjustments to sight, building sights, day vs night sky visibility in different environments
Weather: cloud formations in open sky, visibility during precipitation at different speeds
Materials: landforms, bodies of water
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems: city/country, desert/plains/forest/seaside
In the Kitchen
At the Market
Forces in Motion: push/pull of different utensils, float/sink of different food elements
Matter: changing states from solid to liquid to gas
Liquid Properties: changes with heat, cold, mixtures
Properties of Air: forces of air when applied to different foods, like meringues
Weather: on foods' stability, spoilage, growth in the garden
Materials: how rocks, soil, water affect foods
Human Body: nutrition, food groups, menu/recipe combinations, extra foods
Plant & Animal Ecosystems: growth, food sources, omnivores/herbivores/carnivores
Life Cycles: plants from seed, growth/harvest, preparation
I don’t know about you, but, there are questions children ask that defy an explanation…..So, instead of trying to give reason that might not be understandable or accurate, a more “scientific” approach will probably satisfy those questions. Wonder, inquire & investigate along with your child, encouraging him/her to explain why s/he thinks the way s/he does. Yes~answer a question with another question.
Ready to Set Up A Home~Grown Science Lab ?
Your Primary learner LOVES to investigate his/her Inquiries!
I’ve created 4 of them for you & yours, addressing several of the objectives found in the Physical, Earth, Life & Ecology Sciences. Each contain several investigations with sequential activities for observations, predictions, explorations, experiments & discoveries appropriate for children, ages 5-8. You can visit these “Labs” in BLB’s Shop by clicking on the links below:
Whew!!!! Have FUN!!!
But wait…..there’s more!
Your First grader will, also, be learning about the diverse cultures & countries of the world. Using the Inquiry approach to these studies is a great interactive way to engage her/his learning.
Navigating the World Through Investigations
I found Social Studies & Geography an easy way to integrate reading & writing. Not only are they inter-related, they are incredibly relevant & engaging for most children. Who doesn’t want to explore his/her home country, ancestral roots, holiday traditions, and, then, navigate the way there?!
Here’s a general, sequential inquiry map several fellow teachers & I used in our classrooms before the curriculum timeline rules changed. It’s a thematic approach that blended & covered all required objectives, including some Math, Health & Science expectations. We began at the beginning~the Home.
Family & Home
- Where do you live: apartment, house, duplex, trailer, shelter?
- Can you draw a map of the inside of your home?
- Who is part of your family at home?
- What are the needs of most families?
- How do families meet those needs?
- Are chores & shared responsibilities part of your family?
- What other buildings are in your neighborhood?
- How is an apartment complex like a neighborhood?
- Do your friends and/or relatives live nearby?
- Is there a park or playscape in your neighborhood?
- Are these other places in your neighborhood: school, gas station, restaurants, markets?
- Can you draw a map of your neighborhood, using a few symbols & a compass rose for directions?
The Communities in A Town or City
- What is a community?
- How are neighborhoods & communities the same? Different?
- Do you know where these buildings are in your community: retail shops, restaurants, fire & police stations, schools, churches, hospitals, clinics/offices, athletic fields, cinemas?
- Who are the community helpers in these places?
- How do you know ( uniforms, special jobs)?
- When do you need these community helpers?
- How do some of them keep communities safe?
- What are “goods” and “services”?
- Which community helpers provide services? Goods?
- What is the difference between a town & a city?
- Do you know how many people live in our town/city?
- How many of these places have you visited: concert hall, opera house, theater, museum, historical sites, sports arena, transportation hubs ~ bus terminal, train station, airport?
- How did you travel to those places?
- Where can you find a major waterway in our town/city? What is its name?
- Have you ever traveled to a different town or city?
- Was it in our state or a different state?
- Can you locate our town/city on this map?
Widening the Scope
A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils. ~ Ever Garrison
- What is the name of the state we live in?
- Is a state larger or smaller than a city?
- Are there only towns & cities in our state?
- Do you know the names of some other towns or cities in our state?
- Do you know the names of any other states?
- Have you ever traveled to any other state?
- What did you see/do there?
- Where is it on this map?
- How did you travel there?
- Can you locate our state on this map?
- What are those other names a part of on the map?
- What is famous about our state?
- These states are all part of a what?
- What is a country?
- Do you know the names of any other countries?
- What is the name of our country?
- Why is our country called “The United States of America”?
Click on the link below to download, copy & print a PFD I created for celebrating USA Symbols, Citizenship & National Holidays:
To Global Awareness
- What do you see on this globe?
- How are the lands separated from each other?
- What is a continent?
- Can you find the country of the United States?
- What is the name of its continent?
- What large bodies of water border the United States?
- Where are the other continents?
- How many do you think there are?
- Can you think of other languages & customs?
- Have you seen people who dress differently than you & your family?
- Have ever eaten food from another country (Mexican, German, Chinese, Indian)?
- Why do you think people from all over the world come to the USA?
- Do you know what a folk tale is?
- How do different cultures celebrate holidays?
- Can you tell where this (these) piece (s) of art were created?
- Where do you think this music was created?
- Have you ever seen this kind of dancing?
YES! All this and MORE in a year of First Grade!!!!!
OMG!!! What Can I Do to Help Me Help My Child!?
First of all, if you are receiving a weekly newsletter from your child’s teacher, you will know what is being taught & how long it will be taught.
Ask the teacher and/or media center facilitator for content recommendations.
Your local library can help you locate books, CDs & DVDs to add to the lessons.
Visit science & history museums, planetariums, aquariums & botanical gardens, especially ones with guides, kid-friendly exhibits & hands-on explorations.
You can, also, visit BLB’s Resource Library for a list of authors, books & websites to add to your collections. Here’s the link:
There is another, more in-depth way to encourage your child’s Inquiry Skills. It’s a technique called UbD.
Big Ideas & Essential Questions
An idea is “big” if it helps us make sense of lots of confusing experience and seemingly isolated facts. It’s like the picture that connects the dots or a simple rule of thumb in a complex field. ~ Grant Wiggins
Your child’s classroom teacher may, also, (or maybe not) be using a learning technique called UbD~Understanding by Design ~ especially during science, geography & social studies units, which are, then, coordinated thematically with fiction & nonfiction reads. Projects & knowledge are student-driven through exploration & discovery guided by questions the students have formed regarding the subject.
The “Essential Questions” will usually help define the “Big Idea”, which is usually a general, or abstract statement.
When forming the Questions, keep these insights in mind:
- They have no right or wrong answers
- They promote inquiry to help learn the Big Idea.
- They encourage critical thinking, curiosity & real life problem solving.
Basically~ What do you see? What do you think about what you see? What do you wonder about when you see it? How & where can you find out more?
Need more info and tips on how to provide your child with inquiry-based explorations? George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia is a great site to visit. Just click on the link below:
Your First grader’s wonder is nutrition for his/her brain. encourage, promote & nurture those curious questions with exploratory & discovery investigations.
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