Preservation Resources

Curriculum for Teachers + Parents

Building a Neighborhood

Building a Neighborhood is a local history curriculum for third grade being developed by the Santa Monica Conservancy in collaboration with local teachers and administrators.  It is organized around eight lesson plans that address California State Standards for Social Studies as well as other subject area standards through study of local history, community, city government, historic preservation, maps and architecture.  It is designed for students in the Santa Monica vicinity, and includes a field trip to the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District though its dynamic approach is adaptable to other communities.  Students study their community and its origins, and become invested in their home town, leading them to be more engaged citizens presently and into adulthood.

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

Presently, no children’s literature is available on 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 types 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, local historic figures and the economic engines of Santa Monica.

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.

Lessons 6-7:  These two sessions engage students in cooperative group work.  They 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.”


A House on the Move in Santa Monica

A Local History Activity Guide to Celebrate the 1890s Shotgun House Relocation

Early this Spring, a three-room house called a shotgun house will be moved right here in Santa Monica. Its new permanent home will be next to the Ocean Park Branch Library. Stay tuned for information on the schedule and route so you can watch an actual house moved right here in your own city.

Shotgun House moving

How is it done? Why would anyone even want to move a house?

Students are fascinated by the novelty of a house being transported by truck down a city street. The following resources use this curious event to help students think through the process of house moving and changes in the local community. As the Shotgun House is rehabilitated on its new site, many opportunities to delve deeper into the city’s history and preservation efforts will present themselves. When the house is completed, it will be a Preservation Resource Center and a go-to place for further explorations of local history.

The activity guide consists of:

  1. History of the Shotgun House
  2. How to Move a House
  3. The Shotgun House After the Move
  4. Reasons for Moving a House
  5. Literature Connection
  6. Art Connection
  7. Other Resources

Click here to view A House on the Move in Santa Monica activity guide.