In 2008, before I ever even worked as a high school art teacher, I prepared an art lesson for my dad’s 5th grade class to share a bit about my life in Amsterdam.  In my five years at ISH and still to this day, it is one of my favorite projects, and I am asked back each year by ISH to come and do the lesson with the 6th grade class in connection with their WW2 history lesson and Amsterdam excursion.  The project consists of a brief history of Dutch architecture- Canal houses to be specific, explaining why the buildings are so tall, narrow and wobbly.  (In a nutshell- people were taxed on the width of their house- so people built up not out.  And they’re wobbly because 1.  A leaning front facade was made to give the illusion of grandeur and 2. They are built on sand, so they sink every which way.)  The kids are told about three basic types of gables (Step, Neck and Bell).  Then they draw their canal house with stick and ink (no pre-drawing- they are told it’s ok for their houses to be wobbly since that’s how they are in real life!)  Then they color in their houses with chalk pastel.  Once sprayed with fixative, they cut their houses out and we line them up along the wall against a colored backdrop.  Here are pictures from some of the workshops over the years:

(Scroll down for the powerpoint presentation that I use for this Art lesson)

canal house project 3

Here is the very first project I did with my dads 5th grade class. 10 year olds.

canal house project 4

canal house project 1

canal house project 2

Here is the project done with 7 year olds. Black background probably wouldve been better.

canal house project5

And some detail shots from the 6th grade class. 10-11 year olds.

canal house project6

canal house project7

canal house project8

canal house project9

canal house project10