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This project provides a model for Inquiry based learning in the Kindergarten classroom. The approach can be adapted to any topic of interest.

Ladybugs by Jackie Dare, Parkdale School, EMSB

The Project In our Kindergarten classroom, the decision to learn about ladybugs was made when a child took out a book on insects from the library. He shared the book with the other students and everyone was interested in looking at the different bugs that were in the book. They asked me to read the factual captions under the pictures. At the same time, the warm weather brought some of the insects out of hibernation and into the classroom. The interest and curiosity about the insects led to the following unit. The most popular insect was the Ladybug, because as one child declared, "Ladybugs don't sting or hurt us". So the focus of the unit became ladybugs.

We started the unit by creating a K-W-L chart modelled after a procedure developed by Ogle, 1986. (Questioning Strategies for K-6 Classrooms Pequis Publishers. 1995. Winnipeg, Manitoba.). The children reacted to each other's input. When recording their "facts" about ladybugs one little girl stated that ladybugs are always ladies. Another child questioned this fact. "Why could they only be ladies? How would there be other ladybugs if they were all ladies?" The first child insisted in having her fact included under What we Know About Ladybugs because "They are called ladies and they are nice and ladies are supposed to be nice." All of their suggestions were recorded.

In a second discussion and brainstorming session, the children identified questions that they had about ladybugs. These were also recorded. We discussed how they were going to find out the answers to their questions. Their answer was to go to the library and look in some books. For the first few days, I read a number of factual books to the class. The children reread and shared the books with each other whenever they had free time and found their own books to add to the collection.

One of the books I read was The Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle. Later when we went out to look for ladybugs the children noticed some leaves with holes in them. They related these to the story and were all excited because if they had found aphids they felt they would be able to find some ladybugs.

I organized the classroom into 3 learning centres. The children rotated to each of the centres. The centres included a reading and writing area, a ladybug hunt where there were actual ladybugs to observe and thirdly a video about the life cycle of ladybugs. There were many opportunities for the children to discuss and share their findings with their peers. During this time the children made many discoveries. They found some of the answers to their questions by looking at the ladybugs. One little boy tried to tell if it was a lady by turning it over. They were very enthusiastic about what they were learning. They kept individual logs of their observations and discoveries. Often they drew pictures or wrote a few words and then they shared what they had written with the class. Click  here to view our observations.

After the students had the opportunity to work at each of the learning centres and to share and compare what they had learned, we looked back at the K-W-L chart. To show what they had learned, they were going to write a book (the book is the L - What we learned) about Ladybugs and they decided what they wanted their book to look like. They worked in pairs or small groups to write and illustrate their assigned page. I helped with editing and assembling the class book. Click here to read the book we made about what we learned.