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BRE kindies are seeing shapes everywhere

Kindergarteners in Mrs. Herzog’s class at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School work on designing and building with shapes as part of a recent geometry unit. 

By Elean Gersack; photo courtesy of Shannon Herzog

Little minds at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School (BRE) are seeing shapes in everything, thanks to a recent kindergarten geometry project. Instead of a simple unit based on recognition and memorization, students were tasked with creating something out of a cardboard box using five basic shapes – circles, squares, rectangles, hexagons and triangles.

Inspired by the book “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis, teachers Shannon Herzog, Elana Chagolla and Felicia Phelan used the project to foster critical thinking through creating and inventing.

Students worked in pairs and spent three days planning, which included creating a materials list and sketching an illustration of the final project. “We talked a lot as a group with a big focus on collaborating with partners – like who does what and who brings what,” said Herzog.

In the end, cardboard boxes were transformed into a helicopter, a robot, a castle, a monster truck, the Titanic, an animal hospital, a dog, and a birthday party rocket ship – just to name a few.

With the school district’s Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC), Bloom’s Taxonomy learning objectives, and meaningful leadership support, these teachers are seeing the potential outcomes by asking the right questions to guide student teaching. “We are truly connecting to a deeper level of thinking,” said Herzog.

According to BRE Principal Sarah McAfee, it’s not necessarily the content; it’s how you get there with it. “The content is just the vehicle – it could be anything. Learning to embed the four C’s (collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking) throughout the learning process will turn these students into life learners,” said McAfee.

The teachers admit the geometry unit provided valuable learning that will make subsequent projects that much better. Even still, Herzog excitedly recounts that the students who really got it, just can’t stop talking about it.

“This will really transform the way kids think about school. We are teaching them how to think and create. They can do anything!” said Herzog. 



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