For the spring session of 2015 I’ll be teaching Math Games on Tuesdays after school at Berkeley Arts Magnets and on Thursdays after school at John Muir. I’ll be teaching Building Imagination on Mondays after school at Malcolm X and on Tuesdays after school Jefferson, and I’ll be teaching Build the World on Fridays after school at Malcolm X.


1. Math Games

We don’t do any math!  All we do is play games the whole time!
– a review  from a Kindergartner

Ah, but they do do math, lots of it.  I majored in math in college, and these games the children play are the quintessence of math: they are what I wish I had learned in kindergarten.  The math is wrapped up inside Grimms fairy tales turned into challenges: how to escape from trolls chasing you, how to count the stars, how to tell if the Wolf is lying. Children frequently ask at the beginning of each class, “What is our challenge this week?”  That’s the spirit!

2. Building Imagination

falling gulliver

This class is hard, but it’s fun.   review from a Kindergartener

It turns out that when students have free time to do whatever they want, they reach for classic wooden blocks more than anything else in the classroom, and teachers have told me that there never seems to be enough time for the children to build things.  Over a century ago school curricula included building with wooden blocks all the way up to third grade.  Frank Lloyd Wright fondly remembered his hours of building with blocks;  even as an adult architect he intuitively thought and imagined in terms of those blocks.

In this class, the kindergarteners build everything from castles to the Mayflower to a worm pizza factory.  The children think they are playing, and they are correct, but they’re missing a few things: Not only are they doing what they enjoy, they are problem-solving, they are thinking visually and spatially and they are working cooperatively (or not! — It can be challenging.)

See one of our projects –> The Castle, the Challenge, and the Secret Hideout

What is Building Imagination? –> Read More


3. Build the World

This is a crafts course for kindergarteners in which students build and animate a world.  They will start with a mass of clay and sand which they will sculpt into land, mountains, a river, a cave. Weaving with twigs, they will make a bridge, a fence and stonework to make huts.  Using a wet felt technique, they will create animals and people.  All this the children can do, largely on their own, with solid materials, no veneers, no tape no glue, just their hands.  And each week I will tell them a creation myth from around the world as we shape our own.

What Happens in Build the World, and Why Is It Important? –> Read More