Most people around the world live in some type of structure, though these homes don't look alike, and they serve different purposes depending on where one lives. Lessons that teach students about the different types of homes will expand their multicultural understanding and teach them why people build the homes they do. Children of all ages can participate in the lessons, with modifications for older and younger students.
Explain the Designs
Show students pictures of houses from around the world and ask them to list reasons why this house would fit into that area. For example, show the students a picture of a home in the Alps, most of which have severely slanted roofs so the snow can fall off. Talk about how weather influenced the design of the home. Additional pictures might include homes on stilts built to protect their houses from floods, adobe homes in the Southwestern United States and Mexico built to keep people cool during hot summer months or tree houses in forest areas built to protect people from dangerous animal predators. Middle and high school students might also discuss economic and sustainability reasons why people build the homes they do.
Map the Houses
Show students several different houses and talk about where they might be found in the world. Bring in discussions about weather, climate and safety during the discussion. Draw and cut out a variety of different types of homes. Make the pictures small enough that they can be glued to a map; you might print the pictures from the Internet. Have one picture of each house for each student in your class. Photocopy a large map for each student as well. Give the students the pictures of the houses and instruct them to glue each to the area of the world where they could be found. Younger children can match castles to Europe, teepees to the United States plains and apartments to big cities. Middle and high school students can match more complex homes, such as those on stilts in the Amazon, nomad houses in Africa or classic wooden-frame houses found in Germany.
Build Model Houses
Once children have learned about various types of houses, ask each student to pick a type of house to construct. Explain that they will be making a model of their chosen home to share with the class. Provide the necessary materials. For example, a student might build a log cabin with wooden craft sticks, while another student might build an ancient cliff dwelling with clay. Extend the activity for middle and high school students by also requiring them to write an essay about why they would or would not want to live in the home they've built. Require their reasons be backed up with facts they know about the home. For example, a student might not want to live in a tree house along the Amazon River because it would be hard to go in and out of it.
Design Dream Homes
Ask students to consider climate, extreme weather and safety, and then ask them to design their dream home. Remind students that their design must be realistic. For example, a student wouldn't be able to design a house that didn't have a roof because it wouldn't protect him from the weather. Provide paper, pencils, markers and other craft supplies and ask the students to create an image of their dream home to share with the class. Require the children to also tell the class why they included certain design features to assess their understanding of why people build different types of houses. Extend the activity for older students by having them also draw a layout of rooms and features located on the inside of the house.
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