Classroom Spotlight: The Second Grade Whangdoodle Project

The Second Grade Whangdoodle Project

by Bel Beeson, Librarian & Media Resource Specialist
In the second grade library pinwheel, we read The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. The story is about the disappearance of the whangdoodle, a fantastical creature that lives in their kingdom far off in the imagination of humans. Because one professor held onto the memory of the whangdoodle, he made it possible for a family of 3 children to re-enter the world that had been so long forgotten. The mission of the story is to get through Whangdoodleland, full of wild tricks and bizarre creatures, to make it to the whangdoodle’s castle despite a tricky prime minister’s scheme to bar them from access. 
This year, as I read the story to the second graders, they were able to predict and figure out the plot of the story with so much certainty! The story includes the professor teaching the 3 children to look closer at the world, which enhances the skill of observation in order to see “beyond” what is face value. I love this about the story, as it engages our readers to both listen more carefully to the story to pick up the foreshadowings and clues along the way. The second graders used these skills to then make their own interpretive maps of Whangdoodleland. Students used clay, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, pom poms, watercolor paints, and a lot of glue to turn their imagined worlds into tactile models. 

The pinwheel is concluded with students sharing out their months-long cartography! The finals week we had together, each student presented their work to their peers, and students were given an opportunity to appreciate the interpretation of the story through someone else’s eyes. I think is one of the many powerful things about reading fiction and fantasy to students. Each student sees something different, and there is no right nor wrong. The story is safe and unique in each readers’ mind. I had such a wonderful time teaching this curriculum to second graders this year. By the end, I have a grasp and understanding behind each second grader’s process and work.