5 sparks to ignite a Sense of Wonder

“Come in and sit down quietly, open your binder and get your pencil.”

So in we usher our brillant minds of tomorrow. They must learn this content and score good on the test (for many of my friends in education, their jobs hang in the balance on that one).

Students must sit quietly to hear the teacher, we haven’t time for too many questions, and no we can’t have class outside.

But, it can be different.

A classroom where students learn, in fact a haven where a sense of wonder ignites the love of learning is just around the bend.

Teachers…whether you are in a traditional classroom, portable, or teach around your kitchen table – You are the one to set the tone, teach with passion, and ignite again a sense of wonder in learning, while ensuring the content it taught!

Allow curiosity to lead.
Why? What if? How? The natural questions that come from young minds is their sense of wonder. Rather than us, as educators, squelching the fire, fan it! Yes, we have content that must be covered. No, we cannot stop teaching to answer the plethora (especially if you teach 5th and 6th graders) of questions – but we can keep post-it notes on hand and have students write these questions down. Create a “Curiouser & Curiouser” board to post them. Then direct them back to their questions later to be explored! Which leades me to the next spark, exploration.

Exploration leads to adventures.
Encourage the exploration of new materials, books, sciences, art mediums (unconventional ones too). We can’t all have a Magic School Bus like Ms. Frizzle, however begin by collecting items for your classroom that can set exploration into motion. Good literature is always a start, globes, maps, microscopes, telescopes, magnifying glasses, a karoake machine, artwork, poetry, colored pencils, a class pet, and the list goes on.
These items do not relate directly to the subject you teach? You ask, “Why have such items in my classroom?” A student’s imagination allows him to connect those items to the subject matter. Those objects ignite our sense of wonder, fill your classroom and allow for exploration!

Clouds and dandelions.
Allow the door of your classroom to lead outside, in my case it’s a giant window that we occasionaly climb out of to get our fill of sunshine, feel a breeze on our faces, and reenter ready to inhale new material. Seriously, this is good for students at any age – I do this with 5th graders to juniors and seniors in an AP class.
As minimalist as it sounds, which I am a fan of, look closely at a dandelion – blow it away, wonder at the intricasy and delicacy of a common weed. Lay on the ground with “your head in the clouds” for just a bit. Share aloud what you see, wait a few minutes until the image of a giant whale has transformed into an old man with beard. Take five minutes to allow the simple pleasures of God’s creation to awaken the senses in your students.

Introduce words that excite the mind, words, when spoken simply make you smile.
Here are three of my favorite:
Frolicsome, serendipidous, ebullience.
Admit it. You smiled when you read them.
Frolicsome:: very lively and playful.
Serendipity:: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things not looked for.
Ebullience:: the quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings.
Choose a new word a week. Challenge your students to correctly use it in regular conversation, a tweet or post, or in their journal writing.

The power of a story – those in branding know it sells! Those of us in education know it sparks the sense of wonder and the result is students learning. Storytelling engages the brain. Neural coupling (connecting listener to experience) takes place along with mutiple cortex activity happening at once. Oh, my friends, had my math teachers engaged me to be part of a story that included a rhombus, (just saying the word makes me giggle, I’m certain a good story would have come from it) I may could tell you what that is today. Sadly, I cannot. Whether you teach grammar, science dealing with electromagnetics, or you are “mathing” it up with slopes and graphing intercepts…step out of your well defined box and teach it with a story. Allow your students to become the storytellers.

Educators get your sense of wonder on! It transforms the way we teach, sparking the sense of wonder in our students that results in a love of learning.

Keep this conversation going…how do you spark a sense of wonder in your classroom? Incorporate one of these simple five sparks and let us know what happens.


About Merissa Ramantanin

I am quietly growing as I get to know my Father, His son, through His spirit each day. Writing, teaching & speaking are a joy for me...teaching children (and adults) of an incredibly big God who loves them very much. My heart is on the mission field, wherever God has me. Currently, that is in the classroom and on the volleyball court!
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3 Responses to 5 sparks to ignite a Sense of Wonder

  1. Adair Hinds says:

    Does tricking the kids to think I have ESP so they learn to be more skeptical count as wonder? 🙂

    Great reminder to us as teachers that we need to find room in the classroom for imagination. Our world needs more of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn Rollins says:

    Children’s Literature! …ah, yes. Brings back such good memories of visiting the library at the beginning of every unit to check out as many books as they would let me take in the same Dewey Decimal range.
    I lined the chalk tray with the books so that students could read at any time, but the best part was using those books to teach. Did I mention that I taught science? And, yes, I read children’s books to sixth graders. There were many days that passed that we never opened a textbook. Reading and discussing Brother Eagle Sister Sky, The Great Kapok Tree, A River Ran Wild, and The Paper Bag Prince were a much better way to teach about environmental science and social responsibility than reading a boring textbook. Sometimes studying the illustrator’s artwork was a lesson in itself – asking lots of questions like Why do you think…? And What do you think…? I loved it. And so did they.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Merissa Ramantanin says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! Music and children’s literature are two of my favs – my current favorite book is What do you do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada.
    And of course a deck of cards & ESP will do the trick!


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