A Neighborhood in Boxes
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
When she is a little girl, Rose creates buildings and skyscrapers out of paper. Later, as an adult, she creates an elaborate model of New York City. Work with your students to create models of their neighborhoods or the neighborhood around your school.
What it teaches: Three-dimensional thinking, collaboration, observation, geography
What you need: Recycled cereal and other product boxes of different sizes, construction paper, posterboard, glue, Internet access
What to do:
- Begin by discussing how Rose created the panoramic model of New York City at the Queens Museum of Art. Why did she make it? How does it allow us to see a city or neighborhood differently? (Ben describes looking down at the model as feeling “like a bird flying above the sprawling expanse of New York City.”)
- Next, challenge children to work in teams to create a model of the neighborhood. Each group of two or three students can focus on a block or two. If possible, go out for a walk and encourage kids to take pictures, make notes, and draw quick illustrations. What do they see? A billboard, a park, a mailbox? You may also want to use Google Maps to see 360-degree street views. When student teams are ready to start on their blocks, have them sketch their block on their posterboard. Then have them look through the collection of boxes to find or create the shape for their buildings. Students can cover boxes in red (bricks) or gray (cement) or brown (wood) and then draw windows and signs. Draw the streets on the outside edge of the posterboard.
- When all the projects are finished, assemble them to create a magnificent panorama of the students’ neighborhoods or town. Display it in your school. Ask students what they learned from this project about how cities are constructed. Talk about how planning, history, and happenstance work together to create the places where we live.