Saturday, January 26, 2013

Super Bowl Wonders and Activities

Wonderopolis has created some great Wonders to go along with the Super Bowl.  What a great way to build excitement and add to learning before next Sunday!  I'm sure students, and some adults will be sharing their learning at Super Bowl parties.

#1049 How Do You Become a Referee?

#490 Why Do Referees Wear Stripes?
After reading this Wonder, have students brainstorm other professions and what they wear.  Have students get into groups and have them pick a profession and its attire.  Then have groups research why different professions where different kinds of clothing.

#377 Do You Need Water To Make Waves?
Not only does this Wonder tell what a sporting event wave is, but also gives dates as to when and where the wave may have been invented and became famous.  The dates range from the 1960s to 2008.  I'm going to share this Wonder in my second grade class and create a timeline of 'the wave'.

#341 What Is Your Favorite Mascot?
This would be a great Wonder to share and then have students research the history of their school's mascot, or a local or favorite team mascot.  Another suggestion would be to create a class graph using the Wonder as the questions.  If you have older students, they could collect data from younger classes and create their own graphs in groups.

#336 Are Footballs Really Made of Pigskin?
This Wonder helps students stop and think about what everyday items are made of.  Have students explore what other sporting items are made of.  For example, what is a baseball made of?  What is a tennis ball made of?  Wonderopolis has already explored, What Are Hockey Pucks Made of? and could be paired perfectly with the football Wonder.

#126 What's So Super About Super Bowl Sunday?
Whether you are a football fan, or not, you can't escape Super Bowl Sunday and the many commercials that run during the Super Bowl.  I know our family enjoys discussing our favorite commercials and why we like them.  Next monday, after the Super Bowl have her students spend some time writing about their favorite commercial and try to persuade the class why it was the best.  What an authentic writing activity!

If you use any of these Wonders this week and create a different activity, be sure to leave a comment and share what you did.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Golden Rule Via Wonderopolis

After winter break we spent time Building Classroom Community by learning, discussing and reading about Paying It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness.  On Monday when I checked out the Wonder of the Day #841 What Is the Golden Rule?, I knew exactly what we would be doing on morning Tuesday in order to continue our community building theme.

After reading over the Wonder, watching the video and discussing what 'reciprocity' means, we talked about what the Golden Rule is.  We also talked about how it applies to 'random acts of kindness' and 'paying it forward'.  I also asked the students why they thought Wonderopolis would choose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to share this Wonder with us, which connected to learning last week.

Later in the day, we read The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper.  This book connected perfectly with the Wonder, especially with the video in the Wonder.  A grandfather explains to his grandson what the Golden Rule means and how the principle is found in different cultures.  We spent time thinking about something the grandfather said in the book, "I wonder how things would change if everyone lived by the Golden Rule."  Children shared how they thought their lives, our school and world would be different if we all followed the Golden Rule.

This would also be a great Wonder and book to share at the beginning of the year to help build community and set the tone of your classroom.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ice Festival

Last night, my daughter Betsy and I went to our town's Ice Festival.  Before going, we checked out Wonder #433 How Do You Sculpt Ice? to find out how the ice was sculpted into some amazing works of art.  While viewing all of the ice sculptures, we realized how many went with the different Wonders at  I'm always amazed when visiting local events at how many connections can be made to different Wonders.  Be sure to check out Wonderopolis before and after visiting local attractions!

Enjoy looking at some of the beautiful ice creations below and be sure to check out the Wonders listed below to find out more about the land-marks and/or people behind the creations.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Building Classroom Community Through Random Acts of Kindness

During the winter break, I read Bullying Hurts Teaching Kindness Through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth.  It made me reflect and think about how much I wanted to start January working on rebuilding our classroom community, much like I try to do at the beginning of the year.  What better way to focus on our classroom community than to think about random acts of kindness and paying it forward?

Here is what we did this week to help with rebuilding our classroom community:
Day 1
  • Read Fly Free by Roseanne Thong and Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein and discussed how one thing that someone does can cause someone else to do something nice.  We also discussed how the books were the same and different.  Reading these books was a preview for day two.
Day 2
  • We read Wonder #502 How Can You Pay It Forward?
  • We discussed how the Wonder compared to the book and how doing something kind can be paid forward.  We also put a name to what was happening in the book, "pay it forward."
  • My students were quite inspired by the video in the book.  I told them we could make our own and to be thinking of something kind they could do for someone.
Day 3
  • We started the morning by watching this YouTube video about Random Acts of Kindness and Paying it Forward.
  • After viewing the YouTube video, we read Wonder #137 What Is a Random Act Of Kindness?
  • We spent time naming and talking about what a random act of kindness is.Students thought of things they could do that would be kind for someone else.  
  • Originall,y I asked students to think of a random act of kindness they could do.  I was quickly corrected by one of my students who shared that if it was a 'random act', we could plan on doing it.
  • Students then created signs, much like the pay it forward video.
  • I didn't give too many guidelines about their act or sign.  
Day 4
  • I was going to video-tape students in the room with their signs, the class wanted it to look like the bleachers in the original video, so we decided to use the stairs in our school.
  • Students worked in pairs and video-taped each other using our class iPad.
Day 5
  • We put the videos together using iMovie.  The class was very excited with our finished product!
    Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Don't forget Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17th!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Wonders to Use in the Classroom

Below are some of the wonderful Wonders that are associated with the winter months.  I have also included a few ideas/suggestions of how you could use or extend the Wonders in your classroom.

#51 What Do Bees Do in Winter?
This Wonder is great to compare with Wonders #144 Do All Birds Fly South In the Winter?#410 Who Takes the Longest Nap? and #469 What Do Animals Squirrel Away for Winter? and do some kind of chart comparing how different animals adapt to their surroundings during the winter.

#60 Why Do Different States Have Different Weather?
This is a great Wonder to use during a weather unit to help students define the difference between 'weather' and 'climate'.  Spend a couple of weeks as a class observing the weather (temperature, precipitation, etc.) in your state as compared to the weather in a different state.  For example, comparing Ohio's weather to the weather in Texas.

#67 When Were Ice Skates Invented?
Use this Wonder when discussing inventors.  Kids will be entertained to learn how ice skates evolved and how long they have been around.  If you are doing a unit on inventors, be sure to create a Wonder Inventor Book.  Throughout the unit or year, each time you do a Wonder on inventors, have students had their name, invention and how the invention made a change to their book.

#79 Why Are All Snowflakes Different?
What kid doesn't like to catch snowflakes and look at them.  This Wonder addresses why they are different.  There are easy instructions for making ice crystals in the 'Try it out!' section.  Another great activity with this Wonder would be to talk about symmetry and have students make their own paper snowflakes.

#81 What Is a Dog Sled?
Be sure to share this Wonder before the 2013 Iditarod.  You also may want to check out 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.

#97 What's the Difference Between Snow, Sleet and Freezing Rain?
This is a great Wonder to compare and contrast snow, sleet and freezing rain.  For a science connection, try out the experiment in the 'Still Wondering' section.

#103 Why Is Sand or Salt Put On Roads When It Snows?
The experiment in the 'Try it out!' section is a great way to help students understand the Wonder better. I can think of all kinds of experiments to try with salt and ice.  Have students create their own experiment, observe and write about their findings.

#133 What Is Curling?
This would be a great Wonder to create a class 'How-to' chart after reading and propel students to write their own How-to pieces of sports they know how to play.

#145 What Is Frostbite?
Discuss winter safety with this Wonder and talk about ways you can prevent getting frostbite.  Kids can work in groups to make their lists and then share out.

#471 Why Do You See Your Breath When It's Cold?
This Wonder can be used to help students understand and define what condensation is.  It will also help with the understanding of a gas, liquid and solid.  This is a wonderful Wonder to use when teaching a unit on weather.

#481 Where Is the Coldest Place on Earth?
Before reading this Wonder have students predict where they think the coldest place on earth is and tell why.  You could even have them locate their predictions on a map.  As an extension, after reading this Wonder visit #614 Where Is the Hottest Place on Earth? and compare the coldest and hottest places.

#494 Why Is Ice Slippery?
This would be a great Wonder for older students to test why ice is slippery.  According the Wonder it is known what makes ice slippery, but the why is unknown.  It also lends itself to discussing theories and testing those theories.

#463 What's the Best Thing To Do on a Snow Day?
This is a great Wonder to use with graphing.  Have students write their favorite snow day activity on a post-it note and create a class graph.

#799 What Is a Cold Front?
Another great Wonder to use during a weather unit or the next time a cold front is approaching.

#805 How Do You Warm Your Tummy in the Winter?
What's better than a warm cup of hot chocolate in the winter?  Make homemade hot cocoa on a cold winter day and then write a How-to as a class.  You could also create a class graph on favorite winter drinks.

If you have used or are using winter Wonders in your classroom, I would love to hear about how you engage your students with the Wonders in your own classroom.