A real girl builder

Our partner architect visited the class for the first time yesterday; what an exciting visit! As MF exclaimed… “a real girl builder!”

architect speaking to kindergarten class

She had so many great ideas to share with our students and we all (adults included) learned a lot.  As non-architects it’s a big leap for us, as educators, to help the children through this inquiry and her visit gave us a much-needed shot of confidence.

She had a great strategy for teaching perspective drawing.  She brought in two green peppers and used them as a substitute for a building because, as she pointed out, peppers have walls and interior space.

architect demonstrating drawing techniques using a pepper

She showed us how to draw the pepper from the front (architecture term, elevation), from the top (plan), and with the front wall cut away (section).  The children were captivated by the idea that there was more than one way to draw an object.  They asked great questions and had amazing ideas about what kinds of buildings architects design (prisons, hospitals, shopping malls).

architect demonstrating drawing techniques using a pepper

KC shared that it was important to make a diagram of your building and we talked about how we might measure our drawings so that a builder could follow them accurately.  Our architect then showed us how to measure our model buildings so that we could translate them into drawings too.

architect showing students how to measure model building

She showed us how we could draw our buildings from elevation, plan, and section perspectives – this was especially interesting because it got the children thinking about shape; a triangular building looks rectangular when you view it from the top.

architect demonstrating measurement techniques  architect drawing a model house

After all that learning we got the chance to do our own drawings!  The children amazed us by applying their new learning so immediately and by using rulers, for the first time, with confidence and precision.

children drawing a model building  children drawing a model building  children drawing a model building  child measuring her drawing on grid paper

 

I just used my imagination…

Where do ideas come from?

While A-frames were a popular building style in the 1960s and 70s, most children aren’t familiar with them.

And yet SN built one.

a-frame house built with cardboard

Where did she get the idea?

She says: “I just used my imagination. It was a little bit easy to build cause you could grab the two squares and put them together and then make a box around it.”

In her reflection, she captures the ease of building that made A-frames so popular 40 years ago.

When I was at Bennington College in the late 90s, the college had recently undergone a process known as Symposium.  This re-thinking of college life had seen the elimination of Art History as a discipline and the re-evaluation of the reasons for teaching the history of art.  In my own dance classes, Dance History was taught as a required, but not-for-credit, section of a dancer’s course work.  The rationale we were given at the time was that we were there to make dance history, not to read about it.

What interested me as I moved out into the world was the ways that we, knowingly or not, make and re-make the histories of whatever discipline we are working in.  Often what children make, whether they are building or dancing, reflects the history of the form.  As in the development of concert dance, children will often make narrative dance/dramas before they are ready to venture into abstraction and post-modern chance dances of pure movement.  We are seeing the same kinds of explorations in our Architecture inquiry, as children are drawn first towards the forms that they are familiar with (square and rectangular boxes, with flat and pitched roofs, then towards forms that are different but easy to build and next… who knows?

Michael Lee Chin Crystal

We can’t wait to find out.