Inquiry-Based Learning With Kids Discover

Inquiry-Based Learning With Kids Discover

It seems like it was just yesterday, the morning the kids jumped out of bed, running to the window to see the waves crashing in from the ocean. Only instead of their typical excitement like the previous mornings, they were disappointed.  They hollered for me to come to look, and when I did, I was baffled. I’d always heard about this being an issue, but it opened my eyes to see it first hand. There was trash covering the ocean shore.

It all happened about two years ago when we stayed in a small beach cottage in Maine. Every night when the high tide would come in, the water would be within feet of our patio table. We’d sit outside chatting about the mysteries that lurked within the ocean and the possibility of sharks swimming nearby. The kids were thrilled with the water being so close during the high tide in the evening, yet so far away from us when they woke up the following morning. 

To say they were disappointed to wake up to the sight of garbage covering the beach would be an understatement. Both of the kids were devastated! Neither one could get out the door fast enough to clean it up.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I thought the kids had forgotten all about this day. Until recently, when Mackenzie was exploring the Kids Discover Online’s Discover Map.

If you’re not familiar with this map, it’s a visual concept map that helps kids make cross-curricular connections by allowing them to connect the dots between different subjects like Science and Social Studies. To give you an example, Mackenzie has an interest in Earth Science, when she clicks on the Earth science bubble, it will open up all of Kids Discover’s Earth Science content. Since she wants to learn about the ocean, she clicks the Oceans bubble, which narrows the material down even further, and starts to show connections to non-Earth Science articles!

Currently, she is obsessed with the future of our ocean. While she was reading about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it triggered her to remember our trip to Maine. She can’t seem to get enough information, she’s hooked on this topic and is always eager to learn more.

Since their Discover Map allows her to see and connect the future of the ocean, to other related topics, I can see her interests expanding into other Kids Discover Online Topics like Our Carbon Footprint, Habitat Destruction, or Landfills & Recycling.


Whichever direction she chooses to go is up to her, and I love that, It’s a way for me to see what her interests are, which allows me to expand on her education in these topics through our travels and small unit studies. 

As of now, we have picked up several books from the library, made a trip to clean up the ocean shore, and are currently learning to crochet with plastic bags.

Throughout the next week, I have plans to complete a small unit study to help further answer Mackenzies’ questions. Below I have provided an outline of the activities we hope to accomplish, but once we complete everything, I plan to share this small unit study in detail, sharing with you what worked, what didn’t, and the things I would change if we were to do it again. 

Mackenzies Questions

  • How do oil spills kill animals?
  • How do toxic chemicals from farms in the desert make it to the ocean?
  • How do we overfish? Aren’t there lots of fish in the ocean?
  • What is killing our coral reef?
  • What are the biggest threats to sea turtles?
  • Why is plastic bad for our environment?
  • How do pollution and garbage make it to the ocean?
  • What can we do to help the future of our oceans?

Activities We Plan To Complete 

  • Oil Spill Clean-up Activity to show the dangers of oil spills.
  • Watershed experiment to show how pollution’s and trash make it to our oceans.
  • It’s All Downstream From Here to show how garbage travels through a watershed.
  • Play The My Fish Our Fish Game To show the damages of over-fishing.
  • Complete Coral Reef Lesson Plan.
  • Food or Plastic Activities to show how plastic affects marine life.

The Outings That We have Planned

  • Make trips to the ocean to clean up the garbage we find.
  • Write a letter to our legislators informing them of our concern about the pollution of the ocean.

I believe that by using their Discover Map to allow Mackenzie to find new interests on her own and elaborating on those interests with these small unit studies will encourage her love for learning with the perfect amount of structure. 

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“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage. 

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