Friday, October 25, 2013

Building model houses with the children.

In the autumn holiday we spent a couple of days in our summerhouse. There is no TV signal there, and normally we try to make some things that we wouldn't take the time to do at home. e.g make models using my old Mecano / Constructor set.
This year I had decided to try a new project: Model houses.

Before driving to the summerhouse, I made a large amount of model timber and model planks for the project.
Timber: 1/2" x 1/2"
Planks: 1"x 1/8"
Planks: 1/2" x 1/8"
All approximately 2 feet long.

For bases I had brought some pieces of plywood and a piece of a table top. Furthermore I brought some triangular pieces made from a 1" thick stock, about 2" wide. These became the steps of a staircase.

The only tools used for the build was a hot glue gun and a moulding / miter scissor.

Asger decided to build a barn and Gustav decided to build a house. I showed them a few ideas regarding how the things could go together so it would look like a real scale model of a building.
The scissors do require a little hand strength, so I got the laborious task of being the lumber yard. They would then say what type of timber or plank they would need, and the size of it, and I would provide it from the stock that we brought.

The structure went together fast using the hot glue gun, and the build could continue without having to wait for glue to dry. When a thing didn't look right to them, it was still possible to cut of the piece again using a pocket knife and thus rectifying the fault.

The first day we ran out of glue sticks (we had only brought 5 or 6). The next day we got hold of some more glue and an extra glue gun. That really put a pressure on the lumber yard.

We talked about using the houses for Christmas decorations, so we left one side of them open to view the inner structure, and to be able to furnish the buildings with Santa's helpers.

What did I learn of this project:
Building model houses with children is really fun, they get the idea quickly and there is a lot of progress so they don't get bored.
We used far more wide planks than I had imagined, laying floor and roof really required some wood.
A lot of glue is used in such a project.

What did the children learn of this project:
Stiffeners really do work.
Even if a building isn't perfectly square it still looks nice.
The more accurate your work, the easier it is later on (e.g. when you get to the roof).

Asger with the first frame for his barn.

Mounting the first set of rafters on the barn.

Gustavs house with the floor of the first floor finished.

The barn with the hay loft and some bales of hay.

Laura working on the staircase for the house.

The steps are simply glued to a strip.


  1. Great project for kids! I can't wait to replicate with mine. I have a small zona razor saw that my kids have used in the past so that might take some pressure off the lumber yard.

    1. That is a good idea, maybe you need a bench hook as well. The good thing about the scissors are that there is no saw dust. So the building can actually take place inside.
      By the way, I have never used glue from a hot glue gun before. I was amazed at how forgiving it is. A true super glue for children.

  2. It seems like good practice for when you make your new timber frame home. You will have plenty of experienced workers for the build!

    1. I think we need to make a few more model houses before starting on the real deal.. But they really got the hang of it in no time.
      I think that we will make a true model of a fire wood shed for the summer house next time, then we can step up the drawings and build the real thing based on the model. But that is some years into the future.

  3. Yesterday, I had asked my wife to take a few photos of me chopping the mortises and she was very reluctant because "she had things to do!" I told her that your wife took some photos of your experiment for you and you hadn't mentioned her complaining. So my wife told me that I should have married her instead!

    1. Wow, sounds like you need to buy her some flowers.
      Actually my wife was in the stable already when I asked her to take some pictures. So I am not sure if it is comparable.