In my post entitled, The Start of a New Inquiry, I discuss the birth of our Winter & Polar Inquiry. You can see how we began our inquiry with an interest in snow and winter and began focusing our investigation with the introduction of our Animals Shelf (a small-world play area with animal figurines and a winter environment). We began delving into questions about the behaviour of animals in winter time and learned that some animals hibernate, some migrate and some adapt to the cold. When discussing animal adaptations, we naturally began to explore many polar animals (penguins, polar bears, arctic foxes, etc.) and discovered their physical and behavioural differences from those animals who hibernate or migrate. Soon, our inquiry narrowed further and became much more of a Polar Inquiry as the children’s keen interest with “the poles” continued to grow. Below I’ve outlined the evolution of our inquiry – how it began, how it transformed with the children’s questions and interests and where it has developed to at this point.
Now that the children have learned about the kinds of animals and how they survive in the Poles, we have expanded our inquiry furthermore and have put a spotlight on the geography, land, people and cultures associated with the Arctic and Antarctica. As you will see in an upcoming post, from there, we have put an environmental focus on our inquiry and are now investigating the melting of the ice caps, reasons behind the melting and what we can do about it. For now, let me show you how this all evolved.
Groundhog Day is a holiday that many young children have heard about but don’t quite understand. I was able to easily integrate this holiday and learning into our current Winter & Polar Inquiry due to the hibernation aspect, making it relevant to the children and not completely out of context from their focus of study. The image below shows some snapshots of video clips the children viewed, stories we read and the kinds of questions we explored in order to get a better idea of what really happens with groundhogs this time of year.
First, we learned about the tradition of Groundhog Day but then we learned that groundhogs don’t really intend to look for their shadows when they emerge from their burrows in February. Actually, they don’t care about their shadows at all! They really only come out to keep tabs on the location of nearby female groundhog’s burrows so that when spring comes, they know exactly where to go. In a way, they can give us an inclination about whether spring is close by or not because of course, if the groundhog chooses to go back into his burrow, it is clearly not warm enough for him to leave hibernation. However, this is true for many animals.