Discovery learning: What it is, Examples and How to apply it

Discovery learning: What it is, Examples and How to apply it

Discovery learning: What it is, Examples and How to apply it

Discovery learning is an educational strategy that promotes the development of critical thinking and student autonomy, among other things. Through this approach, there is physical involvement in the learning process. Throughout the following post, we will explain what discovery learning is, we will offer you practical examples and we will give you some ideas on how you can apply it.

What is discovery learning?


Discovery learning is a teaching methodology that places the student in the active role of knowledge construction. Unlike the traditional approach, where the person teaching passively transmits information, discovery learning encourages exploration, investigation and experimentation as fundamental pillars of the process.

Principles in discovery learning

Discovery learning is based on certain fundamental principles, which guide its implementation and effective development. These principles establish the necessary conditions for students to build their own knowledge in a way that is as significant as it is lasting, and are:

Knowledge is actively constructed

Learning does not occur passively through the receipt of information, but requires the active participation of the person learning. Students must explore, investigate, experiment, feel and reflect to build their own knowledge.

Learning is meaningful

Knowledge acquired through discovery is more meaningful and lasting than knowledge learned passively, since students relate new information to their previous experiences and knowledge, which in turn allows them to understand it better and retain it longer.

Learning is motivating

Students who actively participate in their own learning are more motivated and engaged in the process. This is because they feel a greater sense of autonomy and control over their learning. Additionally, it reduces the chances of distraction.

Learning develops skills

Discovery learning encourages the development of cognitive and metacognitive skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and communication. All of these skills are necessary to achieve success in any activity you decide to do.

Learning is contextualized

Learning occurs most effectively when it connects to the student's context. This means that learning best extracurricular activities for kids should be relevant to students' interests and experiences, whenever possible of course.

Learning is social

Discovery learning benefits from social interaction, so students can learn from each other by sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, and discussing their discoveries.

Learning is continuous

Learning is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. Discovery learning prepares students to become self-directed learners who can continue to learn on their own throughout their lives.

Types of discovery learning


To classify discovery learning we will base ourselves on the activity or nature of the action that is used to teach, that is, learning:


In this approach, students are faced with a real or simulated problem that they must solve using their knowledge and skills. The teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding them in the process of research, analysis and decision-making to find solutions.

By projects

These projects can be individual or group and must have a tangible end product, such as a report, presentation, model, or work of art. Ideally, they are long-term and allow them to investigate, experiment and create.

Based on inquiry

Students ask questions, collect data, and analyze information to answer them. The main idea behind this type of learning is to develop your research and critical thinking skills.


Students learn through direct experience, participating in activities such as experiments, simulations, role plays, and field trips, the type most often done in scientific subjects. Basically, students learn through interacting with the world around them.


Students work together in groups to complete tasks, solve problems, and build knowledge. This type of learning encourages communication, collaboration and teamwork.


Students take the initiative for their own learning, setting their own objectives, planning their activities and evaluating their progress. Here the teacher or whoever is teaching should only act as a mentor, providing support and guidance when necessary.

How is discovery learning applied to children?

Discovery learning is particularly beneficial in early childhood maturational delay, education, as it adapts perfectly to the natural curiosity and interest in exploring that characterizes young children. We tell you some simple ways to apply it in children:

  • Stimulating environment: The classroom should be a space where children feel safe, comfortable and motivated to explore and learn. This could involve diverse materials or encouraging social interaction for example.
  • Open-ended questions: Instead of providing direct answers, teachers should ask open-ended questions that invite children to think, reflect, and formulate their own hypotheses.
  • Exploration and experimentation: Provide children with opportunities to manipulate objects, conduct experiments, and engage in hands-on activities.
  • Play as a learning tool: Play is a fundamental activity in childhood and an excellent resource for discovery learning.
  • Encourage research: Guide children in the research process, teaching them to search for information, ask questions and evaluate the reliability of sources.
  • Use information and communication technologies (ICT): ICT provides children with access to information, educational resources and opportunities to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Evaluate learning continuously: Evaluation in discovery learning must be formative and focused on the learning process of each child, using different strategies.

Advantages of discovery learning

Discovery learning offers a wide range of benefits for students of all ages, including:


  • Meaningful learning: Students better retain information they discover on their own, as they associate it with their own experiences and prior knowledge.
  • Greater motivation: Students feel more motivated to learn when they have an active role in the process. Discovery learning sparks curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for learning.
  • Development of critical thinking skills: Encourages critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and communication.
  • Preparation for self-directed learning: Helps develop the skills necessary to learn autonomously throughout life, such as researching, analyzing information and making decisions.
  • Adaptability to different learning styles: It is adaptable to a wide range of learning styles, offering students diverse ways of learning and processing information.
  • Promotes autonomy and responsibility: Students make decisions about their own learning, which develops their sense of autonomy and responsibility.
  • Increases self-esteem and self-confidence: As students achieve their learning goals, self-esteem and self-confidence increases.
  • Promotes collaboration and teamwork: Promotes collaboration and teamwork, essential skills to develop in a social environment.
  • Prepares students to meet the challenges of the future: Helps children develop the skills and knowledge necessary to adapt to changes and meet the challenges of the future.

Disadvantages of discovery learning

While discovery learning offers a wide range of benefits, it also has some disadvantages that should be considered when implementing it:

  • Requires more time and resources: It usually requires more time and resources than traditional teaching ABA methods, as students need to explore, investigate and experiment.
  • It can be frustrating for some students: Not all students adapt well to discovery learning; some may feel frustrated or overwhelmed.
  • Requires self-direction skills: Discovery learning requires students to have self-direction and self-regulation skills, such as the ability to set goals, plan activities, and evaluate their own progress.
  • It can be difficult to evaluate: Evaluation of discovery learning can be more difficult than traditional teaching methods, since learning is individualized.
  • Not suitable for all topics: Not suitable for all topics or content, because some require a more direct transmission of information or a more structured practice.
  • Highly Depends on the Teacher: The success of discovery learning largely depends on the skill and experience of the teacher or the person who is teaching.

Examples of discovery learning in children

Here are some simple examples of discovery learning so you can try implementing it:

Natural Sciences

  • Materials: Magnifying glasses, pots, soil, seeds of different types of plants, water.
  • Development: Children observe different types of plants, compare their characteristics and then plant seeds in pots. They care for the plants for several days of the weeks and record their observations in a journal.
  • Questions: What parts does a plant have? How do plants grow? What do plants need to live?


  • Materials: Building blocks of different shapes and sizes.
  • Development: Children build different structures with blocks, using their imagination and creativity. Then, they count the number of blocks they used and sort the blocks by shape and size.
  • Questions: How many towers can you build with 10 blocks? What shapes can you create with the blocks? How can we arrange the blocks in different ways?


  • Materials: Images, puppets, costumes.
  • Development: Children meet in groups and, using images, puppets or costumes, create a story together. Each child contributes an idea or character to the story.
  • Questions: What can we tell in our story? Who will be the protagonist of the story? How do we want the story to end?


  • Materials: Paints, brushes, paper, music.
  • Development: Children listen to music and then, using paints and brushes, express the emotions that the music provokes in them.
  • Questions: What colors inspire you in music? How do you feel when listening to this music? What story can you tell with your paintings?

Time management

  • Development: Students are learning to read time on analog and digital clocks. They are given a brief introduction to how both types of watches work and are shown how to read the time on each.
  • Reflection Questions: What are the differences between analog and digital watches? Why is it important to be able to read the time in everyday life?


In conclusion, discovery learning is a very rich and complete alternative to the system used traditionally. By allowing students to be protagonists of their own learning process, a deeper and lasting understanding of concepts is fostered. These last two points are ultimately the most necessary to avoid frustration in children and boredom.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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