“My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be, and it looks like all my dreams.” -Mr. Plumbean
Imagining, Planning, and Constructing
The Dream House Project
SWS Studio, Kindergarten
Last June, I read the Pre-k children a cherished book, The Big Orange Splot. In the story, there is a street where all the houses are the same. It is a neat street. And they like it that way.
However one day, a seagull drops a big orange splot of paint on Mr. Plumbeans house.
Instead of repainting his house, however, he transforms it into his dreams.
There is outrage in the neighborhood. Neighbors declare he must make his house the same as theirs.
But Mr. Plumbean replies,
“My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”
As each neighbor visits Mr. Plumbean, to talk some sense into him, the tables turn, and they spend the night talking about their dreams. They then set about the next day transforming their house into their dreams too.
What an opportunity, I thought, to provoke talking, planning, creating and the possibility of living one’s dream.
So, last June, I had each pre-k child build a house, exactly the same, out of corrugated recycled boxes. It was a lesson in following directions, spatial awareness, as well as engineering (each house needed brackets, a base, walls, and a roof.) Over the summer, I told them to think about their dreams, because as Kindergarten students they would be transforming their “the same” houses.
I was heartened when the first thing they said to me when they returned to school as Kindergarteners, was, When are we gonna paint our houses?
Not yet, we need to think about our dreams and make a plan first.
And so we began sketching our plans.
Making visible our dreams.
Plans to later read, as we construct and build our dreams.
First we looked at our the same houses and identified that they are all a square and a triangle. I asked each child to draw the same house. Next they were to transform it, using a simple black felt tip pen, into their idea for the dream house.
The following week, we returned to the first draft of the plan to add color, and any additional details.
“If you color your whole dream house plan blue today, when it comes time to paint the real structure in a few weeks, you will paint your house all blue. I will say to you, I am reading your plan. Your plan says you only need blue paint. So, now is the time to plan out what you really want. Be thoughtful and take your time.”
I also conferred and took a few notes about each dream house concept.
The next week I began by holding up each house plan for the group to admire, ask questions about and see.
Their task was to find the main shapes in the plan, and then find the materials that would best correlate to construct the structure. We reviewed that no details or colors would be worked on today.
When they finalized their materials, they explained the significance of the chosen material in conjunction with their plan, and I duct taped or hot glued it together.
Look at these astounding replications of the main architectural ideas of some of the dream house plans:
The next steps will include priming the entire structure so it can be painted, and mixing colors and adding color according to their plan. The final structural steps will be creating and adding all the details. However these are just the rudimentary steps. Bearing witness to the individual personal struggles and triumphs of doing this long term project…
To be continued…