Fostering Inquiry

Encourage preschoolers to observe, predict, and experiment

Young boy blowing cotton ball with a straw

At A Glance

Preschoolers are curious, active learners who love to explore and test out their environment. We can support children’s development of inquiry skills by asking questions. Then we can use a hands-on approach to answering these questions. Children can engage in the tried-and-true steps of the scientific method to build a greater understanding of the world around them! This includes observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, and sharing.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can help preschoolers develop inquiry skills

Encourage Observations

Support children as they make observations. Notice how this educator not only encourages children to describe what they notice, but also repeats and extends their findings.

Collect and Compare Data

Encourage children to use their inquiry skills. Notice how this educator asks children to gather information, make comparisons, and analyze their voting results.

Promote Predictions

Prompt children to make thoughtful predictions. Notice how this educator uses comments and questions that help children tap into their existing knowledge.


Paletero Man

Written by Lucky Diaz and illustrated by Micah Player, this story follows a boy as he races through his city looking for his favorite treat.
Paletero Cover
I wonder book cover


I Wonder

Written by K.A. Holt and illustrated by Kenard Pak, this book is filled with fanciful questions about the way the world works.


Answering Difficult Questions

This article from NPR provides strategies for answering children’s difficult questions after a traumatic event.


Inquiry Based Learning

This video from Austin Parks and Recreation shares ways educators and families can support children’s inquiry skills.


Inquiry for All

This article from NAEYC offers strategies for creating equitable and inclusive science environments with multilingual learners in mind.

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to foster inquiry skills
Cover image for Let's Investigate activity card
check it out

Let's Investigate

Provide tools, like magnifying glasses and journals, to encourage children to investigate the world around them.

Cover image for Watch It Roll activity card
Make Predictions

Watch It Roll

Challenge children to find different ways to move round objects from place to place.

Cover image for Same and Different activity card
Compare and Contrast

Same and Different

Encourage children to compare attributes of different objects.

Cover for What Would Happen If? activity card
Make Predictions

What Would Happen If?

Prompt children to make predictions about what might happen in real or silly situations.


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