How to Build Inquisitive Minds

Stuck is an endearing story about a boy and his silly ways of solving a tall problem!

Stuck is an endearing story about an inquisitive boy and his silly ways of solving a very tall problem! Image credit: Booktopia

Let’s face it, we all get stuck. Every now and then, we get overwhelmed when faced with problems that require our solutions. If Adam wants a third of Eve’s apple, how much would Eve have left? How fast does a bus that weighs 160kg have to travel to get up a hill that’s on a 60 degree angle? How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a… Well, you get what we mean.

In other words, it’s time we teach our students that it’s okay to get stuck, and how they can get unstuck.

This might very well be the same kite-eating tree that eats gobbling Charlie Brown's kites up!

This might very well be the same kite-eating tree that eats gobbling Charlie Brown’s kites up! Image credit: The Little Reading Room

In this charmingly hilarious book by Oliver Jeffers, a boy gets his kite stuck up a tree. He then proceeds to hurl as many objects and people as he can up at the tree, in hopes of nudging the kite back down. However, the more he throws up, the more the tree accumulates, and the bigger the problem grows.

When things go from bad to worse!

When things go from bad to worse! Image credit: Leo & Bella

When it comes to mathematics, we generally tend to give very automated answers to questions we may or may not understand. We are trained to memorize rather than to think creatively. This limits our mindset to a very formal manner of learning. Instead of providing such a structured system for today’s students, children need to learn the fundamentals of independent learning and creative problem solving.

Talk about throwing solutions up in the air until something sticks!

Talk about throwing solutions up in the air until something sticks! Image credit: Booktopia

Building a child’s inquisitive nature allows him/her to understand not just the concept of mastering answers, but to make sense in the path in its entirety. This practice of critical thinking allows students to solidify a more responsive solution to converse with, rather than just an automated reply of 2 + 2 = 4. Ask them what the 2 stands for, let them assess how they got to the answer of 4. Teach them to seek additional information by asking a variety of questions. Show them how to closely examine things to develop a keen eye for detail. Let them create their own problems to solve. Though they may be confused with all the extra work for a simple equation of 2 + 2 = 4, all this will soon become second nature to them.

Equip your students to be inquisitive explorers with these three practises:


Questions ignite curiosity, and curiosity is they key to developing solid answers. Though we often ask students if they have questions, we don’t spend enough time teaching them how to ask beneficial questions. Engage them in the process of teaching by promoting self-directed learning. Let them talk to one another, have them start conversations around problems, and encourage them to critique each other’s methods and results.

inquiry math 1


By writing words with the number sentences, students get a visual grasp of the question. The action of going back and forth between numbers and words lets them see the what each number equates to.

inquiry math


Get your students to write stories about the question and their answers. This is not about asking them to write the question itself out. Rather, they should create content based on the numerical facts provided. In doing so, their thought-process engages in story-telling. They learn to break down the numbers, and formulate a better comprehension of the journey.

With that said, it’s time to spark a sense of wonder in your students with this reading by Oliver himself!


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