Marie and I often wonder, “Where will the students take us this week?”
One (low-cost) way that our class travels around the world is through block building. Each Monday, a team of four students picks a structure and must work together to build it. By Friday, the team presents their structure to the rest of the class. Over the last few weeks, students have built and let us visit a medieval castle, the Empire State Building, and Mount Vesuvius!
We promote block building in our classroom for many reasons. First, it helps young students improve fine motor skills and internalize math concepts. Second, it enables students to work as a team. At times students are leading the group with their own ideas; at other moments, students are listening to and negotiating in regard to the ideas of others. Finally, this unstructured free time gives students a chance to explore. This exploration allows for creativity and problem solving. The students are learning in a very organic way as they build.
Look below to see the latest structure our group built: Mount Vesuvius. Students were inspired to research and write about the Pompeii—the ancient Roman city destroyed by Vesuvius’s 79 AD eruption. The team included this research in their Friday presentation.