“A home provides shelter and protection, but it is also a place where we nurture ourselves, creating a safe place apart from the world. As the third grader continues to move through the nine-year change and the experience of separation from the world, an inner need arises in them to build their own sanctuary. Creating a shelter allows this impulse to find an outer expression.” –Waldorf Teacher Resources, Micheal Seafort, 2020.
In Waldorf schools across the world, 3rd graders all work on a shelter-focused project. Students spend time discussing and studying all sorts of different primitive homes created by early human civilizations, as well as thinking more about their own shelters. Through this study, students are led through the exercise of choosing a shelter, and creating their own model version of it using any imaginative combination of natural materials.
The results each year here at Richmond Waldorf School are spectacular. Our 3rd graders take such pride in their work on this special project, and it shows. This year, our shelter project took on new meaning as 3rd graders worked through this assignment while ‘sheltering in place’ during the COVID-19 crisis.
Below, we’re sharing what this assignment looked like in the Google Classroom, and some fantastic final projects! Well done, 3rd Grade. We are proud of your dedication and attention to your studies and love your models!
Want to try it yourself?
Choose a type of shelter. Begin by sketching out your ideas in your journal. Make a list of materials you might need. Work with your parents to acquire the material you will need to build your shelter scene.
Begin constructing your shelter. Your family may give you ideas and suggestions and hold things for you as you put your shelter together, but remember it should be built by you. Once your shelter is constructed, begin to put in the landscaping and “scene” items that make it a complete example of life in the culture where such shelter would be found.
Try to use only natural materials as much as possible, hopefully with most of it coming from around the house. Once the structures are complete and structurally stable, the children can decorate their home, as well as create a garden around it.