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Houses of Power

Study the architecture of government buildings then create a suspended bas relief sculpture.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. In most cultures, the architecture used to create important government buildings usually reflects the powerful positions of those who frequent the structures. To show this status, designers often use architectural elements, such as Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian capitols (tops of columns) that represent architecture in more formal times.
    2. Students research the architectural styles of the Classical Period of buildings that originated in Greece and Rome. Capitols became more ornate with time: Doric, the simplest capitol, has concentric rings around the top of the column. The Ionic capitol has two scrolls, and is best viewed from either the front or the back, giving it a 2-D effect. The most ornate capitols, Corinthian capitols, represent layered acanthus leaves, and are viewable from all angles.
    3. Use Crayola® Model Magic® to build a bas relief model of an important government building. Bas relief means a somewhat-flat model, with some sculptural elements built on its surface. This style was used to decorate the pediments (triangular areas under the peak of the roof) of ancient buildings such as the Parthenon. Include architectural elements such as columns and capitols in the design. Dry.
    4. Cover a table top with recycled newspaper. Students color their architectural model with Crayola Washable Paints. Dry.
    5. To support your sculpture so it can stand up, cut cardboard into two identical frame shapes with Crayola Scissors. Attach the pieces together with Crayola School Glue. Decorate one side of the frame with glue designs. Dry. Then decorate the other side. Dry. Paint the frame to compliment the architectural sculpture. Dry.
    6. Use Model Magic to create feet for the frame. Form two slightly flattened balls, then press the frame into them and glue. Dry.
    7. Use toothpicks or bamboo skewers as pivots to fasten the sculpture in the frame. Push the toothpick partly into the sculpture at the bottom, center point, then apply a small dot of glue to the point of entry. Do the same to the top center point. Immediately place the sculpture into the frame by pushing the toothpicks into the cardboard. Apply a dot of glue to the entry points on the cardboard. Dry flat.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    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: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    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: Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

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

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

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: The Picture History of Great Buildings by Gillian Clements; Fifty State Capitols: The Architecture of Representative Government by Jim Stembridge; State Houses: America's 50 State Capitol Buildings by Susan W. Thrane; Houses of Parliament: History, Art, Architecture by Christine Riding; TIME Man-Made Wonders: How They Did It: The Design Secrets of The World's Greatest Structures by Richard Lacayo; A World History of Architecture by Michael Fazio

    Students research the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Create a bas relief of each of the capitols, with an accompanying description of the time period.

    Create a bas relief of a contemporary building using Crayola Model Magic. How does contemporary architecture differ from classical architecture? Write a short description of the differences observed.

    Working in small groups, students investigate the construction history of a famous building. Who built the structure? What materials were used in the construction? What significance does the building have to the people it represents?

    Students investigate the architecture of a selected city. Students identify buildings that have Doris, Ionic, and Corinthian capitols. Sketch the buildings and research when they were built, as well as why that style of architecture was chosen. Students provide a written summary to accompany the building sketches.


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