As I planned our curriculum for kindergarten this year I read that kindergarteners are supposed to learn about architecture. Architecture, did you say? Oooooh, yes please! We had already fallen in love with Science Comics and they have a book called Skyscrapers. It’s full of witty jokes, super hero references and a breadth of knowledge-I learned a lot! This book was so good that I used it as a “how to” and Fierce and I made a trip to the salvage lot, Home Depot, Lowes, a recycling center…you name it, we collected it.
Initially, I bought him his own set of all the tools we would need. I don’t keep a tin snips and cement trowel on hand, for example. The first step was creating an environment for him to do a small scale skyscraper. I started with an old styrofoam cooler and filled it with dirt on the bottom and sand on top so it could symbolize the different layers of earth one would have to dig through. The styrofoam bottom served as our bedrock. Then I had 8×8 inch walls cut out of corrugated pads. Ours didn’t interlock like the professionals so it was very hard to keep the dirt back and out of our basement. This was great for Fierce to experience!
Once the walls were in place he measured out the water and added it to cement mix to create and then pour a cement basement. We were on our way! My husband walked in to check on our craziness and suggested that Fierce write his initials in the cement so he did and it was definitely a fun touch to the project. Once that dried, we came back and measured, cut and placed interior barrier walls so that we could pour cement walls into our molds. We made sure all of the cement walls were level.
Then came our first floor. Again, I had thin metal sheets cut into 8×8 inch squares to act as metal sheeting. Then we used the tin snips to cut metal mesh to act as our rebar. Fierce asked for stairs going from the basement to the first floor so I also cut a hole the size of a cookie cutter in the metal sheet while he made a Lego staircase. Then we re-applied the corrugated walls around the exterior and poured a cement floor. Before we walked away to let it all dry again, I had Fierce place four long bolts in each corner to be our pilons and supports for the upper floors. Then we placed another sheet of metal sheeting on top and made sure everything was level again.
We repeated this process for every floor thereafter until the final floor where Fierce stuck a bucket zombie from the game Plants vs. Zombies as the spire on top. Only once did a whole floor of cement come crashing down into my hands resulting in Fierce tearfully walking away. I was able to rescue it and he came back to check it out with a look of approval.
Of course we were not done…no! I have done stained glass in the past so I already had a glass cutter. I bought a whole sheet of glass and then cut the 8×8 inch squares myself. Fierce placed them on three sides of the structure and then used epoxy to secure them. He wanted to leave one side open so he could reach in easily and play with it later. Our skyscraper may not be earthquake resistant. lol. Especially since he wanted to leave the top floor completely open like a roof deck.
In the end we put a string of battery powered lights inside and put a few deck fences with some of the extra “rebar.” For a final touch we painted the cooler blue and purple. We didn’t keep a schedule in making this project. I wanted it to be something fun for us to do together. It is pretty involved and I wanted him to do most of the work so we took our time and it took us a few months to complete. I am pretty proud of our little experiment and when asked Fierce said it was good and gave it two thumbs up.