September 11

Engineering Second Grade Style

First grade engineers enjoyed this challenge, so I decided to give the same challenge to my second grade engineers. They were tasked to build a structure using Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, 3 x 5 cards, and clothespins that could stand on its own. This isn’t easy to accomplish and I was impressed with the variety of designs! While some students used symmetry to help balance their structures, many other structures were asymmetrical. Every time our structures fell, we used what we learned to improve our designs.

This young engineer placed one clothespin horizontally at the foundation which enabled her to balance the rest of her structure. She also had a very steady hand!

February 28

Block Play

My undergraduate degree is in early childhood education (birth through seven years old) and I taught kindergarten for twelve years. I’ve experienced firsthand the value of block play. Blocks provide an opportunity to explore math concepts including shapes, mass, symmetry, patterns, and fractions. Eye hand coordination and small muscle movements are refined. Children develop awareness of space, balance, and cause and effect. As children plan and make representations of their ideas, creativity and problem solving skills blossom. Children also learn to effectively communicate their ideas and to work collaboratively and cooperatively with their peers.

As you look at the pictures of the block structures below, look for examples of balance, patterns, and symmetry. Block building is considered a STEAM activity because the children are using science, engineering, art, and math skills.

Unit blocks are divided into fractional parts.

Click here to read an article about block play from NAEYC. Block play is important work!

While a group of engineers built with blocks, another group learned how to use balance scales.

May 26


After studying bridge designs and vocabulary in their math classes, fourth grade engineers were tasked with creating bridges. Collaborative groups were given Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, bendable rods, and glue. The students applied math, science, and engineering skills to create the designs below.

May 23

Summer Ideas

I am often asked by parents, ‘What should I do this summer to help maintain and strengthen my child’s skills?” These are my suggestions:

Read: Read to your child, ask him/her to read to you, and read silently together.  Read a variety of genres.  There are also some great children’s magazines.  Visit the public library.

Don’t forget to get your KRCS summer reading books.

Write: Keep a summer journal.  Write letters to friends and family.  Make lists.

Memorize all addition and subtraction facts and begin to memorize multiplication and division facts.  Use Xtra Math.

Practice counting money and telling time on an analog clock.  Compute elapsed time and give correct change.

Practice cursive.

Visit places in and outside Atlanta to increase vocabulary.

Play board games and do puzzles to develop problem solving skills.

I hope you have a safe, fun-filled summer.  Make lots of memories!

May 21


I introduced division by reading the story The Doorbell Rang.  In the story, a mother makes her two children a dozen cookies.  After the children divide the cookies, the doorbell rings.  Cousins and neighbors continue to join them and they divide the cookies by three, four, six and then twelve.  Finally, they each have one cookie, but the doorbell rings again.


Play these fun interactive games to practice division.  There are some advertisements on these sites.

Game One

Game Two

We learned that sometimes a group cannot be divided equally and that we may have some left over (a remainder).  The children enjoyed the story A Remainder of One.

We used magnets, counters, and unifix cubes to divide sets into equal smaller groups. Division is repeated subtraction.

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May 13

Gallon Creatures

We finished our math book, so I have been teaching mini-lessons to introduce a variety of concepts.  Today we had a lesson on capacity. We learned that two cups equal a pint, two pints equal a quart, and four quarts equal a gallon.  We discovered that quarts is similar to quarters and just like there are four quarts in a gallon, there are four quarters in a dollar and an hour.

Max made a great observation.  The words gallon, quart, pint, and cup are in order by the number of letters found in each and by their capacity size.

Play these measurement games

We made these gallon creatures to help us compute capacity problems.


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May 6


A  tangram is a traditional Chinese puzzle made of a square divided into seven pieces (one parallelogram, one square and five triangles) that can be arranged to create designs.

Legend has it that long ago in China there lived a man named Tan.  He dropped a beautiful ceramic tile, his most prized possession, and it broke into seven geometric pieces.  He spent the rest of his life trying to put it back together.

The first challenge was to take a set of tans and make a square.  I was impressed with the children’s perseverance.  Congratulations to Peyton for being the first one to make the square.  It is harder than it looks!