Thursday, September 11, 2014

Architecture School: Day 8

It's another Thursday and co-op doesn't start until next week. So that means another Architecture School Day! The big activity from the next lesson in Architecture: It's Elementary! was to draw their bedroom from memory. The perspective that they wanted the kids to draw from, however, is completely different from what they are used to. If I had just told Builder Boy to draw a picture of his bedroom, thanks to Beginning Geography, he probably would have drawn a pretty good top-looking-down view map. But that's not what the lesson had in mind, and I thought it would be good to stretch their minds and get them to think about it from a different angle. But how was I going to accomplish getting them to change their mind's eye?

Awesomely, the answer to my problem turned out to be a tie-in to our Art Appreciation Tea Party that was scheduled for later that day. I had already planned on having Vincent Van Gogh as our artist of the week. When I saw the example in the architecture book, I realized that it was similar to Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. I could use his panting as an example! So I found an example of his work at and printed it out. But then I realized that the wall, celing, and floor line might not be obvious to untrained eyes. So I did what felt like a very horrible thing; I drew the lines over the picture in Microsoft Paint and printed out another copy.

Please don't roll over, Vincent!

To help me get over my feelings of guilt and sacrilege, I took a picture of the boys' room and put lines on that as well. Funny thing, the rooms are really similar! So that is what I did to prepare for the lesson ahead of time.
Like Van Gogh's.....only messier....

Before we started that project, however, we talked about scale. This was a part of the previous lesson that we did not do at the time. I really liked the idea in the book of using the example of Goldilocks to talk about too big, too small, and just right. We have some camping chairs in a grown up size and a little kid size. We used Lady Bug as our Goldilocks and tried her out in the two chairs. Then the boys got a laugh when I sat in the little kid chair. Then both boys tried both chairs. Still works for Early Bird, but too small for Builder Boy.

Then we talked about the scale of buildings, and how it is dependent on the intended use of the building. For example, the play places that they enjoy at various fast food restaurants would not fit inside our living room; the ceiling is not high enough for a big slide! But, we don't need that much head space just to live in.

We also talked about how the world is scaled to grown-ups, not kids, because people are grown-ups longer than they're kids, because there are more grown-ups than kids, and while a kid can fit in a grown-up space, grown-ups would be very uncomfortable in a kids-scale place.

Then we talked about perspective, and how things that are farther away look smaller, even though the object had not actually changed size. I demonstrated this by standing right in front of them, and had them hold up their hand and compare how my size looked compared to their hand. Then I walked to the other side of the room (we used the longest room in the house) and asked how I looked in comparison to their hand then. Early Bird thought I really had shrunk, so we talked a little bit more about that. Then I showed them the prepared pictures and explained the activity.

This was a very new concept, so I drew their lines of perspective for them. They still struggled, so I drew a quick, rough attempt of my own to demonstrate.  Van Gogh, I am not.

They still struggled with grasping the concept. I'm not sure if it's lack of exposure, or a brain development timing thing. We'll try again in a few days, and then give it a break for a while.

Builder Boy's Drawing (too light to scan)

Early Bird's Drawing (with a fine tipped marker)

When they were done drawing Builder Boy said he would prefer practicing hammering to attempting the art project. So he set up in the garage and hammered away for a while, while Early Bird kept him company.


  1. This is so cool! I love this idea and know my boys will too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! The book is free, so I hope you checked it out. It has lessons for kindergarteners though 5th grade, which is awesome. :)


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