Five- and six-year-olds know a lot about their own homes. Besides chool, home is probably where they spend most of their time.
But have they ever really thought about
their space? Why are the walls the colors they are? Who decided where the
windows should be or the placement of
that door? How might they do things
differently if they could redesign it?
Using your students’ knowledge of
their current space will help them
design new spaces and think about all
the areas that surround them.
Looking at Paintings
To begin, kindergartners and first graders talked a little bit about the life and
art of Vincent van Gogh. We looked
at and studied his painting Bedroom
in Arles. Students were eager to point
out objects in the room that they recognized, as well as objects that looked
similar to those in their own bedrooms. I asked probing questions about
what they saw and thought of the room
and was delighted by their responses.
We also looked at Henri Matisse’s
The Red Studio. Again, we made comparisons to our own living spaces. This
time we went a little deeper and talked
about who would have a room like this.
Thinking about Personal Spaces
As a warm-up project, students drew
pictures of their own bedrooms, adding
as much detail as they possibly could.
They carefully considered where doors
and closets were, where objects were
placed, and what colors were prevalent.
Once students thought carefully
about their current spaces, it was time
to think about how they might change
them. We began the second part of
this lesson by discussing the life and
work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s
Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio is
just a few miles away from our school.
During students’ tenure in the district
we discuss his life’s work frequently,
which also helps instill an overall
sense of “place.” At the kindergarten
and first-grade level, I am still trying
to get the students to understand what
an architect is, what a designer is, and
how they affect the places and spaces
Designing a Room
We began the project by choosing a
wall for our desired room. Students
chose samples to cut out of donated
wallpaper books. I kept reminding