Designing with Preschoolers


Shirlee Green Preschool at Congregation Shaare Emeth teaches an architecture unit that lasts one month in their curriculum for the 4 to 5 year old classes. It was our honor to spend a few hours with them to teach them about the profession of architecture and how it relates to their everyday lives.

First, we discussed a conceptual project and who the team players are and what their roles are on a day to day basis. Next, we looked at the design process and how a project moves from schematic design, to construction documentation, to actual construction and administration. The kids were extremely lucky to see some of these concepts in action, as the congregation is currently undergoing a major addition and interior renovations.

As we spoke about the process, Bret Fendelman one of our Architects whose son attends Shirlee Green Preschool, pulled out some tools that architects use, like scales, T-squares, tape measurers, and of course hard hats! “I was quite surprised that the kids had so much interest and questions in what I thought to be the “boring” part of my presentation,” said Bret.

The next activity entailed the collaborative design of a new classroom. Bret brought along a laptop loaded with Sketchup and was able to design on the fly. Students had to act as a team to choose finish materials, paint colors, locations for reading nooks, play and art areas, etc. “These bright kids even brought up code issues like corridor width and toilets, I was very impressed,” added Bret.  We also had the kids look at an exterior playground where they added a reflecting pool, slides, and of course, a giant T-rex sculpture to play on.  They truly thought of everything when it came to their classroom!

To wind down their creative minds, Bret read one of his favorite children’s books to the class, Iggy Peck Architect. It’s a great book to understand the importance of design and creativity at a young age.

We had an absolute blast teaching the Shirlee Green students about architecture and urge all young minds to expand their understanding of how the world around them is built.