Lots of building going on with our student-teachers these days: building lesson plans and units; building projects’; building prototypes of all sorts using various materials including Lego robotics, wooden blocks, foam blocks, straws, cardboard; and above all, building knowledge.
One topic that came my way recently was students wanting to develop a unit for primary grades around the idea of building a community. Did I have any recommendations that would inspire and inform a unit like this?
With the idea in mind that young children would connect readily with building homes (and ties neatly into the Alberta social studies curriculum to boot) we decided to start with that.
I recommended browsing the series, Young Architect with the following titles:
Adventure Homes by G. Bailey
Though the suggested grade level is 3 to 6, I think the illustrations would certainly spark the imagination of students in grades 1 and 2, as well. These particular student teachers got excited when they started flipping through them, for there’s lots of information about construction techniques and materials and definitions for specialized words. I didn’t think these books provided everything but were a good starting point.
I matched these books with the picture book by Chris Van Drusen, If I Built a House because it takes a fanciful, pie-in-the-sky approach to building a home for the narrator’s family.
Because the unit was going to go beyond homes, the student teachers wanted books that would show different kinds of buildings. They wanted iconic buildings from around the world, so I showed them 13 Buildings Children ShouldKnow by Annette Roeder. Also graded for grades 3 to 6, it does feature the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Opera House, The Eiffel Tower and many others. Each entry includes photographs, illustrations, information about when they were built, construction techniques and the occasional quiz question.
I’m hoping I’ll find out how the students developed this unit further in the near future.