Disclosure: I am a National Geographic Kids Insider. All opinions expressed within this post are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
When I taught second grade, one of my most difficult tasks was motivating my students to do things that were difficult for them. Reading was one of the activities my students resisted on a whole – reading was hard, and required a lot of effort.
I wanted to make my students WANT to read, and I began spending weekends searching the still-quite-new-to-the-world Internet for what I called “Weird Facts”. After several weeks, I had enough weird facts to get me through the rest of the school year. Each day, I posted a weird fact on the chalkboard. I did not point out the facts, initially. When students would discover them, we often had informal conversations to build their background knowledge, express wonderment, and make connections.
Soon my students would rush into the classroom, standing in front of the chalkboard, working together to decode the “weird fact” of the day. My students wanted to read, and they wanted to know weird facts about their world.
Weird facts saved me from completely floundering as a reading teacher.
I eventually went on for an M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in reading, focusing my career on better understanding the intersections between informational texts, eTexts and motivation. Weird facts have motivated me to figure out how to engage kids with text by tapping into their natural curiosity.
National Geographic Kids Insider
When National Geographic Kids invited me to become an Insider this year and get a behind the scenes look at one of my most favorite publishers, I was thrilled. One of National Geographic Kids most beloved series is Weird But True.
These books would have saved me SO much research time as a teacher, and would have totally engaged my students. The books, which share weird, but true facts about the world are colorful and attractive. And, with the success of the series, they have expanded to the world of apps and television.
For example, here are a few screenshots that National Geographic Kids provided from their Animals app:
You are hooked already, aren’t you? Which of these facts do you find most interesting?
Weird But True TV Series
But the series just got BETTER. Now, on Saturday mornings, you and the kids can get an extra dose of weird, but true facts with Charlie Engelmann, host of the the Weird But True TV series. On most FOX stations during Exploration Station, you can join Charlie and his sister Kirby in exploring the weird world we live in.
What is their weirdest fact you know?