Ice Inquiry

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Inquiry Play

Learning Goals: STEM, Scientific Process, Inquiry, Mutually-directed Play

What did this class do?

  • During the winter, the students were curious about the ice they found on their playground. They started to ask several questions about ice including: How is ice made? Why does ice melt?

  • In response, the educator launched an inquiry about ice.

  • First, the educator supported children’s exploration by setting out ice, string, salt/sand/sugar, and various containers for students to freely explore.

  • Next, the educator led a knowledge building circle to discuss students’ observations from their free exploration as well as their ideas about why ice melts. The educator facilitated discussion by asking prompting questions.

  • The educator also connected this inquiry with academic tasks, such as introducing standard and non-standard measurements to determine the size of ice pieces.

Suggested Resources:

  • Ice

  • String

  • Salt/sugar/sand

  • Containers

  • Books on ice/matter

Why is it Inquiry Play?

  • The students were originally curious about ice while playing outside and had many questions.

  • While the activity originated from students’ interests, the educator guided learning towards specific goals by providing provocations that focused on academic expectations.

We are the Play Learning Lab, run by Dr. Angela Pyle at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.



Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

45 Walmer Road, Room 320
Toronto, ON M5R 2X2

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