Imagine the scene: a kid in a playhouse. A sweet image, but pretty standard. Now imagine a group of 3, 4, and 5-year-olds surrounding a playhouse, with clipboards and critical eyes. That’s getting interesting. Finally, think about those same kids, busily measuring, sawing, and drilling. Real tools, real protective eyewear, real fractions. That’s the story of Step One’s newest landmark: a playhouse designed and built by Room 2 children.
“I was thoroughly impressed with their problem-solving and dedication,” said Teacher Anthony. The team stuck with the project through a 17-week process which, in true Step One fashion, began with student interest. Room 2 teachers noticed that the classroom was wild for building: after many elaborate constructions, the group settled on the playhouse project.
They kicked off with a visit from an architect (alum parent Omayya Kanafani) to answer questions. In a thoughtful design process, children made blueprints and models, and voted on the designs they wanted. They gathered teacher and student input and incorporated suggestions (such as widening doors so teachers could get in to play).
The kids also thought through what they liked about current Step One playhouses and what to change. They decided on lower windows for climbing and a taller door (measuring the tallest kid in the class so no one had to duck!). After everyone learned about tools and safety, the building process began. The kids did 85% of the work, including measuring, cutting, and drilling.
Some students participated eagerly from the get-go; others took their time. Teacher Anthony said, “We had taken a brain research workshop earlier that discussed how much learning happens when kids watch.” Sure enough, many of the kids who started as observers were full-blown builders by the end.
Teacher Anthony told the story of one child who was fascinated by watching another sawing. For weeks, she kept saying, “Why does sawing make that kid so happy?” One day, she came to school ready to try. She sawed for a while, then looked at Anthony, beaming and said “I see – It does make you happy!”
The result? A new playhouse for Step One, a sturdy yet airy structure, with a skylight that makes adult architects ooh and aaah. And what kids learned from the process is even more meaningful: independence, teamwork, and the joy of creating their own special place to play.
A hearty congratulations to the builders of Room 2!