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Are you providing opportunities for your children to explore at home?

Boy playing with wooden toys

Some of the links below may be affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase. All product recommendations are products that I have used and loved, or products that I would recommend based on experience.

Some of the links below may be affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase. All product recommendations are products that I have used and loved, or products that I would recommend based on experience.

Does your learning environment provide your children with opportunities to explore and wonder?

A stimulating environment is one where children can explore on their own, browsing through books, playing with blocks, meandering through a garden or park, looking under rocks, playing with water, tinkering with a range of objects, or even mixing cake batter or dough. Children love to touch, browse, explore and yes, even mess, so it makes sense that environments that children would find stimulating would give them plenty of opportunity to do just that.

How to set up an environment that promotes inquiry in your home

 Our homes certainly don’t need a playroom full of plastic toys to be stimulating, but they do need objects that encourage inquiry, curiosity and thinking. Children do not need lots of toys, they would do better with objects that lend themselves to lots of different opportunities for play and exploration. Having beautiful, tactile objects that lend themselves to open ended play and exploration will be the first step in creating a space where children have an opportunity to play and explore, and as an added bonus, feel connected to nature. Objects from nature are multi-facetted and versatile. They have different smells and textures, and their use is only limited by the child’s imagination.

Top toys and objects to encourage curiosity and inquiry

  • Bring natural materials into your space: bark, seed pods, leaves, pinecones, small rocks and pebbles, flowers, sticks, shells and bits from the beach, the list is endless. Displaying the objects on a lovely wooden shelf or table in a natural woven basket or wooden crate or bowl makes for a very inviting tactile experience for children. These objects can be used in a multitude of different ways from creating a transient piece of art, to storytelling, imaginative play, sorting and classifying, building, counting, you get the idea.
  • Containers that can be used for scooping sand in the sandpit or water in the bath are great for exploring volume (who would have guessed?). Using some old Tupperware, muffin pans, colanders, wooden bowls, or plastic measuring jugs from your kitchen are all fun to use for kids.
  • Some beautifully made toys, I have always favoured wooden toys for their warm tactile nature, as well as beautifully crafted fabric or felt toys. My own boys were crazy about plastic animals when they were little as well as knights and castles. We invested in beautiful Schleich brand toys which have stood the test of time and are now in storage waiting to be played with again someday.
  • Finally, books! Lots of non-fiction age-appropriate texts, magazines, and picture books all beautifully displayed and within easy reach.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but would be a great place to start. Have a look at my Pinterest board for some more ideas for creating spaces to promote inquiry and curiosity.

How to support inquiry in your home

Of course, it doesn’t end here. Once you have the natural resources and objects that encourage open-ended play and inquiry, then you need to provide children with the tools and skills for inquiry learning. This sounds complicated, but it’s really not. I bet you are already providing your children with rich inquiry experiences without even realising it!

One of the best ways to encourage your children to think and explore is to ask questions. Download my quick list of open-ended questions here to remind yourself of the types of questions you can ask, no matter how old your child is – obviously for very young toddlers you may need to simplify your questioning to suit your child’s developmental age.

Check out my post on 4 Simple Ways to Support Inquiry Learning at Home as the next step to grow curious inquisitive children that love learning.

If you found this lesson interesting or useful, please share it with others so that we can create inquiring minds all over the world.

Until next time.

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If you found this lesson interesting or useful, please share it with others so that we can create inquiring minds all over the world. 

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