Kindergarten Cultivates Inquiry
with Wildlife Research Projects
Kindergartners researched wildlife and gave presentations as part of the IB unit “Sharing the Planet.”
March 31, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – They spent weeks conducting research to seek answers to questions they had formed and then organized their findings on paper and display boards. Once completed, they stood before their classmates to present all they had uncovered on their topics, often with visual or multimedia aids, calling on peers during question-and-answer sessions.
It may sound like a college class, but this is kindergarten at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS.
Kindergarten students recently completed projects on wildlife for their unit “Sharing the Planet: Living Together in Harmony.” The process prompted students to think like researchers and learn to ask engaging questions. Corbett Prep teachers Ashley Davis, Holly Ralph and Marla Vildostegui focused on creating wonder in the classrooms, using “I wonder” questions to help students begin thinking about how questions are asked. They encouraged inquiry throughout students’ research so they could uncover meaning and become experts on the animals they studied.
Teachers laid the groundwork in the classroom, building background knowledge of wildlife and the seven continents while emphasizing creativity and critical thinking.
Students also worked independently, in pairs and with families. In computer class, they teamed up with fifth-grade partners who helped them conduct research on safe websites and fill out their “animal fact sheet” with information about the animal’s size, color, classification and more.
The cooperation assisted the younger students but benefited older ones as well. Fifth-grader Trey Hodges said he enjoyed working with 5-year-old Jackson on his rattlesnake research: “It was really fun because they like to try it on their own before they want you to step in, and then you can coach them better.”
At home, families worked together to synthesize the information and help them with visual presentations.
Many of the students used cardboard displays to showcase their research, including photographs with their facts, which they pointed out during oral presentations to their class. Anna asked a teacher to help her stretch a string 6 feet wide to illustrate how broad a moose’s antler was. Christopher passed around a curling snakeskin for his king snake presentation. Tyler used a video excerpt to allow his classmates to hear prairie dogs barking.
Students took turns standing to ask questions after the presentations, wondering aloud what the animals ate, how big the babies were and whether they were dangerous or endangered. The final part of the assignment encouraged students to reflect on what they had done and complete self assessments.
The kindergarten research project allowed students to uncover and share fascinating facts about animals, but the process they learned of asking questions and assembling research promises to turn them into lifelong learners. The kindergarten teachers hope the students develop into inquirers who continue to ask “I wonder” and are fascinated by the world around them.