With the lessening of Covid related restrictions this semester, ArchForKids has been able to begin in-person programming once again. While there have been many positive sides to our virtual programs it is great to get back in schools as we have missed the level of engagement with students and teachers that we get from in-person instruction. We wondered how the new safety protocols would impact the lesson experience. We asked one of our educators, Jasmine Morris to share her experience teaching Pre-K through 1st grade students at the PS149 school in Brooklyn, New York. Read her account below.
My Experience This Spring at the Danny Kaye School in Brooklyn, New York
by Jasmine Morris
First off, I’d like to say that we’re very happy to be back in schools. There’s nothing like connecting with others in person. With everything from the experience the students get to the connections made, teaching in-person has been quite the journey. That being said, ArchForKids have some amazing programs available.
One of the current programs resides at the Danny Kaye school in Brooklyn. With a class of 10 pre-k through first graders, there’s never a dull moment and the creativity is endless. With our in-person programs, kids get an enriched experience getting to work amongst their peers which can be quite favorable. Often times, a few students will come up with an idea that sparks something new for others. They are able to build off of each other nicely. In the case for these kids, this usually comes about in the decorating portion. One kid may say they want to add flowers to their lawn and then others want to add flowers and then even a little garden.
The small class size allows for students to get more individualized attention. Kids ages 4-6 need more individual help than with older kids. Most are still learning how to properly get a piece of tape from the dispenser. So the small class size isn’t overwhelming. We also take our time with each project, assuring that they get developed as best they can. During this cycle, our projects have taken anywhere from 2 to 4 sessions to complete. Our longest project this year has been building protective castles which took 4 sessions. But it was worth it for each student to build their own complete protective castle.
So, what are some of the things that go on during the program? We start off each project with a brief introduction, learning the vocabulary, a little bit of history and then we talk about the steps and the end goal of the project. Afterwards, students get right to work planning, assembling and decorating their new work of art, all while learning about shapes, spacial awareness, composition, different environments and other architectural concepts. I’ve seen how the kids light up when they are creating. And the joy on their faces when they have completed their projects and get to take them home is so fulfilling.
One of the projects that the kids loved was paper bag houses which took 3 sessions to complete. In this project we take small brown paper bags and decorate the outsides like the facade of a house. After the decorations are complete, we stuff the bags with newspaper and seal off the top to get a nice slanted roof. The house is then glued to a base which is decorated as a lawn. The kids add grass to their lawn with some extra fun things like pools, a roadway with cars passing by, a garden, a little pathway from the front or side door etc.
Besides the fun experiences of in-person learning, there are a couple of other benefits. There is less screen time. We all know excess screen time can be harmful causing headaches or strained eyes. Another benefit is we have all of the necessary supplies for each student and we make sure our supplies are cleaned. We are happy to follow new protocols that have been set up by schools to make sure everyone is safe. Lastly is the connection. Being in the school with the kids has been a lot of fun. There is a family atmosphere about it. When I arrive, the kids greet me together almost as if they were in a choir. It’s the same when I leave. When I start setting up my station, a bunch of them come up to me and tell me about some of the things going on in their lives or invite me to check out the class pet Lily the tortoise. There is always a very lively energy present.
Working at P.S. 149 has been an amazing experience. From seeing all of the awesome ideas that the students come up with to always being greeted by all the students upon my entrance, it has been quite the experience not only for them but for myself as well.
To see more pictures from this series, check out the Flickr album.