Using Wonder in the Senior Classroom

Last year I became aware of the book Wonder and I took time out every day to read it to my class. There are so many messages in the book about friendships and behaviour and following discussions with my class we decided to adopt some of the messages and quotes into our classroom.

Be Kinder than Necessary:

The children really loved this idea, while it was nice to be kind they wanted to push acts of kindness amongst their peers. To do this I introduced the Kindness Jar, each child was given a slip of paper each day and they wrote down an act of kindness they saw and the name of the child. While initially it was standing back at the door, or allowing another child ahead of them, it soon changed to watching the behaviour of their peers and who was kinder than necessary. Initially we chose one name at random from the jar and that child got a standing ovation from their peers and I had a small trophy from Super Stickers that they kept at their place. However, as the children began to recognise more and more qualities within their peers we had to change our approach. So on a Friday, I would read the acts of kindness out to the class and omit the names, the class would then decide on the act of kindness that was worthy of a standing ovation. It really promoted a positive and caring dynamic in the class. It might be something you could try in your own class next year.

Character Education:

I love the Character Education Kit from The Teacher Next Door and use a specific trait such as caring and perseverance each month, this book allows the children to explore the character traits among the characters in the books. It also allows them to really explore the character of the person and identify the characteristics they may not like. We explored the topic of prejudice through this book also.

You could also focus on one character and explore how they change and develop throughout the book. I like the character maps available from Reading A-Z to really focus on the actions, thoughts and feelings of the character within a chapter and how this can add to the story.

Art Displays:

There are many ways to link Wonder to an Art lesson or display in your classroom. I used the cover image as a stimulus for Art, we discussed the portraits and how the illustrator used them in the book to represent different characters. The children then got to create their own portrait representing the work of R.J. Palacio.

Later in the year we also focused on the theme of friendship and I spotted a lovely display on google which said that friendship was a gift. I bought blank brown gift bags in a craft shop and gave them to the class to design and decorate their bag to show how friendship was a gift and how they can continue to keep the gift. Even though it had been a few months since we had finished reading Wonder the messages were clearly represented in their display.

There are so many ways to incorporate Wonder in the classroom, not just by reading the novel as part of the English lesson. If you have any questions on this post please send me a PM.

A.M.

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