Building Meaning....Literally

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 9, 2017, 3:58 p.m.

Have you ever struggled to find the right words or explanation of something? Most of us have been there once or twice. Students struggle with this, too. So, why not build something to represent your thinking? Constructing a model of what you are picturing or thinking can help to solidify conceptual understanding. Using legos, building blocks, or play doh, students build to represent an idea or understanding of a concept. This can be a less intimidating option for students to show their understanding or thinking about ideas or topics.


Recently, my three year old son, Whitten, had been hearing the news and conversations about hurricane Harvey and the devastation in south Texas. He had asked me several questions and we talked about the flooding that was happening in Houston. He wanted to know what flooding was and how a hurricane moves. That afternoon, we went to our local Play Street Museum, and while he was playing, he constructed his interpretation of what was happening. This was his way of learning and dealing with the heavy ideas he had seen and heard. Play Street posted a wonderful message about hurricane Harvey and his building here. Be sure to check it out!

 This year we challenge you to turn a written task into a building task. This is not only great for our littlest learners but, also our English language learners. This helps develop vocabulary, construct meaning, and open their minds for the outside to see in.Building

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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