Understanding The Inquiry-Based Model

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

By Lynne Mueller, Head of School

At Vivvi, our goal is to create wonderful first memories for our students as they grow and develop from infants to young children. These memories are created through active and exploratory activities. Adults sometimes look at children’s actions as just play, but for young children this play is their work. It is how they make sense of the world, and the questions and curiosities that emerge for them are the basis of the themes and lessons plans here at Vivvi.

We’ve had the good fortune to spend over a year working on our very own learning model. The Vivvi Learning Approach is an inquiry-based model that uses the questions that children ask to inspire thematic units and lesson plans. Our model takes the best components of some other early childhood philosophies such as the individual nature of Montessori, the home-like environment of Waldorf and the community and collaborative focus of Reggio, and packages them together with the very thing that encourages children to learn best: their own curiosity. But how does this work?

As an example, let’s join a preschool classroom for a walk. As the children put on their own outdoor shoes, they start to be fascinated by how each of their shoes is unique. The shoe comments that are heard include: “Purple is my favorite color like my shoes,” “Look! I have velcro shoes,” “My mommy has big shoes!” As the class takes their walk, shoe comments and questions can still be heard. Our trained teachers notice this, and see it as a perfect opportunity to frame a curriculum around what the students are interested in - in this case shoes!

To create this theme, to honor the students insights and comments, the next day in cooking class the children are excited to learn that they will be making shoe cookies. From the outside, it may seem small - and you may see children making shoe cookies that barely look like shoes, but there is so much learning happening. Children are learning emergent literacy skills as they read the recipe alongside the teachers, figuring out mathematical concepts such as fractions and quantity as they mix specified proportions, and interpersonal skills as they work collaboratively with respect for each person in their cooking group.

The imagination center has been converted into a shoe store complete with a cash register for purchases. Children determine the store name signage, and write the signage during writer’s workshop. To decorate the store, the students make shoe art work in the art center.

The shoe theme also is carried into the classroom literacy center where books are now available to students that are all about shoes. Independently, children can “read” shoe stories using words and picture cues. Our faculty then works with children to write a book called, “Where My Shoes Can Take Me,” which may look like a bunch of doodles, but showcases students’ robust learning of new vocabulary, the concept of print, and the satisfaction of staying on task to complete a project.

All of these activities instill the love of learning in our students that is likely to last a lifetime. We’re so excited to share our Vivvi Learning Model with you and your children when our school


To learn more, please join us at an upcoming parent open house! You can see our full list of events here. We look forward to meeting you soon!