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Kids and Architecture

As the holidays approach, there are many things we can look forward to: a bevy of comfort food, cooler temperatures, and time spent with friends and family.

For some of us, it means a lot of time spent with family. That’s right, parents: get ready for your children to have an average of two and a half weeks off this holiday season. Or more.

Luckily, HoyStarkHagan is a family-friendly office and many of our employees are parents (plus the 17 siblings between the ten of us). We have also volunteered our time and skills to the Architecture in Education program at a local school, a six-week course that focuses on educating grade-school children about the fundamentals of architecture. So, suffice to say, we know a thing or two about keeping kids busy.

If you’re looking for some fun activities to do with the kids during all of that extra free time this holiday season, check out the activities below:

Spaghetti Towers

Spaghetti towers need few supplies and the “rules” can be altered to accommodate a range of ages. This is a great group project or can be done solo. The purpose of the project is to encourage the design mindset and provide a basic understanding of engineering principles.

Supplies Needed:

  • Spaghetti

  • Marshmallows

Ways to play:

  • See who can build the tallest tower (set a time limit for older kids).

  • Experiment with different weighted objects to see what a tower can support once complete (sheet of paper, empty cardboard tube, pencil, book).

  • Try different shaped-bases to see what shape is most structurally sound.

There is even a TedTalk about the “Marshmallow Challenge,” a more advanced project for older kids (and adults!), but follows the same concepts. Check it out by clicking here.

Cardboard Cities

Maybe you have already started receiving boxes from all of your early Christmas shopping – don’t throw them away! A variety of box sizes makes for a perfect and easy start to a cardboard city – whether it’s a miniature scale or one kids can actually play in. Cardboard cities promote an understanding of space planning, volume, void, and programming.

You can wrap your boxes in butcher paper or construction paper and let your child color, paint, or draw each box as a different building. What makes a city? Apartment buildings, fire stations, restaurants, banks – let them decide what goes into their city! Boxes can be glued or taped to each other to make skylines or city blocks.

Ways to play:

  • Research different “cities” to recreate – your neighborhood, your downtown, or a famous city. Can your child recreate Disneyworld?

  • Break out all of the supplies! Let your child go wild with string, pipecleaners, glue, and buttons. You’ll be amazed at how they end up using them for design elements.

Flat Stanley

Many parents might recognize the name Flat Stanley as the beloved character from the Flat Stanley books. The Flat Stanley literacy project is relatively simple: send Flat Stanley to a friend, family member, or notable person in your community. They, in turn, will return Stanley with a completed journal about where he went and what he did.

As architects, we can’t help but think this would be a great way to share architecture with your children. Sending Flat Stanley to willing architects around the country is one way to show different types of architecture to your children, plus read the perspectives from architects themselves! Many participants are using Instagram with the hashtag #FlatStanley to show the many places he has popped up. Print your Flat Stanley template by clicking here.​

Architecture Scavenger Hunt

Have your children become more aware of their surroundings with an architecture scavenger hunt! Soon they will be pointing out arches and pavilions without prompts.

Ways to play:

  • You can start with a hunt for simple elements and structures around your own home or neighborhood.

  • Visit a museum, library, or government building and find specific design elements that make up the building.

So whether you’re inside or outside in the upcoming months, spending time with your future architects can be fun and educational!​

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