Thursday, May 31, 2012

OLW and Chalk-A-Bration 2

Today is another Chalk-A-Bration Day organized by Betsy at Teaching Young Writers and time to reflect on my One Little Word organized by Maria at Teaching in the 21st Century.  My OLW that I am reflecting on this year is JOY.   I decided to combine the two and "chalk" a quick poem about my "joys".
My daughter, Betsy decided to join me this morning "chalking" some poetry before school.   I was quite impressed with what she came up with in such a short period of time.
Grab some chalk today and go out find a perfect spot to "chalk" a poem.  I truly enJOYed the time spent with Betsy this morning writing and reading our poems together.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Using Wonder to Engage Children Over the Summer

Ideas for Engaging Children in Wonder Over the Summer
  • Share a Wonder from Wonderopolis at dinner and tell your kids something new you learned.  (Often times as adults we don't spend enough time modeling our own learning to help children engage and learn how to learn.)
  • Read a Wonder as a family and have each member of the family share or write something they learned or found interesting.  Be sure to encourage everyone explain their thinking.  You might want to model your thinking by say something like, "I thought ____________ was interesting because ________________."  Be sure to probe your children about their thinking.  
  • Have each member of the family choose a different Wonder and teach the rest of the family about the Wonder and what they learned.  (My own two children are 13 and 10 and occasionally choose a Wonder and make a PowerPoint sharing their learning.)
  • Pick one of the "Wonder Words" and define it as a family.  Then see how many sentences you can come up with as a family.  Keep track and see if each time you complete this activity, you can beat the number of sentences.
  • After reading a Wonder as a family, leave a comment.  If your children are old enough, have each one leave their own comment.  
  • Each Wonder has a "Try it Out" and "Still wondering?" section.  As a family, browse the suggestions and try one of them out.  Often times these sections involve creating something or conducting an experiment.  What a great way to extend the learning beyond the Wonder.
  • As a family predict what you think the Wonder will be the next day and tell why you think that based on the given clue.
  • Have each member of the family keep a Wonder Journal.  You can use these to predict, keep track of Wonder Words learned, write down new learning and any Wonders you have along the way.
  • Create your own Wonders as a family and come up with a plan on how you can find out the answers during the summer months.  What Wonders do you have about your own community?  What wonders do you have before, during and after a trip to a museum, the fair, a park, the zoo or any kind of family outing?  Be creative and have fun!
  • Create a Wonder Jar.  Have each member of the family write down their wonders.  Each week choose a different Wonder to explore and investigate.
With over 600 Wonders of the Day at Wonderopolis and counting, there is something for everyone in the family.  Visiting the website each day is a great way to read and discuss nonfiction text, while spending quality time learning as a family.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Kids love building and creating!  They love building and creating with blocks, legos and and almost anything you give them.  I mentioned to my students one day how much fun it would be to take recycled materials and build with them.  I told them I would send a note home and we would have a "creating" day for our last WONDER WEDNESDAY.
Last week as all the recycled materials and tape began arriving and piling up, we wondered what we could make, build and create with the recycled materials.  Last Wednesday, I enjoyed listening in on the conversations and watching my students create.  It was a wonderful way to engage my second graders the week before school was out for an afternoon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mother's Day Poet-Tea

For Mother's Day this year, we decided to have a "Poet-Tea."  We spent most of March and all of April writing our own poetry.  We also spent all year reading and talking about different kinds of poetry.  It only seemed natural to share some of our wonderful poetry with our moms.

In preparation for the celebration another teacher and I went to thrift stores to purchase cups and saucers to plant flowers in for a gift for the moms. The day the students planted their flowers, I was surprised at how excited they got to pick a thrift store cup and saucer.

Students were so excited to have their mom in to share poetry with.  As we were putting out the cookies and getting ready, students were joking Wonder of the Day #585 Have You Ever Been Caught Red-Handed?  Several students questioned whether anyone in our class would get caught red-handed taking our cookies before our moms arrived.

After the poetry readings, I shared with both moms and students my end of the year movie.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate not only my student's writing, but also how important their moms are.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wondering Outside Your Window

This week I read a new book called, Outside Your Window A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies.  It is a wonderful book that introduces and encourages children to explore nature outside of their own window.  How often do we encourage children/students to look outside and wonder or look at something out a window and wonder about it.

Twice this week, I looked out a window in my own house and wondered.  I will share both experiences with my own students and encourage them to pick a window in their house to look out of and wonder about the nature that they see.

Last summer we redid our formal living room and turned it into a "family" office.  The room has three beautiful windows that overlooks our front yard.  Recently, as I sat and worked on my computer, I kept noticing a robin that would land on our magnolia tree outside the window.  She often had a worm in her mouth, so I knew that a nest was nearby.  I wondered where the nest was and why she was landing in the the tree before flying to the nest.  Wednesday morning as I sat down at my computer, as I do every morning the answer became clear.  Out in the magnolia tree was a fluffy little robin, just waiting to take flight.  I wondered why there was only one baby and how the baby got to the tree because it wasn't flying.

The second wonder outside our window came Friday night as my husband was out on our deck grilling hamburgers for dinner.  I looked out and noticed what appeared to be all kinds of bugs flying around.  My husband came in and asked if I noticed them.  We soon realized it was a swarm of bees that had chosen our tree to start a hive in.  As we ate dinner, we were all full of wonders.  Some of the questions we asked were: How long does it take to build a hive?  Why did they choose our tree?  Where did they come from and why did they leave their previous hive? How far did they fly to reach our tree?  How far can they fly?  Why haven't we ever seen anything like this before?  What are we going to do about his?  We also discussed all kinds of funny ways to get rid of the bees too.

I was reminded of Wonder #51 What Do Bees Do in Winter? and read how they cluster together in the winter to protect the queen bee and to stay warm.  I also learned how long bees live and how much honey they produce.  

As we woke Saturday morning the swarm of bees was much tighter than the night before.  As we ate breakfast most of talking was about the cluster of bees and how we were going to get rid of them (seriously this time).  Around mid-morning I looked out the window and the bees were gone.  I wonder where the next stop on their journey was?

I encourage you to try the following:
  • Pick a window and take a few minutes to look outside with your students or family.
  • What do you see? (Make a list)
  • What are you thinking about what you see? 
  • What do you wonder about what you are seeing?
  • Have fun discussing and dialoguing about your observations and wonders.
Lots goes on right outside our windows, but rarely do we take the time to watch, think and wonder about it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wondering with Wonder #576 What Is A Homonym

Today was another long and rigorous day of testing.  After we were finished, we went to our favorite website Wonderopolis to explore the Wonder of the Day, What Is a Homonym?  We then reread a book from earlier this year called, If you were a Homonym or a Homophone by Nancy Loewen.  We also checked out a Homonym Word Bank that Wonderopolis suggested on their website.  Students paired themselves up and wrote a sentence with their homonyms and illustrated their sentences (similar to what was in the book).  

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