When my oldest child began second grade, his teacher that year, asked parents to provide her with five adjectives describing her new students.

I still remember what topped my list: inquisitive. And I didn’t stop there. In parentheses, I added that, over the summer, I’d been implementing Don’t Ask Mom Any Questions Time periodically, so I could maintain my sanity. (Yes, I really wrote that.)

Teachers experience this, too

I’ve occasionally wondered, as I’m fielding inquiry after inquiry (or asking Alexa for help), whether school teachers get this many questions. After seeing the Curiosity Jar on Pinterest, I knew I had my answer.  

Carly, of the blogging duo Carly and Adam, came up with this brilliant idea. (They provide teachers with tips and ready-to-print lesson plans and activities.)

The perfect solution

How to honor students’ questions (and still get through your lesson plan)
CarlyandAdam.com’s curiosity jar helps you capture student questions (and stay on schedule)

Carly said she realized one day she needed a way to stay on track with her lesson plans (and research students’ questions if necessary), while also honoring – and encouraging – their inquisitiveness. She decided to bring a small fishbowl to school and told her third graders it was their new Curiosity Jar, a place where they could capture their questions.

After that, when students had questions she couldn’t answer right away, they wrote them down and put them in the Curiosity Jar. At a designated time each week, she went through the questions with her students. (She read them before that, of course.)

Carly said this simple tool worked well for her and her students.

“Curiosity is so important for learning and developing problem-solving skills,” said Carly. “While we may not have the time to answer every question, and we may not know every answer, we don’t want to extinguish those sparks of curiosity. Kids should know that we hear – and want to validate – their questions. The Curiosity Jar allowed all of my students to have their questions heard and answered.”

Building critical skills

Schoolgirl Style Stay Curious Chart
Stay Curious poster for $3.49
(Woodland Whimsy collection, Carson Dellosa)

Carly added that you can even put the ownership on students by allowing them to look up answers to their own questions, or make it a classroom job. I love this idea because so many “kite kids” go into middle school and high school with major executive-function deficits.

All of a sudden, they start to need those skills to continue succeeding in school – and they fall apart because they never developed them. (This often is misinterpreted as stubbornness or laziness.)

Learn more

Here are Carly’s tips on how to explain (and set up) a Curiosity Jar of your own.

She also has a ton of other amazing ideas to spark students’ thirst for knowledge and understanding through ready-to-print curriculum and STEM challenges on Teachers Pay Teachers. Be sure to check those out, too.

I smile just thinking about how much fun my STEM-loving kids would have doing them!