Sangster Elementary SD#62 Sooke

I. General Information

School Name: Sangster Elementary

School District: SD#62 Sooke

Inquiry Team Members: Raelene Lund, Kathy Henderson, Michelle Moore

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Georgette Walker/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Other: Social emotional regulation/competencies

Focus Addressed:

  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Experiential learning
  • Flexible learning
  • Growth mindset
  • Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
  • Self-regulation
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The impact of purposeful, choice-based play on student self-regulation.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We conducted individual surveys with all students in a grade 2/3 and grade 3/4 class, that were taking part in the inquiry project. A pre-survey was conducted in December and a post-survey was completed in June. We also collected some observational data and met as a team to discuss our findings.

The data revealed that there was a noted increase in the number of children who were able to name two adults at our school who believed in their future success and demonstrated that belief at school. The team noted that students had increased their connections, sense of belonging and developed stronger relationships with adults in the school over the course of the inquiry.
Learners were at the centre of our inquiry project, as our goal was to start off each day with time for social connection. Classroom teachers were responsive to the needs of their learners and implemented the use of play to start off the days routine in different ways, but the overall results were that students were more settled and regulated.

Focus: We selected play and its effect on social emotional learning, as we noticed throughout the grades similar observations: students coming to school dysregulated and anxious, and experiencing challenges transitioning to their day at school.
Our hope was that by beginning the day with choice play and personalized connections with students, that they would be emotionally-regulated and ready for the day.

Hunch: Our school day is structured on a standardized bell schedule and our needs as teachers to jump right in to curriculum, rather than allowing students time and space to land and be regulated and emotionally ready for learning, was not working.

New Professional Learning:

  • developed planning sheet for the purpose of engaging students in provocations for play that would engage students in learning through play
  • resources about play and the effect on SEL: read Professional resources – “Choice Time” book by Renee Dinnerstein
  • ongoing professional discussions as a team throughout the year: sharing ideas
  • being explicit in our choices and being thoughtful to our students needs (students guiding us)… observing and reflecting and tweaking based on our specific groups of children

Taking Action:

  • soft starts to begin the day across the grade levels (K-4)
  • when this was applied it ended up looking different in each classroom: from more structured choice/play, to provocations with free play options (related to curricular outcomes that were intentionally play-based), story workshop, outdoor play time, free choice play, and ADST challenges that were play-based


  • Yes, we noticed a decrease in office referrals.
  • There was an increase in the number of students who were starting the day in tears or having difficulties regulating throughout the day.
  • There were more opportunities to connect with students individually and build connections (allows them time to share their personal news).
  • The responsive changes we made did have the desired outcome and we were satisfied with our results.
  • As noted above, we used a pre- and post- survey and observational data to guide our inquiry and provide evidence.
  • Our students’ responses on the post survey demonstrate a wider variety of answers with specific examples/details.

Reflections/Advice: It reinforced for us the importance of providing time and space for students to land at school and to set aside time to connect with the adults in the room and with each other; this allowed them to be regulated and ready for the day (with the intention on the adult/teachers part to make personal connections, fill buckets and set them up for a day of success).

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