See, think, wonder


Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?

This routine encourages students to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry.

Application: When and where can I use it?

Use this routine when you want students to think carefully about why something looks the way it does or is the way it is. Use the routine with a relevant object (such as an artwork, image, artifact, chart, video, etc.) at the beginning of a new unit to motivate student interest, or try it with an object that connects to a topic during the unit of study. Consider using the routine with an interesting object near the end of a unit to encourage students to further apply their knowledge and ideas.

Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?

Once you present the object to your students, give them time to observe it. It may be useful to explain that they are first going to describe exactly what they see, not what they think they see. In the second step when students describe what they think about what they’re seeing, you could ask them follow-up questions like, “What else is going on here?” or “What do you see that makes you say that?” These questions help move students away from giving unsupported opinions encouraging them instead to use evidence to explain their thoughts. In the third step, help students articulate what they are wondering by asking them what questions remain for them.

The routine generally works well in a group discussion. You may want to document the students’ responses and post them in a place where all students can see them to encourage future consideration. When doing this as a group, you may want to ask students to try the routine quietly on their own first (perhaps documenting their own thinking in writing) before discussing in a group.

Poster with the three questions: See think wonder (PDF, 280 kb)

This thinking routine was developed as part of the Visible Thinking
project at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Explore more Thinking Routines at

Logo for Project Zero


Clothespin Airplane Valentines

Clothespin airplane with heart shaped message attached.

Use the clothespin to hold onto a little paper heart with a message.

Supplies Needed

  • Clothespins – the type the open with a spring
  • Popsicle sticks – 2 per plane
  • Mini popsicle sticks – 2 per plate
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Glue – we used hot glue
  • Acrylic paint and brushes
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper
  • (Magnet)

Step 1: Assemble your pieces.

For each plane, you’ll need two popsicle sticks, one clothespin, and one mini popsicle stick.

Cut cardboard segments for the struts between the wings of the bi-plane. Make the cardboards segments just tall enough that the top wing will sit ABOVE the clothespin and not attached to it. That will allow you to still operate the clothespin to insert the paper heart.

Cut a segment of a popsicle stick to be a tail. NOTE – the photo shows the popsicle stick cut straight across, but if you cut the tail at an angle, it looks better.

Required part to build the airplane.

Step 2: Assemble the plane with hot glue.

We found that it was easier to glue the plane together first before painting. That way, you can cover any sloppy glue areas with paint.

*Don’t glue the popsicle stick wing to the top of the clothespin, or the clothespin won’t open. Glue it to the cardboard struts.

Assembled airplane.

Step 3: Paint your plane!

We used acrylic paint, and I really think that’s the best option. Just make sure to cover up clothes, etc. when working with acrylic because it won’t wash out.

Step 4: Cut out a heart from construction paper and write a cheerful message!

Also, another idea – it might be fun to add a magnet to the belly of the plane and put it on the refrigerator!


Thanks to FrugalFun4Boys for the idea!

Tin Can Phone

Tin can telephone.
By Chris Potter – flickr, CC BY 2.0,


  • 2 paper cups
  • Pin or pin
  • about 1.5m of string
  • 2 paper clips


Use a pin to make a hole in the bottom of each mug.

Pull the string through the holes through both cups. Make sure the bottoms of the cups are facing each other.

Tie a paper clip at each end of the string

Pull the string so hard with your friend that the paper clips hit the bottom of the mugs.

Take turns talking into the mug and listening by placing the mug over your ear.


The sound travels through the air in waves. When you speak, the mug picks up sound waves, after which they move the string along with your friend’s mug.

This can also be done when several mugs are connected by string. Make another landline phone out of two mugs and tie the phones together to get a landline phone for four.


Freezing Bubbles Experiment


  • Bowl and spoon
  • 200 mL warm water
  • 5 Tbsp corn syrup (for thickness)
  • Two tablespoons sugar (for crystallization)
  • 5 Tbsp dish soap (for bubble formation)
  • One straw
  • One water or pop bottle
  • modeling clay or playdough
  • A day that is cold with no wind

How to Make Frozen Bubbles

For best bubble crystallization it needs to be at least -10C outside. We did this at -35C to -45C. The most important part is that there needs to be no wind.

Making the Special Frozen Bubble Juice Recipe

  • Start by making the bubble juice in a container with a lid. Add the warm water first. We used tap water as warm as it would come out of the tap. Then stir in the corn syrup until the water is clear.
  • Next add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Finally, add the dish soap and stir until combined. Do not get too enthusiastic about stirring at this stage or you will create a lot of bubbles. Stir enough to just combine the soap with the solution.
  • This is why we leave the dish soap to last. The sugar and corn syrup require quite a bit of stirring to dissolve. We do not want to create bubbles in our solution now, we want to save them for later!
  • Place a lid on the container and set it in the freezer or outside for about 30 minutes to chill the mixture. We do not want it to freeze! Just chill.

Making the Bubble Blaster

  • While the juice is chilling, we need to make a special bubble blaster! For this you will need a water or pop bottle (500mL is a suitable size). Empty and dry the bottle.
  • Take the cap and drill a hole in the cap that is just big enough to fit your straw. This step should be done only by a competent adult!
  • Place the straw through the hole in the cap and secure it using modeling clay to create an airtight seal.
  • If you do not have modeling clay (we prefer it because it stays pliable even in the cold and maintained the seal), you can try play dough or even a glue gun. The goal is to secure the straw and create a seal.

Freezing Bubbles

Now it is time to bundle up and head outside. Find a nice place, preferably with some fresh snow.

Using the bubble blaster, dip the end of the straw into the bubble juice, then squeeze the bottle to “blow” and create your bubble. Set the bubble on the snow and watch it crystallize. You can also drop the bubbles and watch them freeze but when they land, they are more likely to break.

Tricks to Make the Bubbles Freeze Without Breaking

Make sure your bubble juice is at least one inch deep. This allows the inside of the straw to be coated nice and high inside allowing you to create some good-sized bubbles.

The trick to making the bubbles freeze without breaking is to get them off the straw before they start to crystallize and freeze. So, blow the bubble, then release the bottle so the bubble detaches before it starts to freeze. The time you have will vary based on the temperature.

Try and set the bubble down gently. It is fun to watch them fall, but the force of the air can cause the frozen bubble to break and landing on the ground usually breaks the bubbles if falling does not do it. For best results blow the bubble onto some snow.

Make sure there is no breeze at all. This is critical. Find a sheltered spot and make sure the kids are not blowing or creating any breeze. This will cause the bubbles to shatter.

Have a nice soft-landing spot for the bubbles. We found a railing with a fresh layer of snow was perfect!

Building Frozen Bubble Towers

If you do everything right you can turn this into a fun challenge to see who can build the biggest frozen bubble tower, or who can make the longest line of bubbles, or ten bubbles in a row. Lots of opportunities for some fun, frozen competition!

The Science Behind Freezing Bubbles

After years of failures trying to get bubbles to freeze, I ended up learning a LOT about how to make this happen successfully.

First, temperature is your friend and your enemy. You need to keep everything cold and that is why we needed to create our bubble blaster. The air in our lungs is too warm and the difference in temperature between the air outside and the air we blow out of our lungs is too great and leads to breaking. Remember warm air expands! So, when you blow into the bubble juice, what is that warm air going to do? Expand and break your bubble!

That is also why we want to chill our bubble juice, to bring it closer to the outside temperature.

You want nice strong bubbles to really make this experiment work. To freeze up nice and solid (some of our bubbles are still there days later!), you need a thick bubble juice. The corn syrup provides that nice thickness we need in our juice to make a strong bubble. After making our bubbles if we gently knocked them free, they would roll across the ground like marbles!

Those gorgeous crystal formations you see on the bubbles is the process of crystallization. This is caused by the freezing process but is helped along by the sugar. This gives us some gorgeous frozen bubbles.

Of course, the final ingredient is dish soap which helps create the bubbles!


Idea taken from STEAMpoweredFamily

If you want tips how to document it all look at: ”How to Shoot Frozen Soap Bubbles”

Kill the Light

Play with the Christmas lights.


  • candles
  • matches
  • pitcher,
  • vinegar
  • bicarbonate (baking soda)


  • Step 1: Light the candle. Pour a few decilitres of vinegar into the jug.
  • Step 2: Add a few teaspoons of baking soda and stir.
  • Step 3: Gently tilt the jug towards the candle, without letting the liquid out. Do you manage to extinguish the candle?

What happened?

When you add the soda to the vinegar, a chemical reaction happens. The reaction forms water and carbon dioxide gas. The gas is heavier than air and sinks downwards. We can’t see the gas, which makes it look magical. When you tilt the jug towards the light, some of the gas comes out, because the gas is heavier than air it pushes the air down and smothers the flame. Carbon dioxide gas is a product of combustion, therefore carbon dioxide gas does not burn, but manages to extinguish the candle. Other gases, like oxygen, have a property of keeping the fire alive. For example, when you blow on a fire, it burns better because you add oxygen to the fire.

Air contains 21% oxygen and the air we breathe out contains 16% oxygen.

Idea from Heureka Experimentfabrik.

Jumping Bird/Cup rocket

Step-1: Prepare some decorative stuff for your Rocket

Construct wings, a rocket or what you think is suitable out of construction paper to decorate the rocket with

Step-2: Preparing Rocket

We need a strong rocket, so I am going to layer it up with another cup.

Just cut the edge of the cup and insert it in another cup to make two layers.

Take a paper cup and put two holes by inserting a needle one point of the cups side to the opposite side of the cup. Such that the two holes remain quite opposite to each other.

Make sure you are keeping these holes near the brim of the paper cup mouth area. Repeat the same process of making hole on the other side of the cup. That means you are making four holes on the four sides of the paper cup.

Step-3: Inserting Bands

Pick two rubber bands and cut them at one point. Then, insert the line of rubber band into any two holes in opposite sides of the cup and tie its end part to keep a knot on both ends. Such that the inserted band will not slip out of the holes.

Repeat the same with the other line of band and keep tight knots into the other set of holes around the cup. Finally, after tying bands to the holes of the cup, you can see plus shape at the open side of paper cup mouth brim.

Step-4: Glue the Decorative Stuff

It is time to decorate our rocket launcher! Keep the paper cup which is referring to the rocket part, upside down.

Step-6: Flying Paper Cup Rocket

In this step, pick another paper cup and place it in reverse position such that the paper cup is in upside position. We are going to use this inverse paper cup as a base part or launcher for your space rocket.

Now place your rocket on top of the base cup but in upside down position. Make sure the base is also in inverse position. Then, give a gentle pressure just with the bear hands and push the rocket towards the base. After pushing it over the base part, release the pressure on the rocket part.

Science behind How Paper Cup Rocket Fly

What Newton’s Third Law of Motion says? It says; “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. Satisfying the newton’s third law, the rocket part when you push downwards over the base part and release, it flies into the air. That means the amount of pressure you give on the rocket makes it fly with the same amount of energy and force upwards after releasing the pressure.

Idea taken from the GoScienceGirls-blog

Animal Statistics

Each student selects an animal and searches for information about it to compile an animal card:

Which animal?
Tail length:  
Life span:  
Conservation status:  

Examine together the different characteristics of the animals by standing in a line or in a queue in order of size according to a certain characteristic.

Survey questions

  • Height: Which of the animals is the tallest? Or the lowest?
  • Lifespan: Which of the animals can live the longest? What is the middle value among the life expectancies (so-called median)?
  • Speed: Which of the animals is the fastest? Or the slowest? What is the most common speed among animals (so-called typical value)?
  • Conservation status: What is the most common conservation status?


Carry out additional research based on frequencies:
categorise the animals according to their lifespan into categories 1-5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years, etc.
Examine the frequencies in the different categories.


  1. Produce pieces of paper in different colors on which you write the central concepts, such as median, type value, minimum value and maximum value. Hand out the notes next to the various survey questions to the right people to clarify the correct answer.
  2. You can also take pictures of the different trails you create, so that the examples can be visually examined afterwards as well.


Idea from Lumatikka’s material.

Ten Buddies

  • Create a circle on the floor and divide it in half into two parts – A and B. Ten children are allowed to move freely within the circle to the beat of the music. When the music is turned off, check how many children are on the A side and how many are on the B side. That way you get two ten buddies!
  • Ten children stand on the A side of the circle. The teacher gives a number between 0 and 10. The children move so that x children go to the B-side. The children then count how many children were left on the A side. The result is a pair of ten buddies.

Idea from Lumatikka’s material.

Practicing Number Sequence Skills With Your Body

  • Half of the pupils stand in a line in the yard or in the gymnasium and create a series of different body positions.
  • The other half of the students continue the line by creating a new, similar series.
  • The task can be made more difficult by asking about the length of the series or by asking participants to create a series that has a certain length.

Idea from Lumatikka’s material.