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Bring architecture into the classroom with these fun, free lesson plans

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Architecture offers a world of possibilities for classroom learning. When children and teens design and create structures, they draw upon many different skills and fields of knowledge: math, engineering, history, social studies, geography, art, and even writing. Listed here is just a sampling of fascinating and FREE lessons and activities for students in elementary school, middle school, or high school.

1. A Plan for Teaching About Architecture

Selfridges building in Birmingham, England has no definite edges and is covered with metal disc.
Selfridges Department store in England, photo © Stefano Brivio, buggolo on flickr.com, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Here's a crash course overview of architecture, including engineering, urban planning, great buildings, the professions associated with building, and environmental planning. The suggested lessons can be  adapted for grades 6 through 12. In six weeks, you can cover the basics.

2. Teaching With the Olmsteds

Photograph of a model park created by an elementary school landscape architect.
Student-Designed Landscape Model by Joel Veak, National Park Service, Olmsted Nat. Historic Site
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is well-known for designing public spaces like Central Park in New York City. The process of planning a park (or a vegetable garden, backyard fort, or sports stadium) with Olmsted Escapes also teaches the concepts of modeling, design, and revision.

3. Design a House With Frank Lloyd Wright

Designed for grades 7 through 12, ArchitectStudio3D Design Studio and Gallery is a free online tool that lets kids design a house with Frank Lloyd Wright. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust and Educational Web Adventures (Eduweb®) developed the program. You'll find plenty of lesson plans and resources for teachers.

4. Amazing Skyscrapers

Kids will learn basic ideas used by engineers and architects to design some of the world’s largest skyscrapers in this lively lesson from Discovery Education. At the end of the class, the students will use their research and scale drawings to create a skyline in the school hallway.

5. Build a Bridge

From the Public Broadcasting television show, Nova, this site lets kids build bridges based on four different scenarios. School children will enjoy the graphics, and the Web site also has a teacher's guide and links to other helpful resources. Teachers can supplement the bridge-building activity by showing the Nova film Super Bridge, which chronicles the building of the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River.

6. Roadside Architecture

A gas station shaped like a tea pot. A hotel that looks like a Native American wigwam. In this lesson, students examine amusing examples of roadside architecture and colossal advertising sculptures built in the 1920s and 1930s. Students are then invited to design their own examples of roadside architecture. This free lesson plan is just one of dozens from the Teaching With Historic Places series offered by the National Register of Historic Places.

7. Modern Makeovers

This simple lesson for grades 6 through 12 introduces concepts of modern architecture by inviting students to redesign and modernize an older building for the 21st century. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is used as a model. For hundreds of free lesson plans like this one, visit New York Times Lesson Plan Archive. You can search for lessons by key word or browse by subject area.

8. Building a House

The process of construction not only teaches what parts make up a whole, but also the important concept of sequencing. School to Work can get you started.

9. Create A Landmark Calendar

Working with photographers and graphic artists, students create and publish a 12-month calendar that features local architectural sites and landmarks. This activity is from a collection ofarchitecture lesson plans by The Center for Understanding the Built Environment (CUBE). Be sure to click on "Intro Lesson Images" for helpful illustrations.

Architecture Lesson Plans

How can we inspire young students to appreciate architecture and design? Share your favorite architecture lesson plans.
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