Beginning with the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians, the authors bring to life the people and cultures that gave rise to the greatest civilizations on earth. We learn about ziggurats like the Tower of Babel, obelisks such as Cleopatra's Needle and the Washington Monument, the Greek Parthenon, Alexander's Lighthouse, and Roman arches and aqueducts. Children are introduced to a plumb line, a level and a carpenter's square. They learn the difference between a "capitol" and a "capital." Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a Doric, an Ionic, and a Corinthian column? Your children (and you!) will be able to identify them out the car window once you read this book!
Scheduling Architecture Study
Suggestions for Studying Architecture
- After reading through the passage one time, the children narrate the reading. (If you are unfamiliar with narration, please read this page.) Since there is more than one child in our school, each child narrates in turn without repeating information previously shared.
- Occasionally, we narrate through drawing instead of verbal narration. An example of this may be drawing Gothic and Roman arches and comparing/contrasting the two.
- After the reading and narration are complete, we look at the black/white pictures in the book. However, the internet is a treasure trove of pictures and additional contextual information. For example, enter the search term obelisk, and one will see hundreds of wonderful examples. Or, you could visit your local cemetery, where it is almost certain you will see an obelisk memorial.
- If we have time, we use Google Earth to virtually visit Notre Dame in Paris or Il Duomo in Florence, Italy.
- Approximately every other week, we update the timeline on our wall. If we have studied a particularly famous building (e.g. White House) or period of architecture (e.g. Baroque), we may paste a picture of the building or an example of the time period on the timeline.
- Outside of the classroom, we visit local buildings that are examples of the architecture that we are studying. See below for several Kentucky architectural landmarks.
- As we plan trips, if there is an architectural landmark on the way, we make an effort to visit. Last year when we visited family in Nashville, we took a few hours to visit the Parthenon. This may be the closest we ever get to visiting Ancient Greece!
- As we drive around town, even around neighborhoods, we encourage the children to spot architectural elements. When we drive down Tates Creek Road to downtown Lexington, we pass four different types of architecture: English Tudor, Gothic, Richardson Romanesque and Georgian Colonial. The kids have made a game of it now: "Mom! Gothic arch to the left! Georgian fanlight to the right!"
After the Study
St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
An excellent example of Gothic architecture, the basilica has the largest rose window in North America and what is thought to be the largest stained glass window in the world.
Built in 1814, the Federal style Hunt-Morgan House has many beautiful architectural features, including the Palladian window with fan and sidelights that grace its front façade. In 1955, the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation was formed to save the home from impending demolition. The organization restored the home to its Federal appearance and now operates the house as a museum.
This courthouse is an example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Home to the Lexington History Museum, the courthouse is currently closed for renovation. However, one is able to walk all around the structure and appreciate the architectural details of the exterior. See pictures below of our visit to the Courthouse Plaza. Quite a lot of history here too!
Did you know Kentucky has her own Lincoln Memorial less than a two hour drive from Lexington? It is a wonderful example of neo-classical architecture, including doric columns, cornices, dentil molding and fluting. The cornerstone for the memorial was laid on February 12, 1909, 100 years after Lincoln's birth. The monument was dedicated in 1911 by President Wm. Howard Taft. A plaque on the wall names the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Farm Association, who were tasked with raising private money for the building. Perhaps more well-known that the first listed trustee, President Taft, is the eighth listed trustee, a man named Samuel Clemens.