In an effort to bring curiosity and joy back into the elementary school classroom, I decided to start a series called 50 Ways to Bring Wonder into the Classroom. I hope to keep these ideas simple and easy to implement for the time-crunched teacher. Most of these ideas come from other teachers, blogs, and books – so I don’t claim credit for them! Click here to see previous posts in the series. And without further ado, here is the next idea!
5. Visit a Sit Spot every season.
The idea of a "Sit Spot" came directly from the Cultivating Joy and Wonder curriculum from Shelburne Farms (which is free to download - such a great resource). I used it this year for the first time, and I really liked it because it can be done no matter what type of schoolyard you have - concrete, prairie, garden, playground.
Talk to the class ahead of time about how many scientists make observations of the same place over time, in order to have a better understanding of what goes on in their environment. By visiting the same spot every week, month, or year, they can observe what has changed, what has gone missing, what has grown or been replaced.
Explain that you'll be doing the same thing at school. Go out into the yard, parking lot, or other surrounding area and help kids choose their own Sit Spot. They will be returning to this spot again and again. They should take careful notes (or drawings, depending on the age) on what they see, smell, hear and feel.
Be sure to return to the same Sit Spots at least once a season, and make time for the students to share after each Sit Spot period. They can use previous entries to compare and contrast their spot in each season. Ask probing questions like "Why do you think there are no flowers in your spot anymore?" and "What has stayed the same in your spot?"
This short activity takes only about twenty minutes, tops, and really encourages students of all ages to notice patterns and changes in their environment. Plus it brings in just a little bit more questioning and wonder to the classroom!