Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Sky Inquiry

I have found that most of the interests that the kids show me that lead to inquiries have something to do with the world around them. I have wanted so much to do an inquiry on the ocean or rainforest but they rarely get as excited about those as they do what is going on in our room or in the world outside our window!  Ohio's science standards include inquiring about the sky, specifically the sun, moon, and stars.  To see if I could hook them into this inquiry, I took them outside and we each found a quiet spot to "look closer" at the sky.

We gathered together and discussed what we saw, thought and wondered about the sky.

They wanted to record what they noticed about the sky so we grabbed our clipboards, paper and tool bags and made observational drawings of the sky. They also wrote what they saw, thought or wondered. 

They were hooked! There was so much that they wanted to know about the sky!
-How does the sun move across the sky?
-Why is the sky blue but in space it is black?
-How does the moon change shape? 
-We need the sun, but do we need stars?
-Can we see the moon in the day?
-How was the moon made?
-How are clouds made?
-How do clouds move?

Based on our discussions, I set up some experiences to explore and found books and videos to help us with our investigation. They had discussed that the sky can be many different colors. As we looked closer they noticed that the sky was many different shades of blue.  This sparked a discussion about the colors of sunsets. I set up colors in our Art Studio to alow them to explore and show what they noticed. Blues were on one side, reds, oranges and yellows were on the other. 

We displayed what they noticed in the hallway. 

I set out some books, pictures, and materials for them to record what they might see, think and wonder about the moon.

They thought it was interesting that the moon didn't really change shape. It is always a sphere, but that the sun's light and shadow create the different shapes. 

They also learned that the moon orbits the earth. 

The kids were fascinated by the moons rough surface. They learned that it had not only craters but mountains! I mixed flour with white paint and they used it to create the moon with its rough, rocky surface. They used a water bottle to make the craters, then wrote something new they learned about the moon. 

also set out some books, items and materials for them to explore the stars. 

They learned why they look so small (because they are so far away), and that if you connect them they make pictures called constellations.  They enjoyed creating their own. 

Below, this friend is documenting that he noticed the stars were not all white but also blue and red! He was very excited to share this discovery with the class!

We then found out that each color star was a different temperature. 

We also learned that stars have a cycle and our sun is our very own star that is so close we can see it in the daytime!

I had a small area where they could explore about the sun and create the sun using spin art. 

They took a closer look at the sun to show what it looks like in the hallway. 

They painted it...complete with solar flares...

and wrote facts we had learned about the sun. 

We then showed how the earth goes around the sun (I guess we should have put the earth a bit closer).

The kids found out that it takes one year for the earth to travel around the sun. I posed the question, "So how many times have you traveled around the sun?" This was a great way for them to understand that for every year they have lived they have traveled around the sun that many times! We used this opportunity to document how the earth moves around the sun. 

Kids are always fascinated about the world around them. They didn't initially show interest in the sky, but once I had them look closer, there was no stopping them!

With only one week of school left, I know exactly how to keep them exploring for a few more days! Just wait and see what our last mini inquiry will be as we end our school year!


  1. I find your work very inspiring! I really appreciate when teacher's are open about their own learning journey, I think its something we don't do often enough as a profession, sometimes feeling like we have to pretend we know it all. I'm moving from grade 1 to SK in the fall and I will definitely be keeping your blog close at "hand" as I set up my classroom in August and begin to organize how we will plan our inquiries and follow the children's interests and wonderings. I love your wonder boards! I have tried to spark inquiries with my grade 1s this year and I've been amazes at their increased motivation and confidence... but was obliged to do some directing as the grade 1 curriculum in Ontario is much more prescriptive (although still quite good as it's all based on "big ideas"). Can't wait to get to kindergarten and experience the true freedom of taking the curriculum from the kids. Thanks for the work you do on your blog... blogs are a big part of my PD and it is appreciated!

    1. Thanks Amanda!! Blogs are also a huge part of my PD! Enjoy teaching Kindergarten! You will love it!!

  2. Hi Darla!
    I just found your blog and I love it. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I am currently teaching Preschool in a public school and I am looking for some ideas to organize my classroom. I want to incorporate some Reggio in my class and you definitely have great stuff. I wish more public schools would adopt the Reggio approach. Again, thank you for sharing your ideas. I can tell you love what you do :)

  3. I have been referring to your blog for the past several years and each time I happen back upon it I am so impressed! I would like to give you "props" for being a 20+ year Kindie teacher and still remaining sain! That is not an easy feat. I am now starting my 10th year and for the last 3 I have been working towards an inquiry based program with a Reggio-inspired mindset. My struggle is how to balance this with other elements that I also find very valuable such as writer's workshop, guided reading, math stations, etc. I know your blog is focused around your work with inquiry and projects (which is very inspiring!) but I was wondering if you would have a few minutes to share how you organize / timetable your day. I notice in some of your pictures that you use name cards as well as numbers (in picture frames) on your tables. If you have any tidbits about how you aid the flow and structure of students, I would be very interested. I know it's still summer but it seems that when the calendar strikes Aug.1, my inner alarm goes off and I have to start getting ready for school starting! Thanks so much for your generosity.

    1. Hi Jena! I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond! I do still have writer's workshop, reading and a station time! I will be posting about my schedule very soon! I have had a lot of request about what my schedule looks like! The first month looks very different but now I think I have a schedule that will work. Check back and hopefully my post will help you out!
      Darla Myers

  4. Dear Darla,
    Thank you for sharing your fantastic inquiries! I have been teaching kindergarten for over 20 years in Canada and always find inspiration in your blog. Your blog has taught me how to present an enticing provocation and where to take it. When approaching a new curriculum expectation, I always go to your blog for ideas. Thank you so much. You are a truly gifted teacher.
    Michele White

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Michele! Have an amazing school year!
      Darla Myers