Building as an Act of Love

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by Sarah Lu

Today we let the caged animals out for a run in the park!  Ahhhh….


As is often the case this time of year, the children are getting restless and feeling cooped up. And we as adults get the constant reminder that although the sun is low in the sky, and the leaves have fallen from the trees, although the children may be sleeping a bit longer at night and waking a bit later in the morning, and although there are numerous games being played around the theme of sleep and hibernation- the kids have the same level of energy as usual!  And the same need to be outside, surrounded by fresh air and sunshine, or simply light and rain… As they keep us teachers on our toes we think again of the need for an outdoor classroom, and we as teachers are really excited to be looking at the Village Building Convergence application for the first time today in our staff meeting.


Tuesday while we were outside using our woodworking bench, I had a first, casual conversation with the kids about what they would like to build in the area to the South of the chicken coop.  As we suspected they might, this group agreed that a house would be ideal.  They had many initial ideas about what we would build- a roof, walls, a floor, some furniture, a big bed…

In January Laura and I will be continuing to support the children’s amazing work around planning, thinking about, and implementing structures.  Yesterday we zoomed in a bit on this work, and tomorrow we will have a building conference in our classroom, using the whole explore time to focus on different kinds of building- clay, drawing plans, legos, citi blocks and unit blocks.

Some BIG IDEAS we were discussing that are attached to this work are ideas surrounding Design and Beauty, Collaboration on Building, and Creating/Building Something Together as an Act of Love or Dedication.  We are curious about what we would like the ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS of this project work to be with the children and ourselves.  We spoke about the understanding that human beings create structures to keep us safe, warm and protected And the understanding that we use beauty and design to create structures that are pleasing to us, so that we will want to inhabit them.  

As a staff, we use this model of mapping projects to help us understand what our goals are, where the children’s learning is, and to embolden us to bring light to the ideas that we are touching on, in order to share them with caregivers, the children, and each other.  This process helps us to clarify our thinking and learning as a group.

Part of the mapping process is to think about all of the skills and concepts the children are working on, which feels good because working inside of such a radical educational philosophy can sometimes feel isolating.  For me, this process helps to validate the learning that is happening everyday inside of our school.  I have listed these skills and concepts below for you to ponder, as well as past, current and future experiences that we will help the children build inside of this project work.  Keep in mind that this is only one project amongst many that we are working on this year.


Collective Building / Collaboration

Conversational Skills



Translation – Building to Drawing, Building to Dancing, Blocks to Clay




Driving Screws

Understanding and Building Vocabulary- Wall, Roof, Window, Floor, Structure, Balance, Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, Blueprint, Plan, Tricky, Maze





Trapping / Outsmarting


Symmetry / Asymmetry





Experiences (Past, Current and Future)

Free Building with Different Materials including clay, unit blocks, big blocks, citi blocks, legos, wood scraps, chairs and scarves, wood, nails, hammers, screws and drivers, and ???

Building an Entrance to the Teepee

Woodworking- sculptures, hammering, screw-driving, safety-talks, building an outdoor easel with Peter

Dream House Blueprint Drawings / Construction

Architecture Walks

Village Building Convergence- Planning, Community Building, Fundraising and Implementation at Work Parties in May

Symmetrical Paintings

Symmetrical Bodies

Whole Group Building with Citi blocks and Unit blocks

Collaborative Clay Building, Brick Construction

Construction Site Field Trips

Let us know if you are wanting to add to this list, or if you have a special building project that you would like to do with the children after the break.  Also if you are interested in being involved in fund-raising, part planning, or carpentry, please let me know.











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