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

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

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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

3 Minutes to Wonder

Today was the first day of Camp What-A-Wonder at  Don't worry if you missed out today because the free, virtual camp runs Monday-Friday, June 17-July 26.  This week's theme is "Dig Into the Wild Kingdom" and today's theme was "Backyard Creatures Around You".

One feature of this year's Camp What-A-Wonder is "3 Minutes to Wonder".  We had a very busy today;  two tennis lessons, weekly grocery shopping, the grass needed to be mowed and we had to clear our family room for a home improvement project that begins tomorrow.  After dinner, we sat down to read the 3 minute to Wonder questions.  My kids are a bit older and rather than discuss, we decided to write and then discuss.  Plus, Betsy was excited to write in her Camp What-A-Wonder Journal that arrived in the mail today.  (If you haven't signed up for Camp What-A-Wonder, you might want to consider doing so for a chance to receive special Camp extras here.)

Before writing we discussed what creatures we have in our yard.  We live on 6 acres and therefore have lots of wildlife.  Then we took the three minutes to jot down in our journals what the creatures do when it gets cold, hot and where we would find most of the animals in our yard.  I was rather impressed with what both Ben and Betsy wrote in three minutes.  They both wrote about how different animals adapt, hibernate and/or migrate in both cold and hot weather.  We all agreed that most of the animals in our yard would be found in the woods behind our house.  

After a very busy day it was nice spending time reconnecting, thinking, and wondering about the wildlife in our own backyard.  I look forward to connecting as a family and spending three minutes each day Wondering throughout Camp What-A-Wonder.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

#Bookaday Challenge - Week One

This summer I am participating in the Fifth Annual #Bookaday Challenge.  Below are the books I read last week.  As I often do, I connected the books I read to different Wonders that I could use when reading the books with my second grade class.

Celebrations by Myra Cohn Livingston

Suggested Wonders:
#90 Why Do People Make New Year's Resolutions?
#141 What Is Presidents' Day
#541 Why Aren't There More Holidays?

 Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

Suggested Wonders:
#641 What Makes Glitter Sparkle?
#968 Does Your House Have a Secret Passage
 A Child's Calendar by John Updike

Suggest Wonder:
#89 How Did the Months of the Year Get Their Names?
 The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Suggested Wonders:
#464 What Makes Art Priceless?
#904 What Is Pointillism? (Perfect "Dot Day" activity)
The Bored Book by David Michael Slater

Suggested Wonders:
#598 What Was the Kraken?
#931 Where Is the Biggest Castle in the World?
Do Dragons Live in the Sea?

Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller

Suggested Wonders:
#702 Are You Sly as a Fox?
#667 Why Are Rainforests Important?
#159 How Do You Tap a Maple Tree?

To Climb a Waterfall by Jean Craighead George

Suggested Wonder:
#352 Where Is the Tallest Waterfall?