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Burgeoning Block Builders

November 16, 2022 | Emily Ford Sytsma

The Trees Class students were introduced to blocks at the beginning of the last week and have already showed signs of intuitive and inventive building skills. To date, the children have met the “unit”, “square”, “double” and “small board” blocks and have begun to master how to build in ways that are “safe”, “strong”, and “beautiful”.
We have designed and discovered different “horizontal” ways to arrange units to completely fill our small board, leaving no gaps.

We have built “vertical” towers which use “connectors” to make our structures strong and safe from crashes.

We have noticed how one unit is two squares tall, how one double is two units tall, and how one double is four squares tall (which is introductory thinking about fractions and multiples).

We have built “enclosures”, complete with “insides” and “outsides”.

We have applied patterns to building additional levels to our structures that are different to the level below it.

We have begun to work cooperatively in building collaborative structures and in “unbuilding” them safely and efficiently.

All this after just one week of blocks building! As their understanding of these mathematics and geometry skills deepen, we can expect their structures to grow exponentially in safety, strength, and beauty!

This blog post was written by Ryan Dominguez, our preschool blocks teacher.

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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