Hands-On Learning, Pedagogy

The 5E Instructional Model: Explore

Hello and welcome back!!

All is well here in Little Smarticle Particle land, and today, I’m going to share with you some ideas about the second phase of the 5E Instructional ModelExplore.

Before I go too far, I want to emphasize that sometimes your engage and explore may be intertwined in that the engage phase of the 5E cycle can be a simple exploration activity that also serves to build essential background. However, this does not mean that the explore portion is completed. I only mention this as an illustration of how seamless the 5E phases can be.


The goal of the explore phase is to build on already existing prior knowledge, and you do this by providing activities that are experiential in nature.


Here are some ideas that will work for any science concept. (Note: Students should draw, label, and describe in their science journals for the first three types of activities… this holds them accountable and gives them a reference for later.)

  • Demonstration: Teacher demonstrates a particular concept and guides students through careful questioning about their observations.
  • Investigation: Whole Group/teacher guided (depending on the age of your students and the nature of the investigation).
  • Observation Stations: Students work in small groups to discuss and make observations about a set of objects, pictures, etc…
  • Assigned Readings / Videos: Students can read appropriate articles, assigned pages or paragraphs, or watch a video clip. Note: you have to hold your students accountable for this type of activity. I often will provide my students with a graphic organizer of some sort if they are reading, or a set of cloze passage type questions / statements  that they need to fill in while they are watching a video. Always explain the activity that you want them to complete so that they understand exactly what you expect. My second graders got to be pretty good at this!
  • KWL – remember how I said that these phases are seamless? Well, your students are still making observations, and now they are using those observations to generate questions and wonderings….the “w” of the KWL chart (if you are using one). (click on the link to download a free KWL chart!)


Mix up your instructional delivery based on the needs of your students. You will notice that the activities above gradually move from “teacher in charge” to independence. As your students become more independent in their learning, you are freed up to work with small groups.

I hope you are finding this set of posts about the 5E Instructional Model helpful. Next up, I will be blogging about the third “E” in the 5E model… Explain!

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