Sunday, July 29, 2012

Volunteering During Craft-a-Palooza Week

Last week during Wonderopolis' Camp What-a-Wonder "Craft-a-Palooza Week", we volunteered with at-risk children again.  Betsy shared Wonder of the Day #659, How Do Dream Catchers Catch Dreams? and the history of dream catchers.  We took supplies to make paper plate dream catchers as suggested in the "Try it out" section of the Wonder.  It was a wonderful way to end this summer's Camp What-a-Wonder.
I can't wait to show my second graders how to make these as an indoor recess activity this year!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Books for Camp What-a-Wonder "Craft-a-Palooza"

This week's theme for the Wonderopolis' Camp What-a-Wonder, is Craft-a-Palooza.  I found several books at my local library that combine nature and crafting.

Look What I Did With a Leaf by Morteza E. Sohi

This book is all about collecting leaves of different colors, sizes and shapes and creating art with those leaves.  Included is a a section that describes the different shape and sizes of leaves you will want to be sure to collect and what you might use them for.  In the back of the book is a "field guide" that tells where you can find certain leaves and what colors they turn in the fall.

I can't wait to use this book with Wonder #47 Why Do Leaves Change Color in Autumn?, go on a nature walk and collect many different sizes. shapes and colors of leaves and then create some art work.

Nature Crafts for Kids by Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst

There are some fantastic crafts and ideas for kids, using nature and natural resources for kids.  Some of my favorite ideas are, fish kites (p. 24), wild flower candles (p. 41) and a nature kaleidoscope (p. 58).  The nature kaleidoscope goes perfectly with Wonder #594 What Is a Kaleidoscope.

EcoArt! by Laurie Carlson

This is great book filled with arts and crafts made from natural resources or recycled materials.  Some of my favorites are a twig picture frame, a seed mosaic wreath and an animal track paperweight, which goes wonderfully with Wonder #479 Do All Animals Leave Tracks?.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder "Craft-A-Palooza" #WonderChat

This Thursday, July 26th from 7:00-8:00 PM EST will be Wonderopolis' Camp-What-A-Wonder virtual Campfire chat for "Craft-A-Palooza" week on Twitter.  The Campfire #WonderChat will feature Angela Daniels, The Guilty Crafter (Angela's blog, Cooking, Crafting and Cocktails) and Kathy Cano-Murillo, Crafty Chica.  Angela's video was also featured in Wonder of the Day #659, How Do Dream Catchers Catch.

The Campfire #WonderChat will center around easy crafts for the entire family.  Come ready to share crafts you have made with your family, favorite crafts, crafting with nature items and memories you have about camping and crafting.

Plan on joining Wonderopolis, Angela Daniels and Kathy Cano-Murillo for the last virtual Campfire chat of the summer from 7:00-8:00 PM EST, Thursday, July 26th on Twitter.  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Books for Camp What-A-Wonder "Creepy Crawling Critters"

This week's theme for Wonderopolis' Camp What-A-Wonder, is Creepy Crawling Critters, a.k.a bugs.  My fellow Wonder Lead, Jon Fines is the virtual camp counselor for this week's activities and events.  He has shared some wonderful post on his blog, including sharing bug books to build background knowledge.  Below are some additional books that I found at my local library to go along with this week's theme.

I Wonder Where Butterflies Go In Winter by Molly Marr
This book is organized with one question posed per two page spread about insects and then answered in more detail.  Each question and answer is complimented with illustrations.  Each page includes an "amazing but true" fact.  Some questions posed, What does it take to be an insect?, Is a caterpillar a worm?, Why do fireflies flicker? and How can a fly walk upside down?  

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner
This is a simple text all about bugs.  Insects included in the book are roly-poly bugs, ants and bees.  This would keep the attention of any toddler.

Bugs Up Close by Diane Swanson
This is a great book organized by the parts of a bug and up close actual photographs of those parts.  The text on each page tells what the body part is used for.  Also included on each page is a "buggy bit" about one of the photographs on the page.

1001 Bugs to Spot by Emma Helbrough
I like how this book gives the readers different kinds of bugs to locate in different habitats.  Some of the habitats include flower beds, rocky deserts and leafy woodlands.  The illustrations also show where in the habitat to look for the insects.

Backyard Detective Critters Up Close by Nic Bishop
Do your kids like I Spy books?  This book is for them.  On one page is a photograph (habitat) with creatures hidden throughout the picture.  On the next page is text and small photographs describing what was seen on the previous page.  What a fun way to spend a summer afternoon!  After you read the book, head out and look for some of the insects.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#CyberPD Opening Minds - Part 2

Thank you Jill Fisch at My Primary Passion for hosting this week's #CyberPD conversation about Peter Johnston's book, Opening Minds.

I made a couple of connections to the section titled, Uncertainty, Inquiry, and Meaning Making (p. 59).  "Most conversations about school work from the assumption that a curriculum is a bunch of certain facts to be efficiently delivered to the students, and that a teacher's problem is to deliver the true facts so that they stick, are well organized, and can be assessed" (p. 59).  When thinking about this quote, my mind immediately began thinking about the current testing climate in schools.  I feel like as long as student learning is based on a test, then to some degree "teaching to the test" is going to take place.  In doing so, often times teachers are delivering facts only for the test and to improve test scores, not for the  good of students.

A second connection I had to the section came from the following quotes, "The unfortunate problem with facts is  they are generally inert and thus uninteresting" (p. 59).  "it's true we find unusual facts interesting...."(p. 59) "But the reason these facts are interesting is that they raise so many new questions" (p. 59).  I began thinking about Wonderopolis.  Kids seem to be naturally drawn to the website and remember so many facts, because the Wonders posed are of high interest to them.  I then thought about many of the great discussions we had last year after reading over the Wonders.  The discussions were usually centered around questions the students had about the Wonders.  Often times while reading over the Wonder, students would blurt out new questions and wonders.

On a side note, I have downloaded Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to my Kindle.  It is a great companion to Opening Minds.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder "Creepy Crawling Critters" #WonderChat

Please join Wonderopolis, Family Counselor, Jon Fines and expert Zach Slavin for this week's Camp What-A-Wonder virtual campfire #WonderChat.  Jon Fines (@WonderLeadJon) is a kindergarten teacher in Missoula, Montana.  Zach Slavin is from Audobon's and Toyota's togethergreen.

We will be discussing "Creepy Crawling Critters" this Thursday, July 19th from 7:00-8:00 PM EST on Twitter.  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.

To get you in the spirit my daughter, Betsy made a little video looking for creepy crawling critters in the woods behind our house.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder: A Visit to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Have you ever heard of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams?  If you haven't, you probably will be sometime soon.  According to U.S. News Travel, Jeni's is America's number one best ice cream.  Recently we were luckily to tour Jeni's ice cream sandwich kitchen.  Jeni was a gracious Camp What-A-Wonder Campfire Cooking expert and Pete and Jake (ice cream chefs) were gracious hosts on a WONDERful tour.  We watched her staff making oatmeal cream ice cream sandwiches (my favorite) and hand piped orchid vanilla ice cream sandwiches (everyone else in my families favorite).  We were amazed at the care, attention and pure art work that went into making such yummy treats.
As we toured a surprisingly small kitchen area, we learned some very interesting things about Jeni, her team and her ice cream:
Betsy wondered where Jeni gets her inspiration from.  We learned:
  • Jeni gets her inspiration often from one ingredient and goes from there.  She compared getting her inspiration to a writer getting an idea and making a web and going from there.
  • She can always get inspiration from the library.  She said that if she goes into any library, picks out any book and reads almost any sentence, she could find inspiration for ice cream. 
Betsy wondered how Jeni would describe herself.  We learned:
  • Jeni is a forward thinking person.  She doesn't look back.  She commented that she expects to make mistakes and mess up.
Ben wondered what was the worst flavor she made:
  • Her worst ice cream creation was smoked bananas.  She said it looked and tasted like turpentine.
Some interesting facts we learned along the way:
  • Jeni's ice cream sandwich kitchen makes about 10,000 sandwiches a week.  Keep in mind these are all made by hand.  It was amazing watching her staff hand pipe the orchid vanilla ice cream sandwiches.
  • Jeni believes that the ice cream ambassadors (the scoopers in the shops) are the pin point in an inverted triangle, makes the connection with the customers and leads to everything else.
  • Jeni's ice cream sandwiches are featured in this month's O magazine.
  • Jeni buys her fairly traded vanilla beans from a small farm in Uganda.
  • Jeni won a James Beard Award for her cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

After our tour, we went to dinner while Jeni set up a special treat for us.  My children were fortunate to get to make ice cream in Jeni's test kitchen with several other families participating during a virtual Camp What-A-Wonder Campfire Chat google+ hangout.  I can't think of a more memorable or wonderful way to spend a Friday night!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Opening Minds #cyberPD Part 1

Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston
 Part 1

Before I begin my reflection about Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston, I would like to thank Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community for hosting this week's #cyberPD, Jill Fisch (@jillfisch) at My Primary Passion who will be hosting July 18th (chapters 4-6) and finally Laura Komos (@Komos72) at Our Camp Read-A-Lot who will be hosting July 25th (Chapters 7-9).

Chapter 1
Page 7
On page seven there is a cartoon with the caption, "Honey, when you grow up I want you to be assertive, independent and strong-willed.  But while you're a kid, I want you to be passive pliable and obedient."

When I saw/read this, I immediately thought of my own daughter and how important it is that she doesn't get a teacher that thinks this way.  She is and always has been a very assertive, out spoken and sometimes demanding child.  Some day, this personality will get her far, but not in elementary school.  Often times this is the kind of personality that drives teachers crazy and gets on their last nerve.  This was a great reminder that we all need to respect, value, appreciate and nurture all personality types and traits.

Page 6-7
"We open our mouths and our parents or our previous teachers come out.  Changing our talk requires gaining a sense of what we are doing, our options, their consequences, and why we make the choices we make."

How often does this happen has educators.  It is easier to practice what has been ingrained into us than to venture out of our comfort zone.  As a parent and an educator, I want to do better.  The key for me to doing better and changing is reading, reflection on what I am doing based on what I have read and making the needed changes.

Page 7
I loved this quote that ended the chapter:
"Make no mistake, when we are teaching for today, we are teaching into tomorrow."

Chapter 2
Chapter two was spent discussing dynamic-learning frame verses a fixed-performance frame.  I spent much of the chapter reflecting on me as a person and an educator and what kind of frame I have.  I found myself thinking of instances where I would consider myself both.

I really found the three major points of influence for helping children develop dynamic-learning framework useful:
  • "what we choose to say when children are successful or unsuccessful at something--when we give children feedback or praise" (p. 18)
  • "the way we frame activities" (p. 18)
  • "what we explicitly teach children about how people's brains and minds work" (p. 18)
A final take-away from chapter two is something that I look forward to saying to parents at our Curriculum Night.  I plan on sharing that second graders, like everyone make mistakes.  We will not be concentrating on what the mistake is, but what can be learned and what can be done differently.  In the throws of the day this is something I need to remind myself too.  I know at times, I find myself concentrating on what a student did, not on a learning experience that they can take-away from.

Chapter 3
Throughout chapter three, I kept thinking about the importance of guiding children through questions.  The questions I ask and how I phrase them is important in promoting students to take on a dynamic-learning framework.  In addition, by guiding children through questioning, they are naturally engaged in discovery, analyzing and thinking about what they are doing and what they can change to become better.

Here are some key questions/phrases I took away in the chapter:

  • How did you do that?
  • How did you know that?
  • How could we figure that out?
  • What are you thinking?
  • Thanks for teaching us....
"Asking children, "How did you do that?" gives them a reason to retrace their steps in accomplishing something" (p. 32).

A final thought:
Already, this book is transforming the way I look at what I am doing and how I can change and implement those changes into the talk in my classroom.  I look forward to continue reading to help guide my thinking and change.

Camp What-A-Wonder "Campfire Cooking" - Puppy Chow

This week Wonderopolis' Camp What-A-Wonder continues with Campfire Cooking.  Ben and Betsy made a family favorite treat, Puppy Chow.  It is also called Muddy Buddies Mix.  In this episode, our dog Sally even got in on the action.

Be sure to join the virtual campfire #WonderChat Thursday, July 12th from 7:00-8:00 to share some of your family favorite campfire cooking, snacks and treats!

Recipe for Puppy Chow

9 cups Rice Chex, Corn Chex or Chocolate Chex cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Put cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
2.  In a medium size sauce pan, melt and mix chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter and then add vanilla.  Pour over cereal until evenly coated.
3.  Put coated cereal in powdered sugar in large zip lock bag and shake.  Lay out on wax paper until dry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Books for Camp What-A-Wonder Campfire Cooking

The theme this week for Wonderopolis' Camp What-A-Wonder is Campfire Cooking.  In preparing for this week's virtual campfire #WonderChat about "campfire cooking," I found some wonderful books with campfire treats in them.  Once again, all of these books were found at my local library.
S'mores Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion by Lisa Adams
If you like s'mores then this book is for you.  Every recipe includes one important s'more ingredient, marshmallows.  Not only does this book have great recipes, but most recipes have a photograph of the food which will have your mouth watering.  The two that I can't wait to try making are Banana Caramel (Hershey's Caramel Kisses, graham cracker, marshmallow and banana slices) and the picture on the cover, Cookie Dough (a marshmallow, 2 soft chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip cookie dough).  Yum! Yum!

Kids Camp! Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness by Laurie Carlson
Wether you are camping in your backyard or in the wilderness, this book would be a wonderful addition.  The book isn't completely devoted to campfire foods, but there is plenty of yummy sound recipes like, Apple Pocket Pies.  

The Campfire Book by Jane Drake and Ann Love
This book has much more than campfire foods.  The book includes many games to play around the campfire and some wonderful campfire songs, including a section on "jazzing up a sing-along.  There is also a section on "family stories" and ideas for story starters.  This would be a great book for any family camping trip or campfire.
Cooking on a Stick Campfire Recipes for Kids by Linda White
This book includes some great recipes with really fun titles such as, Honey Bear's Delight or Wh-o-o's  Chili.  In addition to child friendly recipes, the book includes some hints to campers such as, what to do if you forget your utensils.

Camp Out! from the Backyard to the Backwoods by Lynn Brunelle
This book covers many camping topics, but chapter 3 is titled, Good Grub Fun Food for Hungry Campfolk.  There are recipes and directions for making such things as Stew for a Crew and Breakfast in a Bag.  My favorite is "Kick-the-Can Ice Cream."  This ice cream is made with a small and large coffee can.  This would be fun to make with kids whether you are camping or not.  

Toasting Marshmallows Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George
The poems in this book would be great to share when sitting around a campfire.  All of the poems are around the "camping" theme. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder "Campfire Cooking" #WonderChat

Please join Wonderopolis and my family this Thursday, July 12th at 7:00 PM EST for this week's Camp What-A-Wonder virtual campfire #WonderChat via Twitter.  The theme this week will center around "campfire cooking".  Do you have a family favorite camping recipe, a treat or a snack you make for camping or a backyard campfire? Come share it with other #WonderChat participants.

Plan on joining Campfire #WonderChat Thursday from 7-8 PM EST.  Don't forget to use and follow the hashtag #WonderChat.

To get you in the spirit for this week's Campfire #WonderChat, check out the Campfire Podcast and Activity.

Camp What-A-Wonder - "Campfire Cooking" - Buckeyes

This week the theme for Wonderopolis' Camp What-A-Wonder is, Campfire Cooking.  Betsy loves to cook and make movies.  Her movie is featured on this week's Wonder of Day, #645 What Is a Chuckwagon?  It seemed only natural for her to make movies of her (and Ben) cooking some great campfire treats.  Below is the first in several of a series called, Campfire Cooking with Betsy.  What are some of you favorite campfire treats?

The recipe for Buckeyes:
(Betsy cut the recipe in 1/2 as she said in the video.)

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, soffened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups confectioner sugar
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1.  In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, vanilla and sugar.  Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
2.  Press a toothpick into the top of each ball.  Put into the freezer for about 30 minutes.
3.  Melt chocolate chips.
4.  Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate.  Leave small portion of peanut butter showing, so they look like real buckeyes.  Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.

In case you were wondering.....  
Here is what a buckeye nut looks like.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder Read Alouds

If you are following Wonderopolis' virtual Camp What-A-Wonder, here is a list of picture books (one is a beginning chapter book) to go along with the camp/camping theme.  All of these books were found at my local library.

Camping by Nancy Hundal

The family of this book dreams of going on some wonderful vacations, but because "money is scarce" they go camping instead.  I love the description in both the illustrations and words in this book.

The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock

This is a great story about how President Theodore Roosevelt went camping with naturalist John Muir.  During the camping trip John Muir tried to convince the president to help protect the land. Thus changing America by establishing the National Parks.

The Graves Family Goes Camping by Patricia Polacco

This is a funny tale about the Graves family and their camping trip.  While on the trip, they encounter a dragon who loves their Jum Jills.  They try many things to leave the dragon behind at their campsite, but it ends up following them home.

When I Go Camping with Grandma by Marion Dane Bauer

I love the connection between the grandma and girl in this story.  Anyone who has a special grandma can connect to their relationship.  I can't imagine anything more special than camping with grandma.

Stella and Roy Go Camping by Ashley Wolff

Stella and Roy spend their day looking for bear tracks.  Each time they find a track, Roy thinks it's a bear track.  Stella is quick to set him straight with her animal track book.  While they sleep, a bear does enter their camp and Roy chases it away.

When Daddy Took Us Camping by Julie Brillhart

A simple story about a dad who takes his two children camping.  At the end of the story you find out that the camping trip was actually in their own backyard.

Molly and Emmett's Camping Adventure by Marylin Hafner

This is one story in a series of Molly and Emmett books.  The story is about Molly and a cat named, Emmett who decided to camp in the backyard.  After they have brought just about everything from the house outside, it begins to rain.

Pinky and Rex Go to Camp by James Howe

A charming beginning chapter book about Pinky and Rex.  Pinky doesn't want to go to camp and writes a letter to the local newspaper advice columnist about his problem.  Kids will certainly be able to relate to Pinky's fears.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Camp What-A-Wonder "Spooky Stories" #WonderChat

This Thursday, July 5th from 7:00-8:00 PM will be a virtual Campfire chat for "Spooky Stories" week of Camp What-A-Wonder.  The Campfire #WonderChat will feature husband and wife team Monica Holloway as the Camp Counselor and writing expert Michael Price.  Monica Holloway is the author of two memoirs, Driving with Dead People and Cowboy and Wills.  She is also a literacy advocate and Board Member for NCFL.  Micheal Price is a Co-Executive Producer and writer for The Simpsons and wrote Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.  He is also a Board Member for NCFL.

The Campfire #WonderChat will center around Spooky Stories.  Come ready to share your favorite parts of a spooky story, how to engage your family/children in imagination and share stories that you tell around a campfire.

Plan on joining the Campfire #WonderChat from 7:00-8:00 PM, Thursday, July 5th.  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.

Looking forward to hearing some spook-tastic stories!

Monday, July 2, 2012

WONDERful Spooky Stories for Kids - Camp What-A-Wonder

Each week during Wonderopolis' Camp What-A-Wonder, I will be sharing kid friendly books to go along with the theme.  This week's theme is, "Spooky Stories".  The books this week range from picture books, easy readers, short stories and chapter books.  I found all of the books at my local library.  I encourage you to visit your library and check out a few for a Spook-tastic "Spooky Stories" Week!

Spooky ABC
by Eve Merriam and Lane Smith
Each letter of the alphabet is given a scary word and then a scary poem is written using that word.  

Spooky Hour
by Tony Mitton
This is a fun easy rhyming book that kids of all ages would enjoy reading with lots of spooking noises like, "clickety clack and snickety snack".

The Spooky Book
by Steve Patschke
This is a deep picture book about a by named Andrew reading a spooky book about a girl named Zo Zo reading a spooky book.  They are both reading spooky books about each other.  This is a great book for wondering and engaging children in a deep discussion.

The Spooky Eerie Night Noise
by Mona Rabun Reeves
The book is about a little girl and all the things she imagines in her backyard when she hears a spook noise.  There is quite the surprise at the end of the story as to what the noise was.  The story goes perfectly with Wonder #638 Why Do You Get Goose Bumps?.  In the middle of the story the little girl says, "I feel goose bumps on my skin.  I hear that spooky sound again!"

Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom
by Erik Brooks
This is a great story about a red headed boy named, Octavius.  He solves a mystery that all of the kids at his new school are afraid to solve.  

Don't Go Near the Water! (Easy-To-Read Spooky Tales Series)
by Veronika Martenova Charles
There are five "Don't Go" books in the series.  The series is about three boys.  Each boy tells a "scary story" and that relate to the "real scary story" in the book.  The author tells some information about where the boys' stories came from (mostly from legends and folktales).

The following three books are collections of short stories.
                Seriously Spooky Stories    Scared Witless Thirteen Eerie Tales to Tell 
              Compiled by Chris Powling        by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss
Spooky Stories For a Dark and Stormy Night
Complied by Alice Low

Magic Tree House #30 Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
by Mary Pope Osborne
In this Magic Tree House, Annie and Jack spend their Halloween going back to Camelot.

The Case of the Spooky Sleepover
by James Preller
Jigsaw's friend Ralphie thinks he has a ghost in his house.  Jigsaw is happy to take on the mystery.  They have a sleepover at Ralphie's house to solve the case.

Spooky Wolf Spiders
by Meish Goldish
What's spookier than a real life wolf spider?  The photographs in this book help show the reader many interesting facts about this type of spider.

Spooky Jokes
by Joseph Resenbloom
Kids will love sharing these spooky jokes with everyone.  They are easy to read and great for practicing fluency.