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Hoboken Row House Project

November 3, 2021 | Nathan Johnson

Welcome to Little Hoboken! 

The Row House neighborhood that you see here took a lot of hard work!

But there was so much that we had to do before we even picked up paper and glue …


Step 1:

The second and Third Graders spent a week on research. They consulted these thorough booklets full of architectural pictures and terms such as coining, buttress, dentil, wheel window, fretting, and bay window.

They then took an architectural survey, circling all the terms and pictures they saw around Hoboken. Finally, we looked at photographs of all around Hoboken, matching what we had studied to what we saw.

The children took turns presenting their findings and at the end of the week. There was very little in our studies that we did not find in Hoboken — Hoboken is architecturally rich!

Step 2: 

Then we started to think specifically about row houses.

The boxes we had asked for started arriving from home — Thank you, families! — and as the piles of boxes grew, so did the children’s excitement about making their own row house. But first, we had to connect our learning so far to what we could see in row houses. Out the door, we went, pen and paper in hand! We parked ourselves in a sunny spot, picked a drawing, and got to work…

Step 3: 

Now that the students were well studied in architectural terminology and well versed in row house observation, they were ready for the final project:

Designing and building their own Hoboken row house. 

Each child’s plan had to meet three requirements. The building …

  1. Had to be a realistic design that one would find in Hoboken
  2. Had to incorporate at least five architectural features
  3. Had to include at least three natural details, such as local Hoboken wildlife or landscaping. 

Planning took a good two or three days, with the children drafting their own design, labeling the architectural elements, deciding on color, landscaping, and wildlife.

What followed (Step 4: Building!) was two full weeks of hard work. Each child pushed themselves to recreate their plan, making changes as necessary, until each row house was done…

Our study culminated in a child-led design session to create our display, and this teacher thinks their work (both individual and the curated group display) is a job excellently done…

Thanks for coming to Little Hoboken! 

The work that you have had a glimpse at incorporated…

  • Themes from their Social Studies Unit of Hoboken Studies
  • Visual Art skills such as observation, drawing, collage, and three-dimensional paper construction
  • Learning skills such as independent research, comparing and contrasting, the design process, an immense amount of fine motor control
  • Habits of, planning, perseverance, reflection,  collaboration, and seeking excellence

… to name just a few. 

More About 2nd and 3rd Grade Art Time at school…

The Room where 2nd and 3rd graders work with Art materials is called The Shared Space. 

The Shared Space houses 3rd and 4th Grade Art as well as 4th and 5th Grade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) work.

The children come to the Shared Space six times a week: Each grade has…

  • Two grade-level Art Classes weekly (Monday morning & Wednesday afternoon) with Mr. Johnson, where they are introduced to new materials, skills, artists, and ideas
  • Four times a week (Tuesday – Friday Mornings) during Work Periods. During the Art portion of Work Periods, the children work in mixed-grade groups with Mr. Johnson and/or Mr. Martino (the 3rd Grade Ast. Teacher) in the Shared Space. This is a time for continued project work, developing ideas,  troubleshooting, experimenting, and getting work done.

During the Fall term in Work Periods, the children are being led through whole-class projects to familiarize themselves with each medium, or “Art Language”(paint, collage, clay, wire, etc). Starting in the Winter and through the Spring, the students will be able to work in more self-directed ways, choosing which media to use, and designing their own goals and projects.


We can’t wait to show you more as the year progresses … 

Nathan Johnson

Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Art Teacher

Nathan Johnson graduated in 2004 from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (focusing on Illustration, Art History, and Puppetry), Theatre, and Elementary Education, followed by further time in Europe studying Art, and in Nova Scotia working with adults with developmental differences.

Happily back at his Alma mater (MSS class of 1995) Nathan has passionately committed his career to preserving the dignity and wonder of childhood. As children are more and more burdened with technology and privilege, he believes that in order for children to learn and grow, they must be given freedom within structure, choices with guidance, allowed to play, struggle, get dirty, and above all, to be taught that they are a beloved child of God.

When not in the classroom, Nathan can be found kayaking, camping, hosting a game night, wandering around New York City, making friends with strangers, and spending time with his 11 nieces and nephews.

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