Yesterday in class, we began my favourite unit of the year. I enjoy teaching structures as the children have the opportunity to build with a variety of materials – and enjoy it. Even all the girls get into it – though some of them tell me they are not good at it. It saddens me to hear a 7 year old already inhibited by the social expectation that girls are not good at building and at math.
Yesterday I gave my students the opportunity to build with blocks and lego. The classroom was buzzing with activity as the children tried to build what was in their mind. I love seeing their creativity. The structures that they build also give me an idea of where they are in understanding three dimensions.
I spent the day stepping over lego and blocks but I did not mind. Learning was at work – even in their attempts to draw what they had created.
The children in my classroom were exploring and learning today. I am sure that they went home and told their parents they played with lego the whole day but hopefully, by now, the parents will understand that the day was more than just play.
March began with a reminder that Winter had not yet said its goodbyes. The last days in February were mild and spring-like; the first evening brought with it gently falling snow. Walking through the park the next day, I enjoyed the snowscapes and hoped they would be the last I saw this Winter season.
The falling snow on many days during March definitely made me wish to curl up on the sofa with a good book in pajamas. Pajamas were the theme of our spirit day just before March Break and the children came to school in sleepwear. My students brought along their stuffed animals as well to keep them company during the day.
The time after March break passed quickly and, before we knew it, it was the Easter weekend. During the days leading up to the long weekend, I planned a number of building activities in my classroom for the children as a part of the inquiry on structures. They had the opportunity to build bridges with popsicle sticks,
cars with card and wood,
and a structure of their choice with building blocks.
March ended as it began – with cool weather. Snow is not falling but the temperatures are still lower than we would like them to be. Hopefully April will bring with it higher temperatures and thepromise of summer.
This year I have a group of three grade 1s who are focused when working and finish their tasks ahead of everyone. From time to time I give them the opportunity to play with the blocks, and each time they build something intricate. Last week Friday I captured the beginnings of one of their structures.
Soon I will give them the opportunity to build for our Science inquiry. I look forward to seeing what they can build with the blocks and materials I will offer them in class.
Do you know anyone who enjoys building with blocks?
To end our Inquiry on Structures, I organised a woodworking workshop for my class through U Can Do IT, a Candian company that offers a woodworking experience to children. In class during the inquiry, the children had had the opportunity to build with blocks and lego as well as with boxes and recycled materials. With this workshop, they had the opportunity to build with wood, nails and a hammer.
Yesterday morning the presenter came into the classroom and set up the woodworking tables and materials that the children would use. When entering the classroom, the children were excited to begin and struggled to wait until everything was ready. I had chosen for them to make a windmill as in the grade 2 curriculum the students need to be exposed to moving structures. The workshop experience was perfect for them as the children used the vice of a simple machine to build their structure; and made their own example of a pulley. The windmills have moving parts and the children loved that they had made something that could move. My students will be decorating and personalising their windmills today. These are structures that they cannot wait to take home – and ones they will remember making for a long time.
This week I am grateful that a company such as this exists here in Toronto. Through them, I was able to bring to the classroom an experience that I am not qualified to teach. The presenter was friendly and helpful – and one I will invite into my room again.
I am currently doing an inquiry on structures with my class. One of the first activities was for the children to choose a structure from around the world, look for the shapes within it, and then draw what they saw. One of the choices was, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
Four children chose to replicate this well-known structure – one of whom had learned that his ancestors were from France during the Inquiry “Tout sur Moi” (All About Myself).
The drawings have been posted on the bulletin board outside my classroom and are being admired by many passers-by.
On one of our outings during the summer, my family and I saw some interesting structures.
The exhibits were made of small pieces of wood that were covered in some type of paper. The creator of these structures must have had patience to glue all these small pieces together.
The structures got me thinking of the school curriculum (once a teacher, always a teacher!). Even though I do not teach the grade that has structures as part of its curriculum, I believe the opportunity may come up in kindergarten.
If it does, I shall be on the lookout for rectangular-shaped pieces that little hands can use to construct. The outcome may not be as sophisticated as what we saw, but the design ideas are sure to be there.
I have 14 boys in my class this year, and I am sure that among them there will be some budding engineers who may wish to build bridges or construct the steel works in buildings.
What interesting structures have you seen recently?