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Frequently Asked Questions

When can I use this book?
Throughout the school year! Architecture can be much more than a once-a-year unit. Schoolyards to Skylines shows how to weave architecture into daily lesson plans for all subject areas, from September to June.

How can I fit an extra subject into my school day?
We fully understand the many demands placed on you and your students. Architecture doesn’t have to be an extra subject squeezed into your school day. In Schoolyards to Skylines, you’ll find lessons and activities that use architecture as a real resource tool to teach the core subjects you already cover. Forty-seven lessons are organized within five subject areas: Social Sciences, Science, Mathematics, Language Arts, and Fine Arts. We intentionally grouped the lessons by core subject rather than by grade level, because we encourage you to explore and discover other themes that build on what you are already teaching.

How can I use this book?
The lessons are interactive, hands-on, and experiential. They are designed for a range of learning styles. Your classroom, the school building, and your local community are used as starting points for experiencing architecture. Images, drawings, maps, and articles are all included on the student handouts at the end of each lesson. We are aware of budgetary concerns at many area schools, so lessons require only common materials.

How does this book relate to my state’s academic standards?
Every lesson is directly linked to the Illinois State Goals and Chicago Academic Standards. These goals and standards were used to guide the lesson themes. At the beginning of each lesson, the goals and standards are listed and reprinted in full for easy reference. If you teach outside of Illinois, the lessons in Schoolyards to Skylines will also be beneficial tools in your classroom. Your state’s academic standards can be matched to those in Illinois, and the ideas explored in the lessons are easily transferable to buildings in your city.

My planning and preparation time is limited. What resources are included within Schoolyards to Skylines?
Drawings, maps, photographs, newspaper articles, and advertisements are all included. Background information for the teacher, vocabulary, step-by-step lessons, images, student handouts, extension ideas, and resource suggestions make the book easy to use and exciting to teach. Chicago’s amazing architecture comes alive through fun activities and experiments using simple everyday materials.

How did teachers help to shape this book?
More than 20 educators—from large and small schools, from both public and private schools in urban, suburban, and rural areas in Illinois—spent two school years brainstorming, reviewing, and field testing the lessons found in Schoolyards to Skylines. In addition, many professionals in the architecture field served as consultants. Their combined expertise has produced a book that is easy to use and enjoyable to teach.

I teach 8th grade. Can I use lessons from different grade levels?
Yes! Teachers who field-tested the book found many lessons, from outside their normal grade level, to be both intriguing and useful. We purposely left off the grade level on the student handouts to make it easy for you to share the 3rd grade lesson on terra cotta, for example, with your 8th graders. By varying the intensity or number of activities, the lessons can be adapted to different grade and ability levels. Whether your students are working below, at, or above grade level, the activity procedures, discussion points, extension ideas, and interdisciplinary connections provide you with variety and flexibility.

I'm not a classroom teacher. How can I use Schoolyards to Skylines?
Schoolyards to Skylines is designed for teachers, as well as curriculum specialists, resource coordinators, home schooling families, after-school and scout program leaders.

How can I evaluate what my students have learned with this book?
Each lesson begins by asking a main critical question that appears in large print at the top of each lesson’s first page. Student objectives are also listed on this page. Student learning is measured through their fulfillment of these objectives and by their ability to respond to the critical question.

How does this book connect to the Reading Initiative of the Chicago Public Schools?
Schoolyards to Skylines offers an extensive variety of readings and related activities to enhance any reading instruction program. It also supports the four components of the Reading Initiative of the Chicago Public Schools: Word Knowledge, Fluency, Comprehension, and Writing.

What other resources are available to help me teach with architecture?
The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a variety of programs for teachers and students in addition to this K-8 teaching resource.

CAF has also written The Architecture Handbook: A Student Guide to Understanding Buildings. This high school architecture textbook and accompanying teacher resource book are the first of their kind in the country.

CAF sponsors professional development workshops for teachers, the Newhouse Program & Architecture Competition for high school students, and architecture field trips for students.

For the general public we offer dynamic exhibitions on architecture and the built environment, related lectures, adult education programs, books on Chicago architecture, and, of course, our popular architecture tours by foot, bus, bike and boat.

The CAF Shop offers architecture-related books, slides, posters, puzzles, and CD-ROMs for use in your classroom. Visit our online shop or 224 South Michigan Avenue.

Contact Us


Please send us your email address or postal address. We would love to "keep you in the loop" and send you periodic updates about CAF programs, tours, lectures, and workshop for both adults and students.


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Chicago, IL 60604


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