Engaging Third Graders Through Architecture

At the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm, teachers ask:

How can we best engage students at each distinct age and inspire a lifelong love of learning?

Third-grade students have a better capacity and a deep curiosity to understand their world, their relationship to the environment, and the natural rhythms that divide days, weeks and seasons. As a result, we introduce lessons that center on farming, housing, clothing, time, and the calendar. In other words, we study “Living on the Earth.”

“During our shelter lesson we learned about dwellings that were built in different regions of North America,” explains Ana Coffey, third grade teacher. “After researching many different dwellings from all over the world, the children chose the shelter they wished to build.”

With guidance from their teacher, collaboration in small groups, and limited assistance from their families, these model homes were the result. The students were responsible for researching the geography, climate, and culture of the dwelling, as well as conceptualizing how to build the house and its realistic surrounding environment. The experience of creating these structures brought a reality of the breadth of information and work needed to erect a livable dwelling suitable to a particular region.

When the children were asked to reflect on the project, this is what they had to say:

“It was a challenge, and I like a challenge.”

“I enjoyed brainstorming about the construction the most and how it actually started to take shape from such simple materials. I also enjoyed decorating [my house] into a cozy dwelling.”

“I learned to try many different ways of building and not give up on the first try if something breaks.”

“One interesting part was making the landscape like what the native Americans had. I was surprised to learn that there was a ton of (different) tribes that lived there. I was surprised at how much work it was to prepare the leather—-they had to steam it, scrub it, scrape it, dry it, cut it and sew it!”

“I never thought I could do something like that.”

The student’s shelter projects are on display at the Wenham Museum for the month of April.
Stop by the Wenham Museum and take a look inside.

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