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Tiny Architecture


Today's Snack: Let's make an edible house! You might need an adult to help you with cutting to make this snack. Cut a piece of whole-wheat bread in half diagonally. Place one-half of it on top of a whole piece of bread, so that it looks like a square house with a triangular roof on top. Soften some cream cheese, and beat it with a spoon until it's pretty soft. Spread it on the square part of the "house." Spread the "roof" with peanut butter. Place sliced whole almonds on the "roof" in rows, like shingles. Cut a carrot into thin sticks, and trim to the same length, then place on the "house" in a rectangle like the planks of a front door. Put a dot of cream cheese on a raisin for the "doorknob." Cut two squares of cucumber for windows. You can use the extra half-piece of bread to cut out a chimney, front sidewalk, or just eat as you gaze on your lovely house - and then eat it up!






Washed-out and dried food containers and other recyclables:

pop cans, yogurt cups, juice boxes, cereal boxes, detergent boxes,

paper cups, giftwrap tubes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, foam meat trays, etc.

Blue crepe paper, ribbon, etc.

Brown paper grocery sacks

Old newspaper

Household items such as adding machine tape or white chalk

Broccoli flowerets or cut grass

Straight pins


Masking tape or duct tape

Foam-core board, Styrofoam, florist's foam

Small remnants of green carpet or Astroturf

Small rocks and pebbles

Large piece of plywood or posterboard (optional)



Architects and city planners think big. They're the ones who design and dream up the ways that buildings, streets, bridges, parks, lakes, rivers and other big things come together into the physical parts of a city or town.


But before they think big, they usually "think little." They usually make a model, or doll-sized mock-up, of something that they are going to build or develop in real life. They use lightweight, inexpensive building materials just to get a sense of what the real thing is going to be and how people and cars and everything else will be able to move around within the bigger structure.


Kids can think big, too, and can "think little" by making a model. Let's build "Teenyville, U.S.A." We're going to make a model town out of recyclables around your home.


Plan ahead and have your family and your neighbors and friends save "building materials" for you instead of setting them out for recycling. See the list of supplies, above, for what you may want to have.


On the day you're ready, if you have a large piece of plywood or sturdy posterboard that you would like to use as a base, great, but it's not essential. You can use the floor. You might want to set this up in an out-of-the-way place such as the driveway (far from where cars come, though!), basement or garage floor. Think safety first, but give yourself a hard-surface floor and plenty of room to move around your model town.


Many towns and cities have a focal point or centerpiece. Sometimes these are natural elements, such as a river, lake or ocean beach. Sometimes, the focal point is a tall and unique building. Maybe you could start laying out your town based on a striking natural feature, or maybe put a big mixing bowl in place and call it a football stadium!


To symbolize a body of water, you could use blue crepe paper, ribbon, fabric, or construction paper that you cut into smaller pieces and position with a curving flow, like a real river or lakebed would look.

If you're depicting the ocean, you can use real sand for the beach - just make sure there's no dreadful cleanup tasks after this project is over!


If you would like to symbolize a nearby mountain range, or a big hill or two, you can fill a plain paper grocery sack with a few squashed-up old newspaper pages, and then punch the sack around to give it a natural-looking, rounded, mountainous shape.


To build a downtown area, put the largest containers that you have in place. Detergent boxes, cereal boxes and stacks of paper cups will work well as "skyscrapers." Or maybe you don't want a downtown core at all!


To represent streets, you can use adding-machine tape, taped flat, or cut up pieces of scratch paper to represent traffic lanes. You could also use white chalk if you're outside.


For a bridge over lanes of traffic or a "river," you can tape a toilet-paper tube or paper-town tube to the floor, and then tape your "street" on top and the "river" underneath.


Have fun making a park by sticking toothpicks or straight pins up through a piece of foam-core board, and sticking broccoli flowerets down onto them from above, to simulate trees. You can sprinkle real cut grass on top to serve as a lawn for a park and so forth. As the days pass, you'll move from "summer" to "autumn" as those broccoli tops start to rot! That's half the fun!


What else should Teenyville have? A shopping mall? A school? A Courthouse? City Hall? An airport?


You can build them all. Then you can play in your Teenytown with your mini-cars and other small toys.


Have fun! In fact . . . go to town!



By Susan Darst Williams Building 05 2008




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