Pencils in hand and eyes focused on their work Wednesday, a group of second graders at Higley Unified School District’s Coronado Elementary School carefully retold the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
The lesson gave them a chance to practice the idea of “sequence,” but it was also fun as they drew apples and plums and candy.
The students in Jenna Wagner’s class were taking part in Coronado’s first “Engage Wonder Day” on its South Gilbert campus.
The school launched the monthly program this year to build excitement about learning and engage students in the new Arizona state standards. The staff built each “Engage Wonder Day” this year around the theme “Feast or famine: Can we solve world hunger?”
Throughout the first “Wonder Day” — titled “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” — students worked on critical thinking problems using raisins for many of the projects. They built their own food plate according to the food pyramid guidelines, found out what foods are grown locally and completed a science project where they made the raisins “dance.”
The excitement was high, especially in the cafeteria during lunch. The students shared their favorite parts of Wonder Day with guests and staff.
“We did an estimate on raisins, how many are in a box,” said second-grader Ethan Miller. “We found out the right answer by taking them out and counting them.”
“Wonder Day is about people sharing and helping others and you get to go to classes that are way higher than your grade,” said second-grader Bry Apaohepa.
“Wonder Day is about how much food you can feed to the world,” said second-grader Jessa Galeev.
Principal Mai-Lon Wong said the staff worked to create a fun, but purposeful day.
“It’s a different way of teaching with new Arizona state standards. What we’re trying to do is make it more accessible for the teachers and the students,” she said.
Sixth-grader Autumn Polley said she enjoyed the science experiments best. During that breakout session, Polley and her classmates put different food items in water or soda to see what would happen.
But first, the students created a hypothesis – many learning the word for the first time. Then they charted the results.
“The corn was still dancing when we walked out of the room,” Polley said. “We put it in Sprite.”
All the supplies for the day — including 700 mini boxes of raisins — were donated or collected by the PTO and parents.
In keeping with the new Arizona state standards of teaching the students how to read informational texts, classes were given a two-page print out of the story “The Biography of the California Raisin.” The piece described how the popular, clay advertising icons were made.
In another breakout session, were taught the idea of “estimation” and estimated by guessing how many raisins were in a small box.
“I guessed 43 and there were 99,” said fifth-grader Peyton Idleman. “We got to graph it and see what the average was for the whole class.”
Next month, the Wonder Day is titled “The Hunger Games.” Students will discuss nutrition, how to live off the land and survival skills.