Engineering Design: Fairy Tale STEM Activities

STEM is a regular part of our day. This month our STEM focus will be on Engineering Design, while simultaneously learning about Fairy Tales and Simple Machines. It is fascinating to see the various solutions students achieve as they work through the engineering process.  Students are allowed to apply what they know and investigate potential ideas and concepts rather than be expected to focus upon a specific “right” answer.  STEM focuses on providing the opportunity for children to collaborate, create solutions, and finally test and improve their solutions using an Engineering Design Process.

One of my goals is for the students in our class to understand that it is socially acceptable to have different ideas on how to solve a problem, while learning the valuable skill of working cooperatively towards a solution. Currently, we are collaborating to create a new home for Cinderella.  Cinderella is a well known fairy tale. In this story, Cinderella’s fairy godmother solved a lot of her problems. However, now that she has married her Prince Charming, she is in dire need of a new home to call her own! Our students are generating and comparing multiple possible designs to solve her problem. Students will work in small groups, and must use what they know about free standing structures and pulleys to design and build a castle, They are required to  include very specific criteria… such as a working drawbridge, at least 3 towers, a perimeter of at least 36 inches, etc.  Skills and tools of problem solving, patience, perseverance, and presentation are going to be needed to help Cinderella solve her problem, so that she can live happily ever after.

August 2017 The Dream Classroom

Our students are beginning the school year creating their very own classroom community… a “Dream Classroom”.  All students from Pre-K to 3rd grade are planning,  problem solving, collaborating, and creating a classroom design(s). Students are working on issues (such as behavior management, class jobs, etc.)  that require them to make their own decisions while addressing various ‘classroom’ issues or topics that arise. Students will be incorporating skills acquired in reading, writing, and math while working to solve the problems faced. As the children work to create their “Dream Classroom”, there will be opportunities for independent work as well as partner collaboration.  The final product will be based on each student’s imagination, creativity, and knowledge base.

The “Dream Classroom” was chosen for our first project, because I want our students to understand that classrooms should function as a positive community environment. Even though our class does consist of  multi-aged children, different learning levels, and a variety of learning styles—it is important to understand that we can all function together as a cohesive unit. I look forward to seeing the final product and to a great year! We are definitely off to a wonderful start!!

Life Cycles In April

It’s hard to believe that April is already here!  It will be a very busy month at Brenwood.  Students will be visiting Dahlonega Gold Mine for an exciting and educational day.  They will experience the thrill of gold panning and discover the history of how mining affected different parts of the United States.
In class, students will be learning about different life cycles.  They will watch caterpillars hatch into butterflies, and they will also be hatching chicks!  Students will take complete responsibility as far as researching the process of incubation and charting the growth development of the chicks.  They will also come up with a plan of how to take care of the chicks once they hatch.
I can’t wait to watch these young learners take charge of this experience!

Endangered Animal App February Projects

The elementary students are in the midst of completing an endangered animal research project.  They are each creating an app designed to inform users of the endangered animal of their choice.  Students are learning about the white rhino, the mountain gorilla, the mexican wolf and many more endangered animals.
Last week, we were visited by a boa constrictor named Nicola, a western hognose snake named Digglet, and an axolotl named Barry.  If you don’t know what an axolotl is, please look it up.  They are amazing.
Next month, all students will begin to learn the recorder!  It will be exciting to watch these young students turn into little musicians.

November’s Happenings Australian Travels

The students are currently preparing to take a trip around the world with Queensland, Australia as the grand destination.  They are busy learning about the landscape, culture, and government of Australia as well as the land animals native to Australia and the Great Barrier reef.  They will be creating brochures about Queensland and will each choose one particular aspect to be an “expert” in.  As a group, the students voted to take this trip by cruise ship (This trip really exists!).  We are in the middle of planning out exact routes, stops along the way, and figuring out the cost per person.  They will all be Australian experts by the end of the unit.  Good-day-mate!

First Day Of School Olympic Games

child care services canton GeorgiaThe elementary program was excited to welcome back both returning and new students.  The students are already involved in their first problem based learning unit that involves creating a Brenwood Olympics for the younger students in the school. Currently they are learning about the history of the Olympics and the job of the Olympic Committee.  They will plan, organize, market, create and manage the first Brenwood Olympics! Over the next few weeks the students will be learning about geography, budgeting, organizing and time-lines.  They will work as a team to meet deadlines and will discover ways to problem solve during “crunch time”.  Let the games begin!

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Back To School Supply List

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!  I hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summer.

As a member of the private elementary at Brenwood Academy, all school supplies will be provided.  I do understand though that buying personal school supplies dds to the excitement of back to school.  Below is a list of supplies that you may purchase for your child if you wish to individualize his/her supplies.


Pencil Box/Pouch


Crayons (Pre-k – 1st)

Colored Pencils (2nd – 3rd)

Age appropriate scissors

2 Two pocket folders

Spiral Notebook/Wide Ruled (2nd – 3rd)


Lunch/snack box

Water Bottle (sport top/straw)


*Please send a healthy snack and water bottle starting on the first day of school.  (Please do not send fruit snacks, chips or sweets)

*Also donations of baby wipes and tissues would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you,

Lisa Sawdy



Camp Activate Summer Camp

Summer Camp is in full swing at Brenwood Academy.   We have overhauled our Summer Camp Program to include a new line-up of events for summer fun in Canton, GA.  If you haven’t registered yet there is still space for your child to attend.  From building a garden center, trip’s to the pool, INK and Tellus Museums, and learning adventures at Challenge Island our summer line up is jam packed.  Contact Mindy Anderson to register for our upcoming weeks and events by visiting our Summer Camp Page for more details.


Hannah Craton For the next two weeks at Camp Activate, Acting and Directing Coach Hannah Craton will be joining us as we host Drama Theater Camp.  Hannah will graduate this summer from Reinhardt University with a Masters Degree in music education.  She was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors Society, Reindhardt University Concert Choir and brings a colorful world of Drama and performance to our campers at Brenwood Academy.  We are thrilled to have her join our team.

March Updates

The elementary students are busy learning about living in a community.  They are working on a community service project that involves collecting donations for a local animal shelter.  They created their own flyers for distribution and are learning about how to promote/market an event.
Students are also learning about communities long ago, maps, goods/services, and community helpers.  They will soon be creating a mock community in the classroom.
 Cat's and Dog's posters

January, New Events for a New Year

An exciting new problem based learning unit awaits the elementary program.  The focus is on doing research to discover new answers.  I have partnered up with a research team at Georgia Tech. (Go Jackets!) for our class to be a focus group for one of their new educational technologies.  As we work with Georgia Tech., the students will discover what scientists do, how they design experiments, and how they collect data to learn new information.  Students will then come up with their own experiments to conduct and report on.  I am so excited for the students to be a part of a real life study!  More information is coming!

Treat decorationg Proud studentfamily enjoying crafts  Christmas friends

December Christmas Party Fun!