Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Human Development, Consumer and Family Sciences


This paper discusses how materials influence inquiry learning. Inquiry learning is not new to the early childhood education field and is an effective method for teaching children. One way that inquiry learning is implemented is through the use of projects/investigations. Investigations give children hands-on learning experiences that are both meaningful and educational. The materials that are a part of investigations (as well as all inquiry learning) influence the outcome of the children's experiences. Throughout this paper, I discuss my journey on understanding projects and investigations. I also address current research on inquiry learning (instructivist approach versus constructivist approach), projects according to Lilian Katz and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the theoretical framework that supports inquiry learning, the influence the environment has on inquiry learning, and what current research says about materials. Later, I discuss my action research project in which I studied how materials influenced an investigation about facial features and emotions in my four and five-year-old preschool classroom. I conclude by sharing my findings, comparing my investigation to the Reggio Emilia approach, and the significance of my findings has for the early childhood education field.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Inquiry-based learning Early childhood education -- Activity programs Project method in teaching



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University