Exploratory Learning

Categories: Curriculum Ideas

Do you ever have those shock and awe moments where you think – “I can’t believe my student has never done this??” Sometimes our students’ experiences are so surprisingly limited that we have a difficult time gauging the width of their first hand knowledge. You can understand the root of the issue. Exposing our students to new experiences can be challenging for families. Many of our children thrive in routine and struggle with changes. For many parents and families, creating a safe and predictable routine is of the upmost importance. Some parents need support on how to push the envelope and allow their child new experiences.

I had one of these moments last fall while we were grocery shopping for Thanksgiving food. One of my students commented that he never had a blackberry. So of course, we added that on to our shopping list and had a little taste test back at school. Many of my students come from low income families so not only can providing new experiences be challenging many of my families simply can’t afford it. It is up to the teachers to bring exposure to a range of first hand exploratory learning!

We had an awesome morning last week filled with vegetables. I had to remove myself from the room twice because I was in tears of laughter. My kids are freaken hilarious, I must say! We brought in almost every vegetable imaginable. We cut the vegetables up, tried some of them, sorted them by color, sorted them by taste and texture, and talked incessantly! Such a fun way to target a huge range of goals. Social commenting, question asking/answering, colors, receptive language, following directions… you get my point.

Look at how much fun:

The Autism Helper - Exploratory Learning

The Autism Helper - Exploratory Learning

The Autism Helper - Exploratory Learning

Favorite quotes:

“I can’t smell that garlic – it will make my breath stink!”

“Let me try a chickenpea.”

“Celery tastes like something I don’t want to eat again.”

“I never knew cauliflower was just white broccoli.”

Give it a whirl – bring in something new. Something unknown, unfamiliar. Don’t make a structured lesson plan. Let it be student directed. Give them the chance to touch, taste, and feel new things. Ask questions. It’s a scary concept with our routine little buddies but you will be surprised how much they get out of something like this! 


  1. Such a great idea!! It sounds like it was such a fun day for you and your students!!

  2. We are doing fruit next week – they are so pumped 🙂


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