Shelter Building


-to have students engage with nature.
-to help students build shelters with very few manmade materials.
-to use found items to help students build shelters.
-to be creative in ideas for shelters.
-to be able to trouble-shoot problems and correct them.
-to be able to deal with changing conditions and make adjustments along the way.
-to look at the overall process from beginning, middle, and end to be able to think critically about their performance.


Students were asked to go to a watershed and to explore it. In their exploration they were given very few manmade materials and asked to find a location and build a shelter that could withstand the elements. In small groups they were asked to make a plan, carry it out and evaluate it after a given time period. They were able to use found materials to assist in the construction of their shelter. There were minimal constraints on the shelter as we didn’t want to stifle their creativity. Afterwards, each group presented their shelter and as a class we would evaluate the positives, negatives and possible improvements that could have been made to each. On this particular day, there was a torrential downpour which added a very realistic element to this activity.

Reflection & Celebration

Watching students do this activity was interesting because students had to work cooperatively. Some of the students hadn’t really had an opportunity to work with each other so this took them out of their comfort zone. We could see the groups organize and assign roles to it’s members and then have them carry out given tasks. With most groups this worked well, but with others it didn’t and they needed assistance in coordinating this part of the activity. It was interesting to see the creativity and teamwork that each group displayed in their shelter. Some groups made beds and a faux fire pit! Despite the severe conditions, it was a great activity that showed student engagement with nature. The students were happy to do it and still talk about it to this day!

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
15. Life on Land
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