Design Your School

Design Your School lesson plan

Imagine a school that’s 30 stories high, maybe with skateboard ramps between each floor. Design your own extraordinary school—a sphere in space perhaps—and then make a model!

  • 1.

    Curious kids sometimes wonder how school buildings have changed. You could interview older family members or invite them to visit your class to describe their long-ago school building. Visit a one-room schoolhouse or museum with a replica of one.

  • 2.

    Take a walk around the exterior of your school. Notice the way it was designed. How many stories, windows in each room, wings, doors? Discuss schools in the past and present. Brainstorm possible improvements for future schools. Create a Venn diagram that compares and contrasts schools of the past, present, and future.

  • 3.

    Enjoy reading <EM>Sideways Stories From Wayside School</EM>. Discuss the reason for the title of the book, and the 30 characters described in the 30 chapters. Here are some suggestions for how to make a 30-story Wayside School. Use these ideas to create your own model school building. You’re the architect!

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Build the structure.</STRONG> Flatten the tops of two clean, half-gallon cardboard drink cartons. Attach one on top of the other with masking tape.

  • 5.

    Use Crayola® Scissors to cut large construction paper to fit around the containers. With a straight edge, use Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils to draw evenly spaced lines for the 30 rows of windows. Use Crayola Gel Markers to draw the windows and doors.

  • 6.

    <STRONG>Make students. </STRONG>To make the children (maybe you and your classmates), accordion-fold three pieces of white paper as if to make tiny paper dolls. Draw one set of paper dolls with an arm uplifted, another set with both arms down, and another

  • 7.

    Add features and color each student with Crayola Washable Markers, Fine Tip Markers, and Multicultural Markers. Most of the figures will be visible from the waist up and a few will be viewed from the back, so cut and decorate them accordingly. Use Crayola

  • 8.

    Draw, color, and cut paper kites and balloons. Glue them to the children’s uplifted arms. Erase any extra marks from drawing the 30 stories. Glue the building exterior to the cartons. Air-dry.

  • 9.

    <STRONG>Add a roof, clouds, and greenery. </STRONG>Cut and glue on a posterboard roof. Add clouds by fluffing out cotton balls and securely gluing them to the roof.

  • 10.

    Glue green construction paper to cardboard for a base. Air-dry the base.

  • 11.

    Draw and color sidewalks leading to the front door. Create bushes and trees using markers on white paper. Include a tab on the bottom. Cut and glue in place. Air-dry your school.


  • Students research the schools of yesterday, today, and the future, and then compare and contrast what they have learned.
  • Students read a book by Louis Sachar and discuss information and human values presented by this writer of humorous, offbeat literature.
  • Students use recycled materials to represent their own ideas of a school building.


  • After discussing the situations and characters portrayed in the book, make a list of positive values stressed by the author. Work with classmates to draw, color, and cut out large characters from the book. Post them around your room with speech balloons e
  • Start a chain story about an imaginary day at your school. Include personalities from your school such as students, teachers, principal, secretary, custodian, and aides. Have each classmate add to the story after reading what was written before. Ask a par
  • After designing and building your school, use your imagination to create an extraordinary playground to go with it.