Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What A WONDERful Idea! Adding A Little "Wonder" To My Student's Summer.

I have been racking my brain on what to give my students for their end of the year gift.  I usually give my students a book at the end of the year, however,

I wanted to give them something that would:

1.  Be an extension of what we have been doing in our classroom.
2.  Inspire them to continue to write on their blogs this summer.
3.  Involve their parents in the project.

One of the major changes in my classroom this year is that I have tried really hard to create a "wonder" classroom environment to let my students explore their passions and continue to foster that excitement for learning.  For too long, I have told my students what they were going to learn about, instead of finding out what they wanted to learn about and figure out how we could learn about it while still covering the curriculum.

I decided I wanted to make and give my students "Wonder Jars."  It would be the first piece of the puzzle for our "Wonder Project."

One of the websites we have visited many times this year for inspiration, fun and to get the curiosity juices flowing is Wonderopolis. I contacted the "wonderopolis" group on twitter and they responded to my request very quickly!

Wonderopolis sent me this wonderful template to use for our Wonder Jars.

I headed to the dollar store for plastic jars, however, I didn't find what I was looking for.  I also looked on the internet but couldn't find anything in my budget that was perfect.  I ended up buying glass mason jars.  I am a little worried about the glass, but they were the prefect size and price ( 24 for 20 dollars).  I also bought mini composition books from the dollar store.  They were 3 for a dollar and I thought my students could write about their wonders as well as storing artifacts in their jars.  My fabulous husband (@mrwideen) made me a template for the cover of the composition book.  All I did was cut the covers out and glued them to the front.

I also found the perfect picture for the gift tag.  I was going to add a quote that talked about wonder or curiosity.  As I was searching the internet, I found this beautiful painting that would make a perfect label.  I emailed the artist, Jenna Milward and asked if I could take a screen shot of the image and use it for our wonder jar tags.  She responded very quickly with a "yes."  You can see her work on her blog noted below. 

Source: Milward Studios - "Emma's Fireflies"

Here is the jar with the label attached and on the back of the label I taped a magnifying glass.
I want this project to become whatever my students choose it to be.  I want to leave it open ended because my students always surprise and inspire me with what they can do and come up with.  I do have one stipulation: They have to bring their wonder jars or notebooks back at the beginning of September to share with the class.  I thought this would be a great way to begin our year.  We can discuss their Wonder Jars and questions and then go from there. I did share some of the ideas I found on the internet to get their wonder juices flowing.  I have grouped them onto a Pinterest board here.  We also created a book on the book creator app titled, "This Is Not A Jar."  Students were asked to finish the sentence starter, "This is not a jar..." and draw a picture to go along with it.  We then added all of the students ideas into one book.  Here are a few of the pages to look at:

I can't wait to see how this project takes form over the Summer.  Will the students be inspired and write about it on their blogs?  What wonderful things will they discover using their jars?  I will update you later in the summer.


  1. Wow! What a wonderful idea! I have been reading your blog this year and you have inspired me to try some new things as I begin my next year of teaching. Thank you! Have a relaxing holiday.

  2. What a great idea! I love the Willy Wonka font on the Wonderopolis labels. Seems very fitting!
    Michelle @togolightly

  3. Kristen,
    I love your wonder jar idea! You are sooo creative! Thanks for sharing your ideas and how you worked through the process! Hope the kids have brought back some great wonders!