Monday, October 21, 2013

Architecture Homeschool Unit and Lesson Plan

This picture is so tiny! Hopefully you can read it if you click to enlarge.*
I've been wanting to do an Architecture Unit for a long time. But even though I'd been thinking about it for so long, it was really hard for me to figure out how to organize it. Should I just do a chronological overview? Should I go by country? Or by architectural principle?

I finally settled on kind of a mixture of things. I really wanted to talk about the structural and engineering principles behind the architecture---why things are built the way they are---because that was one of the big things I knew the boys are interested in. But the historical and cultural context adds so much too! So I divided the first couple weeks up by structural principles: pyramids and triangles, post-and-beam construction, arches--->domes, cantilevers, etc. With each of those principles we also talked about famous structures that used that principle.

Once we had an understanding of the basic structural ideas, we went through history and talked about the different eras and how each was either reacting against, or enlarging upon, the technologies and customs that came before it. We talked about how and why different cultures have produced different types of architecture. We touched on a few famous architects and Sam also taught a great class on perspective drawing.

We also spent a whole week on bridges and a whole week on skyscrapers, since they encompass so many styles and eras (and since I knew that was where much interest lay). :)

That makes this one of our longer units, but it was really fascinating and I feel like we could have gone on even longer. There were some projects I had pinned (here's the Pinterest Board) that we didn't even get to do, so I'm sure we will be revisiting Architecture again in the future. And I'm sure we'll meet some of our old friends (the Millau Viaduct, the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building, etc.) again as we learn about other aspects of history and science.

*Updated to add better views of this chart, since it's really small and hard-to-read above. Click each section to enlarge:

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