Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.
It’s no secret that many school programs don’t give children enough opportunity to explore the natural world—i.e., to “mess about” and to have firsthand experience with nature and animals. Not so at the Muscota New School in New York City! This innovative public elementary school actively promotes inquiry-based learning and encourages teachers to use creative methods in the classroom to help children study the natural world around them. In this article, we share the experience of a teacher and her students over the course of two years (kindergarten and first grade) as they explored nature through direct observation of animals in the classroom, child-centered inquiry science, and school-sponsored field trips. As the years progressed, so did students’ learning. Not only did students develop scientific literacy and communication skills, they also deepened their understanding of their environment.