The Building Construction Project

A Project by Second and Third Grade Students at Caraway, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Length of project: 8 weeks
Teachers:  Darlene Williams

Phase One—Beginning the Project

This phase was devoted to finding out what the children already knew about buildings and how well they were able to talk about and represent their experiences. I began our project by telling the children a simple story about my house. The children then shared stories about their homes. They were anxious to talk about the size of their house, the number of bedrooms, their own bedroom, their yards, etc. After sharing, the children then chose another way to represent their experiences with buildings. Some of the methods selected included drawing their house or a building, surveying classmates about the type of house they lived in, constructing a model of a house or building using various construction materials in the classroom, and writing a description of their house. Toward the end of Phase One we brainstormed a web of words and a list of questions that we had about buildings. These questions helped to focus and direct our project.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

Inviting guests to our class and going on field studies were integral parts of this phase of our project. Visitors included an engineer, an electrician, a window and door salesman, a teacher from Africa who talked to us about buildings in Africa, a parent who was having a house built, our school janitor, and a carpenter. Field study sites included a materials testing lab, garage, buildings and houses from 1886, an historic home, a house under construction; our school, and a bridge construction site. During guest visits and field studies the children took field notes of important information and observations Writing experiences, individually or as a class, included research reports, letters, booklets on houses around the world, and stories about pioneer life and homes. They also completed surveys; developed, compared and described building materials; made observational drawings of building materials; compared houses in cold places with houses in hot places; and designed and tested building structures. The highlight of Phase Two was building a real 4' x 6' house. Throughout Phase Two many discussions and sharing sessions took place where the children had an opportunity to appreciate and comment on one another's work and to contribute new understandings to the group.

Phase Three—Concluding the Project

Phase Three was the culmination and celebration of the project. The children decided to have a house warming party for the house they had built and invited their parents and their grade 5/6 buddies. Invitations were made and sent out. The children also selected work from their folders to share with their guests. The class then spent a wonderful evening with the parents, celebrating all the learning that had taken place during our project. As a final culminating activity, the class made a photo album of the project. Children selected photos taken during the project and wrote a story about them. All the stories were bound together in an album entitled "The Learning Book of Buildings." This book, a wonderful souvenir of our Buildings project, has been read frequently by both children and parents.

Comments

Especially noteworthy in this project were the parent involvement, the role of the visiting experts, the culminating photo album, the ownership the children took of their work, and the quality of the work achieved for students in grade 2/3.

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Project Summaries

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