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Monthly Archives: February 2009

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All of the children had used thin dowling, mini-marshmallows, popsicle sticks, and modeling clay to build structures. They were now displayed on special tables, with plastic tablecloths, and the children were taking a gallery walk. Strict instructions were given not to touch someone else’s structure and suggestions were offered on how to ask questions of the designer. The children took this very seriously and most had their hands behind their back.

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Ved told me that he knew how he had built his structure. He noted that if the building falls down this arm will make it stand. He was using a complex design principle of support in his building and knew how it worked.

He was using contextualized language to talk about his structure I got this and I put this in it. When asked how he would explain it to someone who was not in the classroom to see his structure he suggested he would just show them the picture I had just taken. A good strategy, actually.

He did go on to explain how he had built the structure from the bottom (he used gestures for the bottom rather than using the words) by linking the marshmallows with the sharp things (toothpicks) and that the bar that comes out of the top would make sure the building would not fall down. It also allowed him to pick the building up. Surprisingly, when he grabbed the handle and swung it to show how it worked, he had built a very strong structure that did not fall apart. Interesting that he found two practical functions for the handle – stability and portability.

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Other observations and discussions went as follows:

  • I made a tower where the dinosaurs live. I like watching the Flintstones. They lived a long time ago. Then I watch The Jetsons. They didn’t live then.
  • Another student came along at this point and said he needed to measure this. He has a clipboard and he recorded the height on the chart by recording how many toothpicks high it was. He was working completely on his own at his own activity.