Curiosity is described as the desire to know or learn - being inquisitive or nosy. Most young children I’ve ever met have curiosity in abundance. It comes naturally and without inhibition.
So how do we continue to foster and develop curiosity when children reach school age and have to operate in an education system that doesn’t always ask them to be quite so nosy on a daily basis?
Let’s be honest, it’s difficult for any teacher to respond to 30 plus children who are being spontaneously curious, alongside the pressures of getting them to read and write successfully.
But we do know that when children read independently for pleasure, able to choose their own reading material, driven by self-motivation and an understanding of the pleasures and purposes of reading, they will have the best chance of being successful in later life.
Some of you will have no doubt heard of Curiosity Kits. They were first developed as a small research pilot by Maureen Lewis and Ros Fisher during 1998, as a way of motivating reluctant boy readers.
More recently, during my time with Corby Reads! (a three year literacy programme in the town) a class set of curiosity kits were put in every year 4 class in Corby primary schools.
So what is a Curiosity Kit?
Curiosity Kits are book bags which aim to capture the interest of reluctant and struggling readers (in the original pilots they were aimed specifically at boys and the books chosen were all non-fiction),
Each Curiosity Kit bag can contain: -
- a book/s. The titles and range of books in a Curiosity Kit can be tailored to children you know but need to be appealing, on a topic that is not directly linked to the curriculum – as ‘non-school like’ as possible really.
- a related toy or artefact, e.g. an airport play map and some toy planes
- a wipe clean, word search related to the book,.
- If possible, a magazine on the same topic, aimed at adults. It isn’t always possible to find a magazine that fits with the theme but it can be a fabulous addition when children experience adults at home reading something with them on the same topic.
- comment stickers (brill, O.K, boring) and a comment notebook for any reader of the bag to comment if they wished,
- a sports bag to contain the kit. Sports bags are more likely to have ‘street cred’ than the bags typically used for book-bag schemes.
In a school setting they can be introduced as a library type resource, children borrowing and swapping them from the class set, or for use in a special after school club where parents and children delve into the Curiosity Kit together.
Whatever the method of organisation, they need to be presented as ‘special’ and exciting. I’ve found children are indeed curious to know what is in each one –and more importantly share it with someone at home.
But they don’t need to be only a school resource. Parents can also make up one or two for use with their own children at home – maybe get other parents to do the same so you can swap and keep a fresh supply circulating?
Here's a link - to a Curiosity Kits list of books and toys that were used in the Corby school Curiosity kits – I don’t know if they are all still available but you can easily substitute others. It’s meant as a starting point really, just to get going.
I hope it proves useful as you look for ways to keep your children curious.