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Builder's Studio at Reed Elementary encourages kids to get creative

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

(Frank Fennema / For The Ark)

Erica Leinbach issues a challenge to her class of second-graders seated on rugs in Reed Elementary School’s Builder’s Studio, a room stocked with Legos, wooden blocks, magnetic sticks and other materials designed to inspire kids to design and build.

“Imagine you live at the bottom of a hill, and a giant storm is forecasted,” Leinbach says. “What can you do to protect your home from the water?”

Working in pairs, the 18 students put pencil to paper and quickly begin to sketch out dams, ditches, walls and whatever other barriers come to mind — and then it’s time to build. They dig into buckets of Legos and begin attaching them to square baseplates, working together to bring their visions to life.

“You get to see their creativity come out,” Leinbach says as she circles the room, stopping occasionally to check in with pairs. “You get to see different ideas and motivations and interest in subject matter when you bring them out of the classroom and into a more flexible space.

That’s exactly what the Builder’s Studio was designed to be — a hands-on space where the school’s K-2 students can explore ideas, create and problem-solve, with an emphasis on tangible materials and minimal technology.

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