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The Teacher Tip

Honor Students’ Natural Curiosities

April 16, 2018

Adapted from Upstanders by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels & Sara Ahmed.

Mini-inquiries are short investigations of simple topics posed by either kids or teachers. They typically take from a few minutes to one day to complete. They offer kids practice in noticing the fascinating questions that come up, in and out of school, and in forming pairs or teams to seek information about them.

Mini-inquiries often begin spontaneously. A spark of curiosity pops up in class, or some amazing question just jumps out of a kid’s mouth. Sometimes, mini-inquiries can be instigated by the teacher as a way to model and demonstrate the habits of a curious life.


  • Do animals have friendships?
  • Are dragons real?
  • When did newspapers begin to print in color?
  • Why are adults addicted to caffeine?
  • How many skittles can reach from here to the Moon’s surface?

Try this: When kids come up with questions like these, make time to set aside your teaching agenda. Nothing is more important than honoring and nurturing kids’ curiosity.

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