Paper Architecture

Use the language and physical challenge of simple architectural structures to make any subject real.

Tell me more: Using basic paper or cardstock, scissors, and tape, challenge your students to create a structure, system, or environment that will help them understand core subject content through analog making. Simple paper models can go far beyond the usual “design a house” or diorama projects by asking students to create objects in the following ways:

  • Typology/Language/System: Create a series of different types of structures to represent different components to be assembled in different configurations.
  • Representation: Create an object, structure, or environment inspired by a core subject concept.
  • Physical challenge: Make the most successful or best-per- forming structure given physical constraints
  • Iteration: Make as many versions of an idea as you can.

Classroom Applications: Architecture requires understanding of math, science, social science, culture, and more. In a physics class, ask students to build the tallest structure using a single sheet of paper and tape, or a bridge to span twelve inches, or a structure to hold the biggest number of paper clips. In math, students might experiment with how to fold paper into three-dimensional platonic solids using basic geometry. In social studies, students might create a replica of a structure from an ancient civilization or a cityscape for an imagined culture. In English/language arts, students could represent parts of speech using different objects (paper cube = verb, paper sphere = noun) and assemble them into sentences, or make quick 3-minute models representing newly-learned vocabulary words (“how might you represent the word friendship in three dimensions?”)

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