The Washington Monument was built to honor the first president, George Washington, but work did not begin until more than 50 years after his death. It took 40 years to finish the monument thanks to its size, delays caused by the Civil War and other issues. The monument -- a gateway for talking about the first president and the historical period around its construction -- is one of the most recognized landmarks in the United States. Students can build a model of this monument as part of a unit about U.S. history or patriotism.
Papier-mache can be an appropriate project for kids of all ages. Build a frame out of strong wire with a heavy gauge and cover it with the glue-soaked strips of paper. Get complete coverage to create a sturdy tower. Once the paper and glue are dry, paint the monument white. Add a ring of small flags around the base, and the model is complete. If you prefer a less messy paper project, use construction paper. Cut a long rectangle, and crease the paper into four, thin sections lengthwise. Cut the top of each section to a point. Fold the rectangle together, creasing the sides as you go. Tape or glue it together. Fold in the triangular pieces at the top so that they meet in a point and tape them together. Mount the monument on a base and add the flags.
Carved Plastic Foam
Older children who can handle a craft knife can create a model out of plastic foam. Use floral foam or craft foam that can be easily carved. Find a narrow rectangular shape that needs minimal carving. Use a craft knife to fine-tune the form of the monument until you create the right shape and size. Taper one end of the rectangle so that it has a slightly wider base. This will be more like the actual monument and provide a stronger base on which the model can stand. Carve the top into a triangular point. Imagine a small pyramid on top of a large, rectangular pillar. Cover the foam in paper or paint it with a thick foam paint to create a smoother surface, or leave the foam bare -- but if you do, use white foam.
Toddlers and preschool-aged children can make a monument out of wooden blocks. You can buy plain, wooden blocks in a variety of sizes, but 1- or 2-inch blocks are ideal for this project. Stack the blocks to build the tower, and glue them together. The children can use a glue stick to hold the blocks together as they stack them, or provide assistance with a white craft glue. A glue stick will provide a temporary hold to build the monument, but white glue will create a longer-lasting bond if you want to preserve the monument. At the top, glue a small pyramid shape. Once all the glue is dry, paint the monument with water-based white paint. Mount it on a piece of foam board or craft foam. Print small U.S. flags and tape or glue them to toothpicks to create the base.
Creating a monument from edible materials allows you to learn a bit about history while also enjoying a tasty treat when you are finished. Square marshmallows are the best materials for the project, but you can also use regular, jumbo marshmallows. Put a little decorator icing in a bag, and dab a bit of icing onto the end of each marshmallow as you stack them on top of each other. The icing works like glue. However, you won't be able to stack the marshmallows very high before they spill over. For more support, add toothpicks to the center of each marshmallow as you stack them. Cut a marshmallow into a pyramid shape to create the top of the monument. Use red, white and blue decorator icing to create the small flags on the base. Put the icing directly on the plate, or decorate small graham crackers for the flags.
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