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Modeling and Building

I can wax poetic about modeling and building for hours - modeling good listening, modeling making mistakes, building community, building relationships. But this week it's all quite literal. Our kids are building stuff. Our older kids are in the midst of their annual gingerbread house building project. Our younger kids are building models of a room in the school as part of our local geography theme. And yes as they build, they are building confidence and resiliency as they hit challenges and figure out how to get around them. But let's take a look at the actual building!

Theresa's 3rd-6th Grade Reflections

How can you get any kid to love math? Bake it in a gingerbread house! Every year at this time, the big kids get hard to work "designing" their own gingerbread houses. Each kid will get two 9x13 inch pans of gingerbread. They have to determine what they would like their house to look like, and then actually create a model and a pattern out of paper. Then, we will make them. There is a lot of measuring, imagining, and even failing, as the kids work to create a model of four walls and a roof that will fit on their houses. What is particularly interesting is watching how the kids grow more confident and inspired each year. When this project was first introduced three years ago, we only made the houses out of paper, and there was general confusion as kids struggled to make structures stand. Last year, there were many perfectly square houses, as they realized that would be simple. This year, kids are calculating different ways to make rectangular houses. It is wonderful how all the kids, even those who do not see themselves as good at math, love this project. In other news, kids are starting biographies in Writing. They have just made notebooks to collect their notes. They divided their notebooks into sections, and each section has a heading, such as"Childhood," "Professional Life," and "Legacy." They have an orderly way to collect the information that they find. Our Theme: Local Geography

Each December we spend some time on geography. It's a chance to work on some map skills, talk about different land forms, look at the rise and fall of the land around us, and try to figure out just where we're living in the world. For many children making a model is a good first step to making a map. You are using something tangible to represent something in space. This block (or Lego or puff ball) represents this easel. Once children have practiced this skill it's easier to take the next step and translate it into a flat piece of paper for a map. We hid a "golden treasure" in our model of a room in our school, then put a treasure in the actual room, and challenged a friend to find it using the location in the model. We've also started talking about compass roses, finding the directions North, East, South, and West inside and outside at the school. Our shadows helped us figure out a bit about the sun's path in the sky, and we'll be looking at them more this next week.

December Traditions

Besides gingerbread house making and map making, we've been talking about traditions families follow in December. We've talked about Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Christmas celebrations. Our careful observers noticed that all of these traditions bring light into this time of year. We encourage families to talk with their children about what celebrations are important to them and why.

We'll keep building on our learning at school, and we'll do our best to keep everyone in the loop!


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