Our “Structures in Landscape” art enrichment project- March 2017

Teachers in both the Pre-K and preschool classrooms had been observing that the children had become very interested in building. The various types of blocks including wooden, magnetic and Legos were being explored daily inside the classrooms with students creating homes for horses, fairies, pets, and families. In our outdoor classroom gigantic structures were being constructed including ships, bridges, and various habitations. Ms. Page came up with an architecture and construction art provocation to continue the children’s interest in building structures.

Building in the Pre-K classroom

Building in the outdoor classroom













Pre-K children were presented with photos of different types of structures and we discussed who would live in these structures, what they would be made of, and how large they would be. The buildings included an igloo, a teepee, a skyscraper, a pyramid, a castle tower and a typical house that the children may live in.

Building pattern pieces

Photos of structures

Students looked over the photos and chose the one they were interested in creating. We started by working with white air-dry clay. The children were given rolling pins to roll their clay flat to about 1/3″ thick. They were given a paper pattern to use for the walls of their chosen structure and cut from 1-4 pieces of each pattern. They placed their pattern on the flattened clay and cut around it with a butter knife, lifted it carefully with a spatula, then set it aside as they rolled and cut the rest of the pattern pieces.

Structures pieced together

With Ms. Page’s help they connected the pattern pieces by pinching the edges together until the structure was standing. One was rounded, some were 3-4 walled, one was just one big piece. Each student was successful in getting their structure to not only stand independently but to resemble the building their structures were modeled after. Students cut doors and windows and added final touches to their buildings before allowing them to air dry for a few days.

The next week we had a discussion about the landscape that these buildings exist in. Where would you find a pyramid? Most children said in a desert, but we found out in Mexico they are found in jungles. Where could an igloo exist? In a desert also? No, it would melt. It would have to be where there is ice and snow (although we observed that people like the Inuit don’t live in igloos anymore but in houses just like us, although they are still built to keep the tradition alive.) Where would we find a skyscraper? What about a house? (Almost anywhere!)

Concentrating hard

Tempera paint

Painting structures


Painting structure


Pyramid and skyscraper structures drying

Proud of her creation


Children chose a piece of cardboard and we hot glued their structure onto it. We got out the tempera paint and they were given the choice of painting their structure and the landscape realistically or in a fantastic way, and all of the buildings ended up quite imaginatively colored! Some chose to paint moats or roads as well.

Kylo: I’m going to make road that goes around stop and go around the castle. The road goes up the castle and then people fall into the hole.
Luca: Where is the road going?
Kylo: Deep inside the castle.
Kylo: Here is the spider and a ghost and a vampire I painted.
Page: That looks pretty spooky!
Kylo: That’s because it’s haunted.
Duncan: My skyscraper is made out of snow at the top of a mountain called Los Angeles county.
Duncan: My skyscraper is full of pokey weeds you don’t want to go into.
Page: Who would live there, then?
Duncan: Probably no one!
Kaleb: My pyramid is in snow.
Page: I’ve never heard of a pyramid in snow.
Kaleb: Well, here’s one right here.
Luca: My igloo is rainbow. It has colors in the snow.
Luca: Look! I did white inside so you can see.
Page: That’s a good idea because it could be dark inside an igloo.
Luca: That’s why I did it.
Sophia: I’m going to paint my pyramid orange then paint yellow over it- that makes it look like sand.
Lucy: Mine is the tallest- your guys’ are the smallest.
Page: Do you think that is important in a building?
Lucy: Yes, of course!
Page: What color are you going to paint your house, Audrey?
Audrey: Rainbow because I thought it would be beautiful. It will be a dog house.
Ikaika: Mine is camo green. Oooo- now look- I guess it’s mint green. It looks like shadows.
Page: I like the way you found all those different colors of green.
Ikaika: That’s why it’s camo.
Ruby: Mine is a princess tower only for mermaids and princesses, but I don’t want to be a princess today.
I need a little door so the mermaids and princesses can go skating, skating.
Walter: My house has a blue roof.
Page- Oh that’s beautiful- maybe it’s reflecting the sky.
Walter: No, it’s just a roof.
Page: Who lives in your pyramid Venessa? Is there anyone in there?
Venessa: My pyramid is for kitties.
Structures were put aside to dry.

This week children will be given pieces of cardboard, rocks and wood to add to their landscape as they see fit- perhaps roads, fences, trees or décor. Stay tuned!


Meanwhile, the preschool class was presented with the photo of the igloo. We talked about why an igloo was shaped that way, what it was made of, where it could exist, who would live in it, how would people stay warm, where would they sleep, and so on.

Starting the discussion- what does an igloo look like?

Rolling the clay into balls.

Making the hole



Children were given a ball of white air dry clay and spent some time exploring the stiffer feel (compared to Play-doh or homemade clay), the coldness of the clay, and began rolling it and manipulating it with their hands. As the clay warmed up, the students were able to make shapes by using their fingers.

Ms. Page then instructed them how to roll their clay into a ball, stick their thumb into the middle to make a deep hole, and then use their thumb and pointer finger to pinch the clay until they made a bowl-shaped structure. They then flipped their structure over, rounded the top (if able), cut a doorway and voila! They had created an igloo!

We let the structures dry, then students were presented with a piece of cardboard and we discussed the landscape an igloo would exist in and what animals would be nearby. We decided we needed to show an ocean for seals, sea lions, penguins and whales, and some icebergs for polar bears. We decided there would be no trees. Then children were given the choice to make a realistic landscape or a fantasy one. Needless to say, this landscape also turned out fantastic and colorful.

Painting the igloos’ landscape

Painting the igloos


Students then were given the same choice for their igloos, and some igloos ended up very colorful, some were one color, but none were left white!





The third week PreK students added the finishing touches to the buildings and landscapes including roads, moats, paths, fences, porches, doors, bridges, and whatever else they could come up with. Students also considered and experimented with what type of glue to use for different purposes, Elmer’s white glue, Tacky Glue or hot glue.













The younger preschool students placed their igloo structures onto their painted landscape and added details such as fences, roads and arctic animals.








Our amazing structures in landscapes will be displayed at our year-end art show in June!

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