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Inquiry Program

Inquiry through Play (Gr. 1-3)/Inquiry (Gr. 4-6) FAQ

New program guiding philosophy

Curiosity sets the stage for engagement.  Our new program begins with the child's natural state which is play. Students will have agency as they learn/access knowledge, skills and competencies through the inquiry process. We plan to begin with our younger students by accessing their natural state of play by providing intentional and meaningful inquiry through play opportunities. As students grow and develop through their learning journey, they will become more involved and aware of  the process, creating opportunities for collaborative and independent engagement and deep connections to their learning. 

Our four guiding principles are to:

  • Support student agency
  • Create concrete opportunities for active learning
  • Illuminate thinking
  • Be intentional

Supporting Student Agency

Students are active and engaged participants in their learning journey.  

Creating concrete opportunities for active learning

Active learning puts the student and the way they create connection and meaning at the forefront. Opportunities are carefully curated and are intentionally designed with the end in mind.  

Illuminating thinking

Students will create connections between learning and aligning with conceptual understanding of curriculum by making thinking visible. This requires students to think of all areas of the learning: self reflection, finding solutions, designing, producing, collaborating etc.

Being intentional

Staff in the program are consistently creating learning opportunities that combine sound assessment, deep knowledge of curriculum, and the inquiry process.  Experiences for students are intentional and connected to other learnings.  

What is Inquiry? What will learning in the 4-6 program look like?

Inquiry is a continuum of learning: structured – guided – open, where teachers and students work collaboratively to construct and extend learning of curriculum content.  

Depending on the task or the topic, students and staff collaborate on what process to use. This process begins with a high level of teacher structure as students grow to more independently navigate the inquiry process.  

Structured inquiry – teacher led; teacher facilitates students progress through the inquiry process of guided questions, discovery and end goal.  

Guided inquiry – teacher begins with the end in mind, and students navigate the path of questioning, organizing and seeking out the information needed to meet the end goal about a topic or an idea/question.  

Open Inquiry – student led, teacher facilitated; students work through the inquiry process to construct both the intended end goal, process of questioning, organizing and seeking information, and the end product to communicate successful completion of the end goal.  

What is Conceptual Understanding?

Concepts are mental constructs that are abstract, timeless and universal, and transfer to multiple situations and contexts. Students can explore concepts in relationships to one another, and conceptual understanding is when students can use inquiry to illuminate relationships among or between concepts. Conceptual understanding cannot be explicitly taught; it must be constructed from meaningful and purposeful tasks.  

What is inquiry through play?  (Grades 1-3)

“Play can be defined as a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral capacities.  It also provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high level reasoning, insightful problem solving and all sorts of creative endeavors.”(Dr. Peter Gray)
The five types of play: 

  • guided/structured
  • individual
  • free
  • intellectual
  • physical 

Play is the process by which inquiry will happen. Teachers will create and facilitate opportunities for the five types of play that are based on competency skills and learning outcomes.  

Will they learn what they need to? (for example, math skills) 

YES! The learning outcomes remain the same as a traditional classroom. The primary difference is that students have agency and are part of the inquiry process to construct group and individual learning opportunities with the intentionality of personal connections to learning. The what of learning remains the same, the how and the why are purposefully, intentionally and collaboratively constructed.  


  • Note that you would like the inquiry program in the comment section of the registration form
  • Call the school 780.459.3114
  • Email Principal Brian Samuel or Assistant Principal Meghan Wiens
Kinosayo Elementary School