Architecture activities provide students with educational opportunities that bridge multiple content areas -- both academic and creative. During the middle school years, children are moving into more complex areas when it comes to subjects such as mathematics. Seventh grade students are ready to, and enjoy solving real-life problems, according to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Your middle schoolers can play the role of designers and create their own real-world solutions during an artsy architecture activity.
Build a Blueprint
Before the building begins, every architect must draft a blueprint. Likewise, prior to starting an architecture activity, your students can create their own plans. This activity helps middle schoolers solve problems and better understand the concept of scale. When real architects draw blueprints to scale they reduce the size of the building to make it proportionately smaller. Each student should come up with an acceptable scale, and use the ruler to measure it out on the paper. Ask the students to choose a type of building -- such as a house or skyscraper -- then have them decide what the building needs to function. For example, a house needs a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and a living space. An office building may need meeting rooms. Have the students use blue colored pencils, rulers, protractors and graph paper to create their own scale plans.
Make a Middle School
Ask your students, "What do students in middle school need in an educational environment that is different than elementary or high schoolers?" Brainstorm a list and create a model as a class. Discuss their own school, take a trip around it -- both inside and out -- to look at the design and read about what real architects consider when planning. This may include shared or community spaces, along with classrooms that are equipped for the technological needs of students. Vote on the key components that middle school students would need to learn, socialize, eat and engage in physical or recreational activities. Use cardboard, card stock paper, rulers, glue and pencils to build a middle school model. Design a removable roof, and have the students create interior spaces as well.
Base the activity on a real architect -- or piece of architecture -- that ties to historical content. For example, have your students do some background research on Frank Lloyd Wright and his masterpiece Fallingwater. View photos of the building and discuss why the architect may made specific choices, the impact that the natural surroundings had on his design and the materials he used. The students can write architect bios, draft a report on the building and make a model of the structure using cardboard, clay and items from nature -- such as leaves and grass clippings -- to create a setting for the piece of architecture.
Delve deeper into world cultures and explore architecture from around the world. Depending on your grade-level curriculum, your students may be exploring various parts of the world or ages in history. Middle schools social studies classes may focus on developing a global perspective. Show your students pictures of architecture from whichever country you are studying. Give them a wider world view by exposing them to buildings from different places and times. Have your students draw their own versions of the architecture you show them, make a photo collage or put together a class book of global buildings.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: Grade 7, Introduction
- Fanning Howey: Middle Schools
- Fallingwater: Learn
- National Council for the Social Studies: Social Studies in the Middle School
- Clarkson University: Lesson Plan 8 -- Drawing to Scale
- South Carolina Department of Mental Health: Child Development Resources for Parents and Teachers
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