Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day Related Wonders

While there are many winter related Wonders at Wonderopolis, I'd like to share some of the snowy related Wonders.  What's better than spending a snowy day wondering about weather and snow?  These Wonders would be great to share before an impending snow, with your class via social media when they have a snow day off of school, or upon the return from a day off of school because of snow.

#79 Why Are All Snowflakes Different? (Lisa Kincer-@KincerLisa suggests using black construction to catch and observe snowflakes)

#97 What's the Difference Between Snow, Sleet and Freezing Rain?

#103 Why Is Sand or Salt Put On Roads When It Snows?

#437 How Are Sleds and Sleights Different?

#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day? (great for graphing or a writing prompt)

#479 Do All Animals Leave Tracks?

#481 Where Is the Coldest Place on Earth?

#494 Why Is Ice Slippery?

#534 Do All Mountains Wear Snowcaps?

#769 What Causes an Avalanche?

#799 What Is a Cold Front?

#814 Can It Snow When It's Not Cold?

#839 What's So Special About Snow Tires?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

November Wonderopolis #WonderChat

In celebration of Family Literacy month, we are excited to have Peter H. Reynolds as a special guest host for the November Wonderopolis #WonderChat.  The chat will take place Monday, November 4th from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  We will be discussing what a WONDERful and wonder-filled classroom looks like and how to inspire students to wonder and write.  In addition, Peter will be sharing how to inspire and nurture innovation and creativity in ALL learners.

Peter's books The Dot, Ish, Rose's Garden, I'm Here, So Few of Me, The North Star, Sky color, and his latest book The Smallest Gift of Christmas, inspire children and "grown up children" with his messages about authentic learning, creativity, bravery, empathy, and courageous self-expression.

Peter also inspires teachers and students from around the world to "make your mark" by participating in International Dot Day.  This year's Dot Day had over 1.3 million participants in over 84 countries.

To help inspire educators and school leaders, Peter and his twin brother Paul, launched the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC).  The center is a not-for-profit organization that encourages creativity in innovation in teaching and learning.  It is dedicated to ensuring that all learners develop the vision of confidence, knowledge, and skills needed to move their own lives forward, and to use their talents, strengths, and energy to move their communities and the world to better place.

We look forward to having Peter share his vast knowledge Monday, November 4th at 8:00 PM and look forward to you joining the conversation!  Be sure to use the hashtag #WonderChat!

"I'm optimistic about a future where all children are encouraged to navigate their true potential.  We have to be creative in the ways we reach all learners -- to help them find their voice, be brave about expressing it, and be inspired to use their gifts to 'make their mark.'"  --Peter Reynolds

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wonder Literacy Bags

I noticed last year that I had lots of nonfiction books and magazines that really were not being read or even looked at during reading workshop.  I tried a variety of ways to increase their use, but only a few high interest books and magazines were read on a regular basis.  In order to have the books read more frequently I decided to apply for a grant from the National Center for Family Literacy for $500.00 to create take home Wonder Literacy Bags for children to share with their families.

I spent last summer gathering many of my nonfiction books and magazines.  I then organized them into themes.  After establishing the themes, I pulled in some fiction books that also went with the themes.   Finally, I spent time researching Wonders at Wonderopolis to incorporate into the bags.  I spent the $500.00 on plastic page protectors for the Wonders and to purchase books to fill in holes.  Originally I was going to use much of the money on the bags themselves, but I was fortunate enough to have bags donated.
Each bag consists of three to eight books and magazines and one to five Wonders.  The books are on a different levels.  The magazines are Zoobooks, My Big Backyard, and Ranger Rick.  Originally I was concerned about the readability of the books, but in the letter to parents I stated that many of the books and Wonders may be too difficult for students to read.  I encouraged this to be a family learning experience where parents may need to read the materials to their children. I shared different ways parents could encourage their children to "read" the books.  As the year has progressed, and we have spent more time with nonfiction, students have had experience reading nonfiction texts in different ways.  Also, I encouraged families to visit the Wonders together.  Children can also listen to the Wonders being read to them if they have internet access at home.

Another component to the Wonder Literacy Bags is to have children digitally write about what they read, learned, and are still wonder about after reading from the bags.  They blog at our class Kidblog site.  If they don't have internet access at home, they were given a journal to write their learning and wonders in, and then they blog at school (this has been a bit slow, because I don't have the time to devote to help these students at school). 

Students often come in excited to share their learning with the class.  When we are having a class discussion, we often have experts about the topic because of something they learned from one of the bags.  Friday is our "switch day" and the students are always excited to pick a new bag.  I often hear things like, "where's the parrot bag?" or "who has the snake bag, because I want it next?"
I have approximately 35 bags for 27 students.  This allows for students who forget to bring their bag back and allows students to choice their own bag each week, rather than one being assigned to them.  Some of the bag topics are:
  • trees
  • snakes
  • bats
  • lizards
  • bears
  • birds 
  • animals that hop
  • elephants
  • giraffes
  • baby animals
  • farm animals
  • saving the earth
  • plants
  • volcanoes
  • American symbols
  • fish
  • ocean life
  • maps
  • fairy tales
  • bees
  • insects
  • rain forest
  • alphabet

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wonders to Use With Writing Workshop

Below are Wonders from Wonderopolis that will support different kinds of writing you may do in your classroom.  Some of the Wonders could be used as a mentor text for writing that kind of piece, others help explain a particular kind of writing, and some could be a springboard for that particular kind of writing.

Letter Writing
#58 What Is a Letter Writing Campaign?
#468 Do You Need a Pen To Have a Pen Pal?

#58 What Is a Letter Writing Campaign?
#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day?
#467 How Can Video Games Be Good For You?
#989 What's Your Favorite Type of Donut?

#44 What Is a Biography?
#75 Who Were the Wright Brothers?
#106 Who Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
#143 Who Was George Washington Carver?
#993 Who Was Jim Henson?

#248 How Are Dolphins and Porpoises Different?
#579 How Are Ponies and Horses Different?
#618 How Are Knitting and Crocheting Different?
#685 What's the Difference Between Canoes and Kayaks?

See my previous posts:
Using Wonderopolis to Write Found Poetry
Wonders for National Poetry Month

Figurative Language
See my previous post:
Using Wonderopolis to Help Teach Figurative Language

#301 How Do You Make a Friendship Bracelet?
#742 How Do You Train a Dolphin?
#759 How Do You Make a Monster?
#867 What Should You Do in Case of a Fire?

How Something Works
#309 How Does an Eraser Work?
#595 How Does a Hovercraft Work?
#675 How Does Scratch and Sniff Work?
#786 How Do Things Glow in the Dark?
#954 How Does a Doorbell Work?

#1 Why Are Flamingos Pink?
#257 Why Is the Statue of Liberty Green?
#274 Who Made the American Flag?
#788 Why Do We Need Eyelashes?
#973 What Is a Prairie?

#269 Why Do They Call It a "Tall Tale"?
#662 When Does Nonfiction Become Fiction?
#691 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
#727 What's Your Favorite Fable?
#912 Can Fairy Tales Be True?
#981 What Is an Urban Legend?

Parts of Speech
#761 Can a Word Be Both a Noun and a Verb?

#294 Why Do We Use Different Words For the Same Thing?
#413 What Do You Call More Than One Moose?
#750 What Are Spoonerisms?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday, Wonderopolis

We spent time today celebrating Wonderopolis' 3rd birthday, and all of the wonderful things we have learned from visiting Wonderopolis each morning. 

Sorry for the poor camera skills.

Happy third birthday, Wonderopolis!  Looking forward to many more years of wondering, discovering, and learning along with you!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wonderopolis #WonderChat 2013-2014 Schedule

Below are the dates and topics for the 2013-2014 Wonderopolis #WonderChat on Twitter.  The chats are held the first Monday of each month from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  If you use Wonderopolis in your classroom or at home, feel free to join the conversation, share ideas, and ask questions.

October 7th – Using Wonderopolis and Wonder to promote writing, including using Wonderopolis as a mentor text.

November 4th – Peter H. Reynolds, award-winning author and illustrator will be a special guest host in celebration of Family Literacy Month.  We will be discussing what a WONDERful and wonder-filled classroom looks like and how to inspire students to wonder and write.

December 2nd – Using Wonder and Wonderopolis to connect home and school.

January 6th – Using Wonderopolis as a nonfiction text and other “wonder” nonfiction texts to help meet Common Core State Standards.

February 3rd – Using Wonderopolis in science and social studies.

March 3rd – Everything Wonder, including using Wonder Walls and Wonder Wednesday to promote student learning.

April 7th –  We will be discussing Wonder and Poetry for National Poetry Month.

May 5th – Using Wonderopolis to build background knowledge and vocabulary.

June 2nd – Extending wonder into summer learning.

The dates and topics listed above are a guideline for the monthly chats.  The dates and topics may change throughout the year.  We will publicize any changes throughout the year via Twitter and Facebook prior to the chat.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wonders to Share in September

Below is a list of "holidays" and Wonders from Wonderopolis for the month of September that you may want to use in your classroom.  If you are using or planning on using Wonderopolis in your classroom be sure to join the September #WonderChat Monday, September 2nd at 8:00 PM EST.

Labor Day (September 2nd)
#337 Why Don't We Work On Labor Day?

Rosh Hashanah (September 4th)
#361 What Is Rosh Hashanah?

Grandparents Day (September 8th)
#347 Who Is Your Abuela?
#6 Why Does Hair Turn Gray?
#1038 Why Do People Go Bald?
#339 Where Do Wrinkles Come From?

Teddy Bear Day (September 9th)
#36 How Did the Teddy Bear Get Its Name?

National Video Games Day (September 12th)
#467 How Can Video Games Be Good for You?

Friday the 13th (September 13th)
#375 Do You Think 13 Is Unlucky?

International Dot Day (September 15th ish)
#904 What Is Pointillism?
#384 Do Polka Dots Dance?

National Play Doh Day (September 16th)
#582 Who Invented Play Dough?

International Peace Day (September 21st)
#1020 What Is the Nobel Peace Prize?
#693 What Is the Peace Corps?

Native American Day (September 27th)
#407 What Does It Mean To Be a Native American?

Monday, August 26, 2013

September 2013 #WonderChat

Mark your calendars for Wonderopolis #WonderChat Monday, September 2nd at 8:00 PM EST.  The first Twitter chat of the 2013-2014 school year will focus on starting the year with wonder and Wonderopolis in the classroom.  If you are using or planning on using Wonderopolis in your classroom, come share your ideas and join in the conversation!  Don't forget to use the hashtag #WonderChat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How Will You 'Make Your Mark' This Year?

I will be reading Peter Reynolds book, The Dot to my 2nd graders on Monday, the first day of school.  In case you are not familiar with the book, the underlying theme of the book is 'make your mark.'  We will be spending time talking about how we can use our gifts and talents to 'make our mark' in 2nd grade.

While preparing for the start of school next week, I began thinking about the theme of this book and how I can use my gifts to 'make my mark' with students, parents and colleagues this year.  I found myself asking questions like, what can I do to let students, parents and colleagues know that I care, what can I do to be the teacher that makes the difference, and what's holding me back from 'making my mark'?

How will you 'make your mark' this year?  What gifts and talents will you be using to 'make your mark'? How will you encourage your students to use their gifts to 'make their mark'?

"I am optimistic about a future where all children are encouraged to navigate their true potential.  We have to be creative in the ways we read all learners -- to help them find their voice, be brave about expressing it, and be inspired to use their gifts to 'make their mark.'" --Peter H. Reynolds

Saturday, August 10, 2013

#pb10for10 2013

Thank you Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace for organizing the 4th annual #pb10for10.  I look forward to this event each summer.  It helps to build my excitement for the coming school year.

Several years ago at the All Write! Conference I heard  Katie Wood Ray speak.  She asked the audience to think about books.  She asked us what books we have that we can use over and over again for different purposes.  These will be my "go to" books this year.  
Earrings by Judith Viorst
I used this book last year as mentor text with our persuasive writing unit.  I love all the reasons the girl in the book gives for getting her ears pierced. 

Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
This is a series of poems that tell a story about the forest.  Along with Amy's website The Poem Farm, I will be using the book as a mentor text for writing different kinds of poetry.  I've also been reflecting on  exposing my students to more books about nature and using nature observations for writing.  We will be having some discussions about this using the poems in Amy's book.

Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller
I love how this book compares trees to humans, often using similes.  I will be using this book in science and as a mentor text when talking about similes and patterns in text.

Fly Free! by Roseanne Thong
This is a Vietnamese tale about a girl who wanted to set sparrows free, but doesn't have enough money.  She does a nice dead that is paid forward until it comes back to the girl when a man sets the sparrows free.  I will use the book at the beginning of the year to talk about "paying it forward"  I will also use it to discuss repeated phrases in text.  The phrase, "Fly free, fly free in the sky so blue.  When you do a good deed, it will com back to you." is after each act of kindness is finished.  I will also use it talk about adding details to text or showing, not just telling.  One example from the book is "The shoes were the rich, read color of pomegranates".

Hello!  Hello! by Matthew Cordell
This is a great book about what happens when a girl gives up her electronics and explores outside.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
I will be using this book at the beginning of the year to discuss how students can make their own "mark".  We will also be participating in International Dot Day on September 15thish. 

Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack
This is a great book for reading and writing.  I use it when talking about personal narratives, adding details and word choice.  It is also a great story to use when talking about setting.  Kids love discussing how the illustrations give us evidence about the setting.
The Okay Book by Todd Parr
I use this book to talk about differences and that our differences are "okay".  Even 2nd graders can appreciate the simple text.  We also Skye with Todd Parr at the beginning of the year.  He does a wonderful Skype where he talks about how he gets his ideas for his books.  He Skypes from his studio and his dogs even make an appearance.

Another great book about being ourselves that I will share at the beginning of the year to help build community in the classroom.  I will also be revisiting this book on Dot Day!

Rain School by James Rumford
I found this book while browsing last year at my local library.  I shared it with my class and they loved it.  The book is about students in Chad, Africa who build their school only to have it destroyed when the rains come.  I wish I had taped the discussion my class had about this book last year after reading it. I'm excited to share it with another group of 2nd graders this year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wonders and Books About Reading and Books

August 9th is Book Lover's Day.  Below are reading and book related Wonders at Wonderopolis and my ten favorite picture books about reading and books.  Both the Wonders and the books would be great addition to reading workshop throughout the year.

#44 What Is a Biography?
#150 Who Was Theodor Geisel?
#211 How Are Books Made?
#226 How Can You Become a Better Reader?
#254 Why Don't All Books Have Pictures?
#340 How Many Different Ways Can You Read?
#577 Are You a Bookworm?
#611 Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?
#662 When Does Nonfiction Become Fiction?
#889 What Is a Genre?
#924 What Can You Discover at the Library?

The Best Books to Read by Debbie Bertram

Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley

 The Best Place to Read by Debbie Bertram

 Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr

 Born to Read by Judy Sierra

 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

How Rocket Learn to Read by Tad Hills

 Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? #CyberPD - Part 3

Thank you Cathy at Reflect and Refine, Jill at My Primary Passion and this week's host Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing this summer's #cyberPD and a wonderful summer of learning.

After finishing November's book, I have been spending time reflecting on how I can realistically implement some of my learning into my second grade classroom.  Below are two ways I hope to apply the learning from this book and the take aways from the #cyberPD group.  I'm sure there will be other ideas I implement, but these are the two I will start the year off with.

At the beginning of each year I interview my students about their reading and writing.  I gain information about my student's reading and writing interests, abilities and what they think their strengths and weaknesses are.  I plan on adding questions to try and gain information about what students see themselves as experts in.  I then hope to pair students up to create tutorials about their expertise.  This will help them gain experience in creating tutorials with a topic they feel comfortable with before creating future classroom tutorials.

I'm in the process of creating literacy take-home bags.  Each bag will have a theme (ex. spiders).  Inside the bag will be Wonders from Wonderopolis and fiction and nonfiction books.  Originally I planned on having each child have a wonder journal to record their thinking, learning and wonders in throughout the week they have the bag at home.  After reading Novembers book, I am going to create a blog or page on our class blog where students can blog about their learning.  I'm going to encourage students, parents and families to leave comments on other's postings too.  Students who don't have internet access at home can use a wonder journal and then blog at school.  In addition, I'm going to have a parent/student night at school to go over expectations and explain everything.  I will be sharing more about this in later posts.

I'm excited for the final #cyberPD chat, this Monday, July 22nd at 8:00 PM EST on Twitter.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Can You Build With a Cardboard Box?

What do you get when you take cardboard boxes, many kids and adults, and kids who think outside of the box?  A cardboard boat regatta and fun family memories!  Betsy spent Friday and Saturday creating a boat out of an old moving box and duct tape.  She named her boat "S.S. Lucky Charms."  While Betsy's boat didn't even make it out of the gate, she did win "best decorated" boat.  
Even if you don't have a boat race to participate in, kids love building with boxes.  Give your children an old cardboard box and some duct tape and see what they can create!  Be sure to check out this week's Camp What-A-Wonder at Wonderopolis for more ways to "unlock your inner inventor!" 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thinking About "He Was Me" by Peter H. Reynolds

The other day I was reading my Twitter feed and someone tweeted the video below by Peter H. Reynolds.

I began thinking about how this applies to teachers and parents.  How often do we let our own inner child out?  How often do we bury our own questions, wonders and excitement?  Do we spend enough time modeling and sharing these experiences with our children?

I also began thinking about what opens or awakens my own inner child, excitement and wonder.  Things like riding a fast roller coaster, riding my bike down a big hill, seeing a shooting star, or seeing a sea turtle while snorkeling are all things that have awakened my inner child. 

What awakens your inner child?  What gets you excited and wondering?  How can you share this with your students or children?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? #CyberPD - Part Two

Thank you Jill at My Primary Passion for hosting #cyberPD this week and Cathy at Reflect and Refine and Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing.

Chapter Three - The Students as Scribe
When I began reading this chapter, my initial thought was that second grade students can't possibly be a scribe.  For some reason I was thinking of the jr. high and high school classroom where students take notes.  As I read the chapter my thinking quickly changed about how I can use a scribe in my classroom.  I envision having a student recored or jot down learning gained from a mini-lesson in reading, writing or math, or about a science experiment or a concept we are studying in social studies and then create a blog post for our class website.  The student can also be in charge of taking pictures or creating content to go along with the post.  This will be a great way to engage second graders, evaluate understanding and share with parents what is going on in the classroom from their children's perspective.

According to November (2012), "we all know that learning opportunities are never limited to a single time and space, so we have to be prepared to apply our "learner's mind" throughout our lives" (p. 43).  I  read and reread this quote, because this is really what we are trying to instill in our students.  While reading and rereading this quote, I was reminded of something I heard Paul Hankins say about wonder.  He said that kids in elementary school are natural wonderers, kids in middle school need their wonder nurtured and by high school they need to be nudged to wonder.

Chapter Four - The Student as Researcher
While reading this chapter, I immediately began thinking about how I can incorporate a daily researcher into my classroom routine.  Second graders will love being a researcher for the day and finding answers to questions that always seem to arise during the day.

Another important take away from this chapter was the importance of teaching students how to accurately search online.  Second grade is a perfect age to lay the foundation for teaching how to search and assessing the information and source.  According to November (2012) "because children at very young ages are learning to search for and access online information, teaching them how to assess the validity of that material is an essential task for educators today" (p. 57).  I look forward to the conversations we will be having in second grade as we discuss the validity of websites while we research.

As I continue reading the book and the blog posts of those participating in this year's #cyberPD, I look forward to the changes that I will be making in my classroom to help my students own their learning.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Phillips Family Goes Zip Lining - A Fun Way to Travel

Today's "Take 3 Minutes to Wonder" today at Camp What-A-Wonder asks, "What is the most fun way you have traveled?  Why was it fun?  How fast or slow were you traveling?"

The most fun way we have traveled as family was through the air, zip lining in Belize.  During a trip over spring break we decided to go on a zip line adventure in Belize.  I've always wanted to zip line.  I must admit there is nothing like climbing through the rainforest and then zip lining in the canopy and understory to end back on the forest floor.  It was breath taking and we would love to do it again some day.

Be sure to check out Wonder  #817 How Fast Can You Zip Through the Air? and learn more about zip lining!

Spend some time as a family today thinking and discussing fun ways your family has traveled?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#CyberPD Who Owns the Learning? (Chapters 1 and 2)

As I read the introduction and chapters one and two of Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November, I began thinking about what I've already done in my 2nd grade classroom to help my students own their learning and what I can do to try and make the shift without overwhelming myself next year.  I also found myself thinking about my own two children and their lack of ownership in their learning, especially involving technology (Digital Learning Farm model).

Beyond the digital learning aspect of this book, I found myself thinking and reflecting about how I can help to empower my students to intrinsically motivate themselves to direct their own learning.  How can we create this environment in our classrooms for students to want to read, write, problem solve and collaborate without me as the teacher being at the forefront of the learning.  How can I help my students learn how to learn and want to do this on their own?

At the end of chapter two November asks us to name specific lessons or topics that would be suited for student tutorials.  I've been pondering this and came up with a few ideas:

  • student tutorials on different math strategies (i.e. solving double digit addition and subtraction problems)
  • student tutorials on different reading strategies (i.e. what to do when you don't know what a word means while reading or how to figure out the main idea of a text)
  • student tutorials on different writing strategies (i.e. what to do when you can't think of anything to write about or how to find and choose interesting words for writing)
I look forward to reading chapters three and four and reflecting more about incorporating digital learning in my classroom over the next week.

Thank you Cathy at Reflect and Refine, Jill at My Primary Passion and Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing and hosting this summer's #CyberPD.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy 1,000th Wonder of the Day, Wonderopolis!

Today Wonderopolis has posted their 1,000th Wonder of the Day.  What a milestone!  In preparation of this milestone I spent some time this week reflecting on my Wonderopolis journey.

Wonderopolis asks us to answer five questions.  Below are my responses.  Please share you responses to the questions in the comment section at Wonderopolis.org.

1. How did you find out about Wonderopolis?
My Wonderopolis journey began during the summer of 2011.  I saw lots of chatter on Twitter about the  website.

2. Do you remember the first Wonder of the Day you saw?
The first Wonder I shared with my second grade class on the first day of school in 2011 was #323 How Do You Hula?  That first week of Wonderopolis my students not only learned about the Hula, but they learned about scarssalt water taffynational parks, and permanent ink.

3. What's your favorite Wonder of the Day?
My favorite Wonder of the Day is #645 What Is a Chuckwagon?  This is my favorite Wonder because my daughter created the video for the Wonder.  I also make a potato chip eating cameo in the video.  Our favorite Wonder of the Day this year in second grade was #766 When Will Pigs Fly? 

Below is a list of our favorite Wonders of the Day in second grade this year.

4. What are some things you've learned by wondering and using Wonderopolis?
Over the past two years in second grade we have wondered and learned about many new topics with Wonderopolis.  It is hard to pick out just a few things we have learned, because each Wonder is so different.  Wonderopolis does help set the tone for our day by encouraging everyone in our class to ask questions about everything and to Wonder throughout the day, not just when we are visiting the site.

5. How have you shared Wonder with your family and others?
I've used Wonderopolis with second graders for two years and plan on using it again this coming year.  As mentioned above we begin each morning sharing a Wonder together.

We also use it as family.  Last weekend my daughter and husband were having a discussion about voting.  The conversation turned to why do we vote on the first Tuesday in November?  They were able to visit Wonder #766 Why Do We Vote on Tuesdays? to find the answer.

Happy 1,000th Wonder of the Day, Wonderopolis!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Perfect End to Camp What-A-Wonder "Super Structures" Week

This week the theme at Camp What-A-Wonder was "Super Structures." We spent time each night as a family wondering, learning and discussing about different structures in our area.  We discussed how they are built and what they are made of.  We also spent time reminiscing about building our house eight years ago.

Each Friday night both of my kids participate in a Minecraft building contest.  I'm amazed at what they they are able to accomplish each week in three hours.  Tonight is a perfect ending to our "Super Structure" week of learning.  They are both working on a "space" themed building.  Ben is working on a space park and Betsy is working on a space museum for the contest.  What a great way to connect our learning to their weekly building contest!

Be sure to share your families weekly wondering, learning and connections to Camp What-A-Wonder with Wonderopolis.  Share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or you can email them to Wonderopolis at hello@wonderopolis.org.

Monday, June 24, 2013

TBR Audio Books - Keeping Kids Engaged in Reading

With two kids (ages 14 and 11) we spend lots of time in the car over the summer months.  Last summer we listened to several books on CD during this down time.

We continued the audio book reading as a family during a trip over spring break.  We listened to Flush by Carl Hiaasen and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  Before our trip over spring break, I requested about twenty audio books from the library.  We read the summaries over dinner and then narrowed the books down to our TBR pile for our trip.

This summer we made a list of books we wanted to listen to and now have a stack of TBR audio books (see above) for the car.  The stack keeps growing as we find more books we want to listen to.  We already finished Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and are now listening to Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.

I have found this is a great way to connect with my kids and their reading.  It goes beyond the car as we find ourselves discussing the books at the dinner table and other places.  We also enjoy the time spent in the car.  I can't think of a better thing to do in the car to engage my kids in reading and thinking in a time that would otherwise be spent with them listening to their iPods and unengaged and disconnected.

Listening to audio books in the car can be done with kids of any age, not just pre-teens and teenagers.  James Patterson's website READKIDDOREAD is a great resource for finding books that engage kids of any age.  Create a TBR list with your kids and check the audio books out at your local library.  Enjoy your time spent in the car with your kids!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Camp What-A-Wonder Recommended Reading

Yesterday I blogged about a 3 Minutes to Wonder, a new feature this summer at the virtual Wonderopolis Camp What-A-Wonder.  Today I wanted to share about the "Recommended Reading" portion of the camp.

Two of the books on the list are favorites of mine.  I read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate to my 2nd graders last year.  We LOVED it and I can't wait to read it at the beginning of this coming school year.  It was loved so much that several students went to the local library to finish it because our pace wasn't fast enough.  I also add a student create his own thirty minute movie of the book.

The One and Only Ivan is a great story about friendship which includes many animals that one usually finds at the zoo, not an exit off the freeway.  It would be great book to snuggle up as a family and read together.  I can guarantee that it will spark lots of conversation among all family members, both young and old.

The second favorite of mine is on the Recommended Read list is Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles.  I also read this to my students every year.  It's a great picture book about an Emu that isn't happy with his life.  He spends time trying out being different animals at the zoo before realizing that the best animal at the zoo is an emu.

I checked my local library and all of the books on the list are found there.  I encourage you to visit your library and check out a few of the "Recommended Reading" to go along with this summer's Camp What-A-Wonder.