This week, I’m asking the kids to become aware of their surroundings by studying our city’s architecture. Here are a few ways that you can get your kids interested in the architecture of your own city, town, or county seat or the design elements of the places you visit!
Five Ways to Introduce Kids to a City’s Architecture
1. Take a Photography or Sketching Tour of Your City
The best way to introduce kids to city archiecture is to take them out into the city and to have them discover it for themselves. A wee little assignment such as “Photograph Your Five Favourite Structures” or “Sketch the Six Strangest Buildings” goes a long way.
One way I like to start my kids off here in Toronto is to look for places where “Old Meets New”: Old City Hall and New City Hall, the Michael Lee Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Sharp Centre at OCAD and the Gehry addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
You can also have them focus on certain types of structures to “scavenge” for or document: places of worship, business, learning, banking, museums, or sport. Last year, for instance, we enjoyed looking for “famous statues” and their backdrop in the city.
Another idea: “photo bomb” the city’s famous structures by taking a funny selfie in that location [photograph the space-ship dome of city hall as your “hat”]. You can also take a Flat Stanley along with you to do the photo-bombing in your place! [See our sister site’s 10 Ways to Entertain Flat Stanley in Style for more info].
If you don’t want to organize a self-directed tour, take the city’s most touristy red tour bus and snap away! Or, get serious and contact the local Architectural Society for a tour! [The Toronto Society of Architects has some fabulous looking programs!]
2. Create Your Own City Colouring Book
Gather photographs, sketches, post-cards or googled images of your city’s landmarks! Using pencils, charcoals or sharpies on white paper, create a series of black and white sketches of your city! Then, bind or staple them into a city colouring book! If you’re not into creating a book of the city’s most famous landmarks, try whatever is most appealing: your favourite houses, “doorways” or rooftops; or, maybe, your favourite restaurants and their dishes! Don’t forget to make a few digital copies or photocopies of your sketches before you staple or bind them up to colour and trade! Stay tuned! We’ll be creating our own detailed city colouring books later this summer!
3. Map Your City
Create a map of your city. Copy a real map and add small pictures of the city’s famous landmarks. Or, go local and create a map of your favourite neighbourhood. Why not try to create a map of your favourite city restaurants, neighbourhood parks, or places to “keep cool” in summer? We’ve used the work of Paul Dotey and Greg Beetam as inspiration!
4. Re-Build Your Favourite Structures
Try to re-create one of your favourite city buidlings in miniature. Use Legos or other blocks to create your favourite skyscraper or museum! [Check out Christopher Drost’s photos of Toronto’s Legoland for inspiration!!] Use popsicle sticks and glue or toothpicks and marshmallows to build your favourite tower or sports dome! Try to build a mini main-street with carboard boxes! Create your city in an online Minecraft game! Or, use stick and ball toys like Crazy Forts to create a “camping tent” in the shape of your favourite landmark!!
5. Design and “Pitch” a New Building for Your City
Think about a building or structure that your city needs and sketch it out or draw a blue-print! [Check out these archival Toronto projects!] Then, write a short “proposal” for your City Council. Tell the council what your building is, where it should be built, and why it’s important! The kids are at work on their proposals as I type…
Now, Go! Explore! Enjoy!!
Summer of Funner