Fostering Inquiry

Encourage infants and toddlers to investigate and ask questions

Children exploring direct in a small group

At A Glance

We know that young children are curious and love to explore! They use their inquiry skills when they investigate something new and ask questions to better understand it. These are the beginning steps of the scientific process. We can support children’s development of inquiry skills by supporting their exploration and encouraging hands-on approaches to answer their questions.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can help infants and toddlers develop inquiry skills

Make Comparisons

Support children as they consider the ways they are the same or different from others. Note how this educator engages the children as they compare the colors of their hair.

Model Observation

Observing is a great way to support young children’s curiosity. Model by describing what you notice like this educator does as children explore shakers.

Support Curiosity

Pay attention to children’s interests and make the most of those moments, like this educator does. She notices children’s interest in a leaf blower, explains what is happening, and encourages children to follow their curiosity.


Everything Grows

Written by Raffi and illustrated by Nina Mata, this story follows a brother and sister around a farm as they notice all the living things around them.

Everything Grows
Opposite Zoo Page


The Opposite Zoo

Written and illustrated by Il Sung Na, this books follows the animals at the opposite zoo, who are ready to be compared and contrasted from night until day.


Promoting Inquiry with Independence

This article from Edutopia describes ways to support children’s independence to deepen their inquiry skills.


Supporting Inquiry Through Science

This article from Sesame Workshop shares strategies educators and families can use to facilitate children’s investigation of the natural and physical world.


Science for All

This article from the NAEYC offers tips to build a science-friendly culture and environment that supports infants’ and toddlers’ natural inquiry skills.

Activity Cards for Infant and Toddler Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to foster inquiry skills
Image for Infant/Toddler Faster or Slower Activity Card

Faster or Slower?

Have fun predicting and testing how fast or slow different items will roll down a ramp.

Image for Infant/Toddler Is it Smaller Activity Card

Is it Smaller?

Challenge children to find something that is bigger or smaller than your object.

Image for Infant/Toddler Same or Different Activity Card

Same or Different?

Encourage children to compare attributes of different objects.

Image for Infant/Toddler Which is More Activity Card

Which is More?

Prompt children to estimate or count the number of objects in two groups to see which has more.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills