One of the activities I use when students learn about “scale” and scale drawing is creating a “Dream Room” using grid paper. Even though there are many variations of this activity there are some limitations to it as well.
No matter how much brainstorming students did using design and architecture magazines and furniture catalogs to help them research ideas for items needed/wanted for their dream room it seemed that the majority of them struggled to imagine and draw how objects would look like in a 2-D view and how they fit in the room according to a scale. This activity would not go beyond designing one room and most of the designs used simple geometric figures like squares, rectangles, and circles to represent the furnishings.
Last year, I thought I should try something different, something that was real and allowed my students to use their own ideas. I found a website called http://www.floorplanner.com that was created for real home design. The website offers one design free of charge. This was more than enough for my students to experiment designing an entire room, one floor, and up to a 3-level home. The website offers great ideas for inside and outside of a house.
I had students practice their measurement skills in the classroom, determining the dimensions of the classroom and objects in it, such as teacher’s desk, student desks, and any chairs, tables, and bookcases to get an idea how they are going to look in a 2-D representation using a scale. As students were progressing with their design, they could visualize 3-D objects into 2-D drawings and understand how to make better use of the space available.
They chose the size of the room(s) and searched for items of interest. All I can say is that they were very engaged in this activity and practically “glued” to the computer screen. Some were so creative that they designed an entire house including a garage, a backyard, and other additions. Students were given one class time to try different ideas and then they continued this activity at home. I scheduled about three presentations per class that lasted about 3 minutes each. Students were required to talk about the choice of their design, its function, justify the dimensions of the rooms, and what scale they used and why. The design had to be realistic. The rooms had to show architectural elements such as windows and doors.
I like the flexibility of this activity because it could be taken to different levels. It could become a project where students were given an area of the space they had to use or use area and perimeter in a remodeling project where they had a certain budget to spend. It could also be turned into a competition. Depending on the goal of this activity a rubric can be created for assessment using http://www.rubric – maker.com.
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