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Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children, is an imprint specialising in products for fun and engaging thinking. This website provides accompanying material to our Wonder Ponder boxes, including guides for children, parents and mediators, ideas for wonderpondering and fun games and activities. It is also a platform for sharing your very own Wonder Ponder content and ideas.

Wonder Ponder Blog

The Wonder Ponder blog includes posts on the creative processes behind our Visual Philosophy for Children material, as well as workshop experiences, guest posts on a variety of topics and generally interesting, eye-catching or mind-bloggling stuff we feel like sharing with you. 

Whatever You Want!

Ellen Duthie

WHATEVER YOU WANT

A PLAYFULLY SERIOUS AND SERIOUSLY PLAYFUL INVITATION TO THINK ABOUT FREEDOM

WONDER PONDER VISUAL PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN SERIES TITLE NUMBER 3

Is being free doing whatever we want?
Can we all do whatever we want at the same time?
What is the difference between always having to do what you are told and being a slave?
Are you anyone or anything's slave?
Would being able to fly make you freer?
Is it possible to be happy without being free? 
What is it to be free? 
And what do we want to be free for? 
 

The third title in the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want, is an invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom for small, medium and large people. 

Half-way between a book and a game, Whatever You Want comes in a box and invites readers to think about freedom in a way that is both serious and seriously fun.

Through the questions prompted by the scenes in the box, the reader-player can go building their own definition of freedom. 

Part of our critically acclaimed Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want is designed for children to look at, read and think playfully about by themselves, accompanied by an adult or in a group, in educational, play or family contexts.

CONTENTS OF WHATEVER YOU WANT:

14 cards with scenes for wondering and pondering
More than 100 carefully worded questions for curious minds
3 blank cards for designing your own scenes
A philosophical companion guide for children and adults
Ideas for wonderpondering
Whatever You Want poster

CHRISTMAS WONDERPONDERING: A FREE, DOWNLOADABLE AND PRINTABLE BOOKLET FOR THINKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS

Ellen Duthie

THIS CHRISTMAS,
OPEN! LOOK! THINK! 
WITH
WONDER PONDER'S
VISUAL PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN. 

Christmas is around the corner and at Wonder Ponder we think it is a great chance for wonderpondering. Last year, we had the chance to see for ourselves that many teachers and families also thought so, judging by all the messages we got describing what a great time they had had and how much they had wonderpondered about Christmas with our special downloadable Christmas wonderpondering booklet. 

So this year, here it is again, our Christmas gift for everyone to share:  a free, downloadable and printable PDF booklet chock-a-block with ideas for wonderpondering about Christmas. Enjoy!

Click on the image above to download full PDF file. 

 

WISHING YOU ALL A WONDERFUL, PONDERFUL, CHRISTMAS!

Are you ready to celebrate World Philosophy Day with our free downloadable thinking sheet?

Ellen Duthie

LOOK! THINK! AND CELEBRATE!

Are you ready to celebrate World Philosophy Day?

Here's the good news!

At Wonder Ponder we have decided to turn it into a full World Wonderpondering Week. And we are going to make you all think mercilessly, non-stop. 

How? 

1. With a fantabulous, free, downloadable thinking sheet for fun and games with your brain.  

2. For those of you in Madrid (Spain) only: A Visual Philosophy Recital (in Spanish). What's that? You ask. You'll just have to hope we do one soon somewhere near you to find out!

3. With a free, downloadable poster as celebratory decoration. 

First things first. We have prepared a special downloadable thinking sheet. If you print it on one page on both sides and fold it down the middle, you'll have a nice wee 'booklet' to hand out in class, read and chat about at home and think of any good questions of your own. For an extra slick look, try printing it on coloured paper. 

Second, (only for people in Madrid), this Saturday we are performing a Visual Philosophy Recital as part of the World Philosophy Day activities organised by MásFilosofía. It will take place at the Centro Cultural La Corrala, at Calle Carlos Arniches. The recital invites children and their families (as well as adults without a child chaperone to come with us on a journey through some of the scenes in Wonder Ponder's book-in-a-box games, while listening to a vibrant, fun and thought-provoking recital. 

For Wonder Ponder, World Philosophy Day not only celebrates philosophy, it also marks our second anniversary of the launch of our first title Cruelty Bites in November 2014. Today, it has been published in South Korea and Argentina and rights have been sold to Turkey, South Korea and Mexico. We have just today received the third edition of the Spanish version, Mundo cruel, and the Catalan editions of our first two titles, Cruelty Bites and I, Person.  

So we have rather a lot to celebrate!

And that's where our free, downloadable World Philosophy Day thinking poster comes in. Enjoy!

Competition! Win a copy of our Visual Philosophy for Children title on freedom, 'Whatever You Want'

Ellen Duthie

What? 
A competition!

What's the prize?
A copy of Whatever You Want, of our Visual Philosophy for Children book-in-a-box, specially signed and dedicated by the authors, with a drawing by the illustrator, Daniela Martagón? We'll send it wherever you tell us to! 

Whatever You Want is an invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom for small, medium and large people. Half-way between a book and a game, it comes in a box and invites readers to think about freedom in a way that is both serious and seriously fun. Through the questions prompted by the scenes in the box, the reader-player can go building their own definition of freedom. Part of our critically acclaimed Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want is designed for children to look at, read and think playfully about by themselves, accompanied by an adult or in a group, in educational, play or family contexts.

What do I have to do? 
It's easy! Look carefully at all the inhabitants of the Free House (the poster from Whatever You Want) and find at least 10 references to characters from children's literature (you'll see it's chock-a-block!). 

When you've spotted ten characters, go to our Facebook page and leave a comment on this post, indicating your 10 characters, with the titles of the books they appear, the authors of the books and the room in the Free House where you found them (at the bottom of the poster you'll see a numbered list of all the rooms and spaces inside the house). 

Remember! Your answer should be the list of the 10 characters you've found, with corresponding titles, authors and location within the house, and you should send us your answer as a comment on our Facebook page.  

The draw from among all correct answers will take place on Friday 28th of October 2016. Good luck! 

Need some tips? The poster features characters from Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg, from The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen, from Conrad, the Factory-made Boy, by Christine Nostlinger, from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak... and from many, many, many more books. Enjoy!

What was the prize again?
A copy of Whatever You Want, of our Visual Philosophy for Children book-in-a-box, specially signed and dedicated by the authors, with a drawing by the illustrator, Daniela Martagón? We'll send it wherever you tell us to! 

Easing the pressure of participation

Ellen Duthie

In the workshops with teachers, librarians and facilitators offered by Wonder Ponder, attendants often voice concerns regarding participation in the dynamics of philosophical dialogue in the classroom or in non-formal educational contexts. Could philosophical dialogue be exclusionary to students with social anxiety and communication difficulties or who are simply more introverted than others? 

What can be done to ensure that children who find it difficult to participate are not left out? How do you integrate in the community of enquiry people who don't feel at ease speaking in front of others or who find it intimidating to expose their views or who have difficulties communicating or who would simply rather not speak in that context?   

Obviously there is no magic strategy to ensure that all members of the community participate equally. It will depend on the child in question, the specific group, the context, the group's familiarity with philosophical dialogue and the person acting as facilitator of the dialogue. 

However, in this blog post our author Ellen Duthie shares three cases that helped her rethink participation and ease the pressure -on the kids and on herself-.

I don't have a magic strategy, no, but I do have three cases that have helped me think about this issue. Here are three pointers, one related to each of the cases, which I find useful to take into account when thinking about participation.   

1. Define participation.  
There's this ten-year-old boy who has been coming to every single one of the workshops I've done in Madrid for the last four years or so. He hasn't missed a single one. He insists to his parents he wants to attend. He is very chatty when one's alone with him, and when he is playing with his friends. He is articulate, has a broad vocabulary and is able to express complex ideas and to resolve conflicts during play. And yet, he hardly opens his mouth at the workshops. He may have uttered all of two sentences in all the dialogues of all the workshops put together. 

When his mother asks me whether he has participated I say he has. I say that although he has not spoken out loud during the dialogue, he has been following everything everyone has been saying very attentively and with interest, smiling and reacting to what his fellow enquirers say. The mother tells me that later, when they get home, he tells her in great detail about everything that was said, who argued what, replaying the dialogue at home with her. This time he does participate orally, expressing his agreement or disagreement with the different arguments he has listened to in the morning, and he goes building an answer of his own.

Some children -and some adults- have a quick pace of thinking, while others prefer a slower pace. They like letting what they read and what they hear sink in, digesting it, and then speaking about it calmly, perhaps one-on-one with a friend, a mother or a father. Some people don't find it hard to go building their answers during the dialogue, rectifying and adjusting on the go. But others prefer or even need to think it over for a bit longer, to have that dialogue internally before making any utterance. This internal dialogue can also be part of the shared dialogue. It can be a form -an active form even- of participation.  

2. Give time.
A girl who came to a series of weekly workshops did not open her mouth once the first two weeks. Her parents had 'warned' me of her intense shyness and said she might find it hard. The third week, mid workshop, she suddenly started talking. It was as if she had suddenly clicked that this was slightly different from what she had expected: here, unlike some other contexts, she did feel like participating. This is by no means the only time this has happened. I think it has something to do with the pace of thinking and arguing in philosophical dialogue.  

In other contexts, inside and outside the classroom, people with social anxiety or difficulties to communicate can feel uncomfortable and pressured when asked questions. Most questions we are asked seem to requiere a quick answer (either in the form of the correct answer or in the form of a formed opinion).  

But precisely in philosophical dialogue the pace is slower. It is not about getting rid of the question by solving it, 'shooting it down' as it were, with an answer. In philosophical dialogue questions are dealt with carefully, attentively, in as orderly a fashion as possible. It's not about getting rid of it but about staying with it for long enough to understand it better, getting comfortable with it, learning to see it from all possible angles. 
This unhurried pace can be comforting precisely for people who may feel intensely unconfortable and reluctant to participating in other contexts. 

3. Consider different ways of participating. 
There is another boy who has come to many of my workshops and
who many might label as non-participative. He is quite similar in attitude to the boy in case number 1, what you might call a silent thinker. But what is interesting is how his attitude changes during the art work we often do after the dialogues at Wonder Ponder workshops. Here he transforms and becomes energetic, creative and delightfully spontaneous. This does not mean he doesn't enjoy the dialogues in silence. But I always pay special attention to his artistic contributions because they are fantastic (they are), but also to make him see that one kind of participation is not more important than the other and that I understand perfectly and see in his drawings all the work he has done in silence during the dialogue.  

Even during the dialogue I try to incorporate different forms of participation. For instance, there are certain introductory, warm-up questions that invite sharing an experience of one's own that might have bearing on the issue we are about to explore. For some, participating in this kind of question is less intimidating than participating in more purely philosophical questions. And the other way around. Some would rather not share any personal experiences and focus on the issues themselves. In this sense, I try to pay attention and ask each of the members of the group the kind of questions I know they are more comfortable with and find more fun to answer. By making them feel at ease, with no pressure, they often do eventually and gradually start participating in ways other than those they were most comfortable at the beginning and start stepping out of their comfort zone.  

I think the main thing is creating a
pleasant, stimulating and safe space for dialogue. And making sure there is no rush. No pressure. No forcing anyone. Giving time. And paying attention to the different ways of enjoying that time where we stop and think together.  

Further information:
The Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children
The titles in the series: Cruelty BitesI, Person and Whatever You Want
Wonder Ponder in the media 
Ellen Duthie's blogs: Story PhilosophyFilosofía a la de tres (in Spanish), We Read it Like This
Online shop.

The Search for the Right Tone: The Story Behind a Cover

Ellen Duthie

At the launch of the third title in our Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want (an invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom), Wonder Ponder illustrator, designer and co-author Daniela Martagón told the audience about the creative process from her point of view. She focused on the fascinating search for the right tone.  

Daniela presentando. Foto: Miki Hernández. 

Here is what Daniela shared: 

The first idea was very different from the final result. This first approach was based on the concept of cages and confinement in different variations as a means of exploring degrees and possibilities of freedom, 

This 'first dummy' was shown to a group of children of different ages (5 to 12) in the form of an exhibition during a series of workshops. And it worked very well. It contained powerful scenes that led to very interesting reactions and dialogues but after working with the scenes, we felt that as a whole the concept was rather fatalistic and oppressive. We felt we needed an approach that would allow room for freer or more liberating examples.   

The second attempt was tied to the working title we had for the box in English: Freedom in a Box. We loved the title and we also liked the possibility of finding freedom in confinement represented by the image, but we could not find a way of translating it into Spanish that sounded good.  The literal translation "La libertad en caja" created an involuntary pun with "en caja" (in a box) and "encaja" (to fit in) that did not make us happy. We didn't want to have titles in Spanish and English that were too dissimilar from a conceptual point of view, so we looked for another title. 

After finding one we were happy with in both languages (Whatever You Want / Lo que tú quieras), we continued to experiment with the idea of freedom in confinement, again playing with cages. But here we found again and again, that the meaning of the title and the meaning of the image clashed. It just wasn't working. We were starting to feel imprisoned by our own cage idea.  

We removed the cage and tried with a gag and rope. But it still wasn't clear. Some people even pointed to possible innuendos we had never even thought of (really!). 

And then came a second phase, where I veered to the other extreme: life with no supervision or rules of any kind. Children playing with fire. 

A power-intoxicated baby. Driving, smoking. 

But we didn't like the moralistic tone of it, whereby if children are given freedom, they don't know how to handle it. That was not the route we wanted to follow either.  I decided to keep the baby, but I swapped the unchecked will for desire. I tried with the idea of a genie. 

It wasn't bad, we like it. We were almost there... But we felt the cover elicited only the desire aspect of freedom, when inside, the book was about so much more. Still not quite convincing. 

And then I drew this girl in full, ecstatic explosion of freedom. 

Free! We liked the celebratory feel of it. 

I continued to try it out, until I hit upon the idea of a loudspeaker. 

Here, not only is she in full ectasy of freedom, but she is also asking us readers to join her. We felt we had reached the end of our fascinating journey from fatalism to celebration. This was it! 

A few changes, a bit of colour. and voilà!

All the illustrations from this post by Daniela Martagón. 

Wonder Ponder goes to prison

Ellen Duthie

When we are creating our Visual Philosophy for Children titles we always take great care in making sure the scenes for wonderpondering work for as broad an age range as possible, and in as many different contexts as possible. But there are always surprises, contexts we hadn't thought of, at least not specifically when developing the books.  

Right in the middle of the creative process of our latest title Whatever You Want, Irene Amador told us about a fantastic project of hers (together with three other women) at the Women's Unit at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid. Every other Saturday, from 10 am to 12:30 pm, Irene, Laura, Belén and Eider visit the prison and carry out a literature workshop. They read a variety of texts written by women (ranging from brief fiction to thought-provoking non-fiction), they do literary creativity activities and spend a pleasant time together. 

One Saturday, we were told, they had taken our Cruelty Bites to the workshop and looked at it and read it with the female prisoners, who apparently loved it. 

At Wonder Ponder, we are constantly surprised by people writing to us and telling us about new, sometimes unexpected, contexts where our books are read and discussed, and one of the most fascinating things about getting a book out there is how it grows and goes in directions you had not for a moment considered. 

From that moment onwards, every single scene in Whatever You Want, which is after all, an invitation to think about the nature and the experience of freedom,  took on a lens of reality, through which we looked at the hypothetical scenarios and fictional scenes included in the book from the point of view of our usual suspects -a four-year old child, an eight-year old child, a teenager, a university student, a parent, a grandparent- but also through the hypothetical eyes of a prisoner, considering the differences in reaction and engagement with the scenes a long-term prisoner might have compared to a short-term prisoner.  

At the launch of Whatever You Want, we were glad and excited to see the women in charge of the project at this Women's prison unit had been able to make it. When they went away, they took with them a copy specially dedicated to the prisoners and a plan for the Wonder Ponder team to join them one Saturday on a prison visit this coming autumn. 

To be honest, we were a bit nervous about the reception the book might have among the women in prison. The line between being creative and thinking of engaging scenarios and being flippant with people's realities is sometimes fine and though we had given it a lot of thought, we were still nervous. 

Shortly after the book launch, Eider wrote to us and this is what she said: 

On Saturday we went to Soto [the prison] and took your latest book with us. We had already played with Cruelty Bites months ago and they had really liked it. 
This time there were few of us because there was a concert outside the unit and many of them went to see that instead (they take advantage of the very rare occasions they are allowed out of the unit, which is the only women's unit in the prison). Two of our workshop regulars came along and the truth is we had a lot of fun. We had a dialogue, we laughed, we defended opposing viewpoints and many thoughts arose that made us rethink some of our ideas and even in some cases, change our mind. We told them you had dedicated it to them and they were excited when they saw the prison scene. It was really good: listening to their points of view on freedom, in their state of confinement, ...  one of them has been in different prisons for the last 20 years. Just imagine. The truth is we learn a lot from them, they are a really great women, we would have spent hours and hours chatting and talking about the cards. 

It will be wonderful when you come, to have the chance to wonderponder together. Plus, we didn't have enough time for them to do any of their own scenes and they seemed keen to try that, so when you come, that will be the perfect occasion.  

We are very much looking forward to meeting the women at Soto del Real and having the chance to discuss freedom with them. When we do, we''ll be sure to report back. 

Do children have the right to keep some things private from their parents?

Ellen Duthie

One of the characters from Whatever You Want. She won't tell us her name because she'd rather keep it private. 

One of the characters from Whatever You Want. She won't tell us her name because she'd rather keep it private. 

In our new title, Whatever You Want, Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón invite people, small, medium and large, to explore freedom and many other related concepts: safety, limits, rules, choice, free will, privacy and more.  

Like all the titles in our Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want feeds on extensive, rich and careful work in workshops with children and adults before and during the creation process.  

At Wonder Ponder we ask, we listen, we dialogue, we observe. We draw up a general map of questions on the core issue and see which questions are of particular interest to children of different ages, so that we can then attempt to condense them in the scenes we finally select to be included in the book.

Because of the way we work, starting off with a prior philosophical map of questions and then using it to gather real concerns and spark further questions from children in our workshops and at the schools we work, our Wonder Ponder books do not only contain questions and situations designed by adults for children. They also contain many questions in the other direction: questions and concerns put forward by children and teenagers which, when put to adults, can open up an interesting dialogue between generations. 

One of the issues that frequently comes up in workshops on freedom with children (with teenagers, yes but also with younger children) is privacy.  'Do we have to tell our parents everything or are there parts of life we can keep to ourselves?'  

A nine-year-old girl complained at one workshop: 'My Mum is always asking me what I've been up to and she wants to know every little detail. But I don't tell her everything because there are some things I like to keep to myself'. When asked what sort of thing she preferred to keep to herself and whether they were things she somehow feared telling her mother, she answered: 'Oh, no. It's got nothing to do with fear. It's not because they are bad things. They're just mine. They're mine and I don't feel like sharing them with anyone else'. Sparked by this sentiment and other similar feelings of other people in the group, we engaged in a riveting dialogue about the right to privacy.  

Usually, when adults speak of children's right to privacy, we tend to focus our attention on the protection of the private nature of pictures and personal information in an increasingly public world, for instance, or on the right to remain anonymous of celebreties' kids, to give another example. We focus on home-outwards privacy. But what about home-inwards? Do children have the right to a private life their parents don't know of? If so, from what age? Do children have the right to have private correspondence? What aspects of their lives is it acceptable - or desirable - for us to be informed of? Where is the line between protection and intrusion? From what age does a child have a right to this kind of privacy? 

There are at least two scenes in Whatever You Want that trigger wondering, pondering and questioning on these issues. The first puts forward a possible world where a thought reading machine has been invented. 

On the back of the scene, some of the questions suggested are: 'Why do you think the doctor is reading the boy’s thoughts? What thoughts do you think the reader has detected? What would you do if other people could read your thoughts? Can you control what you think? Imagine this thought reader really existed. Who should be able to use it, who with and what for?'

The second scene (for this one you'll need to resort to your imagination) shows a boy inside a wardrobe with the only company of a sweet kitten. He has made himself a great little den, with everything required to enjoy his freedom. Some of the questions on the back are:  

'Do you think the boy in the scene is free? Is feeling free the same as being free? Is it possible to be freer when hiding than when in front of others?' And then that seemingly simple yet rather hard question to answer. 'Do children have the right to keep some things private from their parents?' 

These are questions that are far from easy to answer, whether you are a child or an adult, and, precisely because they are not easy, they are also the most interesting type of question to share and the most fascinating kind of question to explore. Questions posed by children for other children, by adults for children and by children for adults, all of them great for wondering and pondering freely. 

So, do children have the right to keep some things private from their parents? 

What do you think? 

Find out more about the Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children here

'WHATEVER YOU WANT', A PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN EXHIBIT EXPLORING THE IDEA OF FREEDOM, OPENS IN EL PASO

Ellen Duthie

Earlier this week the `Whatever You Want`interactive Philosophy for Children exhibit opened at La Mujer Obrera in El Paso (Texas). The exhibit has been co-created by Wonder Ponder illustrator Daniela Martagón within the framework of the Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands program, with the support of a Diversity and Inclusiveness Grant from The American Philosophical Association.

Whatever You Want is an interactive exhibit of philosophy for children and families to wonder and ponder about freedom.

Based on the scenes created for wondering and pondering developed or the book-in-a-box with the same title by Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón to be published this month, the exhibit includes, as well as large scale reproductions and adaptations of many of those scenes, other elements such as the little houses of freedom, where children can enter and write on the walls their own rules to ensure peace and freedom inside the houses, a genie offering visitors thee wishes but posing a couple of questions that might make visitors think before making their wishes, a loudspeaker for everyone to say whatever they want , a Free House, where visitors can spy on its inhabitants and think about what they are all doing, and another house template for them to take home and draw their very own Free House at home.  

Daniela Martagón was lucky to have artist Dina Edens working on the installation and adaptation of the works for this exhibition. Without her, it would not have been possible.  

From the start of the Wonder Ponder project, we have explored all possible forms of presenting our Visual Philosophy for Children concept besides from our books-in-a-box, and museums were always on our radar. We are thrilled that this first concrete project in this direction has been in collaboration with the founder of the Philosophy for Children in the US-Mexico Borderlands program, Amy Reed-Sandoval.

Amy Reed-Sandoval and Daniela Martagón met last year in Oaxaca. "Daniela shared with me", says Amy, "the fabulous work that she and Ellen Duthie having been doing through Wonder Ponder. I was struck by how wonderfully they work together as a team, and also by the captivating images that Daniela produces, as the illustrator for Wonder Ponder, to inspire philosophical conversation. In El Paso I have found that the Wonder Ponder "boxes" are excellent tools for getting very young kids engaged philosophically. This interactive Philosophy for Children exhibit at La Mujer Obrera is an opportunity for children and families from both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border to become philosophically engaged through viewing and discussing Daniela's visual creations".

At Wonder Ponder, we had been following the work of Amy Reed-Sandoval, through her Oaxaca Philosophy for Children Initiative and her Philosophy for Children in the Borderlines program for a few years, and it has been an honour for Daniela to have the chance to work with her. Though currently based in Spain, Daniela is herself Mexican, is therefore particularly interested in Amy's work.  

"I am particularly excited that the the target community is mostly Mexican-Chicano", says Daniela. "Profesionally, it has also been very interesting from several points of view. Up until now our work has focused on the book-person relationship and this is an opportunity to explore the space-person relationship. At Wonder Ponder we are very aware of the importance of format, so this was a new challenge, with different scales, conditions and possibilities. It has been a very interesting process and a chance to explore what works in this new medium and what things to take into account for future exhibits".  

At Wonder Ponder, while we look into further possibilities for taking philosophy to museums in the form of philosophy exhibits for people, small, medium and large, we are enjoying looking at and analysing the photos and feedback we are receiving from El Paso. We'll be sharing photos and comments as we go receiving them in coming days. 

Find more information about Wonder Ponder and our Visual Philosophy for Children here

Announcing second print run in Spanish for 'I, Person'

Ellen Duthie

The first print run of the Spanish version of I, Person (Yo, persona) is all gone! 

We'd like to thank all the wonderful bookshops and other shops in Spain who have contributed to making Wonder Ponder and its Visual Philosophy for Children series a commercial success. Without their recommendation of Wonder Ponder to their clients, this would not have been possible. Some booksellers in particular are so involved it's touching. They know who they are. Thank you! 

But that's not all the good news! Next week we'll be getting a second printing of I, Person, an invitation to think about who we are and what we are, together with our brand new title Whatever You Want!

Meanwhile, Cruelty Bites, the first title in the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series is already into its second print run in Spanish (Mundo cruel) and still going strong. 

On that note, we're off to have a happy weekend!

About Wonder Ponder
Wonder Ponder's Visual Philosophy for Children series introduces readers aged eight and over to philosophy's big questions playfully and appealingly. Engaging scenes and intriguing questions prompt reflection and discussion encouraging children to develop their own thoughts and arguments and to build a visual and conceptual map of the issue addressed in each box. 

Wonder Ponder boxes are designed to look at, read and think about by themselves or with others, in educational, play or family settings. 

Foreign Rights: 
Claudia Bernaldo de Quirós
Agencia CBQ
Telephone: +34 91 355 3484
info@agencialiterariacbq.com

COMING SOON... WHATEVER YOU WANT!

Ellen Duthie

WHATEVER YOU WANT

A playfully serious and seriously playful invitation to think about freedom

Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series title number 3

Publication date: May 18th, 2016

Is being free doing whatever we want?
Can we all do whatever we want at the same time?
What is the difference between always having to do what you are told and being a slave?
Are you anyone or anything's slave?
Would being able to fly make you freer?
Is it possible to be happy without being free? 
What is it to be free? 
And what do we want to be free for? 
 

May 18th is the publication date of the third title in the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Wantan invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom for small, medium and large people. 

Half-way between a book and a game, Whatever You Want comes in a box and invites readers to think about freedom in a way that is both serious and seriously fun.

Through the questions prompted by the scenes in the box, the reader-player can go building their own definition of freedom. 

Part of our critically acclaimed Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want is designed for children to look at, read and think playfully about by themselves, accompanied by an adult or in a group, in educational, play or family contexts.

CONTENTS OF WHATEVER YOU WANT:

14 cards with scenes for wondering and pondering
More than 100 carefully worded questions for curious minds
3 blank cards for designing your own scenes
A philosophical companion guide for children and adults
Ideas for wonderpondering
Whatever You Want poster

 

 

Whatever You Want... Soon

Ellen Duthie

We have just this afternoon sent off to the printers our upcoming title, Whatever You Want, an invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom, to be published in the second half of May. 

We're finding it rather difficult to contain ourselves! What we'd really like to do right now is show you the cover and the entire contents to share our excitement and our work with you. But we've managed to stop ourselves and here goes the only bit we can show for now: the ideas for wonderpondering included in the Whatever You Want box. 

With this third title in the Wonder Ponder visual philosophy series, we've been rather excited to see how the project is shaping and growing in interesting ways, with each title feeding the previous titles in the series. One of our favourite ideas for wonderpondering included in Whatever You Want, Mix & Match, came about as a result of the realisation that one can play the Wonder Ponder game with each individual title, but also with the whole series at once. 'If you have more than Wonder Ponder box, try taking a scene out its box and putting it in another. Does it fit in? Is it interesting to look at from a different point of view? Mix, match, think and enjoy!'. 

At the office, all Wonder Ponder team members have had great fun taking out all the Cruelty Bites and I, Person scenes and seeing which ones could be included in Whatever You Want to wonder and ponder about freedom, seeing which scenes from I, Person and Whatever You Want could go in Cruelty Bites to think about cruelty and which scenes from Cruelty Bites and Whatever You Want could make sense in I, Person to think about identity. 

A highly entertaining exercise which has brought butterflies to our stomachs. 

It's so rewarding to do what we want exactly the way we want!

 Whatever You Want comes out in the second half of May. 

'Let kids think, but let's not overdo it'

Ellen Duthie

A few days ago a teacher called us to tell us a Wonder Ponder anecdote from her school in Madrid.

A few weeks before, she had taken I, Person to class and the kids had really enjoyed it, she said. They had spent an hour talking about just one of the cards, chosen by the group, and when time was up, they didn't want it to end. Earlier, in the staff room, a fellow teacher and the Head of the school had seen it and muttered, without paying much attention, 'oh, visual philosophy for children, that looks interesting,'


A few weeks later, she took her students Cruelty Bites. Now that they were familiar with the idea and the way Wonder Ponder worked, it didn't take long for a keen dialogue to get started. They chose the card which is also the cover of the book, where a family is sitting at the table about to tuck into a cat stew.

This time, because the previous session had seemed too short to them, the teacher decided to spend virtually the entire afternoon wonderpondering, finishing with a group mural with their own drawings and questions. At the end of the day, they hung the mural on the wall of a corridor and all went home, teacher included.  

The following day when she got to school, several teachers were hanging around in the hall. They greeted her with a mix of anxiety and excitement and pointed to the Head's office. 'What exactly was the philosophy thing you were doing with the kids the other day?', asked one of her colleagues. 'A bit too much, don't you think?', another one chipped in. The teacher tried to explain what the idea was: it was about establishing a dialogue and exploring points of view, giving reasons and evaluating arguments, etc. But her fellow teachers didn't seem too sure about it and let her know that the Head was expecting her in his office.  

As soon as she walked into his office, she understood what had happened. It would seem that the mural had fallen off the wall and someone had picked it up and looked at it. If that hadn't happened it is more than likely that nobody would have paid any attention whatsoever. But the accident had made the Head and a few colleagues take a closer look.  

The Head said he thought the philosophy part and the dialogue part was great, but suggested there may be some questions it is better not to ask children. Such as? The one that really got him was the following: 

For you to eat chicken, someone needs to kill it. Is eating chicken the same as killing chicken? 

This was one of the questions the kids had found most interesting and had wanted it to feature on the mural. The Head asked the teacher to erase it from the mural. 

The teacher asked why he thought that question specifically was problematic and his answer was simple: he wanted to prevent families from revolting, 'because just imagine if all the kids go home and say they never want to eat chicken again...'. The teacher laughed and said none of the kids had reached that conclusion, although if any of them had done so, or at least pondered it, she wouldn't have thought it was a problem. 

She told him that the dialogue had actually focused on the definition of killing, on the difference between killing and ordering to kill, for example. The idea had come up that perhaps buying meat at the butcher or in a supermarket already cut up in nice little steaks might be closer to the behaviour of a scavenger to that of a hunter.  

The Head tried to smile but it came out crooked. 'Oh, very interesting. Don't get me wrong, I think the project is great, but please erase that question from the mural". 

The teacher told him that another big part of the dialogue, where they had all had a lot of fun, was the part about what things they would never ever ever eat. The explosion of imagination where things that had started off as absolutely inedible appeared as actual possibilities for a meal had made them enjoy thinking of the most absurd things possible, but then focus and narrow down the reasons why we might consider something to be edible or not. 

The Head put an end to the conversation; 'I think it's very interesting, I really do, but my request for you to erase it still stands". 

So the teacher erased the question from the mural. 

What is the idea behind this desire to constrain children's thinking? Do we think that by censoring certain questions we'll prevent them from ever thinking about them? Is it rather inconvenient for adults for kids to think about certain questions, build their own ideas and support them with arguments? Is an unthinking child a more obedient child?  

We are just now finishing work on our up and coming title, Whatever You Want, where we invite readers to explore the idea of freedom, and this anecdote made us think. What does this attitude imply in terms of children's freedom of thought? In one of the scenes of our new book-in-a-box we show a "thought-reader" which a mother uses to control the thoughts of her son. We assume that the Head of this school would not even believe it was necessary because he seems to think that by avoiding the question and thus avoiding the dialogue, the very possibility of thought is avoided. Easy! Why would we need censorship when we can simply prevent thought from occurring? 

What exactly is the purpose of Wonder Ponder?

Ellen Duthie

We receive and answer many interesting questions through our different channels (FacebookTwitteremail, as a comment on this blog...). Here is one we received recently: 

QUESTION:
'You say that your purpose is not to indoctrinate. So what are some of the 'missions' of Wonder Ponder's Visual Philosophy for Children project?'

ANSWER:
-       To give children a chance to think independently without anybody telling them what they should think or what it is better to think.

-       To give parents and children, teachers and students a chance to explore and inquire about the world together.

-       To help develop a habit of dialogue and contrasting views and perspectives, without expressing it as confrontation. 

-       To encourage imagination by suggesting possible alternative realities and thinking about them logically and in depth and detail. 

-       To give adults a tool for engaging in a non-directive dialogue with children, where they are likely to learn as much as the kids. 

-       To provide a space to thought as action, as an activity. So that one of the possible answers to the question 'What shall we do?' might be 'Let's think about something for a while' and for that option to be an attractive one.

These are just a few of Wonder Ponder's 'missions'.

If you have any interesting questions for us, please send it to us as a comment on this post or use FacebookTwitteremail...).


Wonder Ponder illustrator Daniela Martagón to co-create an interactive Philosophy for children exhibit with the UTEP Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands program

Ellen Duthie

At Wonder Ponder we are very excited to announce that our illustrator Daniela Martagón will be working with the University of El Paso Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands program on an exciting project to co-create an Interactive Philosophy for Children exhibit for local children and families in the Museo Urbano in El Paso.

A Diversity and Inclusiveness Grant from the American Philosophical Association awarded to the UTEP Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands will make this special collaboration possible.

From the start of the Wonder Ponder project, we have explored all possible forms of presenting our Visual Philosophy for Children concept besides from our books-in-a-box, and museums were always on our radar. We are thrilled that this first concrete project in this direction is in collaboration with the founder of the UTEP Philosophy for Children in the US-Mexico Borderlands program, Amy Reed-Sandoval.

Amy Reed-Sandoval and Daniela Martagón met last year in Oaxaca.

"Daniela shared with me", says Amy, "the fabulous work that she and Ellen Duthie having been doing through Wonder Ponder. I was struck by how wonderfully they work together as a team, and also by the captivating images that Daniela produces, as the illustrator for Wonder Ponder, to inspire philosophical conversation. In El Paso I found that the Wonder Ponder "boxes"--which include images and accompanying philosophical questions--were excellent tools for getting very young kids engaged philosophically. I decided that the UTEP Philosophy for Children in the Borderlands program would benefit immensely from Daniela's talents as an illustrator. For that reason, we are bringing her to El Paso to set up an interactive Philosophy for Children museum exhibit at the Museo Urbano--so that children and families from both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border can become philosophically engaged through viewing and discussing Daniela's visual creations".

At Wonder Ponder, we had been following the work of Amy Reed-Sandoval, through her Oaxaca Philosophy for Children Initiative and her Philosophy for Children in the Borderlines program for a few years, and it is an honour for Daniela to have the chance to work with her. Though currently based in Spain, Daniela is herself Mexican, and is very much looking forward to working with Amy and her team on this project.  

"It is a privilege", says Daniela, "to have the chance to design an exibition for Philosophy in the Borderlands and the community the program works with. One of the important things for me is the very positive feedback we have received about how the children and the facilitators working for the program have used and become familiar with Wonder Ponder's materials (see the pictures of the materials in use at Rayito de Sol, as part of the program). Although I have never been there, I already feel a relationship has been established. In May, we'll have the chance to build on that connection and go beyond it. How will we take advantage of having a physical space for visual philosophy? I am curious. Up until now our work has focused on the book-person relationship and this is an opportunity to explore the space-person relationship. At Wonder Ponder we are very aware of the importance of format, so this is a new challenge, with different scales, conditions and possibilities. We have a community that is curious and open to the experiment, the support of the University of El Paso and a great deal of interest and enthusiasm on all sides. What more could we ask for? I'll be working on the border of my country and the target community is mostly Mexican-Chicano, which makes the project particularly exciting for me."

Christmas wonderpondering: a free, downloadable and printable booklet for thinking about Christmas

Ellen Duthie

This Christmas,
Open! Look! Think! 
with
Wonder Ponder's
Visual Philosophy for Children. 

The Wonder Ponder team has made a special Christmas gift for everyone to share. A downloadable and printable booklet chock-a-block with questions and ideas for thinking about Christmas. Enjoy!

Click on the image above to download full PDF file. 

Wishing you all a wonderful, ponderful, Christmas!

Bringing the brain-bending experience of philosophical thinking into the school, playground and home

Ellen Duthie

Over the moon with the fantastic review in The Look Book by Anita Ridley!

Photo from Look Book review

Photo from Look Book review

"Wonder Ponder’s wonderfully open-ended box sets take philosophy into the classroom as well as out into the playground and into the home, immediately engaging children and adults alike in the satisfying, brain-bending experience that is philosophical thinking. Added extras, including blank cards and a poster for children to visualise their thought processes and arguments with, make Wonder Ponder box sets even more powerful, becoming a lens through which players can understand more about themselves and they way they think."
Photo from Look Book review

Photo from Look Book review

"Posing questions, both obvious and off-centre, Wonder Ponder presents 'players' with a variety of different trains of thought. The process of answering is as revealing as one might expect, as those involved attempt to put into words often quite deeply felt positions and try to justify the logic (or not, as the case may be) that they used to arrive at them. Using situations that are as close to home as possible, I, Person tacles what it is that makes us human, while Cruelty Bites ponders issues as broad as family relationships, the treatment of animals, as well as abstract concepts such as consious and unconscuous decision-making." 
Photo from Look Book review

Photo from Look Book review

Read the full review here.

World Philosophy and Toilet Day!

Ellen Duthie

Today is World Toilet Day and at Wonder Ponder we are celebrating by taking it very seriously. 

Our team members' best thinking, reading and sometimes even writing is often done on the toilet.

On the toilet -an indoor one, that is- we feel safe. We know nobody is going to barge in on us, for instance. We can lock the door without anyone asking why. This feeling of safety makes us relax and relaxation makes ideas flow more easily. We go to the toilet, therefore we think, therefore we are. 

With 2.4 billion people in the world lacking adequate sanitation and 1 billion people still defecating in the open, at Wonder Ponder, we are aware of how privileged we are to have the time and space to wonder and ponder. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Women and girls risk rape and abuse, because they have no toilet that offers privacy. Could poor sanitation also affect men, women and children's opportunities to pause for reflection?

The aim of World Toilet Day, according to the UN site is "to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean , water and sanitation", and, we would add, to have a space to think. 

Did we forget to mention that today is also World Philosophy Day

World Philosophy Day was introduced in 2002 by UNESCO to honour philosophical reflection in the entire world by opening up free and accessible spaces. Its objective is to encourage the peoples of the world to share their philosophical heritage and to open their minds to new ideas, as well as to inspire a public debate between intellectuals and civil society on the challenges confronting our society.

Happy World Philosophy and Toilet Day! Let's do something about both!

More toilets, more thinking!

(c) Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children

Competition: Win a signed copy of Cruelty Bites, with a drawing by the illustrator, Daniela Martagón

Ellen Duthie

Are you ready to take part in our competition and get a chance to win a copy of Cruelty Bites, of our Visual Philosophy for Children series, specially signed and dedicated by the authors, with a drawing by the illustrator, Daniela Martagón? 

It's easy! Answer these three questions on the post on our Facebook page and enter the draw from among all the correct answers we get.   

1. Who is this invigoratingly versatile, perfectly irreverent children's literature classic author and illustrator, reading Cruelty Bites in the photograph below? 

2. Can you spot our homage to the above author in the poster included in our Cruelty Bites box of Visual Philosophy for Children? Take a good look at the poster below. You need to name the character and the title of the book he/she belongs to.  

3. Look for, spot and point our three other references in the Cruelty Bites poster to children's literature stories or books. 

The prize? Your very own copy of Cruelty Bites signed, with a special drawing by the illustrator, sent out to wherever you are! 

Remember you need to answer all three questions on our Facebook page

The draw from among all the correct answers will take place on Friday 23rd of October, 2015.

'Story Philosophy Intensive Course and Workshop for Adults in Madrid: An Introduction to Picture-book based Philosophical Dialogue with Children

Ellen Duthie

Wonder Ponder Academy presents...

 

INTENSIVE WORKSHOP

Story Philosophy

An Introduction to picture-book based philosophical dialogue with children, for adults 

MADRID

Sat. 24th & Sun. 25th of October, 2015


 

ELLEN DUTHIE and DANIELA MARTAGÓN to teach an intensive weekend workshop on philosophical dialogue with children in formal and information educational contexts, in the home and in children's literature, using word and image as springboards for discussion, play and creativity. 

 

 

TITLE OF THE COURSE: Story Philosophy (Filosofía de cuento)
LANGUAGE: Spanish

DATE: Sat 24th & Sun 25th October in Madrid. 
LENGTH: 12 hours, divided into three 4 hour sessions (Saturday 10 to 2 and 4 to 8 and Sunday 10 to 2). 
VENUE:
 El Patio de la Pierna. Pizarro, 24. 28004. Madrid. 
PRICE: 120 € [Early bird bookings before 30th of September benefit from a reduced price of 100 €]  Includes mid-morning and afternoon hot/cold drinks and snacks . 
PLACES: 15 max
INFORMATION & BOOKINGS:
info@wonderponderonline.com or 680 587 759



AIMED AT: Teachers, librarians, writers, illustrations, parents and other curious adults interested in learning about the possibilities of philosophical dialogue with children or simply keen on exploring ways of incorporating elements of philosophical dialogue and questioning in their work or interaction with children.

DESCRIPTION: This intensive course is an introduction to philosophical dialogue with children, that combines theory and practice and is aimed at teachers, librarians, parents, writers and illustrations, as well as any other curious adults interested in learning about this practice or simply in incorporating elements of philosophical dialogue and questioning in different activities and levels of education for preschool and primary years, or in literary and artistic creations. 

We will read and discuss picture books, listen to philosophical dialogues among kids, and hold our own philosophical dialogues, with a view to providing basic indications and tools for introducing philosophical dialogue in the classroom, in the library, at home or in books.  

This workshop is a chance to explore and imagine how one might put into practice the many varied and interesting possibilites offered by the unique combination of creativity and rigour brought by philosophy.  
 

CONTENT OF THE WORKSHOP

§ Philosophy with children: why and what for? The unavoidability of philosophy and the direct and indirect benefits of philosophical practice with children. 

§ Introduction to the concept, the history and the practice of philosophy with children. 

§ Basic principles for facilitating philosophical dialogue among children or with children and  basic rules for facilitating sessions or simply incorporating dynamics in the classroom or at home. The facilitator's role. 

§ The group as a community of inquiry. How does one build a community of inquiry? The model of co-operation and joint construction of meaning versus the knowledge transmission model.

§ Listening in philosophical practice with children. 

§ How to encourage and give a central role to questions as starting points but also as arrival points. 

§ Images as vehicles for questions.    

§ Creative thinking. Philosophical flights of fantasy anchored in internal consistency. 

§ Questioning reality and given truths compared to transmitting values. How to distinguish material for 'transmitting values' from material for philosophical dialogue. 

§ Guidelines for selecting good picture books (and other stimuli) for philosophical dialogue. How to tell a good stimulus from a poor one. 

§ Theoretical and practical references.

WHO IS RUNNING THE WORKSHOP?

ELLEN DUTHIE (Cádiz, 1974). Born in Spain of British parents, Ellen holds an MA in Mental Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh.

A writer, teacher, blogger and translator, her interests are focused on children’s literature and philosophy for children. Over the last ten years, she has been developing material to stimulate philosophical dialogue with and among children, using children’s literature and visual stimuli as prompts for discussion. She is the author of the concept and texts of the Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children. 

She has taught several philosophy programs designed and developed for state and private institutions. She currently runs Filosofía a la de tres (filosofiaaladetres.blogspot.com) and Filosofía de cuento (filosofiadecuento.blogspot.com) for preschool and primary school children respectively. 

She has also translated Maurice Sendak's classic work Outside over There (Al otro lado, Kalandraka, 2015) and is the author of the bilingual blog We Read it Like This (wereaditlikethis.blogspot,com), where she reviews picture books, focusing on the experience of reading aloud. 

DANIELA MARTAGÓN (México, 1986).

Daniela is a graduate of Visual Arts from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and holds a Graduate Diploma in Drawing, Graphic Design and Web Design.

Interested in visuals, play and alternative education, her work encompass image, philosophy, narrative and communication.

The freshness and humour in Daniela’s illustrations are the result of a self-demanding process which brings together theoretical research and learning of the craft. One of the most striking things about her work is her ability to thoughtfully digest theory from a broad variety of disciplines and then bring it back in the form of deceivingly simple art.

In recent years she has specialised in children’s and YA literature and holds a Masters in Picture books from ‘i con i’ (Madrid). Daniela’s work was selected for the 2013 Iberoamerican Catalogue of Illustration. 

She is the coauthor and illustrator of the Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children.