Friday, December 21, 2012

Candle Making

Each year when the holidays roll around, I begin thinking of a craft my students can make to give their parents for Christmas.  This year I decided to revisit a craft I made years ago with students.  After visiting Wonder #443 How Do You Make Candles? and discussing how candles are made, we began making our candles for Christmas gifts.  A mom that came in to help out was amazed at how simple and easy the process was, so I thought I would share.  This would be a great activity to do with kids while they are out of school during Winter Break or out of school for a snow day.
  • an old crockpot
  • old candles to melt down (great way to recycle)
  • candle wicks
  • molds
  • optional glitter to sprinkle on top
  • an old measuring cup for pouring the wax into molds
  • old spoon(s) for stirring
  • Place the crockpot on high.
  • Place old candles in the crockpot to melt.  It can take up to an hour to melt larger candles.  
  • Scrape soft wax off the candles to help the melting process.
  • Once there is enough wax melted, you can start pouring the wax into molds.  
  • When the candles start to get stiff, add the wick and optional glitter.  You can reuse the wicks from the melted candles, but will also need to buy some at a craft store.
  • Once the candles have cooled in the molds (about 30 minutes), they pop right out of the rubber molds.

Another great Wonder to visit as a follow-up to this craft is Wonder #276 Does Matter Really Matter? to help explain the solid and liquid of this activity.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Help Teach Main Idea

Wonderopolis has some great holiday seasonal Wonders to read and share with students and families. One of those Wonders I shared this week with my students was #82 Do Reindeer Live Outside the North Pole?. We used the Wonder to practice determining the main idea and supporting details of nonfiction/informational text. Main idea is included in the K-5 band of Informational Text in the Common Core State Standards. Wonderopolis is a great way to teach, model and practice using the main idea standard.
After reading the Wonder, we decided as a class what the main idea of the Wonder was. Each student then got a blank piece of white paper and created their own "main idea" map. As a class we reread through the Wonder and underlined supporting details and added those to the map. Using the Wonder was a great way to review and practice main idea and supporting details when reading an informational text.
Below are some additional Wonders you may want to use when working with main idea and supporting details in your classroom or at home:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Seasonal Wonders to Share and Ideas for Using Them

As I turned the page of my calendar this morning, I began thinking about all of the Wonders of the Day at Wonderopolis that I want to share with my students and some activities I may use with the Wonders before our winter break begins (and a few to share when we return).

#541 Why Aren't There More Holidays?

  • Have your students create their own holiday, or use The Ultimate Holiday Site to pick an "unofficial" holiday.  Have them write about their holiday (when it would be, how it would be celebrated, and who would celebrate it) or have them write a persuasive writing piece trying to persuade a chosen audience (parents, teachers, government officials) why their holiday should be "official".

#455 What Foods Bring Luck in the New Year?

  • Have students talk about, or write about traditions they have in their family for the New Year.  Are there special foods they eat?  Places they go?  People they visit with?

#545 Why Are Some Drinks Bubbly?

  • This is a perfect science Wonder.  The 'Try it out!' section describes how to perform the famous Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.  It also has a link for a Soda Balloon experiment.  What a great way to engage students during such a crazy time of the school year!

#448 How Did Candy Canes Get Their Shape?

  • This Wonder would be great to use for creating a timeline from informational text.  The dates are easily identified and found in the text and stretch from the mid-1600s to the 1950s.  Each date has information that could be added to the timeline.

#443 How Do You Make Candles?

  • This Wonder not only talks about the history of candles, but shares how different cultures incorporate lighting candles in their traditions including, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.  This would be a great starting point to compare and contrast different holiday traditions.  You could even have students compare and contrast their holiday traditions to a different culture.

#441 What Makes Something a Holiday Classic?

  • After discussing what a makes a 'classic' holiday movie (maybe even creating class check-list or rubric), have students use persuasive writing to try and persuade their friends why they think a particular movie should be chosen as a 'classic'.  

#439 Why Do We Wrap Presents?

  • This is another good Wonder for discussing holiday traditions, but as I was reading the Wonder, I was astounded to learn that, "scientist estimate that the United States alone generates an extra 5 million tons of waste over the holidays, most of which is from wrapping paper and shoppings bags."  You could discuss the three Rs with this Wonder (reuse, reduce and recycle) or brainstorm possible solutions to the problem that wrapping gifts creates in our landfills.

#437 How Are Sleds and Sleighs Different?

  • You could use this Wonder to compare and contrast sleds and sleighs using a Venn diagram.  It is a great Wonder to review such words as friction and gravity, too.  

#428 Who Was St. Nick?

  • Another great holiday tradition Wonder including what other countries call Santa Claus.  You could make a class chart including what other countries call Santa, what he does for the children in that country and maybe when he visits.  Put them into groups and let them research the questions and fill in the chart.

#427 What's Your Favorite Holiday Cookie?

  • Who doesn't love a yummy holiday cookie?  I've found myself discussing with co-workers our favorite holiday cookies.  After you have read the Wonder as a class, have students draw or write their favorite cookie on a post-it note and create class graph.  For older children you could have them visit a younger class to collect data and create their own graphs.

#90 Why Do People Make New Year's Resolutions?

  • This would be a great Wonder to share before having students write about their own resolutions, tell why they chose those resolutions and then share them with their classmates.

#89 How Did the Months of the Year Get Their Names?

  • With the start of the New Year, kids will love learning how the months got their names.  I think this is a good Wonder for having the students predict where the names came from before reading the Wonder.  You could put the kids in groups, have them choose a month and then share how they think the month got its name.

#84 What Is Boxing Day?

  • Though this isn't a holiday celebrated in the United States, it is a great way to talk about other holiday traditions.

#82 Do Reindeer Live Outside the North Pole?

  • The reindeer (caribou) is described in the Wonder, including some of its body parts and how they are used.  You could use the Wonder to create a diagram and label the parts.  It would also be a good Wonder for talking about animal adaptions for different parts of the world.  Why would/wouldn't the reindeer survive in a different climate?

#80 Why Do People Kiss Under Mistletoe?

  • This is a fun Wonder for sharing another holiday tradition.  

#78 How Do People Celebrate the Winter Holidays?

  • There are three winter holidays discussed in the Wonder, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Advent.  I will use this Wonder to create a class chart to compare the three.  I will use this Wonder in conjunction with, #443 How Do You Make Candles?.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Connecting Across the Country Via Skype

Last weekend, I emailed fellow Wonderopolis Wonder Lead and kindergarten teacher, Jon Fines to see if he would have time to Skype on Monday or Tuesday.  My students had been working on some Thanksgiving readers theaters and I wanted to give them an authentic audience to watch them perform.  He said he would love to connect with my second graders and have his kindergarteners watch us.

On Tuesday afternoon we made our Ohio to Montana connection.  We shared our readers theaters with Jon's class and they shared a poem and sang a song to our class.  I had previously shared with my students that Mr. Fines plays the ukulele.  They were very excited to hear him play for us.

After our connection, Jon and I decided to try virtual "buddy" reading with our classes.  I'm excited to model and practice this next week when we return from Thanksgiving break.  How engaging and motivating will it be for a couple of my second grade students to Skype a couple of Jon's kindergarteners in Montana and "buddy" read with them a few times a week?

If you are engaging your students in Skype or any other technology, below are some great past Wonders to visit.  Specifically, Wonder #670, Do You Have Good Netiquette? is a great Wonder to use before Skyping or talking about leaving comments on any website.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own picture slideshow

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Engaging Families in Thanksgiving Seasonal Wonders

Next week is a great time to spend learning and wondering as a family.  Below are several Wonders from to share while spending time with your family.

If you are an educator, be sure to share these Wonders with parents.  I will be sharing them with families via my classroom blog and our class Twitter account.

If you are a parent and are looking for ways to interact with your children while they are out of school next week, check out this post, Using Wonder to Engage Children Over the Summer.  The activities can be used anytime, not just during the summer months.

Check out my fellow 2012 Wonder Leads and how they infuse Wonder in their own homes, and nurture their students to wonder at home:

You can read more about using Wonder and Wonderopolis in and out of the classroom by going to the Wonder Playground at Wonderopolis.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Help Meet CCSS Informational Text 3

The lesson below is an example of a Common Core State Standard lesson using Reading: Informational Text-Key Ideas and Details for grades K-5, Standard Statement 3.  Below I have included a vertical progression chart of this Standard Statement.  I have also created a K-5 vertical progression guide for Informational Text here.

Reading: Informational Text-Key Ideas and Details (RI.3)
With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

Before reading any further, please check out Wonder of the Day #188 Are Frogs and Toads the Same?

This Wonder could easily be used to meet Reading Informational Text Standard Statement three for grades kindergarten through fifth grade, and beyond.  

In order to help meet this standard, I would start by tying it into my daily routine.  I would post the Wonder when students arrive to my classroom and have them write about the wonder in their wonder notebooks.  I would then read over the information in the Wonder with students.  When working with text, I don't believe most primary students are ready to work with the text on the first exposure, therefore we would revisit the text during our reading workshop mini-lesson, either later on the same day, or within a few days of our first exposure.  Depending on how much experience students have had with this standard would depend on what kind of activity we would do.  You could orally have the students share the connection frogs and toads by turning and talking, create a class "t" chart, create venn diagram as a class or with a partner, or have students work in groups to write about the connections.

With older students, after modeling and working with this standard whole group, you could have students choose a different Wonder from the list below and have them work in a small group or with a partner to practice the standard.

Wonders that could be used to meet Informational Text-Key Ideas and Details, Statement Standard 3:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November #WonderChat

With the onset of the Common Core State Standards, I have been trying to include more nonfiction text into my second grade classroom.  According to the standards in 4th grade, students should be reading 50% literary text and 50% informational text.  By 8th grade, 45% literary and 55% information.  Finally, by 12th grade the criteria should be 30% literary and 70% informational text.  One resource, of many I have been using to integrate more nonfiction into my second grade classroom is Wonderopolis.  Wonderopolis can be one resource to help meet many of the Common Core State Standards.  

I am excited to announce the November Twitter #WonderChat will focus around using Wonderopolis to help meet the Common Core State Standards.  How are you using Wonderopolis and Wonder to meet the Common Core State Standards and standards within your district and classroom?  Join and share in some wonderful virtual professional development!

Please join the November #WonderChat Monday, November 5th from 8:00-9:00 PM EST to learn and share about using Wonderopolis to meet Common Core State Standards and district and classroom standards.

If you are using Wonderopolis in your classroom and haven't already done so, you might want to join the group Wonderopolis for Educators at  You also might want to check out the 2012-2013 #WonderChat Schedule.

Looking forward to discussing Wonderopolis and how you use it to meet standards this Monday night, November 5th from 8:00-9:00 PM EST.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Using Wonderopolis for a Spook-tacular Writing Workshop Lesson

Writing workshop is well under way in my second grade classroom.  Recently, our mini-lessons have centered around "word choice", and "showing, not just telling".  Furthermore, our word work practice last week centered around synonyms, so we talked about "so, so" words that we could jazz up a bit by replacing them with a synonym.  While reading aloud to my class, students have been busy jotting down words they would like to try to use in their own writing, and we talked about how those words could be used, and what types of words they can replace in their own writing.

Wonder of the Day #752 Do You Get Spooked Easily? went perfectly with all of the recent work we have been doing in writing workshop.  First, the Wonder provided many synonyms for the word scared, including frightened, alarmed terrified, startled, unnerved, and petrified.  It also provided some phrases that describes being scared.  I can't count how many times students have come to me with a story that says, I was so so so scared. The Wonder was a perfect opportunity to model a different choice.

As a class we made a list of words to use instead of scared, including the words Wonderopolis provided us with.  We then spent a few minutes individually writing sentences using those synonyms and some phrases.  Some students used the phrases provided by Wonderopolis, while others used some they created on their own.  Some of the phrases students came up with to show they were scared were:
  • I was startled so badly that my heart pounded out of my chest.
  • I was so terrified that my guts came out.
  • I was so unnerved that I got the worst goosebumps of my life.
I did name that many of the phrases students were making up were a hyperbole.  Although we haven't spent time on this author's craft yet, I did feel the need to name the craft for students.  Many students were excited to be learning such a "cool" word.

If you are looking for some more lessons on synonyms, check out these synonym resources from readwritethink.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Far Will a Paper Airplane Fly?

I'm not exactly sure how the topic of paper airplanes came up, but when it did my students wanted to know if there was a Wonder about them.  I told them there was, and we would visit the Wonder on a nice, warm fall day.  That day finally came last Wednesday.  For a Wonder Wednesday activity, we read Wonder #626 How Far Can a Paper Airplane Fly?, used the Try it out! section to make our own symmetrical airplanes, wondered about our airplanes before flying them, wrote and shared some learning, and finally wrote and shared some wonders we had when after we finished flying our airplanes.

Although last Wednesday was a beautiful fall day, it was also very windy.  This didn't lend itself to flying paper airplanes.  Funny enough before going outside to fly our airplanes, many students thought and predicted the wind would assist in the flying of the airplanes  The children soon found out that the wind caused their airplanes to do all sorts of crazy things.

This was a great learning opportunity to review symmetry, predict or wonder about what was going to happen, test out their wonders and then share their learning.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create your own free slideshow

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Help Teach Graphing

In second grade, graphing is a math unit we get to later in the school year.  I've chosen to use two Wonders of the Day as a way to introduce, give students a foundation of data collection and graphing, and as a natural tie-in to our morning use of Wonderopolis.  The first Wonder of the Day we collected data and made a graph with was, Wonder #705 What's Your Favorite Breakfast Cereal?  The second, we visited past Wonder #474 Which Dessert Takes the Cake?
In addition to the students usual morning routine, they got a post note and wrote and/or drew their favorite cereal or dessert.  As they came up to the floor to go over the Wonder, we created a graph together, including choosing categories and the title.  We also reviewed the data and the graph together. Orally, I asked questions about the graph.  Questions I asked included, which category had the fewest/greatest, how many more certain categories had than others, and if we added two categories together how much would we have.  Later in the year, I may have students write observations in their math journals.
Other Wonders that I may use as the year progresses to help with graphing skills are:
#743 What's Your Favorite Halloween Costume?
#712 When Is Your Half Birthday?
#684 Are You Talented?
#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day?
#427 What's Your Favorite Holiday Cookie?
#354 What's Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
#207 What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
#177 What Is the Best After-School Snack?
#17 What Would You Plant in Your Garden?
#15 What Is Your Secret Superhero Identity?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Discussing Wonders via Skype

Last week, my class was fortunate to connect with Mrs. Rosenquist's 2nd grade class on Long Island in New York.  Each class took a few minutes to share some information about where we were from, our schools and classrooms.  The conversation then turned to Wonderopolis.  Both classes shared some of their favorite Wonders and learning from Wonderopolis.  Ironically, both classes shared about Wonder #607, Are All Bullies Big?  This is a great Wonder to share with children of all ages and was obviously a big hit with two 2nd grade classes.  We shared Wonder #704, Can One Man Be a Band? (another class favorite) and Wonder #718, Have You Ever Been to the Big Apple?, when we found out that their school is located about an hour from New York City with Mrs. Rosenquist's class.

Thank you for a wonderful Skype visit, Mrs. Rosenquist's class!  We look forward to connecting with our New York friends again, soon!

The pictures below were taken in our class and Mrs. Rosenquist's class.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Meeting Todd Parr via Skype

A little over a week ago, the second grade students at our school had the honor of meeting children's author and illustrator, Todd Parr via Skype.  This is the second year in a row we kicked off our Skyping with Todd Parr, and once again he didn't disappoint.  Each second grade class brainstormed things that they wondered about him.  During our Skype visit, he answered one question from each of the eight second grade classes.  Students learned where Todd gets ideas for his stories, how long it takes for him to get a book published, what his favorite children book to read is, what his favorite book is that he has written, and how he became an author.  As a special treat, we met both of his dogs.  He also read, Underwear Dos and Don'ts and his newest book, The Thankful Book (which he told us we were the first to hear him read it).http://

Prior to his visit I used a modified version of this lesson from Read Write Think, It's Okay to Be Different: Teaching Diversity With Todd Parr.

Some Wonders from Wondeorpolis that can be used with Todd Parr books are:

Enjoy the Smilebox below!  I chose the dog theme in honor of Todd Parr's love for dogs.  He shared that he would have LOTS of dogs if he had the room.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Wonderopolis!

Today, Wonderopolis celebrates its second birthday.  As I began planning a little celebration in my classroom for the milestone, I began reflecting on what the website has done for my students, my students' families, my own family and finally me as both an educator and learner.  During my thirteen years of teaching, I can't think of a more engaging resource for students of all ages (including, me).  I've spent time reflecting on favorite Wonders, the learning that has taken place, both inside and out of the classroom and the curiosity and exploration that Wonderopolis has ignited.  I can only hope the Wonders will continue for many more years to come!  Please be sure to leave a comment about what Wonderopolis has meant to you as a parent, educator or student over the past two years.
Enjoy watching our class celebration in the Smilebox below.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Saturday, September 29, 2012

October #WonderChat

As educators, we know that the home-school connection is important to a student's academic success.  One way that I encourage the home-school connection in my classroom is by using Wonderopolis.  This month's #WonderChat will focus on that connection.  Please join this month's co-host, Wonder Lead Maria and I in discussing the connection between home and school using Wonderopolis and wondering.  The Twitter Chat will be this Monday night, October 1st from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Please be sure to use the #WonderChat hashtag.  Come share ideas, connect with others using Wonderopolis in their classroom and ask questions.

You may want to check out last month's #WonderChat archive to see what the chat is all about.

We look forward to a WONDERful chat Monday night!

Friday, September 21, 2012

#WonderChat 2012-2013 Schedule

Below are the dates and topics for the 2012-2013 Wonderopolis #WonderChat on Twitter.  Each chat is held on the first Monday of the month from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Feel free to join the conversation, share ideas and ask questions if you are using Wonderopolis in your classroom or at home with your own children.

October 1st - Using Wonderopolis and wondering to extend learning at home (making the home-school connection).  Fellow Wonder Lead, Maria Caplin will be co-hosting with me.

November 5th - Using Wonderopolis with the Common Core State Standards.  The discussion will focus on how Wonderopolis can be used to help implement and meet the CCSS.

December 3rd - Using Wonderopolis and wondering in a secondary classroom.  Paul Hankins will be a guest host.

January 7th - Using Wonderopolis as a mentor text and sharing other books that encourage wondering.

February 4th - Using Wonderopolis to as a digital learning tool.

March 4th - Using Wonderopolis and wondering to inspire/encourage/engage students in inquiry and research.

April 15th - Using Wonderopolis and wondering as a spring board for writing.  An emphasis for this chat will be on poetry, since April is National Poetry Month.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm

May 6th - Wonder Jars - We will be discussing ideas for making and using them in and out of the classroom.

June 3rd - Using Wonderopolis and Wonder to engage and continue student learning over the summer.

If you are new to Twitter Chats or are a "Lurker", like I once was, you may want to check out this great blog post by Christopher Lehman, So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat: From Lurker to Chatter 101.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wonderize It!

One of the coolest, most practical features of the new and improved Wonderopolis website is the Wonderizer.  You can customize the Wonder to meet your specific classroom needs.  Below are the steps for using 'Wonderize It!' in your classroom.

When you go to the Wonderopolis home page, there is a yellow icon below the Wonder of the Day.

Once you have clicked on the 'Wonderize It!' icon you will be taken to the 'Wonderize It!' page.  There you can choose which features you would like to have in your customized Wonder.  All you have to do is drag the icons in the drop boxes below them.  You can drop as few or as many icons as you would like.

In the screenshot below, I chose to drop the 'Ever Wonder?' questions and the photo that goes with the Wonder of the Day.  Then I clicked, 'Save & See My Changes'.

Below is the screenshot of the Wonder that I Wonderized.  I will be using the Wonderizer to customize the Wonder like this each morning when my students come in to start their day.
A few ideas for using the 'Wonderize It':
  • You could do a See, Think, Wonder with one of the pictures before going over the Wonder or studying a new concept/topic.
  • If you want student to only focus on the photo and the text in the Wonder, you could drop those two icons.
  • If you want students to use the vocabulary/Wonder Words for a specific project, you can drop that icon.
The possibilities are endless with the new feature!  I can't wait to experiment and explore all of the possible uses in my 2nd grade classroom.  Please share a comment if you have a way you are using/going to use the new 'Wonder It!' feature in your classroom.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Using Wonderopolis to Teach an Author's Craft - Similes

On Tuesday, I was excited to see the Wonder of the Day, #702 Are You Sly as a Fox? and knew immediately this would be the first author's craft I would introduce.  I started by having students write about the Wonder when they came in on Tuesday.  We then discussed the Wonder and talked about what a simile is.  On Wednesday, I shared Wonder #607 Are All Bullies Big? to continue working on building community in our classroom.  My students thought the video that went with the Wonder was hilarious (we even watched it twice).  We talked about what kind of similes we could use to describe the video.  Each student came up with a simile using the starter, "The video was as funny as..."  They quickly shared with each other and then those that wanted to share with Wonderopolis shared, while I typed.

Also, during the week, I shared two great mentor text for similes by Hanoch Piven.  The first, My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks and the second, My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil.  After each read, we talked about why a growing writer would use similes and how we could use them in our own writing.  Students also practiced writing similes during the week.
On Friday, we added simile as our first author's craft to our class anchor chart for students to refer to and use in their own writing throughout the year.

Check out these ideas for teaching similes at 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wondering About Our Names - The First Week of School

In a previous blog post, I shared past Wonders that would be great to use throughout the year.  One of those Wonders I listed to use in building community at the beginning of the year was, #681 What's in a Name.  I used this Wonder along with two favorite books during the first week of school.  When sharing the Wonder, we talked about how we got our names, whether we liked our names and that often times names having meaning.  Some students knew how they got their names and what they meant, while others didn't.  Those that didn't, I encouraged to go home and ask why they were given their name and what it meant.

Later in the day to connect with the Wonder, I shared the book, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.  This is a book I have with previous classes early in the year to talk about differences in students.  The story is about a young girl from Korea named, Unhei (which means, grace)  On her first day of school, her teacher asked her what her name was.  After thinking about being teased on the school bus, she tells the teacher she hasn't chosen one yet.  All of the children in her class are glad to share possible American names in her Name Jar.  After making friends with a boy named, Joey and with a little help from Mr. Kim (the owner of the Korean food store), she decides to keep her own Korean name.

Another book that I shared later in the week was, My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits.  This story is about another little girl from Korea, named Yoon.  Here name means, Shining Wisdom.  Yoon does not like how her name looks in english, so she refuses to print it when her teacher asks her to.  Instead, she writes CAT, BIRD and CUPCAKE.  Finally, after meeting a new friend on the playground and her teacher giving her the eyes that said, "I-like-this-girl-Yoon," Yoon decides that she will print her name in English.

While both books are excellent to share by themselves during the first few weeks of school to discuss differences, teasing, filling left out and including others, they fit perfectly with Wonder #681 to encourage children to think about their own names.

After the fact, I thought about having students interview their parents to find out how they got their name and research what their name means, including the origin.  This would be a great first homework assignment and a way to get to know the students in my class better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

September #WonderChat

Join #WonderChat Monday, September 3rd at 8:00 PM EST for the first monthly Twitter Chat of the 2012-2013 school year.  This month's hour long chat will focus on starting the school year using Wonderopolis and wondering.  If you use Wonderopolis in your classroom, are going to try using it in your classroom this year, have ways to share how you started the school year using it or just need some ideas of how to get started, plan on joining the chat Monday night.  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.  I'm looking forward to a WONDERful chat!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

#684 Are You Talented? Our Second Wonder of the Day

I use Wonderopolis on a daily basis in my classroom.  Last week, I started on the first day of school using it with my first reading workshop mini-lesson.  On the second day of school, I used Wonder #684 Are You Talented? to help students learn about each other and begin building our classroom community, by sharing their different interests and talents.  It was informative as a teacher to learn about the different talents my students possess and interests they have.  This will be helpful as I begin matching students with books and helping them with their writing, especially those reluctant readers and writers.

Tuesday, was also the first day that I got to try out the student form I created to use with Wonderopolis.  For our first "Wonder Word" I chose the word "talented."  After having students share their many talents, they were easily able to write what they thought the word "talented" meant.  It was also an excellent opportunity for me to quickly plant the seed for root words and suffixes.

After sharing their talents with the class, I took the opportunity to show my new second graders how easy it is to leave a comment at Wonderopolis.  They were so excited to see me typing their name and talent in the comment we left.  They were even more excited to see the WONDERful response Wonderopolis left us.  One student even said, "you mean my name and talent is on the internet?"  He was in awe by just having his name and talent in the comment section.

Friday, August 24, 2012

First Day of School Wonder - Reading Workshop Mini-Lesson

This year, I am trying to use some past Wonders that tie into what I am teaching.  Last weekend, I spent time compiling a list of past Wonders to use throughout the year and started using the list on the first day of school.  On Monday, I shared Wonder #611 Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?  The Wonder is about judging books by the way their cover looks, how to choose books, and what exactly the idiom means.

My first mini-lesson for reading workshop was, "growing readers" choose books that interest them.  Wonder #611 worked perfectly with this lesson.  We discussed why and how we judge books by their cover and how the cover usually tells us what the book is going to be about, which tells us whether we may or may not be interested in the book.  It was especially helpful for my students to hear from Wonderopolis that, "Of course, when you're looking for a new book, the first thing you're likely to see is the book's cover.  A book's cover is like a an advertisement.  It's supposed to intrigue you, give you an idea of what the book is about..."  Furthermore, in the Try It Out section of the Wonder, Wonderopolis gave some helpful tips for students when looking for new books.  The first tip encouraged students by saying, "Follow your interests!"

The books I read aloud the first week of school for reading workshop always focus on books.  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra was the book I chose to read aloud on the first day of school.  The books is about Molly the librarian who introduces reading to the animals at the zoo when she accidentally drives her bookmobile into the zoo.  She helps each animal choose the perfect book.  My students noticed that many of the books the animals chose to read are books that would interest those animals, which tied perfectly with the mini-lesson and Wonder.

An additional resource you may want to check out to help with reading workshop mini-lessons at the beginning of the year is, Choosing the Right Book: Strategies for Beginning Readers (K-2) from Read Write Think.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wonders to Use Throughout the Year

On Friday, I was talking with a colleague who is planning on using Wonderopolis in her classroom on a daily basis for the first time this year.  I was sharing some Wonders with her that I thought would be useful to use during the school year.  I offered to compile a list for her and my second grade team.  I thought they may be useful for others too.

Wonders for Building a Classroom Community
A Wonder to Share at Open House or Curriculum Night with Parents
Reading Workshop
Writing Workshop 
Famous Americans
American Symbols
Map Skills
U.S. Holidays
General Science
Animal Adaptations