Teamwork and creativity were the name of the game when Lincoln Elementary School fourth-graders recently created roads and placed buildings in their imaginary town during Marygrace Anderson's art class. The students, along with third-grade classes, became architects when they created their own buildings and town.
Mrs. Anderson started the architecture unit by reading a funny book called "Iggy Peck, Architect." The main character, Iggy Peck, loves architecture and recreates famous buildings from around the world using things he finds around his house and school. Every time Iggy created a building in the book, Mrs. Anderson had students find photos of the real buildings on the world and U.S. maps in the art room in order to find out what the names these buildings are and where they are located enhancing their knowledge of geography and famous places.
Students were then given the challenge of becoming an architect, designing a building with any purpose on paper that would become a part of a larger city.
Lincoln Elementary School fourth-graders Brianna Stone, Isabella Palermo and Giovana Calamunci create streets in their art class city.
"I built a factory because I decided that every city needs a factory," said fourth-grader Alex Sharpe. "I like art because you use your imagination and you can't mess up in art. You can always figure out a way to fix it into something cool."
Once they completed their designs, students began building their creations using recycled items that they found around the school or at home. Mrs. Anderson encouraged them not to buy anything, and to try to repurpose things that were being thrown out. Once students' individual buildings were completed, the classes rolled out long pieces of bulletin board paper and began creating roads, sidewalks, waterways and grassy areas tying the individual buildings together into one city.
"I was amazed at the diversity of the types of buildings they chose to do," said Mrs. Anderson. "I had assumed that everyone would want to create skyscrapers, but in the end we had the White House, museums, animal shelters, haunted houses, football stadiums and several churches. We even had a rat retirement home. Seeing what the students decided to build was one of my favorite parts. Students learned to be creative and flexible problem-solvers. Occasionally, someone wouldn't be able to get something to work with their building and we would ask 'OK, so then what? If it isn't going to work, what can you do?' Whether it was figuring out to use a different kind of glue or change their design a bit, they learned to adjust."
As the city developed, the classes moved buildings to a "different part of town" just because they would fit together better. Teamwork and problem-solving were helpful in putting the city "puzzle" together.
"I love art because you can express how you feel when you make something," said fourth-grader Alice Moffatt, who created a movie theater. "It was fun to do this because we got to be creative and work together to make the town."