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Design Your School

Imagine a school that’s 30 stories high, maybe with skateboard ramps between each floor. Design your own extraordinary school—a sphere in space perhaps—and then make a model!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Curious kids sometimes wonder how school buildings have changed. Have students interview older family members or invite them to visit their class to describe their long-ago school building. If possible, visit a one-room schoolhouse or museum with a replica of one.
    2. Take students on a walk around the exterior of the school. Notice the way it was designed. How many stories, windows in each room, wings, doors? Discuss schools in the past and present. Brainstorm possible improvements for future schools. Students create a Venn diagram that compares and contrasts schools of the past, present, and future.
    3. Students read Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Have a class discussion about the reason for the title of the book, and the 30 characters described in the 30 chapters. Here are some suggestions for how to make a 30-story Wayside School. Students use these ideas to create their own model school building. Students are the architects!
    4. Students build the structure. Flatten the tops of two clean, half-gallon cardboard drink cartons. Attach one on top of the other with masking tape.
    5. Use Crayola® Scissors to cut large construction paper to fit around the containers. With a straight edge, use Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils to draw evenly spaced lines for the 30 rows of windows. Use Crayola Gel Markers to draw the windows and doors.
    6. Make students. To make the children, accordion-fold three pieces of white paper as if to make tiny paper dolls. Draw one set of paper dolls with an arm uplifted, another set with both arms down, and another with arms and legs outstretched. Cut figures out and then cut them apart.
    7. Add features and color each student with Crayola Washable Markers, Fine Tip Markers, and Multicultural Markers. Most of the figures will be visible from the waist up and a few will be viewed from the back, so cut and decorate them accordingly. Use Crayola School Glue to attach the figures so they look like they’re in the windows.
    8. Draw, color, and cut paper kites and balloons. Glue them to the children’s uplifted arms. Erase any extra marks from drawing the 30 stories. Glue the building exterior to the cartons. Air-dry.
    9. Add a roof, clouds, and greenery. Cut and glue on a poster board roof. Add clouds by fluffing out cotton balls and securely gluing them to the roof.
    10. Glue green construction paper to cardboard for a base. Air-dry the base.
    11. Draw and color sidewalks leading to the front door. Create bushes and trees using markers on white paper. Include a tab on the bottom. Cut and glue in place. Air-dry the school.
  • Standards

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

    LA: Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Invite a local historian to speak with the class about local schools. Prior to the visit, students compose questions for the visitor. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.

    As a while class, discuss students likes and dislikes about the physical set-up of their school. Extend the conversation by asking if anyone has attended a different school and what features of that building were liked or disliked. The class makes a list of desired features and undesirable features for their new building.

    Students interview teachers, support staff, and younger students to find out about physical features of the building that are or are not desirable. Prior to the interviews, class members compose a set of interview questions to be asked. After the interviews, students report back to the class about their findings and organize this new information into a chart format.

    In small groups, students research new features to be included in their school designs. Organize acceptable features into an electronic presentation for classmates to view.

    Challenge student groups to create their new school building within an established budget. What features can they keep? What features will need to be modified? What features will need to be eliminated? Organize an electronic presentation with this information for classmates to view.

    Students groups proceed as if their school design as been accepted and built. Students write a cooperative story about the first day of school in the new school. Characters should include students, teachers, and support staff. Students can illustrate significant scenes from their stories using Crayola Colored Pencils.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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