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Wonderopolis is a project of the National Center for Families Learning. Each day Wonderopolis shares an intriguing question to encourage asking questions, looking for answers, and thinking about possibilities. This site was created for families but is also a big hit in classrooms of all ages. In 2012, my family was chosen as WonderLead Ambassadors to represent Wonderopolis as well as to promote and support Wonder. 

Wonderopolis does a nice job of providing a little background knowledge to help things make sense while still not fully answering the question …. which still allows thinking and wondering to happen. I think there is enough information provided to make you want to know more … and they provide links and ideas for finding out stuff if you want to know more …. which encourages exploration and discovery based on interest.

For a year, I served as a Wonderopolis Ambassador. Here you can find pieces of that learning journey.


Wondering About Hand-Made Moravian Cookies?



Madalyn got to do some wondering this week … without her mom and dad!


Madalyn went with her grandparents and another little girl to explore a couple of holiday traditions in Winston-Salem, NC.

Their first stop was Mrs. Hanes’ Hand-Made Moravian Cookie Store!

Moravian Cookies are thin, thin, thin cookies! They are so tasty and come in several flavors!

At Mrs. Hanes’ Store, all the cookies are hand-made and even cut with cookie cutters!

Madalyn got to take a tour, see cookies being made, and even got to try a cookie just out of the oven!

This is a place full of family history and WONDERful stories

Even if you can’t visit the store in person, they have a picture tour you can take!

Look at these amazing facts they provide:




Can you even imagine that much flour? That many cookies? That many cookies in the oven at once?

You can even find some places this family-owned shop has been highlighted and reviewed on their site!

I think my favorite cookie of the one from Mrs. Hanes’ Hand-Made Moravian Cookie Store is the Ginger Spice one!

I wonder what your favorite would be …

Wonderopolis has a past wonder that fits great with this family learning experience: #427 What”s Your Favorite Holiday Cookie?



Cookie Image Source


Upside Down Connections to Learning?



Today my daughter and I went to lunch with my parents. I was telling my dad about a challenge I posted on my blog yesterday which involves changing perspectives and one of the ideas was to find a line drawing to copy and to turn it upside down before attempting to draw it on your own. (That change will take the meaning of the image away and allow you to focus on the lines which involves a different area of the brain and a different type of thinking).


My daughter heard upside down and raised her hand to tell me about something they did in class this week.

Madalyn started by saying that there was an artist she did not remember the name of but he had to paint a ceiling to he built a tall ladder and platform. My dad asked if she was talking about Michelangelo. She got the biggest smile on her face when he knew what she was talking about!

She went on to tell us how when they were learning about that this week, they each had to tape a paper under the table and lay on the floor to draw a picture!  She thought it was hard!

I used to do a similar activity with my students when we read the book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.

My parents just returned from a trip they took to Rome and the Holy Land. Dad was excited to tell Madalyn that they had been to the Sistine Chapel and had some pictures.

We happened to be eating in an Italian restaurant for lunch. The owner is originally from Italy and came out to talk to my parents about their trip, so Madalyn got to hear his accent as well as the information he had to share about the country of which he is so proud.

Learning is certainly a family affair for us and we never know what opportunities will arise …

And it just so happens that there is a past Wonder on Wonderopolis that goes along great with our lunch conversation: Wonder #23: What would you paint on your ceiling?

I can’t wait for us to take the virtual trip linked in that wonder!

And to see the pictures from my parent’s trip ….

Learning as a family can span the generations!


image source


Calling All Learning a Wonder ...



A conversation from this afternoon:


Me: When I say Wonderopolis, what do you think of?

Madalyn: Wonders

Me: Which wonders?

Madalyn: Why you need to wear a seat belt to be safe

Me: Was that something you talked about at school?

Madalyn: Yes and we used dummies. We did a project with play-dough and built a person but it had no legs. Then we had to wait until we got to choose a car. I chose a green one. We made the car go down a ramp which was a clipboard on a tissue box. The first time the car hit a pencil and then she fell off. We got to hold it and roll the car down again.

Me: What happened then?

Madalyn: On the second one, she stayed on.

Me: Why do you think that happened?

Madalyn: Because we put tape on to make her stay on. She did kinda tip but she stayed on at least.

Me: So …

Madalyn: We took pictures to put on the board and then tomorrow, we are going to put the boards on tables for the Science show. Then we get to tell about our project and what we did.

Me: What did you learn?

Madalyn: That we have to wear a seat belt all the time

Me: Why?

Madalyn: If you don’t wear a seat belt, you might fly out the big front window. They use test dummies to see if they need a seat belt in the car.



There are many past Wonders that fall into the Transportation category on Wonderopolis.

I think it is interesting that Madalyn calls any learning that she does in or out of school with a wonder …


photo credit: bionicteaching via photopin cc


Stories for the future ...


As I was thinking about the many brave men and women who have served in the military this Veteran's Day, I began to wonder how their stories will be remembered by those of us now and in the future ...

Before they moved away from Dyersburg, TN about six years ago, my grandfather sat down with a pen and a notebook to write down his memories. Grandaddy would write about a page and then hand the notebook to Grandmomma to read it back to him so he could make sure it said what he wanted it to say (he suffers from macular degeneration, which means that over time he has been and will continue to lose his sight). Grandaddy doesn’t really talk much about the past and his time in service, but the words in these written memories could not be more descriptive and full of details.

One notebook turned out not to be enough, so he filled up about one half of another one. These notebooks trace his memories from the beginning of his life through the end of his army service. Grandaddy even has chapter titles to describe the specific parts he includes, so it is very well organized. 

The second notebook starts off with the title Army

“I was required by law to register with the Dyer County Draft Board for the military serice on my eighteenth birthday which was April 22, 1943. I was deferred by the Board to do Farm work that summer, and I worked at the cotton gin that Fall. I was drafted in January 1944 and ordered to report to the Court House in Dyersburg to go for a physical exam at an early hour on a certain date. If I had stayed at home the previous night, I had no way to get to Dyersburg at that early hour. So I had to go to Dyersburg the previous day and spend the night in Dyersburg.

To put things in perspective when I left home that day: I was 18 years old; I had never been away from home; I had only a few dollars in my pocket; I knew nothing of life outside the community; I did not know where I was going or what to expect or what would be expected of me; I did not know when or whether I would ever be back home; I did not even know where I was going to spend the night; All I knew was that there were actually 2 wars going on, one in the South Pacific and one in Europe, and that if I passed the physical, I would be in the US Army.”

Wow is all this normally very wordy person can think to say …

When Madalyn and I took Grandaddy to eat tonight, we talked about these words again. He said he remembers having so many questions but he knew what he had to do even if he did not know the answers to any of those questions ....

Seeing the past wonder from one year ago yesterday, #404 Who is the unknown soldier?, coupled with our experiences today inspired this post ...

I encourage you to go search for some memories that would be lost and listen as well as show respect for the people who made it possible for many of the things we have today!



photo credit: nickirp via photopin cc


How Can You Celebrate Picture Books this Month?

















I am a big fan of picture books for children or all ages (even adults)!

According to the School Library Journal, a group of authors and illustrators have banded together to declare November 2011 as the first Picture Book Month:

Picture Book Month is an international initiative to encourage and celebrate literacy with picture books, says founder Dianne de Las Casas, an author and storyteller, who along with authors/illustrators Katie DavisElizabeth O. DulembaWendy Martin, and author Tara Lazar have joined forces to spread the word that picture books are alive and well, especially in this digital age where an unprecedented amount of picture books have been made into ebooks and are on ereading devices such as the iPad, the Nook, and the Kindle.

Since it is Picture Book Month again in 2012:

  • I could make an extra long list of my favorite picture book and/or authors of picture book.
  • I could develop a list of reasons for teachers to read picture books with their students.
  • I could look through my writing resources and provide a list of picture books to use to highlight certain writing skills for students.
  • I could approach this from an art perspective to describe the importance of the pictures in picture books.

Look at all these resources:


ReadWriteThink (I was surprised how many resources I found for middle and high school)


  • Set a Poem to Music:  After exploring a “singable” picture book as a class, each student examines a personally selected poem for rhythm to determine its musical meter. Using previous musical skills, students set the poem to music. As a final reflection, they create a two-page spread of a picture book that contains their “singable” poem.
  • Map it Out:  Explore how illustrations contribute to the telling of a story by creating illustrations to accompany text, and then creating text to accompany illustrations. Students will explore picture books (without words) and discuss the specific elements of the illustrations that “tell” the story. They will learn to “read” illustrations as they look at the ways in which pictures reveal information about the characters, setting, and plot of a story.
  • Animal Habitats: Pre-readers are introduced to animal habitats through story, song, and dramatic play using children’s picture books. Students use chronological ordering and phonics to reinforce beginning literacy skills. Students explore a non-traditional method of book illustration and create their own story page

What are things you can do to celebrate Picture Book Month?

Let’s Celebrate Picture Books this month and all year long!!


*I created the image at the top by copying and pasting a list of picture book title to make a word cloud using (I used a tilde ~ between words to keep the words in the titles together)