The first step of the inquiry process is understanding what students already know about a topic. In order to do so, Kindergarten students began their study by delving into their own holiday traditions and thinking about what each of those traditions signifies. The next step is to gather more information and synthesize it with what students already know. Students explored images of holidays around the world and noticed the themes of light, family, and food and made connections to their own traditions at home. Along the way, students read narrative and expository texts about each holiday, discussing what they were learning as they read and, at times, writing or drawing what they learned to help them remember and to deepen their understanding. With each holiday, students completed projects to apply some of what they were learning. For example, when studying Diwali, students made rangoli designs and, when studying Ramadan, students made artwork to represent the Ramadan moon. In addition, throughout the unit to learn more about holidays, students welcomed visitors from our community who celebrate some of these holidays. Among the holidays that students explored were Advent, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Ramadan.
The final step in an inquiry process is for students to apply the knowledge they have gained to a novel situation. As the unit draws to a close in the coming weeks, each Kindergarten class will take what was most meaningful to them about each holiday and develop their own Holiday of Light representing their classroom's culture and present it to the other Kindergarten homerooms over Zoom. This culminating project will require students to apply what they have learned to a “real-life” scenario, and students will get to create and then experience their own Kindergarten holiday in person. As this unit of study concludes, not only will students have learned about a variety of holidays and traditions, they will also have learned the steps taken in an inquiry study, a process that has at its center the student. What do you know? What do you notice? What do you wonder? What will you do with what you have learned? These questions will drive units of study for years to come and encourage intellectual curiosity and develop problem-solving abilities that students will build upon.