Intermediate school students build ‘life-size’ houses to recognize international holidays


Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate and Junior High students constructed “life-sized” houses out of cardboard after teachers Lisa Keaffaber and Amber Hudson collaborated on an idea.

One of the 13 houses students created for a new project. Houses are on display at various locations throughout the city. (Submitted photo)

“I originally approached Lisa with this idea I’ve seen about building cardboard houses, and what I love about my teammate is she is like, ‘OK, let’s try it,’” Hudson said. “We started to brainstorm on how it might work in our classrooms.”

Keaffaber and Hudson realized one thing was wrong with the original plan, in that all the original houses were Christmas-themed.

“One of the things we thought we should do is bring in multi-cultural holidays,” Keaffaber said. “Several kids in our class celebrate different holidays, and a lot of holidays aren’t celebrated around Christmas. There’s many throughout year.”

The teachers decided to launch the plan near the Christmas holiday because they had the flexibility in their lesson schedules to do so, and hey prepared 13 different international holiday themes for students to work around.

When students returned from Thanksgiving Break Nov. 27, they entered a classroom full of cardboard and got to work. To make the houses “life-sized,” one student was required to fit inside the completed house.

Keaffaber and Hudson split the day with the same class, and the project covered various subjects from math to social studies.

“We used historical holidays and pulled in math to find the area of the home,” Hudson said. “They did a lot of measuring to make sure the house could fit outside the door and to make sure a student could fit inside. It really was truly a cross-curricular activity.”

When completed, the houses were set up at Launch Fishers, Hamilton East Public Library and City Hall. QR Codes  with a link to a video are posted near the houses for visitors to read more about the holiday featured and see where other houses are  throughout the city. Houses will be on display through Jan. 15. 

“What the kids learned, adults can also learn,” Keaffaber said. “It’s just neat to see the common thread among all cultures. It was a way of educating the public and also bringing everyone together by celebrating the differences.”