Project Learning in High School: Architecture

Project Learning collage
Our high school plans have included lots of time for individual projects, enriching our academic studies.

It was brought to my attention that I don’t talk much about Mr. B’s project learning time anymore. This is partly because he has really taken it over for himself and I don’t have a specific time built into our schedule for it and partly because his projects are done outside the home (like his volunteer work and running).

During his former project time, which was after lunch, I orchestrated the study to a certain degree by finding books and materials to support his interests. He spent time exploring and learning on his own but I could usually be near-by so at the end of the week I could record what was accomplished and then at the end of the year mold the project into a course that I could give him credit for.

Project Learning Done By Mr. A and Mr. B

So after some thought and discussion, Mr. B and I decided on a new project driven study.  

His new topic? Architecture.

As part of our Tapestry of Grace studies, Mr. B has read portions of the book The Story of Architecture. Now we are focusing on the last sections in that book that will go along with his 20th century history study.  These sections will be the spark to his project time and he will build from there by exploring topics, people, and places that come up. I am sure as the year progresses there will be other things to add to that spark which is why we love this style of learning so much. You never know where it will lead you.

Other books and materials that will be used as references: 
(See them in the Amazon widget at the bottom of this entry.)

  • Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures
  • 13 Buildings Children Should Know
  • K’Nex Education: Bridges –Introduction to Structures
  • Humanities text as a reference (left on the shelf by one of his older siblings from a CC course)
  • Wishing for a LEGOS Architecture set – perhaps Fallingwater or Robie House (major investment financially)
  • Netflix videos including a series called “Architectures”  ( There is also a series with California houses in it: America’s Castles – Hearst Castle, Scotty’s Castle.

We are approaching this study with more of a humanities/art view than an engineering view.  Mr. B is going to document his own project time in a notebook with written narrations, photos, and sketches. I am hoping to come up with a way to actually spend time visiting various types of buildings to note their style and am currently looking for a local guide to architecture. (Thinking this would be fun: Stairway Walks in San Francisco.)

I have learned over the last five years that using this style of learning is never neat and tidy. As the parent/guide I need to be willing to adjust to changes in focus as they happen. This week he may be interested in the materials used to build a particular structure and next week he may need help answering a question about how a building’s feature was created.
  • There needs to be a certain amount of trust in your child as you watch them work through the project.
  • There needs to be a way of letting go and knowing that learning is taking place on their terms.
  • They need to know that they can come to you if they get stuck and need some additional help or resources.

I have planned for Mr. B to spend nine weeks at the end of this school year to complete a senior project in the art or music area of study. I am wide open to having him pick his own topic to research, or work on a project like learning a new art skill or musical instrument, or any other idea of his choosing. He may pick something related to his architecture study. Maybe a whole senior project on Frank Lloyd Wright? Maybe he will take an architectural drawing course or CAD drawing course? How about building models of actual buildings out of LEGOS?

Mr. A is currently building a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)

Project learning can create a base of learning done through self-education and spark further interest that leads to a more in-depth or concentrated study that stems from the original project. I have seen it happen in Mr. A and I hope to see it in Mr. B. It can be some of the most exciting learning you find in your homeschool because it comes from a child’s passion.

Okay, it wouldn’t be a week from Harmony Art Mom if I didn’t share what we did for our 20th Century Art project this week. Mr. B viewed lots of Modigliani portraits and then used the idea from Art Project for Kids to create his own Modigliani style artwork. He chose to use markers instead of oil pastels. 

So much more to talk about this week but I will save it for next week.


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