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Above Image: A plant with an exposed view of its roots growing through soil © ThomasVogel,

What is it?

The Seeds of Knowledge learning strategy offers students a process to practice the skill of making connections by connecting their prior knowledge and learning experiences from previous grades to a new inquiry opportunity, such as the Tomatosphere™ Seed Investigation. 

Why use it?

  • To support the development of the skill of making connections
  • To help students access their prior knowledge that will support inquiry, such as the Tomatosphere™ Seed Investigation
  • To have students understand the importance and relevance of the their prior knowledge when learning new things
  • As a tool for assessing student prior knowledge

How do I use it?

  • Implement this strategy prior to introducing a new concept, topic, inquiry process or learning unit to your students.
  • Start by introducing the new topic to your students and outline in general what they will be learning about or doing in order to learn.
  • If introducing the Tomatosphere™ Seed Investigation, you may want to start your introduction of the topic with the Tomatosphere scenario and a brief introduction to the Seed Investigation.
  • Organize the class into small groups of 2-3 students.
  • Print enough copies of the template to provide each group of students with one copy of the Seeds of Knowledge Template.
  • As a class, discuss the new topic you are introducing and have students identify the topics they are going to learn about and/or the skills they will have to develop or use for conducting an inquiry. It would be helpful to list these new topics, ideas, concepts or skills on the black board or chart paper so the students can refer to them.
  • Using the template, first have student groups fill in the section at the bottom of the page with the lead in sentence, “In Grade _____these seeds of knowledge can help me learn about ….”. (new topic(s), e.g. growing tomato plants, plant life cycles, conducting experiments with plants, etc.)
  • Next, have the students in their small groups, discuss and recall what they have studied and learned in the past three grades that relate to the new topic (e.g., in grade 3 we studied parts of plants and soils).
  • Have students fill in the remainder of the prompts on the template based on their discussions.
  • If students are finding it challenging to recall the topics and concepts they learned in previous grades, pose scaffolding questions to help them remember and prompt thinking. Do not forget to remind/prompt students to think about the skills they have learned in mathematics (numeration and data management skills), technology challenges and in previous inquiries and/or experiments. Many skills are integral to the process of inquiry.
  • Examples of scaffolding questions include:
    • Do you remember learning about … living things? Needs of living things? Need of plants?
    • When did you learn about … types of soil? Is that topic related to … plants? …space?
    • What have you learned about the topic of _____ (e.g., matter, states of matter, weather, habitats, ecosystems, sources of light, etc.), that has connections to this inquiry topic (e.g. growing plants for food in space)?
    • Have you learned about how people use natural materials, like plants?
    • What skills have you used in mathematics, language arts, information technology, geography, etc., that could help with this inquiry?
    • Have you ever had to collect or examine survey data before?
    • What other inquiries/experiments have you done in previous grades? What skills did you use that will help you in this new inquiry?

Tips for success

  • Use the scaffolding questions provided to help your students remember what they studied in previous grades and in different subject areas. This may be a difficult task for some students and students may not have had the same learning experiences.
  • Use this strategy as an opportunity to assess your students’ prior knowledge.


  • Conduct the Seeds of Knowledge as whole class brainstorming session.
  • Compile all the points generated by groups on chart paper and post them in the classroom.
  • Customize and edit the existing template in the Tools and Templates section to differentiate for grade level, inquiry topics, interests and abilities of students.

Tools and Templates