Do you have a wonder window in your classroom? Perhaps you call it something else – an observation window or a nature window? I first read about the idea of an “Observation Window” in A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. It’s one of my favourite resources for ideas about developing an inquiry based program in the primary grades, in part because the ideas are so practical (as you read about them you can instantly picture how they could work in your classroom) but also because the strategies so clearly create opportunities for rich dialogue and deep learning.
I created a Wonder Window in my classroom because I wanted to give my students a dedicated space for scientific thinking…for looking out into the world, for noticing, for theorizing, for questioning. Our wonder window is located beside our Science and Nature Centre in the classroom, which gives me an opportunity to extend the children’s discoveries at the window into provocations nearby – or take provocations and extend them to the window.
I love writing poems, so to spark some curiosity about our window, I wrote the following poem. I copied it onto chart paper (to work on during our Shared Reading time) and placed this printout at the window (to help the children remember what it is I wanted them to do there):
I originally started with blank paper at the window, to allow the children some free space to record their observations, drawings, questions, or theories. As I introduced the “See Think Wonder” thinking routine, I placed the recording sheets I had modeled during group time there as well.
At first, I only had one student eager to visit the Wonder Window. However, this student made an interesting discovery – nests! Once we shared her thinking with the class, many other students were keen to go to the wonder window to record their own observations and ideas.
Here are a few samples of the children’s work from the Wonder Window (I added the sticky notes for the purpose of sharing with parents):
Some children are totally independent about their work at the wonder window – visiting of their own accord, documenting their own thinking. Others seek me out when they want to visit the Wonder Window. Some simply want to look out the window and discuss what they see with me, some want to take pictures of what they notice, still others want to write or record their thinking on paper. There is something to learn from each of these learning moments and all are just as important and valuable as the other. I often get interesting ideas/questions to talk about with the class from these small group or individual conversations at the Wonder Window. It really has proven to be a source of awesome learning and inspiration!
I am always amazed and inspired by the activities you have set up in your classroom. I love reading about the inquiry that is taking place and look forward to trying some of the ideas within my own classroom. Thank you for being such an inspiration.
Have a wonderful New Year.
Thank you Amber! Happy New Year!
I love everything you have done with the wonder window. It is a great idea to get the students involved with science. Where did you get the r recording sheet? I would love to have a copy.
Hi Mary! Thank you! I designed the recording sheet myself using Microsoft Word. There’s a downloadable pdf of it on my website in the See Think Wonder blog post. You can access it here: https://thecuriouskindergarten.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/see-think-wonder-developing-thinking-routines-in-the-classroom/
WOW!! I did the Wonder activity and it was awesome! We had our first snowfall and used the scenery outside for the activity! THANKS SO MUCH!
Yay! That’s great! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
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I love this idea! I’ve had an empty frame in one of my windows, but I love your poem prompt. Do you have a printable version of your poem?
Hi Shannon! Thank you! I haven’t had time to upload a printable version, but I just typed mine out on a Word document. 🙂
Hello! Would it be possible to get a copy of the lovely poem you put by your wonder window?
Hi Lisa! I don’t have a copy readily available online, but I just typed mine up using Microsoft Word so it would be easy for you to replicate I’m sure. 🙂
I love this idea of the Wonder Window! I stumbled across your blog and gotten so many great ideas. This one I am excited to use and reflect on!!