Tag Archives: humane education

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?

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

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

Five Reasons for AnimalTales

AnimalTales is a free book lending program (grades K-6) that encourages students to become more compassionate and develop a greater respect for all living things. This program was started in 2010 and is continually being updated with new books and materials! The feedback we get from teachers is overwhelmingly positive; in fact, many teachers use…Continue Reading

November is family violence prevention month

Deliberate abuse of a pet is a form of family violence and identification and intervention leads to protecting both people and animals. There is a plethora of research that shows a definitive link between animal abuse and other forms of violence. Young people who witness or commit acts of cruelty to animals may disclose these…Continue Reading

Announcing the 2017 Humane Award Recipient!

The Alberta SPCA’s Humane Awards recognize Alberta teachers and students who inspire others to show compassion for animals, people and the environment through example and leadership. We are pleased to announce this year’s Humane Award recipient! The Animal Rescue Crew at F.R. Haythorne Junior High in Sherwood Park is working to enhance animal welfare in…Continue Reading

Speak up for humane education in the new provincial curriculum

Albertans have until June 2 to provide input into preliminary draft documents of the new curriculum being developed by Alberta Education. Now’s your chance to voice your opinion about including humane education, animal welfare or other topics related to kindness to animals, people and the environment. Here’s some tips to make it easier. Before you…Continue Reading

Spotlight on Volunteers – April 2017

Kelsey Neill – Animal Research Intern Kelsey Neill has spent this year volunteering with the Alberta SPCA compiling animal research on  health, proper care, safety and just fun and interesting facts that make animals unique. These facts will be featured on our facebook and twitter pages and will be used in the development of new…Continue Reading

Alberta’s New Curriculum – an opportunity for leadership in humane values

The current review of provincial curriculum – being conducted by Alberta Education in partnership with the Alberta Teachers’ Association – provides a unique opportunity to incorporate positive, effective changes in our schools to help students’ character development through humane education. Indeed, we can become the first province to explicitly include humane education in the provincial…Continue Reading

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