With Make a Village, a free learning activity, children create a play village. This project teaches kids about how villages and towns are arranged and how they grow. Fun and educational hands-on learning project. Free interactive learning software     





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Make a Village
A learning project to create a model village using free software

     Kids will learn that towns are made up of houses and stores; how towns grow; that someone has to plan where the streets and houses will be; that stores are usually clustered together (and this is sometimes enforced by zoning), and put where people can get to them easily. They will also discuss the economics of stores--each store has to have a customer base of a certain size to keep going, and that stores provide employment for some of the people in the town. Use your PC printer and "Make a Village" free software to print out patterns for 10 houses and 7 stores for kids to color, cut out, and fold up into 3-dimensional buildings and arrange into their own village. Additionally, students will learn how a two dimensional piece of paper becomes a three-dimensional object.

Material needed:

cellophane tape or glue
crayons, markers or colored pencils
patterns for houses, church and apartment house:
Go To Make a Village Download Instruction Page

Strongly Recommended:

large piece of butcher paper or several pieces of green construction paper fastened together for fields.

     You can print on ordinary computer paper, or on thicker paper if desired. (you will probably want to use paper heavier than most computer paper if a number of children are doing the project.) Check your printers instructions before printing on heavy paper--some do and some don’t. You can also take your printouts to a copy shop and copy onto heavier paper or enlarge.
     It is best to color the buildings before cutting them out. When coloring, you should turn the building around so that you are coloring each side "right way up". You can decorate and add things to the buildings, (curtains, a doorknob, a cat in the window, houseplants, and flowers and bushes, stained glass in the church).
     Cut out the patterns on the heaviest black outline, cutting around the tabs where they occur. You can cut the doors on one side and across the top, so that they open. Notice the door for the chickens on the chicken house--on it, cut the two sides (vertically), as it swings from the top.
     Fold the house on all the lines, including the tab lines. When you hold the buildings with the colored side toward you, all folds are away from you (blank sides of the paper together), and at 90 degree angles when you are finished. Fold everything, then glue or tape the tabs on the inner (flat) roof to the sides of the house. Then fasten the back of the house to the sides. The sides will stick up to hold the roof. The tabs on the side piece can be used to hold the roof in place (or cut off, if you prefer). If you want the doors to open, be sure to cut the doors before you assemble the building
     Students can arrange their houses and stores on the paper, and discuss what arrangements are best--where to put streets, where to put stores. The blank store can be made into a police or fire station. Students can decide if the town just "grows" by students placing houses in order, or if they want a planned system of streets. Have they arranged the houses so that every house has a driveway? Does the town have alleys in back of the houses? Where are the parks? How much land, and where, is devoted to public use, such as a police station, city hall, etc.
     Fire codes generally dictate that each dwelling have a front and back door. Discuss codes and zoning, and the reasons for various ordinances in terms of public safety, and possibly property values. (A side lesson on federal laws, state laws and city ordinances could be brought in here.)
     (A math lesson in topography and area can be inserted here--how many houses for a certain area if yards have to be a certain size? How many more houses if the yards are smaller? Do you get more houses per area if all streets are arranged in a grid, or if some of the streets are dead ends? (cul de sacs)? What are the other advantages or disadvantages of various street arrangements?)
     Explain about how towns grow. Older towns generally started with a few houses, and then a store or two to serve the needs of the inhabitants. More houses, and more specialized stores were then built. (This is an excellent lead-in to a field trip to older parts of town, or to an older town in your area.) In cities built before 1900, there were arrangements for stables, either for each house or for people to rent horse, or horse-drawn carriages to hire for a ride. How did the availability of public transportation affect the town’s growth? Could people live further away from where they worked with cars?
     What utilities are in the town? Where are the wires for electricity and telephones? Pipes for water? Sewer pipes? How is garbage collection arranged? Do people get natural gas into their houses? Do they have underground oil tanks in their yards?
     Styles of houses have a variety of sources, generally from Western Europe. Flat-roofed adobe houses originated in Southern Europe, around the Mediterranean, when it was warm and rain was not very common. The "Swedish" house is built of wood, and the design in roughly based on country houses in Sweden. The church is typical of small New England churches, with a bell in the steeple to call people to services, or announce important news (such churches were common where the town was small enough for everyone to hear the bell.) However, the round window in front is a small echo of the windows in cathedrals, as are the long side windows. The thatched cottage has design features that go back to the cottages of Shakespeare’s time.
     Discuss with the students about their town. Have them think about:

Where do people work?
Are there farms nearby?
Is there a manufacturing plant in this town?
Do parents commute to downtown?



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We welcome all comments on your and your children's experience with Make A Village.  Any additional learning ideas will be added to this page for others to enjoy. Send us digital photos for a gallery of villages!
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