Pack Your Bags For Camp What-A-Wonder! - uncover the wonder around you

Welcome to Camp What-A-Wonder, a fun, free opportunity for parents and children to learn together during the summer. This year’s theme is “Uncover the Wonder Around You,” celebrating the many ways Wonder can happen anywhere, at any time. Camp What-A-Wonder runs Monday – Friday, June 17 – July 26, with a new theme each week.

Check out the weekly sections below and find fun activities to try, exciting trips to take, and lots of Wonders of the Day® to explore with your family. Share your experiences with other campers and the make the most of a summer of learning.

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Week 1: June 17 - 21

Ant Farms, Spiders, & Underwater Coves

Ant Farms, Spiders, & Underwater Coves

Dig Into the Wild Kingdom!
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Can You Dig It?

From annuals and zebras to aardvarks and zinnias, we're wild about the Wild Kingdom! That's why we're excited to wonder about plants and animals this week. It can be a real jungle out there, and that's just fine with us! There's Wonder around every corner, so let's Dig Into the Wild Kingdom!

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What do you think the creatures in your backyard do when it gets cold?

What do they do when it gets really hot?

Where do you think you would find the most creatures around  your home? In a tree? On the roof? In the grass? Underground?

Family Activity

Make a list of all the creatures that may live in your backyard (don’t forget the nocturnal ones).  Spend time outside during the day and night and see how many of those animals you can identify by both sight and sound. What senses do animals use to learn about their environment?

Recommended Reading

  • Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree G. Burns

  • Outside and Inside Birds by Sandra Markle
  • Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems by Jane Yolen
  • The Birdwatchers by Simon James
  • Creep and Flutter by Jim Arnosky

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is your favorite zoo animal?

If you could have one zoo animal as a pet, which would you choose?

What is the wildest animal you've ever seen?

Family Outing and Activity

Take a trip to a nearby zoo, or visit one online. Pick two zoo animals and create a story about them. What happens to the animals? Think about who the other characters in the story could be. Email your zoo story to camp@Wonderopolis.org or record your family reading it and upload it to the Wonderopolis Schooltube Channel.

Recommended Reading

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Amazing Animal Facts by Christopher Maynard
  • Zoo Day by John Brennan
  • The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom
  • Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What kinds of plants do you see growing around where you live?

What kinds of plants need large areas to grow?

Which ones can be grown in small places?

Family Outing and Activity

Sprouting Beans with Cotton Balls: Stuff a glass jar or bottle with cotton wool balls and several bean seeds so they can be seen. Water the cotton balls until they are damp (not too wet). Place in window. Check daily. Continue watering as needed. Record the results in your Wonder Journal and share your experiment with camp@wonderopolis.org

Recommended Reading

  • Who Will Plant a Tree by Jerry Pallotta
  • Seeds by Ken Robbins
  • From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

Roam Into Wonder

What is your favorite animal? Where does it live? How does it adapt to live in that habitat?

Family Outing and Activity

Create a family scavenger hunt and see how many of the animals you can find when you visit the zoo. Write their names and how the adaptation helps them survive in their habitat. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Animals with webbed feet
  • Animals with sharp claws
  • Animals with sharp teeth
  • Animals with spotted fur
  • Animals with hooves
  • Animals with bright-colored feathers
  • Animals with striped fur
  • Animals with whiskers
  • Animals with large beaks
  • Animals with scales
  • Animals with stripes

Recommended Reading

  • Living Color by Steven Jenkins
  • Camouflage and Disguse by Jason Cooper
  • Animals With No Eyes: Cave Adaptation by Kelly Regan Barnhill
  • A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke
  • An Egg Is Quiet by Sylvia Long

 

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable? Can you grow it at your house? What kinds of materials would you need to grow the fruit or vegetable?

Family Outing and Activity

Observe different trees and plants in your yard or near your home. What categories could be used to sort them? How would you classify them? Check out plant identification books at the library and compare your findings. Would you want to be a botanist? Why or why not?

Recommended Reading

Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed by Lola Schaefer

Poetrees by Douglas Florian

DK Eyewitness Plant by David Burnie

Week 2: June 24 - 28

Buildings, Bricks, & Bulldozers

Buildings, Bricks, & Bulldozers

Scout Out Some Superstructures!
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In your town and all over the world, buildings come in all shapes and sizes. But no matter what they look like — short, tall, big, or small —  all buildings rise from a strong foundation. Let Wonder be your foundation for  learning together as we Scout Out Some Superstructures this week!

 

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What kinds of homes are in your neighborhood, city or town?  How are the different?  How are they the same? How do they represent the geography where you live?

Family Outing and Activity

Take a walk around your neighborhood and play a game of “I Spy” with the different kinds of houses and buildings.

Recommended Reading

  • B is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC by June Sobel, Illustrated by Melissa Iwai
  • Houses by Gillimard Jeunesse

  • How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is your favorite thing about going to the library?  What kinds of things can you do at the library?  What can you learn at the library?

Family Outing and Activity

Visit your local library.  Write down some things you wonder about your city, town, or area before you go. You could also find books on a topic you wonder about or are interested in.  Try to find books that will help you answer your questions.

Recommended Reading

  • The Three Litte Pigs by James Marshall
  • The Visual Dictionary of of Buildings by Jeanette Winter
  • The Library of Congress by Allan Fowler

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is your favorite fun place to visit near your house?  What makes it fun to visit? What kind of fun place could you create in and around your house?

Family Outing and Activity

Try it out! Plan your own "perfect" fun getaway spot. Is it a ballpark?  A treehouse? Maybe the circus? Draw and write about your dream space. What would it look like?  What would you do there?  Act on your ideas and take a family trip to a fun place nearby.

Recommended Reading

Everglades by Jean Craighead George

Last Night I Dreamed a Circus by Maya Gottfried

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

If you could build any kind of house what would it look like? What materials would you use to build it?  How many rooms would it have?  What colors would you use?

Family Outing and Activity

Build igloos as a family using mini marshmallows. Use honey or chocolate syrup to hold the "bricks" together. Have fun eating your creations when you finish.

Recommended Reading

  • This is the House That Jack Built by Simms Taback
  • How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons
  • Building Big by David Macaulay

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What are some interesting structures around you? What about them is interesting to you? Why do you think they were built? How old do you think they are?

Family Outing and Activity

Use marshmallows and toothpicks to build a bridge. See what things the bridge can hold up (a stuffed animal, the newpaper, a book). For a challenge, use 15 marshmallows and 20 toothpicks and make it strong enough to hold a book.

Recommended Reading

  • Amazing Buildings by Philip Wilkinson
  • Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson
  • Built to Last by David Macaulay
Week 3: July 1 - 5

Planes, Trains, & Rockets That Go

Planes, Trains, & Rockets That Go

Count the Ways to Wander!
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Wondering About Travel & Transportation

Modern transportation can be amazing. It allows us to view things we might otherwise miss and do fun things in exciting ways. From a sailboat to a speedboat, a hang glider to a rocket, a skateboard to a motorcycle — transportation offers the choice of a leisurely pace or the thrill and convenience of speed. Travel and Wonder along with us this week as we Count the Ways to Wander! 

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

How many different ways can you travel by land? What is the farthest you have been on land? Where do you go most frequently by land?

Family Outing and Activity

Take a walk or bike ride together as a family.  Take note of anything new or out of the orginary that you may encounter.  Did you see any animals? Encounter any construction? Did  you see any interesting vehicles? Draw several pictures in your Wonder Journal of the most interesting things you saw on your journey. 

Recommended Reading

  • Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
  • Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
  • Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What does it feel like to travel on water?  Think of words that describe what you see, what you feel like and what you hear.  How does traveling on water compare to other modes of transportation?

Family Outing and Activity

Use modeling clay and mold it into the shape of a boat. Float the boat in a sink, tub or bucket of water. Predict how many pennies you can place on your boat before it sinks.  Start placing pennies on the boat. Compare how many pennies you predicted to how many sunk your boat.

Recommended Reading

  • Grandfather’s Journey by Alan Say
  • Boats: Speeding! Sailing! Cruising! by Patricia Hubbell
  • Boats on the Move by Willow Clark

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you fly?  Why would you fly there? What would you do there?

Family Outing and Activity

Spend time as a family making different kinds of paper airplanes. Have a contest to see which ones fly the farthest. Which ones stay in the air the longest? Which ones do the neatest tricks? Why do different planes fly in different patterns?

Recommended Reading

  • Rescues! by Sandra Markle
  • Hot Air by Marjorie Priceman
  • Airplane by Christopher Maynard

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What kinds of trains do you hear or see near your house?  Where do you think they are going?  What are they taking where they are going?

Family Outing and Activity

Spend time as family planning a real train ride.  What kind of train will you take — a commuter train, subway, or a passenger train? Where will you go? How will you pass the time during your ride? If there's a train nearby, take a trip to somewhere you haven't been before.

Recommended Reading

  • Trains by Gail Gibbons
  • Steam Train Ride by Evelyn Clarke Mott
  • Trains by Amy Shield
  • Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is the most fun way you have traveled? Why was it the most fun? How fast or slow were you traveling?

Family Outing and Activity

Travel around the world with food. Have English scones for breakfast, Chinese food for lunch and Italian for dinner. Which was your favorite meal? What other places can you visit through cuisine?

Recommended Reading

  • The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet) by Matt Wixon
  • Fast Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
  • What James Likes Best by Amy Schwartz
Week 4: July 8 - 12

Tidal Waves, Volcanoes, and Waterfalls

Tidal Waves, Volcanoes, and Waterfalls

Explore the Big Blue Marble!
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Wondering About Our Earth and Environment

Earth is an amazing planet with exciting environments to explore. There are majestic mountains to scale, canyons to hike, and deep oceans to dive into. There are extremes in temperature, from the heat at the equator to the chill of the icy polar caps. And let's not forget the environment right where you live. All are full of Wonder! We'll travel all around the world this week as we Explore the Big Blue Marble!

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

Why is it important to reduce, reuse, and recycle? What would happen if nobody helped take care of our planet? What would happen if everybody did? What are some things you can do around your house to help the Earth?

Family Outing and Activity

Go on a litter scavenger hunt in your neighborhood as a family. Make a list of the items that you think are often littered. See who can find and pick up the most of these items. Don’t forget gloves and bags for the litter.

Recommended Reading

  • What Happens to Our Trash by D.J. Ward
  • Let's Go to a Recycling Center by Michael Chester
  • Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What are the smallest things you see in three minutes? What are the biggest things you see in three minutes? Do you think it would be better to be really, really big or really, really small?

Family Outing and Activity

Go for a walk and play ‘I Spy’ with the biggest and smallest things you can find in your neighborhood or backyard.

Recommended Reading

  • The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard by B.G. Hennessy
  • How Big Is It?: A Big Book All About Bigness by Ben Hillman
  • Mites: Master Sneaks by Sandra Markle
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What happens if cold things get hot and hot things get cold? What changes do you make for things that are hot or cold? Would you prefer to live where it's really hot or really cold?

Family Outing and Activity

Pick a spot in your backyard that you think is the coldest and a spot that you think is the hottest. Use a thermometer to see what the temperature is in both places. Be sure to leave the thermometer in the spot for approximately five minutes before measuring the temperature. Record your results in your Wonder Journals. Compare your hot and cold temperature to the hottest and coldest places on earth.

Recommended Reading

  • Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest by Steven Jenkins
  • Pioneering Frozen Worlds by Sandra Markle
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Cold Feet: A Book About Hot- and Cold-blooded Animals by Tracey West

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

The earth changes constantly. Sometimes the changes are because of human activity, sometimes changes happen naturally. What ways can you see the earth in action around you? Which ones are the result of natural forces? Which ones are manmade?

Family Outing and Activity

Make a Mini Volcano: Use a glass bottle with a narrow neck (an empty taco sauce bottle would work well) and put it in the middle of a round pan. Build a clay mountain around it. Use a funnel to pour approximately ¼ cup of baking soda into the bottle. Then add a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent, and ¼ cup of vinegar into the bottle. Watch as the mini volcano erupts.

Recommended Reading

  • Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker
  • Volcanoes and Earthquakes by Basil Booth
  • Wild Earth: Avalanche! By Lorraine Jean Hopping

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

Where’s the highest and lowest point you’ve ever been? Are you afraid of heights? What are some situations where it’s important to be in high places and low places?

Family Outing and Activity

Make your own paper waterfall using these instructions.What is the name of your waterfall? Where is it located in the world?

Recommended Reading

  • The Wonder of a Waterfall by Allan Fowler
  • Mount Everest by Sarah De Capua
  • To the Top: The Story of Everest by Stephen Venables
Week 5: July 15 - 19

Robots, gizmos, and sci-fi adventures

Robots, gizmos, and sci-fi adventures

Unlock Your Inner Inventor!
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Invent a World of Wonder

Did you ever think about how we continually benefit from the creativity of others? Someone developed the zipper in your pants, the toaster you used for breakfast, and the escalator you rode while shopping. Even your shoelaces were refined by someone’s creative genius. Part of being inventive is digging in and just trying things out, and part is learning about what has been tried by others. This week we’ll Wonder about technology and innovation and Unlock Your Inner Inventor!

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

Think of some fun inventions you like to use. What do you think the person who invented these things needed to learn about or know how to do in order to create or invent them?

Family Outing and Activity

Get some glow sticks and play one of the following games:

  • Glowing Frisbee: Tape a glow stick necklace to the center of a frisbee. Go outside after dark and play frisbee.
  • Glow Stick Tag: Loosely tie a glow stick to a belt loop or another piece of clothing. The person tagging has to tug the glow stick off. The last person with a glow stick is the winner.
  • Glow Stick Scavenger Hunt: One person hides the glow sticks either inside or outside and then everyone else goes and looks for the glow sticks. The person who finds the most wins.

Recommended Reading

The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: and Other Surprising Stories About Inventions by Don L. Wulffson
Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson and Laurie Keller
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

Pick an invention that you use every day. How would your life would be different if you didn’t have it? What's the oldest invention you use in your day-to-day life? What's the newest?

Family Outing and Activity

Use the microwave to create everyone’s favorite camp food, S’mores. Discuss the Three Minutes to Wonder questions while you enjoy your s'mores. How can you change the recipe and invent a new kind of snack?

Recommended Reading

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
Inventions by Valerie Wyatt
Journey Through Inventions by Ron Taylor

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What is your favorite thing to do on a computer? Could you use any other technology to do that other than the computer? How would your life be different without a computer?

Family Outing and Activity

Pick a Wonder at Wonderopolis. As a family create a video to go along with the Wonder. Upload it to YouTube or the Wonderopolis SchoolTube channel. Maybe your video will go viral!

Recommended Reading

The Berenstain Bears' Computer Trouble by Jan Berenstain and Mike Berenstain
It's a Book by Lane Smith  

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

Brainstorm some things you have problems doing everyday; for example, reaching something off of the tallest shelf. What things could you create to fix the problems? How would it change lives?

Family Outing and Activity

Use recycled materials to create/invent something new. Either work together as a family, in pairs or individually. Be sure to think about what your new item could be used for and how it would be used.

Recommended Reading

  • See Inside Inventions by Alex Frith
  • The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors By Chris Barton 

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

If you could create any video game or app, what would it be about? What would it teach other children?

Family Outing and Activity

Have a video game Olympics at your house. Think about:

  • What games or apps will be played?
  • How will points be given?
  • Will the games/apps be played individually or in teams?
  • How will the winner be chosen?

Recommended Reading

Journey to a Different Dimension: An Adventure in the World of Minecraft by Stan Schatt and Demian Schatt

Week 6: July 22 - 26

Storm chasers and planet hunters

Storm chasers and planet hunters

Adventure into the Atmosphere!
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Sky and Weather

The big blue marble, Earth, seems pretty tiny when compared to the vast sky above. Right above Earth is where all the weather occurs, having a huge impact on our daily lives. And above that are the stars, galaxies, and beyond. It’s a limitless territory to observe and explore. It’s time to Wonder out of this world — let’s Adventure into the Atmosphere!

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

When you look up at the night sky, can you tell the stars from the planets? Do you see the stars twinkle? How many stars do think are in the sky?  

Family Outing and Activity

Have a star watching family night. Take a blanket to a place you can see the stars at night and try to map out the constellations. Use a smartphone app like Google Sky Map to help you locate specific planets and constellations.

Recommended Reading

Stars by Marla Frazee
The Night Sky Month by Month by Will Gater
Stars by Seymour Simon

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What does the moon look like when you look up at the night sky? What do you think it will look like next week? Why does the moon look different on different nights?

Family Outing and Activity

Try one of the these moon-based activities from NASA's Lunar Prospector page: http://lunar.arc.nasa.gov/education/activities/index.htm#23

Recommended Reading

Does the Moon Change Shape? by Meish Goldish
Where Does the Moon Go? by Sidney Rosen

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

How does the sky around you change when the weather changes? How does the sky change during different seasons? How does the sky transition from day to night?

Family Outing and Activity

Make a Cloud Identification Tool and spend time outdoors identifying the clouds you find. The instructions are found here: http://fullofgreatideas.blogspot.com/2012/03/to-cloud-diy-cloud-identification-tool.html

Recommended Reading

Day and Night by Maria Gordon
The Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker
Blue Sky by Audrey Wood

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

What does the sky look like when it’s going to rain or storm? How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it? How would you compare a stormy sky to the sky on a sunny day?

Family Outing and Activity

Predict how many drops of water it will take to saturate a cotton ball. Take a cotton ball and start adding drops of water to it. Be sure to go slow so you don’t lose count. Compare your prediction to how many actual drops it took.

Recommended Reading

Water Dance by Thomas Locker
Rain School by James Rumford

Take 3 Minutes to Wonder

If you could visit outer space what would you take with you? Where would you go, and what would you do there? What would you bring back to teach someone about what you learned?

Family Outing and Activity

Make a Solar System Mobile using Styrofoam balls. Click here for instructions. Are you really interested in outer space? Join the NASA Kid's Club by visiting this site.

Recommended Reading

The Solar System by Dana Meachen Rau
Don’t Know Much About the Solar System by Kenneth C. Davis
You Wouldn’t Want to Be on Apollo 13! by Ian Graham
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone