Preservation Resources

Building A Neighborhood

A Local History Curriculum for Santa Monica, CA

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Building a Neighborhood fulfills State of California curriculum standards for social studies and the visual arts by focusing on the evolution of the Third Street Historic District. The hands-on curriculum gives elementary school students an appreciation for how the story of a community and its residents is reflected in the changing materials, styles and uses of its buildings. Building a Neighborhood has been reviewed in draft form and endorsed by SMMUSD educators and administrators. Achieving our funding goal will make it possible to train and provide classroom teachers with detailed lesson plans, photographs, maps, municipal records, punch-out models of individual historic houses and a field trip itinerary.

When development of Building a Neighborhood is complete, the materials will be available online for educators, parents, and history buffs of all ages.

MAKE A DONATION to support Building a Neighborhood and help the Conservancy teach children and history buffs of all ages about Santa Monica history and preservation!

Teachers + Students

Today, no children’s literature is available on local, Santa Monica history, and materials are not easily accessible to busy teachers.  Building A Neighborhood gathers everything a teacher needs to present the subject matter into one organized collection.  The lessons are interactive and hands-on to appeal to many different kinds of learners.  Each lesson is enriched with extra activities and discussions that allow those students who are interested and able to delve deeper into the subject matter.

The Third Street District was designated under the City of Santa Monica Landmarks Ordinance in 1992 because it represents, with great clarity, the earliest phases of growth and development in Santa Monica within a very small area.  Students are presented with historic maps and photos, specially designed building kits and are taken on a dramatic site visit.

Detailed background is provided for teachers in a comprehensive appendix with text and images.  Many specific images are clearly associated with each lesson.  Photos and maps stimulate questions and inspire additional dialog between teacher and students.  Images will also be available on the internet for use with local computers or smart boards.

Lesson Plans + Hands-On Learning

Lessons 1-4:  The first four sessions of the Building A Neighborhood curriculum are spent building models from specially designed kits which are actual models of historic homes from the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District.  Additionally, students will study maps, the form of the land, architectural styles, the founding and growth of Santa Monica, our local historic figures and the economic engines of Santa Monica.

BAN_Rendering(The above image is a work in progress of the house of 2544 Third Street.  It is part of one of four house kits that will be used with the “Building A Neighborhood” curriculum)

Lesson 5:  During this session, students go on a field trip to visit the Third Street District.  Already familiar with the styles, historical events and cultural influences behind the district, students will be well prepared to look more deeply at the real life neighborhood.

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Lessons 6-7:  These two sessions engage students in cooperative group work.  Students assemble the model buildings into actual neighborhoods with various additional elements such as trees, sidewalks, and mailboxes, while discussions take them through an overview of how local government works and how city planning and historic preservation touch their lives.

Lesson 8:  The final lesson allows students to present their creations to each other at a community building “block party.”