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Round, Square, Pointed, Flat

What shapes are people’s houses? Discover diverse dwellings—and make dioramas representing them—from around the world.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. With the class, walk around the school neighborhood. What shapes are the houses? What construction materials are used? What are the roofs like? What kinds of windows and doors do they see? Children record their observations.
    2. With children, discover how people in different parts of the world construct their houses. Houses may be made of materials such as mud bricks, straw, animal hides, felt, ice, or sticks. Why do children think people choose these materials?
    3. Together, research types of houses in the children’s countries of origin, places they have visited, or locations about which they are curious. Two excellent resources about homes are Wonderful Houses Around the World by Yoshio Komatsu and The Village of Round and Square Houses by Ann Grifalconi.
    4. Ask children to divide into pairs or trios, based on their interests in a specific type of home or country. Together, each group plans to make a diorama in a recycled box showing a house somewhere else in the world.
    5. With children’s families, collect recycled and found materials with which children will construct their dioramas. Some possibilities: sticks, leaves, recycled containers, sand, grass, mud or straw. Urge children to make their houses with materials that are as authentic as possible!
    6. Provide tools and art media, such as rulers, Crayola® Model Magic, School Glue, Construction Paper, Scissors and Washable Paint. Encourage children to ask questions and solve their own engineering problems.
    7. Supervise construction by asking questions about the process and details to create a realistic miniature scene. Demonstrate art techniques, such as how to use armatures (recycled plastic containers or boxes) as a base for making 3-D sculptures with Model Magic or found materials.
    8. Display the finished products for other students and visitors to the school to observe and admire. Label each to identify the country where this type of home is (or was) common.
  • Standards

    LA: Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    MATH: Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

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

    SCI: Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.

    VA: Collaboratively brainstorm multiple approaches to an art or design problem.

    VA: Make art or design with various materials and tools to explore personal interests, questions, and curiosity.

    VA: Repurpose objects to make something new.

    VA: Perceive and describe aesthetic characteristics of their natural world and constructed environments.

  • Adaptations

    Ask children to write a paragraph describing the home they depicted. Where are/were homes like this built? What materials are used? How was this diorama made? Display the description with the model.

    Focus on a continent, such as North America or Africa. What are the similarities and differences in homes on that continent, historic and contemporary?

    Explore how buildings are constructed in your community. What careers are involved? What building materials are used? Where are materials sourced? Why are buildings in your community made this way? Visit a construction site often so children can document progress.

    Working as a group, create a gigantic model of one type of house. Ask children to take the lead: Who will coordinate the project—be the construction superintendent? What small groups do they need? How will they document the construction process? What community resources will they locate?

    Encourage children to write imaginary stories about the families that live in the homes they depicted. How many people and generations are there? What are their names? What work do they do? Where do the children go to school? What plants grow nearby? What do the people eat? What toys do children have? Children can do research in books, on the Internet, and by interviewing people who are familiar with the culture.


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