Natural Object Inquiry

My shell

shell 2 shell

For our nature inquiry activity I chose to bring a shell because it represents many different things about me. I found my shell this past summer on a shell beach about an hour’s boat ride away from where my family was staying on Goose Bay. The setting in which I found the shell is very unique, instead of the beach being made of rocks or covered in sand it was a glittering white color that from a distance looked like a tropical beach but as we approached the beach it was made of tiny fragments of white shells. Most of the shells were clam shells with a few oyster and mussel shells mixed it. My shell stood out on this beach it was the largest shell on the beach and the only one of this shape. The shell had obviously been sitting on the beach for some time as its broken edges have been worn smooth by the waves and it shows signs of animals or “bugs” creating small holes in one side of the shell.  When I saw the shell I quietly slipped it into my pocket as my mom, aunts and cousins were also looking for shells and pretty rocks.  Our beach walk and combing was part of a long but awesome day on the water, we were on the water for 12 hours total that day over the course of the day. This was one of our breaks on land to stretch our legs.


I also chose my shell because it represents my love of the water; I feel most at peace when I am on the water or near the ocean. To me it is a place of calm, listening to the waves lap at the shore or feeling the rocking of the boat. I also like feeling the wind against my cheeks and my hair blowing around and whipping into my eyes. On the water I am calm and relaxed as the sounds and motions of the water cradle and protect me.

Questioning 3 objects


Douglas fir Cone

  1. Why do trees have cones?
  2. Do all trees have cone?
  3. Where do you find cones?
  4. How old is the cone?
  5. Why do cones fall from the tree?
  6. Why are cones rough / scaly?
  7. Why do they open and close depending on the temperature?
  8. How would it be different if the cone was ball shaped?
  9. What effect does the shape have on its ability to move?
  10. What does it smell like? Why does it smell like that?
  11. What are the little hair like things
  12. Are there different kinds of cones
  13. How does a cone grow?
  14. How do cones move?
  15. Do other plants have cones?
  16. Why some cones soft and others are are hard?



  1. What is it from?
  2. Why are teeth white?
  3. What is its purpose?
  4. Why is it shaped this way?
  5. Why does it have a triangular profile?
  6. How does it attach to the jaw?
  7. Where did it come from? How did it get to be here?
  8. What are the different kinds of teeth?
  9. Are there any stories about this animal
  10. Does this animal migrate?
  11. Why are the sides smooth?
  12. Why is curved?
  13. What’s inside the tooth?
  14. How many types of teeth does this animal have?
  15. Was it from an adult animal?
  16. Where in the world was this found?
  17. What happened to the animal?


  1. What type of shell is it?
  2. What do you think it is? Why?
  3. What happened to the animal?
  4. Where is it from?
  5. What habitat does this animal live in?
  6. What is it made out of?
  7. Why is it white?
  8. Why are there little holes in the side?
  9. Does this animal live anywhere else?
  10. Is this animal endangered?
  11. Does it have cultural significance for any group?
  12. What could you teach students from these objects?
  13. Why did it break?
  14. Was it broken on purpose?



I discussed my object and my questions about it with Andrea the first thing that became apparent is that we had chosen similar objects. She had brought a clam shell while I have what we believe from the spiral shape and banding to be a natal us shell.  We found that because our objects were similar out questions followed the same lines. Some of these similarities include wanting to know what happened to the animal and why the shells ended up unoccupied on the beach. Both shells also had sentimental meaning for both of us with positive memories attached to the objects.  Other similar questions included what habitat the animal lives and whether or not it is endangered as well as the cultural significance and context of these animals both past and present.

As I was writing my questions about the objects I was trying to place myself in the shoes of an elementary student as well as asking my own questions that are on a deeper level and examine the whys how’s of the objects. As I listed questions at a general level my mind was full of sub questions that get into the details of the objects history and purpose. I felt drawn to this activity because it encouraged the connection between storytelling and the science behind the object. As a teacher I would use objects in my classroom for several reasons the first being that I am a very tactile person and learn best by being able to interact with objects and manipulate them as well as learning skills by doing them. My most meaningful learning experiences have been when I have been able to work with materials in hands on way.  In my own classroom I would like to have objects availed for students to interact with when they feel they need to understand the object or the concepts. I would also like to use objects to introduce new material especially in social studies and science because when I was a k-7 student I found these subjects to be the most abstracted and understood the most when I had a family member take the time to explain the concepts by both letting me handle and play with the materials and by telling me stories about it.  as a teacher I would like to use objects and having students observe them at their own pace and from their own comfort level and ask questions about them because it is those experiences that I feel that have helped me to develop greater understanding.

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