Picture Books for the School Year

Hi everyone, happy summer! I have been curating and collecting beautiful picture books as one of my hobbies this summer. I recently created stories on Instagram to share some of the books I am most excited about.

Lots were curated from the wonderful Adrienne Gear‘s workshop and from various superstar Instagram and Facebook colleagues. If you don’t follow Adrienne Gear’s Facebook page, I suggest you do.I had a lot of requests for the list to be posted, so here it is.

I have linked them to Amazon and I also encourage you to check out your local bookshops before ordering them online. If you are wanting a little bit about each book, check out my Instagram highlights (Picture Books) or the Facebook video in Project Learn.  

   Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

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Be a Friend by Salina Yoon 



The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates 



Comment etre gentil by Rana DiOrio 


Je suis le meilleur by Lucy Cousins 


Draw the Line by Katheryn Otoshi 


Be Brave Little One by Marianne Richmond 51mcZBdXWFL._SX491_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Any Question by Marie-Louise Gay 


Sarabella’s Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner 


Je m’ennuie by Michael Ian Black 

I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black 


Why I am Me? by Paige Britt, Selina Alko & Sean Qualls


Lili entre deux nids by Jonna Lund Sorenson


Once in a Blue Moon by Danielle Daniel 


I am a Story by Dan Yaccarino


We are All Dots by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti


I am Dreaming by Native Northwest 


Tap the Magic Tree by Christie 


Play by Jez Alborough


Alma and How She got her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal



Now by Antoinette Portis 


Stolen Words by Melanie Florence 



Shh! We have a Plan by Chris Haughton 

Chut! On a un plan! by Chris Haughton 


Thanks for checking out this list. I would love to hear your go-to’s for back to school and any of your learning units.

Stay curious, 


Wonder Wednesday: The Honey Bee

Welcome back to #WonderWednesday! Unfortunately we skipped last week as I was battling a stomach bug, but I am back and feeling much better. This week we have been exploring using ‘The Honey Bee’ by Kirsten Hall as a provocation tool. We were fortunate to have a visit and talk put on by one of the wonderful Mum’s in our room about her bee keeping passion, as our original provocation and then this book fit so nicely, we continued on. Both of these provocation activities have provoked a lot of questions, connections and stories around honey bees, the importance of bees and helping the environment.
Book Description: This beautiful stories brings to life the journey and exploration time of a honey bee. Flying from flower to flower in search of pollen and nectar. Onomatopoeia and LOUD words make this book super fun to read. The illustrations are gorgeous and are wonderful provocations and pictures to use for thinking and writing routines. At the end of this book, the author writes a letter to the readers. The letter focuses on the importance of honey bees and things we can do to help save them, as they are slowly dying. This book is an inspiring and wonderful read. We thoroughly enjoyed it.


Context: This book came right after a wonderful provocation we had brought by a mother in our room. She came in to share about her bee keeping passion. She brought in many items that provoked our thinking and brought out a lot of our questions, stories and connections. We are quite knowledgeable and curious about bees. Her bee keeping suit and mask was super neat to see. Along with her hive box, the honey screens, a dead bee, honey to try and peppermint spray to smell (to calm the bees) we were beyond excited to listen and most importantly.. share! 



Connections: We loved the letter, that the author of ‘The Honey Bee’ wrote to the readers, at the end of the book! It was about how bees are in danger of not surviving, and suggested five different ways we can help out bees and pollinators. As I read it out loud a lot of sad and worried faces appeared on my littles. They were demonstrating compassion and appeared to want to do something. I immediately decided we should do some further thinking on this. We did some thinking and sharing with a partner on the carpet and then followed this up by sharing our idea and plan of how we were going to help the honey bees in our journals. We loved this and wrote/illustrated for almost 40 minutes!! That is a long time in Kinderland.

During our afternoon exploration time, I suggested creating a Honey shop and lots of friends were immediately on board. We had a group of littles who were interested in making signs for the shop whilst others set up ‘honey jars’, tea cups and little plates for the honey shop’s cafe. I also brought out the cash register and some play money, hopefully to spark some interest in money and will lead us into financial literacy. This dramatic play provocation area is a hit and a hot spot in our room!


Wonder Prompts:
-What sound do honey bees make? 
-Where would you find a honey bee? 
-What do honey bees do? 
-Do honey bees live alone or in a group? 
-How do honey bees help our environment? 
-Why do you think honey beers are in danger? 
-What can you do to help honey bees? 
-What do you notice with the LOUD words in this book?

Stay tuned for more Honey Bee inquiry learning, as we are just getting started! Follow me on Instagram for daily highlights on my stories of our learning: @InquiryTeacher .

Have you read ‘The Honey Bee’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections to honey, bees, local products, environment? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together.

Stay curious, 

Wonder Wednesday: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Welcome back to #WonderWednesday! This week I will be sharing about how I used ‘Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt’ by Kate Messner as a provocation tool. It has been a great tool at this time of year. In Victoria, it almost feels like we skipped spring, and have jumped straight into summer. We have been spending lots of time outdoors and in the local community garden. This book was a timely fit and a familiar one for our friends, as we used the winter version of this story quite a bit early on second term. It has been a great way to provoke questions, thinking and curiosity around planting and what is beneath the soil.
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Book Description: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt has us exploring what grows above and beneath the soil. It takes us on a journey throughout the seasons to discover what we might find down in the soil, beneath a leaf, under a bush and more. The words are written in an almost poetic form. The illustrations are incredible and really leave you wanting more! This book depicts many different areas in the garden and also has a child and a grandma for our littles to relate to.

Connections: This book could not have come in a more timely way. We had focused a lot on the winter version of this book in term 2, click here.  So when I was visiting our local book store, and saw the spring version I knew it would be a hit with my littles! We had just planted beans in our room and were super curious about how they were growing and how they were staying connected to the soil. This book prompted a lot of discussion about roots and what is happening below the soil that we do not see. It provoked curiosity and questions as we visited our local garden every couple of days. Lots of insights and thoughts around what was happening beneath the garden beds came up. 

Context: As we had been wondering about what plants need to grow, I decided to do some ‘I see, I notice, I wonder’ thinking routines with some of the illustrations in this book. These routines allowed us to go a bit deeper with our questions and understandings in relation to how plants grow. I use Google Slides to do these with the picture book as the background. I find the image online and then put it as the background on the slide, or as a picture, depending on the size. Then I use the text tool to add the children’s’ vocab and statements. We started to learn vocabulary about plants in French and noticed that we already knew quite a bit.


As we spent more and more time looking at the illustrations and noticing different aspects of the garden scenes, some discussion around the artwork came up from my littles. I asked them if they wanted to do some type of artwork related to the book, they were eager. We did a little class Pinterest session, a regular research tool of ours, to find something that might inspire us as artists. We came across Darla Myers’ beautiful mural and were hooked! We started planning and creating.

Wonder Prompts:
-What do imagine underneath the soil? 
-How does a plant grow upwards? 
-Why do some vegetables grow underground and others above? 
-What do plants need to grow? 
-How do earthworms make tunnels? 
-How do insects survive? 
-Why are bees important? 
-How far down do you think roots go? 

Extensions: We took our thinking and learning a bit further by bringing measurement into the mix. We have been wondering about the difference between length and height and I thought measuring in the garden. We walked to the garden and read Length from the series Math Counts by Henry Pluckrose. We then explored the difference between height and length by measuring with our hands, our feet and some unfix blocks. Lots of excitement around measurement!

I love how they have so much space to explore and investigate in the garden. It is such a different vibe than being in the classroom. The learning is deeper and the investigation and connection making goes much further. Questions started to arise about different types of plants, flowers and trees. We are a curious bunch, who LOVE to explore!

Read Aloud: Click here to see this book as a read aloud!  This read aloud is very clear and the illustrations are easy to see. It is a great version. Enjoy!

Have you read ‘Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections to planting, growing, spring, insects and animals did they make? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together.

Stay curious, 

Wonder Wednesday: The Word Collector

Welcome back to #WonderWednesday. This week I will be sharing about The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds.  This book has been a great provocation tool for third term in Kindergarten and I think would be for any age level. The ideas shared throughout the story have provoked an interest about words, writing, making lists and collecting words. The focus on literacy and specifically writing has been intriguing and very timely for my eager term 3 kinder littles. wordcollector.jpg

Book Description: The Word Collector is about a young boy, Jerome, who is fascinated by words. He collects words and classifies them into various categories: juicy words, two syllable words, sweet words, and the list goes on. Jerome discovers the magic of words and plays with words that connect, inspire and empower!

Connections: Term two and three has had us interested in writing and working on forming sentences using known vocabulary and our word wall. We love making silly sentences and playing around with punctuation. Term 3 has us focusing on sight words and beginning to read, so this book fits beautifully with where we are at. It has prompted a lot of discussion and questions surrounding words. ‘What is a word?’ and ‘How do we know that something is a word’. This has been great review of spaces (something we are always working on). This book sparked curiosity around words and how we see them every day all over the place. My littles suggested they could be word detectives and notice new words all of the time. PERFECT! 

Context: We decided that as detectives or word collectors we would need little scrapbooks, just like Jerome has in the book! We used fancy paper to create our own scrapbooks and this created some hype and excitement around using the books. I modeled how to use them, but lots of the kiddos spent entire exploration times writing in their books. Here is the template so you can make your own books! 

Furthermore, we were inspired by the hanging our words on a clothesline, as Jerome does in the book and have started a clothesline in our classroom full of words we can recognize and write.
Wonder Prompts:
-What makes a word a word? 
-Where do you see words at school? 
-Where do you see words at home? 
-What words are you curious about? 
-What is a syllable?
-Do you see words when you’re outside? 
-Why are there spaces in sentences?

Extensions: This book could really take you in many directions with literacy. It has empowered us on a word finding and writing spree, we are just so excited and enthusiastic about words!
-Sorting types of words that are found would be something that the book could lead into: types of words, sorting by syllable, sorting by theme, sorting by length, sorting and ordering in alphabetic order
-Looking at how words are similar or different in various languages
-Class wide bulletin board or individual books with a different template than mine: click here. 

Read Aloud: I love how this read aloud is read by the author himself in his studio. Have a listen here. 

Have you read ‘The Word Collector’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections to words, reading and writing did they share? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together.

Stay curious, 

Wonder Wednesday: Not a Box

Welcome to #WonderWednesday. This week I will be sharing about: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. This book provokes imagination, making connections and sharing of creative ideas. The creative ideas that this book can provoke are inspiring, fun and original.
51k2YbbOSdL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBook Description: ‘Not a Box’ is a humour and imaginative picture book that will inspire your learner to use their imagination with regular day items. Antoinette Portis captures the thought process a young child may have when imagining and playing with a cardboard box. The box becomes the bunny’s gateway to imagination and exploration.
After spring break we commenced an Imagination and Magical inquiry. It was completely student learner driven. Our kiddos decided on this focus before our spring break. They were researching in small focus groups about: Unicorns, Fairies, Dragons, Princesses, Knights & Castles. As a whole group we were focusing on our essential question: “What is imagination?”. We read through various different picture books, and ‘Not a Box’ was a highlight. We had been talking about what we thought imagination was. Some of our ideas and thoughts included being able to turn any object into something special to play with. ‘Not a Box’ fit this focus beautifully.

Context: As we were exploring our ideas surrounding imagination, we read ‘Not a Box’ as a whole class. The text in this book is quite repetitive and simple, perfect for Kindergarten and second language learners (French to be ad-libbed). Together we read through the book, a couple of times. We explored the idea of changing a box into anything we imagined. We did ‘thinking caps’ (whole brain teaching) to come up with our ideas and we shared them through partner carpet talk. Through drawing, we then turned our box into our imaginative object. This was a hit! This book sparked curiosity and dialogue around using our imagination if we are feeling ‘bored’. It also had us turning regular classroom objects into imaginative things during playtime. Furthermore, it had us inspired about using boxes for our upcoming museum display. Top right thought bubbles are where we drew about this book. 


Wonder Prompts:
-When you look a box, what else do you see? 
-What might your ‘Not a Box’ be? 
-Think about a time you used your imagination to turn an object into something creative. 
-What might you need to change a box into your creation? 
-Where would you find a cardboard box? 
-How do you use your imagination? 
-Why would someone choose to use their imagination to create with a box?

-Illustrating: changing a box shape into something else
-Box Maker Space creation: collecting cardboard boxes for your kiddos to create
-Creating museum exhibits or learning projects out of cardboard boxes
-2D and 3D shape dialogue, sorting and creating
-Sharing and tapping into imagination dialogue

Read Aloud: Try this read aloud with your learners. The reader uses the picture book to read and flip through the pages.

Have you read ‘NOT A BOX’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections to imagination did they share? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together.

Stay curious, 

Wonder Wednesday: Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox

Welcome friends to the first #WonderWednesday! Each week I will be sharing a picture book that I have found to be a powerful provocation tool for my learners. A book that takes our wonders, thinking and questions to the next level and inspired further inquiry and learning. This week I am excited to be sharing: Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle DanielThis book will provoke questioning, reflecting and connecting to self. The questions that this story can provoke and tie to are empowering and important.

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Book Description: ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’ is a beautifully written and visually provoking picture book. It is an Anishinaabe totem story about how children can connect to Anishinaabe totem animals to learn about how they are feeling. Each page has a beautiful illustration along with various words that describe the featured animal. The importance of learning about yourself and connecting to your feelings is celebrated page after page. 


Connection: I feel so fortunate to have come across ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’ in the magical Adrienne Gear‘s ‘We Are All Connected’ workshop back in November. The workshop changed my teaching and honestly, blew my mind. We were just embarking on a ‘Self’ inquiry and exploring how we were connected to the land. My hope was that my learners would learn about their identity and in turn begin to understand feel a connection to our local Indigenous land. When I listened to Adrienne talk about our focus in the most beautiful and inspiring ways possible, I was felt like clapping after every word she spoke. Her workshop brought to life new picture books and changed our inquiry journey. I will be forever grateful.

Context: Our self inquiry emerged through experiences and provocations which had us connecting to the land. We were curious about our land and where we live, and I was hoping to embark on a journey that would empower my learners to feel connections to our local Indigenous land. Danielle David’s ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’, suggested by Adrienne Gear, came into play when we were talking about who we are as individuals. I read the book in hopes of connecting to one of our essential questions: “Who am I?”. I envisioned the book would spark curiosity about the teachings behind Indigenous animals and how they can connect to who we are and how we feel as individuals. This book did just that, and more. It sparked dialogue around how we are all unique and special. My learners made connections to local Indigenous animal teachings that are part of our daily learning. Furthermore, wonders about the Indigenous teachings of further animals were shared and honoured. This picture book provoked our thinking in beautiful ways.  

totems inside sometimesifeellikeafox (1).jpegWonder Prompts:
-Which animal are you feeling like right now? 
-Which animal are you curious about? 
-Do you wonder which animal you might be? Your family members? Your friends? 
-Why are the children in the story wearing masks? 
-What connections to these animals did you make while we were reading the story? 
-How can connecting to these animal traits help us to understand who we are? 

-Dialogue and discussions surrounding feelings and identity
-Adrienne suggests looking into how these animals are part of a Totem, and creating family Totem’s with each family member represented by an animal
-We did a lot of sharing about how we feel and connected to our mindful check-ins each day. This book influenced our morning sharing circle routines
-We followed up with some FOX art, as we were loving on foxes during this period. A lot of our story workshop sessions were infused with fox characters and fox play.

-My incredible colleague, Marcy O’Keefe (George Jay Elementary, Grade 2) worked with her learners to reflect and write about which animal they associated most with and why. She extended this with some incredible ripped paper art. She used this free writing template from The Primary Patch here.

-Another inspiring colleague across another district created a video of her littles sharing about how they feel. This link might inspire something similar. Think about using Adobe Spark: Take pictures of your kiddos and record over which animal they feel like and why.

Read Aloud: I love this read aloud as it is led by a group of littles! Have a listen here. 

Have you read ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’? How did it provoke your learners? What connections and wonders did they share? How did you extend their learning and inquiry journey? Please share below. In inquiry we are more powerful together. 

Stay curious, 

Wonder Wednesdays

Provocations are one of the most powerful tools in my practice. Whether the provocation comes in the form of a picture, an experience, a small world, a hands-on exploration, a GIF, a video, or a picture book, they allow me to provoke my learners and create connections to a essential question, idea, topic or experience. In Inquiry Mindset, Trevor and I have captured some of the powerful reasons why we LOVE using provocations.
The Power of a Provocation

Picture books are a HUGE part of my teaching and have become one of my favourite ways to provoke and facilitate learning, connection making, questioning, researching and dialogue around a essential question or inquiry focus. Each Wednesday, I will be sharing a blog post titled ‘Wonder Wednesday’ in hopes of sharing a picture book that I have used and found to be a powerful tool to provoke wonder and learning with my learners. I hope it will be come both a reflective routine for myself and perhaps inspire and impact your practice in some way.


I hope you’ll join us Wednesdays for some #WonderWednesday picture book sharing!

Stay curious, 

Picture Books for the Questioning win!

Picture books are my go to! They support me broaching big topics with my LITTLES in Kindergarten. I use them as provocations to provoke wonder, connection builders to connect to our current interests and curiosities and as ways to introduce and provoke questions and questioning.

Here are some of my go-to picture books when I am working on provoking questioning with my learners. The list could go on, so I have picked five of my favourites to share with you. I’d love to hear what your favourites are, to add to my list. Please share below.

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‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ by Andrea Beaty, can be ordered here.
This picture book is all about a young girl named Ada. She is FULL of curiosity and questions. She asks questions after questions, and realizes that her questions don’t always lead her to answers, but sometimes they lead her to more questions! I love how this book is centered around a young girl who is a scientist. Talk about empowering young girls to ask questions, follow their curiosities and all in a playful and scientist way! Yes, please.
Looking for a read aloud of ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ click here. 

‘Not a Box’ by Antoinette Portis, can be ordered
NOT A BOX.jpgThis book is a fun book for all ages, and especi
ally for the littles in your life. The book is a conversation guided by questions. Each page begins with a question and then is answered by a young bunny. This young bunny is imagining various playful box ideas and creations on each page. This book is a great way to look at what a question s in a playful and imagination provoking way. Enjoy this fun read.
Looking for a read aloud of ‘Not a Box’, click here.

‘What do you do with an Idea?’ by Kobi Yamada, can be ordered here.WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN IDEA.jpg
This beautiful picture books shares about what it feels like to have an idea. This book connects to questioning because we like to say that all great ideas begin with a question. The young person in the story follows their idea and realizes the power behind having an idea, how it can truly change the world. This book allows young learners to understand how important ideas and questions are, and how we have the ability to honour and celebrate them.
Looking for a read aloud of ‘What do you do with an Idea?’ click here. 

‘I wonder’ by Annaka Harris and John Rowe, can be ordered hereIWONDER.jpg
I wonder is a gorgeous picture book about a young girl that takes a walk with her mum. The illustrations are breath taking and so is the message in this book. The young girl learns that there is not always an answer to every question and that it is simply fair to respond with ‘I don’t know’ and continue to wonder. This picture book will provoke thinking and discussion around questions and wonders in your classroom.
Click here for a book trailer for ‘I Wonder’.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spirescan be ordered here. THE MOST MAG.jpg
This book is about a young girl with an idea and following her idea to create something. This book ties into the idea that all great ideas do not always go as planned and sometimes we have to reevaluate through asking questions and challenging our own ideas. If you are working on following ideas, perseverance, using questions to refine thinking and ideas, and problem solving -you and your littles will love this book.
Looking for a read loud of the ‘Most Magnificent Thing’, click here. 

I hope these picture books have inspired and provoked some teaching connections and ideas for you and your littles. These are just a few of my favourite books for questioning and following our ideas. I would love to hear your favourites, please share them below.

For more books on questioning, wonder, collaboration, mindset and more, check out Inquiry Mindset, co-authored by myself and Trevor MacKenzie. 

Stay curious, 


Top 5 Reasons your Classroom Should Become a Movie Cinema!

Here are my top 5 reasons your classrooms should become a Movie Cinema. Recently, we had a showcase of learning event in our classroom where my student learners turned our room into a movie cinema for their families. Families were invited to join us to watch a movie we had filmed, after school at 6pm.


Here are my top 5 reasons why you should do it as well! 

1. Learner Involvement: Having my learners involved in the process of planning, creating and setting up our movie theatre is my number one priority and focus! Right from the beginning, they are driving this event. Together, we started by brainstorming and trying to answer some essential questions: What does it feel and look like to go a movie theatre? What types of objects will we need to create our own movie theatre? How will we make and create these objects and set ups?
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Immediately, this has us tapping into prior-knowledge and getting the creative juices flowing! I love using Padlet as a brainstorming tool. I like it because it is a clear visual of ideas, it automatically saves (so I can refer to it later), it doesn’t take up any physical space in my classroom (versus a chart paper or using my whiteboard) and I can quickly share it with our families.

When learner involvement is my main focus I find that student ownership, empowerment and engagement sky rocket. My learners understand that their ideas are heard, valued and put into action and therefore the ideas are flowing and constant. Typically, during our morning sharing circle someone has a new idea or has brought in something that connects to our plan.

Also, everything for our movie theatre event is created by the students: the signs, the tickets, the set up of the room, the props for the movie, the backgrounds, the popcorn, and the list goes on. Here are a few snapshots…


2. Amplify Student Voice: Every student has a role in designing and setting up our theatre. Every student’s voice is captured, heard and celebrated in our movie. A movie or digital recording/response option seems to be much less intimidating for learners to share and broadcast their learning. This was a movie all focused on French oral language and therefore the goal was to have every child speaking in French independently (without me), we sure reached our goal! I had kids speaking in small groups, which also helped conquer the shy factor. The movie filming created an even playing field for all of my learners. I use a gesture approach to teaching french, called AIM, so I was able to gesture and coach along the ones who needed a bit more support during their speaking roles.

3. Celebrates Process & Learning: A movie allowed us to share our growth and development with our French oral language skills. BUT, our movie theatre showcase event allowed us to share about our process. With various pictures, artifacts, art and student work posted around the room, my learners became the tour guides and took their families around to explain their learning. How powerful! I heard kids sharing about our Empathy Inquiry (for the big bad wolf) and how we made him a quilt, because we thought he angry because he was cold. I witnessed kiddos using their retelling prompts to share (independently) the three little pigs story. I saw parents playing the maker space made guitars out of egg cartons and cardboard, so great!


Our showcase event was much more than just a movie, it was a time to celebrate all of our learning and work that led up to this event.

4. Sharing to a Wider Audience, FAMILY CONNECTIONS!: Sharing to an audience past your classroom walls is such a powerful experience for your learners. I find they become ambassadors of their work. They feel empowered and proud to share their learning and to explain their ideas to others. And, for some of them they take on a different role than we see most days in the classroom! It is exciting and inspiring to see.


I also can’t say enough about creating relationships and connections with the families in your room. It is everything. Families want to feel connected to the learning and excitement that is going on in your room. In my experience, families leap at being involved and part of these types of showcases. Involvement and turn out rate is extremely high and the family engagement during the showcase always blows me away!!

5. Excited littles!: There is something to be said and heard about kids RUNNING into school at 6pm with their parents trying to keep up behind them! There is magic when our littles are leading their learning, driving the creating, setting up the event, sharing their ideas and voices, and take ownership of their learning. What more can we ask for!


If the idea of PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF UNDERSTANDING and SHOWCASE EVENTS are something that interest you and you wish to learn more about, you should check out our co-authored book, Inquiry Mindset. Trevor MacKenzie and I go into depth about the power behind having our learners display their understanding and learning to an audience and the power behind showcase events. 

Also, a ton of these pictures are from my Instagram stories. I try to update my stories daily (on teaching days)! I find I continually feel inspired by other teachers’ accounts and hope that mine might leave others feeling the same. Check out my profile: @inquiryteacher 

I hope these 5 reasons have convinced you to try something like this! You won’t regret it. I’d love to hear how your showcase event goes, or support you in planning it. Please reach out and stay in touch! 
Stay curious, 

A Crystal and Cave Inquiry

Over the winter holidays, I decided we would embark on a crystal and cave inquiry. This inquiry was teacher driven, but allowed for a ton of student voice, choice and curiosity to guide where our learning took us.

When thinking about the Types of Student Inquiry, I always refer to Trevor MacKenzie’s concept from his book Dive Into Inquiry. This sketchnote allows us to really grasp the concept of where we are in the inquiry swimming pool, and how we can best support our learners in developing the necessary inquiry skills and processes to feel successful in inquiry. Types of Student Inquiry.PNG

This crystal and cave inquiry falls under the controlled section of the Types of Student Inquiry. I initially chose the topic and found the resources that would guide the learning. We are focusing on asking deep questions, following our interests, researching using non-fiction texts and as a group inquiring about caves & crystals. We also ended up having some choice and agency over animals, as our inquiry spiraled into learning about which animals live in caves. We were hoping to answer the essential question: Which types of animals live in caves? We had the opportunity to choose which animal we were interested in and we created small research focus groups to research about our animal.

All powerful inquiries begin with some type of provocation; whether the provocation comes from your learners or yourself it usually can be pinpointed to a specific moment that sparked interest, curiosity and laid the land for the rest of your inquiry. Here are some of the provocations that guided our learning and research during our cave & crystal inquiry.

Check out this provocation sketch from our (Trevor and I) co-authored book: Inquiry Mindset.

The Power of a Provocation

We started with a cave to explore, and a crystal and gem discovery table! Using picture and non-fiction books at your discovery and research table can be powerful provocations as well.


We then had some growing crystal provocations. This led to a lot of crystals, gems and home grown crystals being brought in from home. I find sharing our learning and inquiry, through pictures and videos, on Fresh Grade truly helps to break down any boundaries between school and home. You know the home to school connection is strong when families are sending in books, rocks, gems, geodes, crystals… the list goes on.


As our provocations and crystal observing continued, I wove in some animal provocations, small world play areas and picture books, to spark some connection making to animals. We followed our picture book provocations with journaling and writing activities. I find this allows time for learners to process the information and provides them with a chance to share their thinking, voice and opinions from the reading provocation. This is where our essential question came up around: What types of animals live in caves?


As our interest and curiosity continued to build around the idea of animals, so did our crystal and mineral interest. We used a digital microscope to take pictures of our crystals, this sparked SO much discussion, energy and engagement. The oral language (in French) during this activity was off the charts! So beautiful and intriguing.


As our learning continued, we worked in small interest focus groups for research. Our research was focused on which types of animals we predicted live in caves. We brainstormed different animals we thought lived in caves, and then chose an animal that we were most interested and passionate about.
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These small research focus groups provide learners with choice, voice and agency over their learning. Students have ownership of their learning and are chomping at the bit to get researching. We researched using non-fiction texts, reading pictures and searching for information. We recorded our research in our research booklets.

These are some highlights from our cave and crystal inquiry! If you are interested in seeing a bit more about how things unraveled, please check out my Instagram highlights: Cave Inquiry. My Instagram handle is @inquiryteacher ! 

Stay curious,