Paper Engineering: Pop Up Card Creation

Inspired by Lovepop Cards, an intricate 3D paper sculptures designed by 2 naval engineers right here in Boston on cutting-edge software and then handcrafted in the Asian art form of sliceform kirigami, Lin Learning Center took on the challenge of creating a pop up card of our own.

Paper is a wonderful material to work with. It is flexible and versatile. It is easy to cut, bend and glue together and at the same time, it can be strong when it is folded. Understanding this characteristic of paper and the mechanism of how to fold, cut and make crease, children were able to create a simple to sophisticated paper invention.

Every week, children explored and learned 6 different mechanisms that we called them patterns:
1. Conversing crease
2. Parellel crease
3. Right angle V fold
4. Acute angle V fold
5. Symmetrical parallelogram
6. Asymmetrical parallelogram

Making patterns require a strategical cut, fold and shaping of paper. Without a precise finger fine motor and understanding of angles and lines, paper would not work in 3D. After learning how to create mechanism that works, children used their creativity  to come up with their own 3D designs. Some of them were able to combine 2 or more patterns and some of them even came up with their own pattern.


Collaboration during the project:



Challenge Of The Project

Children were asked to submit their final pop up designs for competition. Voting was open to parents, teachers and other care givers. They were asked to vote on 2 categories, best design and best mechanism from 2 groups, older and younger children.


Here is a closer look on the older children’s  group:


Here’s a closer look on the younger children’s group:


Challenge Winners 

Huisung was voted for both mechanism and design on the older children’s group. Nathaniel was voted for best mechanism while Lena was voted for the best design on the  younger children’s group. They were awarded with Lovepop card of their choice.

We’d like to congratulate on all children who have participated in this challenge. Many of them have gone through trial and error and invested time and effort to create their own unique pop up card.

2. Paper Engineering & Pop-ups For Dummies
3. Pop-up Design and Paper Mechanics: How to Make Folding Paper Sculpture by Duncan Birmingham

Sink Versus Float (Part II)

Using all the knowledge that children experimented and learned, they engaged in a challenge to make a boat that can carry 300 pennies, which was about 4 pounds weight. Some of children wanted to challenge themselves more and wanted to create a boat that can carry a double amount of weight: 600 pennies, which was about 8 pounds.


Grand Prize Winners



Sink Versus Float (Part I)

Children have been exploring many different materials and creating various structures. They showed a great interest in making boats. We decided to take on the challenge of making a boat that actually works, meaning it can float on the water.


We discussed what make things sink vs. float. Many children mentioned that objects that are heavy will sink and objects that are light will float. However, is it that simple? We had 2 sets of 10 items as indicated on the pictures below for children to think and record their hypothesis: which items will sink or float. Then we let the children experiment by having them place all the items on the water.
Through the experiment, children realized that concept of sink vs. float is not that simple.






To better understand our result, we graph the result and identified characteristics of different objects.


Sink and float has a lot to do with the relationship between what object goes into the water and how water reacts to that object. In order to understand the relationship, we explored various concepts mentioned below with the children.


What happens if 2 objects that are in equal size has different weights when they get dropped into water?


We dissected a squash to see why the elongated part sinks more than rounded part?


We also experimented how a dough of clay can sink when it is in a ball shape while it can float when it is flattened out.


Water Displacement

We shared a famous story by Aesop, The Crow And The Pitcher. Children were able to observe the water displacement as marble goes into the bottle. Max says “water is going up because the marble is taking up a space”.




We also put water into the syringe and ask children to block the opening and push down on the plunger. Armand said “I can’t push down the water”.



Surface Tension

What happens to a ball when it gets pushed into the water and let it go?
We also asked children what they feel when they move objects around in the water. When you move water using a wide black plastic piece vs. narrow plastic ruler, does it feel the same?
Ilan said “it’s harder to push down water when I push with a huge pot than tin container.”



What Is Mass? by Don L. Curry
Will It Sink or Float? by Melissa Stewart
Floating or Sinking by Charlotte Gillian
Ships: World Encyclopedia
Things That Float And Things That Don’t by Davis Adler

Create Your Own Game (continuation of “What is Game?”)

Snow Person Created By All Of Us At The Church Playground



Playing and thinking about many different games, children took on the challenge of creating their own game. Together, we identify the basic elements of game which are:

  1. Name
  2. Objective/Goal
  3. Rules
  4. Outcome

In addition to these 4 basic elements, we also talked about adding challenge as one additional of the element which will help to make game more interesting and fun.

Based on four or five elements mentioned above, children play out their ideas and able to create games of their own using open ended materials.


Created by Jacob

Name: Tic Tac Four for 2 players.

Objective/ Goal: To create 4 in the row in straight or diagonal line or square using 4 foam pieces.


  1.  Roll the dice and whoever has the biggest number goes first.
  2. Take turns.
  3.  Move only one foam piece at a time.
  4.  You may block the other player from making 4 in the row or square using your foam pieces.

Challenge: Unlike other conventional Tic Tac Toe games,  you have to think beyond linear configuartion of making 4 in the row.

Outcome: Whoever creates either 4 in the row or square the first wins the game.

Created by Pierre

Name: Cross the Ocean for maximum of 3 players.

Objective/ Goal: Go around the board and come back to home.


  1. You can choose to be either the person or the shark.
  2. Roll the dice and move the space as it is indicated through the sum of dices.
  3. When the person lands on the same space as the shark then the person have to start from the beginning.

Outcome: Whoever comes back to the starting point, home is the winner of the game.


Created by Arive

Name: Candy Land for 4 players.

Objective/ Goal: Go from start to finish line.


  1. Choose the color of the person.
  2. Take turns to flip cards that indicate the color and number of steps that you can take.
  3. You may only move as the card indicates.

Outcome: Whoever reaches the finish line the fastest is the winner.


Created by Max

Name: Catch Money for 2 players

Objectives/ Goals: Collect money as you move through the board from start to finish.


  1. Take turns to roll the dice and move your peg according to the sum of numbers indicated on the dice.
  2. Collect money as it is indicated on the landing spot.


Whoever finishes with the most amount of money is the winner.


Created by Hannah

Name: Race To The Dice for maximum of 4 players

Objectives/ Goals: Get all the cards


  1. Divide cards equally among players and put them face down.
  2. Roll the dice and whoever has the highest number goes first.
  3. The first player roll the dice and after counting 1,2,3, everyone put down the card from their file of cards.
  4. Whoever has the closest number to the number that dice rolled get to keep all the cards.
  5. Play until you run out of cards.

Challenge: Wild cards with various instructions.

Outcomes: Whoever has the most number of cards wins.


Created by JingMeng

Name: Race to the Goal, for 2 players

Objectives/ Goal: Go to the finish line, the goal.


  1. Do rock, paper, scissors, shoot and decide who gets to go.
  2. Player who wins will pick the card.
  3. Cards will indicated where to move your person

Outcome: Whoever make it to the finish line is the winner.


Created by Ashika

Name: No name for 2 players

Objectives: Go from the start to the finish line.


  1. Roll the dice and whoever wins go first.
  2. Take turns moving your animal pieces by rolling the dice. Whoever has the biggest number goes.

Outcome: Whoever gets to the finish line the first is the winner.


Created by Ilan

Name: Race to Win for 2 to 4 players

Objectives/ Goal: Go to the finish Line


  1. Roll the dice and whoever has the biggest number goes first.
  2. Take turns to flip the cards for instruction on where to go.

Outcomes: Whoever arrives at the finish line the first wins the game.



  1. Designing Board Games by Kristin Fontichiaro
  2. Games Design by Greg Austic
  3. Cool Board Games Crafting Creative Toys & Amazing Games by Rebecca Felix
  4. Everyone Play Games by Aimee Popalis
  5. Board Games Builder by Lee Slater



Mystery Apple

“What are we having for snack today?”

Children are very excited about our daily snack making. Snack making is one of the activities that provides multiple sensory, bilateral hand coordination and hand dexterity. Through this experience, children explore science and math concepts like measurement, use of food ingredients as materials and the sequential step to step thought process.

Apple is a seasonal fruit that we had many chances to eat this Fall. We made various apple dips and tried a fresh vs. cooked apple. To explore the apples, we looked at 8 different types commonly found in the Brookline grocery stores and perform taste test on which apple is our favorite. This information will help us to pick which apple to buy for our snack. To test their learning of the various kinds of apple, children were asked to participate in challenge called Mystery Apple.

First, children made observation drawing of apples.



Second, children learned the name of apples and their physical characteristics.



Third, children tasted apples and picked their 3 best tasting apples. For the result, there was a tide between Red Delicious and Gala.


Forth, children solved what is the name of mystery apple based on their learning. Majority of children named the apple right. They were very excited about their result. Good job children!



More Pictures of children preparing snack:

1. Slicing cheese.


 2. Scooping caramel sauce.


3. Stuffing rice into tofu skin pockets.


4. Making chocolate pudding parfait.


What Is Game?

At the beginning of the fall semester, we explored the idea of: what is game? Many children already know one or more games to play. They mentioned that there are many different types of games like board games, card games, or games made with things you find at home or outside. Most importantly, games are fun when you play with others or on your own. Through playing games, they learn to make friends and develop a sense of community.

Games played inside:

Weiam, Vera, Louis, Max, Anna, Ellie, Illan, Hannah, Jacob, Ivan and Ryoji

Games played outside:

Chi Ling

Ivan shared “Chi Ling”, Chinese yoyo from Taiwan. Many children were fascinated by how it works and the many tricks you can do with it.

Louis, Jacob and Max

American Hop Scotch Vs. Korean Hop Scotch

Children shared hop scotch game from 2 different countries. Similar idea and yet it can add different flavor by having different rules and objectives.

Hannah, Juila, Jacob, Ashika, Max, Anna, JingMong and Sandy

Around the world: basket ball

Jacob, Max, Ivan, Hannah, Weiam, Anna, Vera and Sandy

Who can score the most goals?: Soccer

Sandy, Max, Weiam, Hannah, Ariv, Ivan, Vera and Anna

Tic Tac Toe

Ashika and Ellie

 Unstructured Free Play:

Unstructured free play is an essential part of healthy children. Activities are children driven. Through their play, they demonstrate creativity, flexibility, team work, planning and decision making.

Creating a tree house: Illan, Piere, Ellie, JingMong, and Ashika got together to gather many branches on one day in October after a very windy night.

 Sorting acorns: Piere and Illan started to gather acorns to start a “war”. As Ryoji joined, it turned into a sorting and organizing activity. They estimated they have gather about 1000 acorns.

Building blocks

Ariv, Illan and Ryoji

Flying kites

Julia, Louis, Illan and Ryoji

Tracing bodies with chalk

Ryoji, Illan and Ellie











Our Egg Drop Inspired By Daredevil, Annie Edson Taylor: Queen of the Falls




At Lin Learning Center, we like to explore scientific concepts through picture books such as Barreling Over Niagara Falls by Nancy Kelly Allen. Through beautiful illustrations the book told the fantastic adventure of the Queen of the Falls, Annie Edson Taylor, who in 1901 was the first daredevil to barrel down Niagara Falls and survive. This concept really captured the class’s interest and they began asking where Niagara Falls is, how high it is, and so forth.

To further explore this event and expand the children’s knowledge of different materials from previous project, gravity, impact, and air resistance, we decided to do an egg drop. Each child had to design a container using open-ended materials to prevent their egg from cracking after dropped from a two-story building.

What made Annie Edson Taylor successful?

While reading Ms. Allen’s story, the children pointed out that they key reason for her survival was a well-planned design for her barrel. Thus the children observed that they would need to design the containers for their eggs with as much care, so each of them got to work drawing their plans while the teachers discussed their ideas with them throughout the process.

For our research, we examined four other daredevils who attempted the fall and made predictions whether or not they would be successful. These daredevils used a kayak, a tin barrel, water scooter, and an air-filled container. Many of the children agreed that the kayak and water scooter would not be good choices for the task. Sure enough those two daredevils didn’t make it. When we discussed why Paul commented that the kayak and water scooter were open verses the tin barrel and air-filled container provided better protection since they were closed.

Gravity, Impact, and Air Resistance

The class also discussed gravity, impact, and air resistance. While studying gravity, the children gathered that it’s what makes things fall, though Jonathan added that gravity is an invisible force that makes things fall. To further demonstrate, one of the teachers dropped an egg with no protection from the two-story building, letting the children witness it smash. Spencer noted that this was because the height of the building is about 100 times the egg.

The teachers presented the children with four different containers to use for protecting their eggs made of flexible plastic, hard plastic, tin, and glass. Then we decided to drop each of the containers from ceiling-height to observe the result. The majority of the children hypothesized that the glass container would shatter, but the others wouldn’t be damaged. During the experiment, the glass container broke, the tin can dented, and the two plastic containers had no evidence of damage. Paul stated that hard materials break while flexible ones don’t when dropped from a great height.

While researching resistance, the children learned that a parachute can slowly lower objects down to the ground, thus we performed an experiment where we dropped two papers of the exact same size from the same height. We dropped one paper vertically and the other horizontally. Jonathan and Felice pointed out that when the paper is dropped horizontally more air is touching the paper thus creating more resistance. Some of the children use this information to build a container with a parachute to minimize the impact of their egg.


Following pictures are children working on their parachutes. They were testing out their designs, giving feedback to one another and supporting each others success.

              Andrea closely looking at the parachute design to make sure air passes through.



Following pictures are children working on minimizing impact when the container hits the ground. Also some of children were thinking about creating a design that allows proper landing to guide where the impact should be when the container hits the ground.



Outcome Of The Egg Drop

After weeks of planning, building, and modifying containers, the teachers gave each of the nine children that participated two chances to perform the egg drop experiment. Some of the children focused on minimizing the impact using a parachute. Each child dropped their egg then we all went to the bottom to open the containers one by one. When we found an egg that survived, the children cheered and all of them were very happy with each other’s successes.


Following pictures are children getting ready and sharing their container design ready for egg drop. Children were allow to perform 2 trials for this challenge hoping that they learn from mistake and modify their design for another challenge.




Following pictures are children opening their containers to see whether their eggs have survived. Everyone were very supportive one another for their success as well as their failure.


Open Ended Materials



These pictures were taken on one Friday. Entire Lin Learning Center crew got involve making ice igloo. With Anna’s guide, Vera and Weiam were harvesting ice. Paul and Louis were cutting or shaving ice into shapes. Felice and Spencer mend or patched any wholes. Jonathan and Andrea pinpointing the area that needed patching. Michelle were finding the decoration for igloo.


Open Ended Materials

Children develop power when they build individual relationships with materials. When children have the chance to notice, collect, and sort materials, and when teachers respond to their ideas, the children become artists, designers, and engineers.” Weismann Topal, coauthor with Lella Gandini of Beautiful Staff


We presented to the children many different natural or manufactured material found in the home or outside, such as sea shells, pine cones, bubble wrap, pipe cleaners, and toilet paper rolls. To help the children in sorting these items, we read the book Sort It Out by Barbara Mariconda to see how Packy the Packrat organized her things into so many different categories. For example, in the story Packy discovered a string bean couldn’t be sorted in a green, nature, food, flexible, or long category.

The children were very excited about this activity! They were familiar with some of the materials, but many they had never seen before. This activity promotes literacy as we prompted the children to describe the objects and express their observations. What do you think these materials are used for? Is this item flexible or rigid? Is this thing found it nature or is it manmade? Is this plastic or metal?


Uncertainty of these materials provide children with freedom or unlimited possibility of building things. And because of these uncertainty, children really have to play with materials and understand what each materials can be used. Playing around with these materials, children becomes like scientists who are constantly conducting experiments, testing ideas, and building their understanding of the world according to National Creative Center for Aging.

Knowing your materials is the absolute basis for both science and art. You have to use your hands and your eyes and your whole body to make judgements and see potential.” The Having of Wonderful Ideas: And Other Essays on Teaching and Learning by Eleanor Duckworth

Many of the children came up with various creations, some fashioned individually and others in groups. Often the students’ creations inspired each other and they would copy each other or come up with something that worked even better. Also, they discussed among each other how to improve their creations.


Andrea has created spider, over the cradle hanging toy for the baby and a person.

Omar has created dumb bell.

Louis has created sea monster.

Paul has created pirate ship.


Sophia has created miniature animals and their stage.

Spencer has created a sling shot


Vera has created a bow and arrow.


Feliche, Omar and Spencer together they have created a marble run. A lot of discussion, trial error and also input from Paul helped to make a run where marble doesn’t fall off and stay on the track.

Andrea and Spencer together, they created a basket ball court.

Feliche was trying to create a car that moves on life saver candy wheel.

Julia was trying to create a hot air ballon.


Weiam and Vera together, they created artificial a snow machine.

As teachers, we made an observation that when one child stated his frustrations about not being able to create what he wanted, many of the children encouraged him with comments such as, “New inventions are made that way. It takes trial and error. You just have to keep going.” They understood their peer’s troubles and supported him. Together they recognized persistence is the key ingredient for creation.


  1. Sort It Out by Barbara Mariconda
  2. Beautiful Stuff by Weismann Topal and Lella Gandini
  3. Ashley Bryan’s Puppets: Making Something from Everything
  4. The having of Wonderful Ideas: And Other Essays on Teaching and Learning by Eleanor Duckworth

Shoe Lace Tying



Shoe Lace Tying

During pick-up, the Center’s teachers noticed many of the children’s shoe laces were untied. We explained to the children that it isn’t safe to walk around with untied shoes and it’s a very important life skill that they should begin learning in Kindergarten. At the start of school, we believe they need to begin to be more in charge of their own care.

Shoelace tying can be a difficult skill for a child to learn. It requires a good level of dexterity and motor planning. Thus we presented the children with three different shoe lacing techniques in the hope they would pick up at least one of these methods. We named these techniques: Two bunny, one bunny, and loop around. We turned this into a challenge where first a child had to master at least one technique. Then the child would have to perform it in under thirty seconds to promote efficiency.

Many of the children grew excited about this challenge. A few already knew one of the techniques and helped the other children. However, several were frustrated with the endeavor. First we demonstrated how to make a knot. The next several days, the children spent time learning how to do each method on and off their feet.


Some mastered all three techniques while others just one. Once they felt confident in their skill, they did the timed challenge. They got very fired up about their efficiency and pleaded us to time them over and over again while they demonstrated. On the day of the final challenge, we asked the children to record their times on a chart. Some children mastered all three methods under thirty seconds. Andrea’s time was the fastest. Only eleven seconds!

Now the children can tie their own shoelaces and we are very proud of them.







Fruits versus Vegetables




Fruits versus Vegetables

At the Lin Learning Center, preparing a variety of snacks is a very important part of our daily activities. Every day the children ask, “What are we eating today?” They learn about good eating habits due to their exposure to a healthy medley of foods. This has spurred curiosity in the children. Eventually they began to ask, “Are we eating fruits or vegetables?” They made observations such as “Fruits are sweet and vegetables are not. Vegetables are green. Fruits have seeds and are colorful.” All of this led us to looking at the differences between these two food groups.

Over the next couple of months, we read many books about plants including, Edible Colors by Jennifer Bogel Bass and From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. We also examined on the observation table many different parts of plants such as melons, mint leaves, edamame, cucumbers, and strawberries. One day, we sent the children to discover different plant parts from the playground such as acorns, dandelions, milkweed seeds, and Japanese maple seeds to dissect as well.

The children also observed entire uprooted tomato and cucumber plants. They noted that unripe cucumbers look like cacti, that the leaves and stems are rough, and that unripe cucumber and tomatoes foam where the flower is dying. At closer examination, the children discovered the flowers are sticky at the bottom from the nectar and that the brown powder around the inside is the pollen. 

“The pollen feels like sand,” Spencer said.





This brought up the topic of pollination. Several children mentioned how bees and butterflies assisted in pollinating, but didn’t have a full understanding as to how this helps the fruit grow. Dissecting the flower and identifying the stigma and ovules clarified this. The children even drew their discoveries to help with this learning process.



To conclude this project, the children organized over two hundred pictures of food into categories. As they did this, they revisited their original claims on the differences between fruits and vegetables. They learned that not all vegetables are green and fruit doesn’t have to be sweet but it must have seeds.



  • Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass
  • Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman
  • A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
  • From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
  • How Does A Seed Sprout? and Other Questions About Plants by Melissa Stewart