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Innovative Educator: West Ada teacher has 'manipulative' way of engaging her students

Kristi Buxton believes kindergarten should be a magical, joyful place where kids can take risks, create and be happy.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

Kristi Buxton teaches kindergarten at Prospect Elementary School in Meridian.

"They come into the class and they are so excited for the journey we're going to take that day," Buxton said of her students.

For part of that journey, Buxton uses math manipulatives. That's the fancy name for educational games and scales.

"This one is a fun one. They're going to be doing some measurements with weighing," Buxton said holding up a scale.

As well as puzzles and blocks.

"I have one center where they're building cones, where they're building cubes, so we're getting the geometry in," Buxton said. "I have another activity area where they're doing addition and subtraction."

Buxton received a grant of more than $700 from the CapEd Foundation to buy the materials. She believes her little learners need to touch things and to explore in order to learn well.

"This is kindergarten. They only get be little once," Buxton said. "I get to be little with them and I get to help them do it hands on. They need that. They need to move, they need the creativity, and they get so excited. They're like, Mrs. Buxton come here and see what I made. There's nothing like it."

She said they think they are playing, but they are actually learning.

"The conversations I hear and watching them make those connections to real world problem-solving, there's nothing better than watching them grow," Buxton said.

Watching them grow day to day and throughout the year.

"I see them when they come in and they can't write their name, and I see them leaving me as emergent readers, counting to a hundred," Buxton said.

So being manipulative in this way is a positive thing on the path to a love of learning.

"Kindergarten's the best because you see the very beginning and you get to see where they're going," Buxton said. "There's nothing better than that joyful journey we take."

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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