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Author Bio: Barbara Phillips is a 2nd grade teacher in Monroe, Ohio. She loves using technology to enhance her lesson plans and help her students Wonder outside the box. You can find her blogging here and on Wonderopolis. She and five other educators represent the Wonderopolis Lead Ambassador team for 2012. Connect with her on twitter @WonderPhillips!
I use in my second grade classroom to cultivate and inspire wonder, inquiry and curiosity.  When thinking about instilling life-long learning skills in students, don’t we want them to be “inspired”, to “wonder” and “inquire”?  I know those are things I hope my students leave my class with in June each year!
Wonderopolis, named one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 websites for 2011, is a website developed by the National Center for Family Literacy.  Wonderopolis is a place where children of all ages can learn and discover together.  It nurtures the natural curiosity and “wonder” in all.  Furthermore, it is a place where families can spend time together while fine-tuning reading, writing, science, social studies and technology skills.
In the classroom Wonderopolis can be used to:

  • Expose students to high interest, attractive and accurate informational/nonfiction text on a daily basis.  This is a great way to model and guide students on how to read informational text.
  • Build background knowledge for all academic areas and many topics.
  • Help with the acquisition of vocabulary.  Each Wonder of the Day® has a list of Wonder Words, which encourage students to learn and acquire content- rich words.
  • Teach study skills.  There are many study skills that can be taught to kids using Wonderopolis.  Some of those include scanning, skimming, reading to answer a question and determining what is important and what isn’t in informational text.
  • Create a home-school connection.  This is my second year using Wonderopolis in my classroom.  Each year parents have talked about how excited their children are to use Wonderopolis at home.

Ideas for Wondering as a family:

  • Share
    • Share a Wonder from Wonderopolis at dinner and discuss what each member learned. Adults can serve as models for Wondering and explaining what was learned. (Often times as adults we don’t spend enough time modeling our own learning to help children engage and learn how to learn.)
    • 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.
  • Read
    • 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 they’re thinking.
    • After reading a Wonder as a family, leave a comment.  If your children are old enough, have each one leave their own comment.
    • 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.
  • Play
    • Pick one of the “Wonder Words” and define it as a family.  Record the number of sentences you come up with as a family.  Keep track and see if you can beat the number of sentences from the previous game.
    • 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.

Visit the Wonder Playground to feel inspired with Wonder. You can learn about different creative ways to use Wonderopolis in the classroom or on the couch.