Defamiliarize the Familiar: Reflect and Apply

Defamiliarize the Familiar: Reflect and Apply

Defamiliarizing the familiar is a learning strategy that can be used to cultivate wonder in your learners. Use a self-assessment check to reflect on what you are already doing supporting your learners, defamiliarize the familiar and identify an area you want to improve.


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Biology, Storytelling, Experiential Learning, Photography

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This is part 3 of 3 in the Defamiliarize the Familiar Learning Package. Explore more WonderLab Learning Resources.

Defamiliarizing the familiar is one learning strategy that can be used to cultivate wonder in young learners. To support this wondering strategy, educators can create learning environments that include physical spaces with tools to examine familiar things in new ways, provide intellectual spaces that prioritize making space for observation and reflection, and allow surprising events to lead to questions that can be explored. Collecting a bunch of familiar items and having students draw or write about them, like in An Artist’s Notebook, can help learners slow down their observations and notice them in different ways.

Additional activities and tools to inspire wonder are linked in the Additional Resources of this learning package for you to explore. Finding ways to spark learners’ sense of wonder will inspire them to engage in scientific practices to ask questions and pursue answers. But true wonder leads to more wondering, which is when you know you have been successful at cultivating wonder with your learners.

The questions below are extensions of the self-assessment check that you did earlier in the learning package.

  • How do I make physical space for learners to observe the familiar?
  • How do I make intellectual space for learners to communicate their observations about the familiar?
  • How do I support my learners in defamiliarizing the familiar?
  • When do I encourage learners to defamiliarize the familiar?

Take some time to reflect on these questions and consider what you are already doing with respect to supporting learners around defamiliarizing the familiar and identify one area where you want to improve.

Conijn, J., Rietdijk, W., Broekhof, E., Andre, L., & Schinkel, A. (2021). A theoretical framework and questionnaire for wonder-full education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 54(3), 423-444.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Elizabeth Wolzak, Director, Learning Innovation, Edu Lab, National Geographic
Heather J. Johnson, Vanderbilt University
Sheron Fraser-Burgess, Education Consultant, Global Inclusive Learning Design Reviewer
Bayan Atari, National Geographic Society
Bayan Atari, National Geographic Society
Graphic Design
Patrick Cavanagh, National Geographic Society
Rights Clearance
Jean Cantu, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 24, 2024

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