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Entrances and Connections: Fifth Grade Architecture

By Architect and Educator Janine Lovejoy Wilford
When we meet in the architecture class, Ms. McCarthy’s fifth-grade students become an amazingly creative “office of architects” as we call ourselves.  The last two weeks, they worked on building models showing the connection between inside and out, and the importance of entrance.  Building on their geosphere studies, we discussed different door types and how the climate can affect the decision of placement and form.
First, they shaped “the client” using a pipe-cleaner.  This way they had a scale for their project and entrance.  From a flat piece of paper, they designed the door, cut it out so it would swing in the direction they designed, and added windows and other details on the façade using pens and white pencils.  Then, they folded their flat sheet and using glue, create a 3D model of a partial house, adding interiors and exterior details using recycled caps and other materials.   Afterwards, they measuredand drew a floor plan, to scale, of the walls and door of their model.  The focus on this part of the project was the process of seeing and drawing (observational drawing), a skill that is valuable to all (not just artists and architects!), in my opinion.  This drawing task was challenging for some students, but in the end they all completed thoughtful projects with determination and pride.
With all the models and plans in a row, we discussed the designs, and what are good attributes of a neighborhood.  This will lead us into the next week’s section; mapping and community assets of San Rafael, as we prepare for the “Real World” challenge of envisioning the future growth for San Rafael in 2040.

Thank you so much for your support: Laurel Dell PTA, teachers and students, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN, Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and the California Arts Council



Architecture in Mill Valley

Thank you to all who came to and supported our Youth in Arts Architecture in the Schools program. Gracious Hosts Maura and Chris Tokarski opened up their beautiful home to us as a starting point and then lovely and delicious farm to table meal. We took a walking tour through some historical sites in the Cascade Canyon neighborhood of Mill Valley. We thank the neighbors who allowed us to explore their amazing homes. Led by our own Jennifer Daly, Maura Tokarski and Debra Schwartz from Tam Hiking Tours and the Mill Valley Historical Society.  Architect Shirl Buss described some of the work she does in the classroom and showed off the kids Tower of Power structures and connecting bridges.  We all made connections and enjoyed a sunny and wonderful afternoon.

A special thanks to Cary Carpenter and Jia Han for supporting the event.

Family Art Night

Thursday night brought Laurel Dell families from every grade together for an inspired evening of creativity. Fourth and fifth graders began the evening by sharing their visions for their new school with their friends and family. Students worked with architects Shirl Buss and Rich Storek to practice design thinking strategies as they explored ideas and created solutions for their new school.

Kindergarteners showed friends and family just a little of what they have learned as they added creatures and people to their imaginary world. As recipients of the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts grant, students in TK and K learned about strategies for being a good friend as they also discovered lines and shapes and colors and tools in their three-month visual arts residency with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal.

We wish to make a special thank you to the Laurel Dell PTA, the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund, the California Arts Council and the California Wellness Foundation for their generous contributions to the Arts at Laurel Dell Elementary School.











Youth in Arts thanks the Creative HeArts Fund and the Tamura and Rezaian families for their ongoing support for this program.

This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

Tetrahedrons and Community Mapping

Fifth grade students at Laurel Dell learned how to make a flimsy piece of paper strong by rolling it, then turned their “sticks” to triangles and into Tetrahedrons. They also learned about Vetruvius, one of our earliest known architects. Next week they build with their tetrahedrons.

Meanwhile in fourth grade, students took a close look at their school to discuss what they love, what doesn’t work, and what they want to change about their schools!

Funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.

Power Building

Students at Laurel Dell are exploring architecture and the world around them. Mentor artists Rich Storek & Shirl Buss are working with 4th and 5th graders to investigate the community, learn about architecture and design their own projects. Rich’s classroom was working on building tetrahedrons and learning about how to make structures solid.  Shirl’s students were building individual Tower of Power structures and then creating bridges to link with a classmate. Shirl worked with teacher Mr. G to help students pick out words that represent who they are in the world. They then created the Tower of Power to help share their story. When they link with a classmate they begin the process of collaboration. Mr. G is part of an engineering collaborative of the Marin County Office of Education, he said the work they are doing with Shirl will carry over and connect with other aspects of the classroom curriculum.

Funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.