ELC Inquiry

12 April 2024

Exploring Together: Nurturing curiosity in Education through Both Teacher and Child-Led Inquiry

St Peter’s Woodlands Early Learning Centre learning program is underpinned by the National curriculum, the ‘Early Years Learning Framework’ and is also influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach, where staff listen to the interests of the children and develop learning inquiries based on those interests. The learning in each ELC classroom will look different because of this approach, as the needs and interests of the children vary from room to room. Students are more engaged when their learning is tailored to their interests and the educators and children learn together about their inquiry.

Inquiries might start with a provocation, a question from the staff to spark children’s thinking. Staff also use the ‘Visible Thinking Routines’ from Dr Ron Ritchhart to gain an insight into the children’s prior knowledge. For example, in the Moseley Room, prior to their inquiry on Recycling and Sustainability, Preschool teacher, Kate Hodgkison used the ‘See, Think, Wonder’ thinking routine to assist the children to describe, interpret and wonder about their thinking of this topic. The Preschool teachers have written about their Term 1 inquiry below, giving an insight into what this looks like in practice.

Recycling and Sustainability – Moseley Room – Kate Hodgkison 
A year of learning and discovery began with excitement in the Moseley Room. The children led their own learning about recycling and sustainability which was initiated after enthusiastically watching the allied-waste dump truck collect the Early Learning Centre’s rubbish directly outside our classroom. After learning about the importance of recycling and taking care of our community, the natural progression of our inquiry led to caring for our oceans and marine life. This tied in perfectly when the artificial whale appeared on the Glenelg foreshore in March as a part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival. We borrowed a book from the library called ‘The Tale of The Whale’ during our weekly visits with Mrs Francis and set up a fishing provocation with the purpose of removing rubbish from our oceans. Throughout our inquiry we used Visual Thinking Routines by Dr Ron Richhart as a means of expressing and extending our thinking skills. The ‘I see, I think, I wonder’ routine, was a great guide to kick start our inquiry with fascinating questions which we unpacked across the term.

After clean-up Australia Day, we decided to collate the plastic rubbish in our lunchboxes and learn about the importance of ‘Nude Foods’ and the children explored ways they can use their agency and show responsibility by helping to pack their own lunchboxes in the hope to lessen the waste we produce each day. Our inquiry about recycling was inspiring for many of the children, and feedback from families tells us they are implementing recycling at home too, demonstrating their learning has been rich, meaningful and ever evolving.

Harmony Week – Hastings Room  – Tamara Bowyer
During Harmony Week, the children from the Hastings Room learnt the importance of accepting others and what it means to belong. The students started their learning journey by listening to the beautiful story, ‘Whoever you are’ by Mem Fox. This book taught us that we may look different to others, speak a different language or learn in different ways, but on the inside we all feel the same. Each child then created their own drawing of a person to add to the wall. We used this as an opportunity to talk about how each drawing is different and special just like them and that they all belong as part of our classroom community.

On Harmony Day, we combined with the Moseley Room to create our very own Harmony Garden. Each child had the opportunity to assist in planting the seedlings or watering the garden bed. To decorate the new space, the children were involved in creating a group piece of art. They each chose a colour and placed their fingerprint on the canvas to create a row of stunning flowers. Both classes will continue to look after the garden to create a welcoming space for all to visit.

Dinosaurs – Colley Room – Gary Irvine
Dinosaurs have always fascinated children and adults alike. A day in Nature Play sparked an idea for an inquiry when a group of children from the Colley Room were pretending to dig up dinosaur bones. To begin the inquiry the children gathered and as a group discussed what they knew about dinosaurs and what else they would like to find out. One common question was – how did the dinosaurs become extinct? The children started their inquiry by bringing in dinosaur books from home, with the hope that they may hold some of their answers. To help guide them on their inquiry, a paleontologists activity was set up so the children could experiment, using all the tools which a paleontologist would have in their kit. We also discussed the differences between carnivores and herbivores which led to the children creating their own dinosaur from playdough. Some very cute creations were made! The fascination of dinosaurs only grew from our inquiry – a topic which inevitably invites more questions than answers.

Scroll to Top