Category Archives: Blog

Fostering Curiosity in the Classroom

Children are naturally curious. We know this from the numerous questions they ask each day. However, for some reason it seems as children get older the number of questions asked become fewer. As educators we want to encourage students to continue asking questions and to stay curious and engaged in learning, but how? We’ve all said “there are no silly questions” and while true, is there more we can be doing in the classroom to help encourage inquiry? The answer is yes, and below are four examples of how curiosity can be fostered in the classroom.

1. Value curiosity

It is important for students to know the value of curiosity. This can be done by noticing and reinforcing curiosity when it occurs in the classroom. Praise students for asking good questions. Also encourage students to dig deeper and expand on their question. Remind students that the process of finding an answer (discovery) is just as important as the answer itself.

RESOURCE: For junior high and high school grades, watch The Power of Curiosity (5:22) as a class. The video demonstrates the importance of asking ‘what if?’ and “why” and “why not.” Some of our greatest inventions and theories have come from these simple questions. What hypothetical questions do your students have? How can these questions be answered?

2. Model curiosity

Curiosity is contagious! Model curiosity by thinking aloud when going through learning activities with students. When doing a read aloud or watching a video, pause to question what is being read or watched. Explain to students what you are thinking, questions you have, and anything that has piqued your interest – be enthusiastic about learning! Encourage students to model this behaviour when reading on their own. Another way to model curiosity is to become familiar with well-known individuals who have used their curiosity to change how we see the world!

RESOURCE: For elementary grades, read aloud The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with Chimps by Jeanette Winter, Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and/or On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. If you don’t have access to the books you can watch the read aloud videos: The Watcher (11:12), Shark Lady (7:42) and/or On a Beam of Light (13:51).

3. Make it personal

Give students the freedom to explore what interests them. You can have structure around their choice by giving students a general topic (ie. Needs of exotic pets) and provide opportunity for students to refine the topic to meet their individual interest (ie. How to take care of a pet budgie).

4. Encourage curiosity outside of the classroom

Curiosity does not stop in the classroom. Encourage students to continue asking questions at home, and elsewhere outside of school. Encourage them to be observant and curious about their environment when walking home from school, while on the bus, or when playing at recess. Help parents/guardians understand the importance of curiosity and why asking questions is valuable!

RESOURCE: With parental/guardian permission, students can download the Seek app. Seek uses image recognition technology to identify animals, bugs, and plants that students find while outside! This child friendly app does not require an account to be set up and no user data is collected, and is sure to keep students interested in learning about the world around them.

For more resources on fostering curiosity in your classroom, be sure to visit our Stay Curious webpage for grade specific discussion questions and classroom activities (curriculum linked) that accompany this year’s poster and are available for you to download! What are some other ways you encourage curiosity in your classroom?

After the War: Animals Helping Veterans

Animals had, and continue to have an important role to play in war. In last year’s Remembrance Day blog we discussed the role animals played in The First World War. This year we are looking at service dogs, and the important role they have in helping veterans who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder…Continue Reading

Why Curiosity Matters

Curiosity is powerful. It encourages us to ask questions, seek answers, think critically, and find solutions to problems both big and small. It helps us to be open to others, build understanding and foster empathy – and it needs to be nurtured.  Astrophysicist and science educator, Neil deGrasse Tyson has lamented that “kids are born…Continue Reading

Summer Reads for Teachers

We usually highlight great animal-themed books for your students, but this list is just for you! The following suggested reads span fiction to non-fiction and are guaranteed to kindle your curiosity about animals and spark reflection about our relationship to them. Saving Manno by Spencer Sekyer (autobiographical, Canadian) Spencer Sekyer is a Sherwood Park teacher who…Continue Reading

Animals in the classroom: Responsibilities & Rewards

Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor is a seasoned grade three teacher who has incorporated classroom animals in her teaching for about 10 years. I met with Mrs. Ainslie-O’Connor in her brightly lit grade three classroom in Spruce Grove and was introduced to some of her furry – and not so furry – friends.  She has a six-year old guinea…Continue Reading

Volunteer Spotlight – April 2019

The Alberta SPCA Education Department is fortunate to have two wonderful volunteers that help us connect teachers to humane education resources they can use in their classroom. Whether it is coming into the office once a week, or helping us at special events, our volunteers are an integral part of our department being able to…Continue Reading

What to Expect with AnimalTales

Are you thinking about getting AnimalTales but not sure what to expect? This blog is intended to give you a better idea of how AnimalTales can be used in your classroom. The AnimalTales program is easily adaptable; each activity can be modified to fit the needs of your class. You can spend as much or…Continue Reading

The Rise of Alternatives

Technology is paving the way for advances in science and medicine, and providing opportunities for learning, through the use of alternatives. From Organ-on-a-Chip to a virtual dissection table, superior methods to the traditional use of animals for education and research and being created and implemented. In science classrooms, dissection has been a popular activity since…Continue Reading

Animals and Remembrance Day

This Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. Over 650,000 men and women from Canada served in this war, with 66,000 of those making the ultimate sacrifice. That is one in ten people who never returned home to their loved ones. Working alongside these brave men and women were…Continue Reading

Help animals in your community through a ‘Class Action’ Project!

Alberta SPCA ‘Class Action’ projects to help animals are the perfect opportunity to engage your students in service learning. Service learning projects address curricular outcomes while providing an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community. These projects help students build skills such as goal setting and critical thinking, and can help improve self-esteem…Continue Reading

Blog posts represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Alberta SPCA.