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Exploring the Blocks Area!

September 22, 2021 | Becca Brasser

During the past two weeks, the first grade students explored the Blocks area. At Mustard Seed School, students build in a way that is safe, strong, and beautiful.

Safe: The structure will not hurt anyone. The structure won’t tip over if someone accidentally brushes against it. There are no weapons. As the blocks are moved from one place to another, they do not hit anyone else.

Strong: The structure is built on a strong foundation, and the builder has a thoughtful plan for building. We show our strength by carrying one block in each hand.

Beautiful: The structure is not messy, and is pleasant to look at. For some students, the word “beautiful” provokes an exploration of symmetry and balance.


In addition to observing how students transport blocks and plan their structure, the teachers are also taking notes on children’s willingness to take risks while building, collaborate with each other, and overcome challenges (including collapses!)

After building a structure and perhaps having it photographed, the children “unbuild” from the top of the structure, carrying the blocks two by two to the shelf.

The triangles, many students discovered, are great for decorating and embellishing structures…they do not provide a strong foundation though! 

Next week, the children will begin to use the cylinder family and decorating blocks to embellish their structures and provide strong foundations.

This week, we introduced a family of plastic animals to help the children use blocks in a different way. Some built towns, houses, and zoos. We even put some plastic animals deep inside very tall structures so that we could practice “unbuilding” safely! If the block building is deconstructed carefully, it does not fall down and crush the animals!



Becca Brasser

Teacher, Grade 1

Becca Brasser has been teaching first grade at Mustard Seed School since 2002. She’s passionate about teaching children to read, write, experiment, and take risks as they explore the world around them. Her own studies (including a Master of Arts degree from New Jersey City University) have given her expertise and experience in the area of literacy education.

Ms. Brasser especially enjoys taking her students on field trips all over the New York Metropolitan area, traveling on foot, subway, bus, commuter train, and ferry. Some favorite trips: the Hudson Hike, the New York Transit Museum, and the Central Park Zoo to study penguins.

Although she lives in the city, Ms. Brasser loves escaping to nature and finding it in her everyday life as well. She loves to explore rivers and lakes, woods and mountains with her husband Matt, their daughter, Annika, and son, Theo.

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