I positioned our grade 3 Shelter block to follow the Creation block last fall. It made sense to me to continue with the Old Testament stories using the story “The First Houses” in And There Was Light by Jacob Streit. After reading “The First Houses” as an introduction, I transitioned to using Marsha Johnson’s free Shelter block resource from the Waldorf Home Educators Yahoo Group. This is a very wonderfully laid out block and provided lots of ideas from which to work. Marsha suggests making it a four-week block, but to accommodate our schedule I trimmed it down to a two-and-a-half week block.
We began by looking at our own house. We walked around our home inside and outside noticing which materials were used in the construction. We made sure to visit the unfinished spaces to look at the way the pipes and wires were installed. Then Pintail listed the materials that were used in our house next to a lovely drawing of our home. We talked about our climate and why our home needed to be built the way it is, with slightly pitched roof and double-pane windows.
We talked about the way the native peoples in our area lived. What materials they had when they built their homes. What their biggest needs were from a shelter. We then looked at the five books recommended in the Christopherus curriculum Houses of… by Bonnie Shemie. Right around this time, we got a little snow and attempted to build a miniature igloo.
Then we branched out and began talking about shelters in other areas of the world. As Marsha recommended, we used climate types to guide our work. Hot/Dry climates, Hot/Wet climates etc. I found a couple of wonderful books from the library that showed homes from different climates in the world. Rather than writing summaries in the Main Lesson Book, I let Pintail do information webs in print. I made a conscious decision to not make this block about the summaries.
As a culmination to our study of shelters, I had Pintail choose a type of shelter and make a model. I expected him to choose something native-peoples-y, and was surprised when he wanted most of all to make a floating house that he had seen in one of the library books. I had him do a little write-up about his project in his Main Lesson Book (there are some mistakes I hadn’t noticed until posting! We’ll fix those up when we go through our MLBs at the end of the year.) His project turned out very nicely with a coat of white spray paint to make all the recycled bits look uniform.
Some other resources included “My House’s Night Song” by Betsy Rosenthal. This poem is found in Marsha’s Shelter block and was a favorite of ours. We also learned “Houses We Build” a song from Diane Barnes’ Music Through the Grades. This YouTube series called The Bird People of China – Stilt Houses was fun to watch, too. We still giggle about the fire marshall in the video yelling through his bullhorn, “To help prevent fires, please be careful with fire!” It seemed funny at the time…
Thanks so much for visiting me today!