5th Grade Individual Pieces of their Legacy Project

The fifth graders are well into their legacy project and I have done a terrible job updating you all about it.  First of all, a legacy project is something I will never not do again.  When it all began (read about the start of it here), I was nervous to think what it would involve.  But after seriously handing over the reigns to my students, only preparing the tools they would need to plan their own curriculum (read about those tools here),  I knew right away that the students were going to be making something great.  Here  you will see the end result of the planning they had – I took the lead on drawing out their ideas from all of the plans sheets they turned in.  Ultimately, we had three big ideas that were repeated a lot and we took votes, combined ideas and finalized this:


The students designed, in groups, pillars that would hold the structure of our reading center and then carried out their designs using acrylic paint.  The themes are undeniably great for that of fifth graders and the journey through elementary school.  Their progress and skill, undeniable.

The floor, simple and straight forward, was carried out flawlessly and when the roofing materials were created and brought, students didn’t hesitate to revisit the planning process by working with groups to come up with how they wanted the final designs to look. Here you can begin to get an idea of what I mean by reading center/structure.


So, to recap, right now, we have all the framing ready, the pillars (or posts) of our reading center/shelter are ready to go, the roof is nearly finished so now it’s time to dive into the individual pieces that each student creates for the legacy project.

Why bother with individual pieces in the project? Because it’s important to give students a piece of the project to own.  No, they obviously can’t take it home, but there will always be a piece that is theirs and always theirs. The group work is rewarding but there is no denying that students, no matter the age, want to leave their own mark too.

So what did my fifth graders come up with?  They all wanted a tile.  And they wanted the tiles to close one wall of the shelter/center.  So, imagine a house with no sides, just corner posts.  Now imagine that house with one side closed (like a park shelter).  When I explained to the students that the structure they had already established wouldn’t hold a tile wall (my woods teacher fiance helped me confirm this), the students had apparently pow wowed when I wasn’t around and inspired by playground equipment, had a solution.  And when the entire class was polled, everyone agreed that the solution given by a particular group of students was exactly what my fifth graders wanted.

Each student would get a 4×3.5 piece of wood with a hole drilled down into the center of it.  They would decorate it as desired and given that there are 44 fifth graders, we would use 4 dowels, drilled and placed into the side of the structure.  Each dowel would hold 11 of the blocks.  The blocks then, could rotate around for whoever is viewing or sitting in the reading center.  I mentioned the inspiration for the idea came from recess equipment – think tic-tac-toe games that you see on modern playground equipment, the kind that rotate.  Well, there’s the inspiration. And as you can see from the pictures, is going to turn out SWEET.


If you are interested in doing something like the dowel and block portion of this project, all you need are the dowels (1/2″), drill bit/drill press (1/2″) and enough 2×4 pieces to cut as many blocks as you want.  Someone on the Facebook Group, Art Teachers, asked about spacers.  Students wanted each piece to touch because it showed that they were connected as a class but I have still tasked them with finding a solution for a spacer if, when we assemble the piece, they change their mind.  Because they are so invested in their themes, I will let them have final say. Simple as that!

Well, that’s where we are at with the project.  Students have experienced planning, problem solving, acrylic paint, mathematics creating themes, collaboration, using multiple materials,  and more! We are hitting standards in art, language arts, math, and definitely 21st century skills…stay tuned for more and the end reveal!


3 responses to “5th Grade Individual Pieces of their Legacy Project

  1. Stern, Thanks! I am totally impressed that it worked out so flawlessly. I think this part of the shelter will be the highlight and focal point of the entire piece. I shared the image on Facebook in a group and it’s taking off like wild-fire. It’s so easy, especially when you have a handy man around. I can’t wait to share the final results – so exciting!

  2. Pingback: 5th Grade Legacy is Chugging Along! | Art Class With LMJ·

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