This study investigated the implementability of the French La main à la pâte (LAMAP) inquiry-based science education (IBSE) programme in the South African context. An interpretative, qualitative multiple-case study design was utilised to elicit the voices of both young children-as-scientists engaged in scientific inquiry and student teachers who facilitated science education following the LAMAP approach. The conceptual framework integrated contemporary perspectives on childhood, theory theory and constructivist theory concepts and IBSE. Three conveniently sampled schools in an urban setting were purposively selected as cases, with 70 Grade 1 to Grade 3 children and three student teachers as participants. The findings of the study indicate that the children engaged in IBSE as natural scientists, displaying the cognitive capacity to think, act and learn like real scientists in the context of their classrooms. Engaging in science within a community of scientists, and being physically and mentally active in the knowledge construction process furthermore shaped children’s sense of agency and identity as scientists. The findings furthermore indicate that implementing IBSE contributed to shaping student teachers’ professional identity as science teachers for young children. As young scientists-in-waiting children are, however, dependent on researchers, higher education institutions concerned with teacher training, decision-makers and the broader education community to mobilise and sustain their potential for being and becoming scientists. The findings of the study resulted in a framework proposing guidelines on multi-levels for IBSE implementation in the South African Foundation Phase classroom context.