Studying the architecture of the communities in our state can reveal new insights into our history and culture. Using examples of a log cabin and a more ornate Federal style house, students can easily draw conclusions about differences in ways of living. This lesson will encourage further investigation of a variety of architectural styles used throughout the state’s history and a consideration of how our buildings reflect who we are and the realities of our world from one time period to another.
CONNECTION TO THE CURRICULUM
Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, and 3
Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12
- The two Mississippi History Now articles on architecture: Architecture in Mississippi: From Prehistoric to 1900 and Architecture in Mississippi During the 20th Century
- Large sheets of paper for guidebook, preferably “sketch pad” size
- Realize how the architecture of a place reflects its history, geography, and culture;
- Distinguish between vernacular architecture and formal architectural styles;
- Create a Mississippi Architecture Guidebook.
OPENING THE LESSON
Copy the opening paragraph from the Mississippi History Now article, Architecture in Mississippi: From Prehistoric to 1900 on an overhead or white board for students to read and consider. Lead them to talk about specific ways architecture can tell something about the history, geography, and culture of a place. If possible, use well-known buildings in the local community (at least one of vernacular style and one of a more formal style) for students to identify differences and to speculate on the “stories” of each one. Or, use the photographs from the two articles.
DEVELOPING THE LESSON
- Have students explore the meaning of the term “vernacular architecture” by having them read the first paragraph under that section in the first article. They should construct a web for their notes that contains the various elements of vernacular architecture.
- Have students read the section on vernacular architecture, paying attention to each type mentioned in the article: mounds, French, British, Spanish, and Anglo-American. Ask them to think about this question as they read: How does early construction in Mississippi reflect the definition of vernacular architecture?
- For each type of vernacular architecture (in italics above), students, working in small groups, will write an answer to the above question. Their answer should contain at least two pieces of evidence.
- Ask students to read the two paragraphs entitled “Federal Style” and to think about differences between the vernacular style and this more formal style of architecture. Have them write differences in their notes and discuss changes in society, economy, and transportation that would enable residents to employ this different style of architecture in their buildings.
- To uncover specific information about the remaining architectural styles used in Mississippi, students will develop a Mississippi Architecture Guidebook. Each small group of 2 to 3 members will investigate one of the vernacular or formal architectural styles described in the Mississippi History Now articles. They will identify its characteristics, its origin, and will cite examples of the style found across the state and if possible, in their local community. This information will be compiled on a large “sketch-pad” size paper and should include pictures or drawings of the examples.
- Students will assemble the pages of their guidebook and will present it to the school library for display and use as a resource.
- Teacher will ask students what they think about preserving the state’s “physical heritage,” and then lead a classroom discussion on historical preservation.
CONCLUDING THE LESSON
- Ask students to “build” the house of their dreams based on one of the architectural styles they have studied. They can either draw a picture of it, design a model, or write an essay describing it. They must cite reasons for the particular style they have chosen.
ASSESSING THE LESSON
- Participation in large-group discussion
- Note completion exercises
- Participation in small-group activity
- “Dream House” assignment
EXTENDING THE LESSON
- Collect pictures of buildings in the community and develop a local architecture guidebook.