Friday, October 18, 2013

Creating a model city with a 10 year old...

Hi Friends!
It has been non stop this month, which I like, keeps life moving, the kids growing, and keeps away stinkin' thinkin'. This past month my 10 year old and I embarked on an awesome mission to create a city to enforce his geometry lessons throughout the month. Being a crafty person who wished so dearly someone in her family would have built cool scale models of things like cities and (ahem) a whole room of scenic train sets; which never happened until this month. The process was pretty precise and thankfully this kid is a hard worker, maybe a bit competative (have no idea where he gets that from....), ok he wanted to be better than everyone else in the class (he gets that honestly). The mission was accepted and the idea of our 1 inch scale city was born. I showed him one of my favorite scale cities of Manhatten...Check it out here, and the wheels began to turn.

I must say when the big boy handed me the project outline I could hear the theme song for Mission Impossible going off in the back of my head. This was a month long project that would incorporate geometry lessons from school. How to make this project work for my kid, keep him motivated, and teach him to push harder than the rest; was my M.I. We started off drawing a blueprint of his city and talked about how most cities were constructed past and present and how they work. I asked him what he thought should be a top priority in his city: people, places to work, farms, a nature reserve, (Police, Firefighters, hospitals), schools, stores, and places to create things.
The Blue Print
So he asked me plenty of questions about why things are placed in different areas of a city. Like why are farms away from the city, why are wharehouses and manufacturing plants away from where people live in the city, why are small houses found in big cities? I asked him would a farm stay uncontaminated in the city, do you want a loud smelly wharehouse on the other side of your backyard, and cities started very small and some of those old houses in the city have been there from the beginning, they bring in the history and culture of the cities beginnings.

The following weekend he had to go with his dad, so I took the opportunity to create scale drafts of the city and incorporate all of the things he wanted, the city must have roads that are parallel and perpendicular.
My sketches
After sketching some ideas I went to the craft and hobby store to purchase supplies, I told him the max money for supplies for his project was $25.00. I purchased some scenic foilage, foam board, acrylic paints, new paint brushes, and some Balsa wood.
Supplies for $20.50 (Love 40% coupons)
The following Monday after school he painted the roads for the city, big roads for two lane roads, and little roads for smaller streets. I drew them on the foam board in pencil so he could use the lines as guides. Talk about a perfectionist, he was so hard on himself because he could not keep straight lines or they looked off and they weren't completely straight. I asked him if he was an expert who learned how to paint perfect straght lines for a living and build scale models...(ten year old eye-roll).
Trying to keep the perfectionist going
Once the meltdown over the roads was avoided we put the project away for the week and would focus on it that weekend. Friday after school he was ready to start again, this time painting in all of the base areas that the buildings would go on, kind of like city zoning plans.
Painting the terrain
At this point he was getting very excited and was starting to see his city in his mind, the next order of business was creating foilage for the farms, the nature reserve, the border of his city, and parks. We also had lakes to put in there too.
Nature Reserve
The Reserve I think was very exciting for him, he is very fond of animals and really gets peeved when people mistreat them. So you know, we just used a pale blue paint and glossy accents on top to create a water look, I had these in my scrapbook stash. The farm however, was my favorite as it was full of color and made me wish I could see the farms and ranches from my very young childhood.
The next task was to cut the balsa wood into buildings.....and then realize that I was most likely going to kill myself trying to cut the balsa wood with my craft knife as recommended. Lies! I really needed a small hand saw which I was not going out to purchase at this time, so enter in Crayolas' air dry clay. I rolled out the clay and gave him the pizza cutter and ruler to measure out his buildings and cut them. We let them dry for a day and then he went to painting. Keeping him motivated to paint all of those tiny houses and buildings was tough. I helped him with the last 20 or so.
Painting Buildings
We let those dry for a few days allowing the clay to harden and then began the process of gluing them down into the city. Once he started seeing those buildings go down and the project getting closer to completion this kid was amped.
First buildings
That excitement wore off really quick as we realized we would need more buildings which involved more painting on his part. We managed and with only 4 days left to our project deadline.
All of the buildings are down
After the buildings dried on the surface we began adding in the rest of the foilage to the city. When we finally placed the last tree, this big kid was beaming from ear to ear. "Mom, this was the hardest project ever, but it is the best, I am so proud of it!" This is what every parent wants to hear, that after all of that hard work, the end result was worth it.
The Finished Project
I am so proud of him and his will to keep on. I can be considered tough and that comes from experience. I have always challenged myself to do better and I expect nothing less from my children. However, our children never learn these attributes if we do not help them learn how to achieve them. The drive and ambition he gained during this project also improved his desire to push himself at school. This is exactly the result I wanted for him. Never settle for less only more.

Here are some close-up shots of his project:
The industrial part of the city with holding tanks for natural resources
A small park in one of the residential parts
The nature reserve with more trees this time
Another residential area
Where the suburbs meet the inner city
Thank you for taking a peek, hope you enjoyed, and maybe you will get some ideas for your future architects out there. School projects with children can be fun, teach our children that we are interested in what they are learning, and help to teach children to reach higher.


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