By Matthew Piechalak | [email protected]

“Five minutes until the storm arrives!” Teacher Letty Robinson yells across the Gooding Family Courtyard as Grade 5 students shriek and scramble around in a mad dash to assemble their shelters. 

Utilizing donated palm tree fronds, banana leaves, and bamboo shoots, the Lower School students, arranged in small groups, are tasked with building  a shelter that can maintain a “storm.”

The activity is a culmination of a grade-level Social Studies unit that had the students exploring how geography influences cultures. The students sprint around the courtyard, collecting materials and working together to build the most solid structure they can  muster in the time allowed. 


“The storm is here! Letty yells. “Get in your shelters.” 

The students puzzle themselves into their team shelters, careful not to knock down their creations. They let out a collective shout as a leaf blower starts up. Letty and Lower School Librarian Laurie Brae walk around with a leaf blower and spray bottle in an attempt to knock down the student structures. The students hold on tight as the wind and water whips around them. 

In the end, all five structures remain standing. All teams are victorious.