Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Wide Awake in the World

There is an exciting rite of passage that takes place for students in third grade at Opal School. The children receive, and learn to use, writer’s notebooks. After much preparation and anticipation, the children received their notebooks this week… and we took them into the world.


We know children are actively making meaning and connections and observations of their world all the time. A writer’s notebook is like permission to do more, and a message to the children that says, “We want to know it all. We want you to capture those ideas and questions and feelings and thoughts because we know they are important. We value them. We want you to remember them and make more of them. And we want to know them, too.”

They accept the invitation eagerly.


There is much to observe in the world.


SS even spent some of her precious lead writing: “I
hope someone brought a pencil sharpener because I am not even at the Farmer’s
Market yet and there will be so much more to write!”


Such amazing perspectives they find and share.


They are fearless seekers of relationship, deserving of opportunity and time and support to be connected. Children know that adults are the keepers of so much experience and understanding and knowing. The writer’s notebooks help us, as the children get older and their ideas grow in sophistication, listen to them as they make sense of the world. And they help us help them to connect their ideas and cares and observations to the wider world that they are increasingly ready to know: public histories in literature, history, and the sciences develop rich meaning as we find ways to connect them to the private lives of the children now.

In DR’s written comment, “I
think at people see people and think that they exclaim, “What a pretty place!”, we find opportunity to explore design and composition. In ED’s related snippet, “The
Library makes me feel like: A quiet place to enjoy your book. A place
librarians help kids find what they’re looking for. A place to be free. Somewhere
you feel supported.”, we find opportunity to connect them both, as well as opportunity to further explore the world of emotion. As an author, as a designer, as a city planner, can you be intentional about the way you want your audience or your community to feel?

In their own observations, the door opens to a world of possibility and connection. As the teacher, it is a joy to take their hands and walk through. Every time.