Resources for K-12 Teachers & Educators

Posted on: October 13th, 2020 4 Comments

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is dedicated to providing and sharing resources with teachers and educators across the Adirondack region and Northern New York. Our work in regional education, advocacy, and technical assistance cuts across K-12 Art, Science, Technology, Math, English, and Social Studies curriculums. This document shows a slice of what we offer in helping students and teachers explore how the built environment impacts their lives, and in the process, build an ethic and understanding around historic preservation in their communities.

keeseville questTogether with educators, we aspire to create collaborative opportunities that foster a love and appreciation of our region’s historic infrastructure, local landmarks, and the places important to students and their families. We also seek to emphasize the important role of reusing old buildings in preparing for a greener, cleaner, and more equitable future.

AARCH stands ready to support the work of teacher, parents, and all other educators during this challenging time. Please feel free to reach out to AARCH staff with questions, requests, or inquires.

Guiding Questions for Students

  • What is historic preservation and why is it important?
  • What can historic buildings tell you about the history, life, and current events in your community?
  • How can historic buildings be positive for your community?
  • What are the historic buildings, important places, and landmarks in your community, and why do they matter?
  • Why is having the ability to identify architecture and historic places important to understanding your surroundings?
  • How might saving historic buildings matter for your future?

AARCH Resources, Projects, and Workshops

Map YOUR Backyard –AARCH launched this project in May for Historic Preservation Month that asks participants to study and creatively illustrate their environment. We would love to work with teachers and students in art departments, as well as social studies educators on this project. Teachers may use this as an opportunity to discuss how and why students see their communities the way they do, while students gain the opportunity to look at their surroundings more closely and think about how they depict their community. Lastly, this project also presents an opportunity to learn and research about historic places in students’ hometowns. (Art, Social Studies, Local History/K-12)

Questing – In 2016, AARCH launched the Keeseville Quest, a program we designed with 5th grade students in Keeseville to create a history and architecture “quest” through the village. The goal of this program was to build community pride and teach the value of having a sense of place. This program is similar to our Map YOUR Backyard project, but would be ideal for getting kids outside and learning how to not only describe the landscape, but learn how to write about the world around them. (Art, Social Studies, English/4-5)

Oscar’s Observations – This digital blog series features Oscar, an observant grotesque (kind of like a gargoyle) who lives in the eaves of our Preservation Services Director Christine’s house. Oscar observes how people learn about, apply, and work on preservation projects, both large and small, in real life. This series also gets students to look more closely at how basic building systems work, inside or outside. (Science and Technology, Art/4-5, 6-12)

These short pieces detail some great, doable DIY projects, as well as both small and large scale historic preservation projects. Some that may be helpful to explore are linked below:

  • Get to Know Your Historic House – Family-oriented activity to map and better understand the layout of one’s home. Students can measure to create a floor plan, take photos, and learn a bit more about the history of their house and how it was designed/built.
  • Local Landmarks – Every town has its local landmarks. What are historic landmarks in students’ hometown(s)? What do they tell us about the history of these places?
  • Wood Siding – Details different wood siding on homes and buildings, and shows how to properly care for wood on one’s home. Students can benefit from learning how to treat not only wood, but helps to teach the value of proper maintenance and stewardship of the built environment. Lastly, this may be coupled with exterior painting as well.
  • Repairing Your Lattice Work – Some students may have lattice work on their home or know of some in the neighborhood. This would be a fun technology , science, and/or math-oriented DIY project.
  • Eavesdropping – Details eaves, a central architectural feature in almost any building.

Measuring Embedawatts in YOUR Community – AARCH invented a new word earlier in 2020 – the embedawatt, a unit of measure that records the embodied energy stored in a building. This is energy that people used and expended to create a building, and reinforces the importance of reduce, reuse, and recycle! Using the watt hours and energy chart for a mid-sized home, students can use these values to determine the embedwatts in just about anything – their classroom (or living rooms), the whole school (especially if the building is historic!), their homes, or perhaps even a local landmark. (Science and Technology, Math, Art/4-5, 6-12)

What Style Is It? – These place-based programs explore architectural styles and teach participants how to “read” buildings and the built environment. What Style Is It? provides strengths in identifying historic places, and explains why they can be a positive asset and a force for change in their communities. AARCH staff is available for this program via Zoom. In the future, we also plan to develop and provide a What Style Is It coloring book. (Social Studies, Art, Science and Technology/4-5, 6-12)


keeseville quest


Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondacks unique and diverse architectural heritage.


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4 Responses


    I would like to get news about your work. Is there a place to sign up for information and press notices?

  2. Andrea Lee says:

    Hello –
    Does your organization have restoration projects that require hands- on volunteers?

    • Nolan Cool says:

      Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for your question and interest! IN conjunction with the Town of Newcomb and NYS DEC, we sometimes hold hands-on volunteer events at Camp Santanoni for upkeep of the buildings, so keep an eye on the Santanoni Facebook page for that. We also host a number of preservation trades workshops, some of which will be featured next summer as part of our 2022 programming. These workshops are something we hope to grow and build on in the future. I hope this answers your question, we’re happy to discuss any specific projects or skills if you’d like as well, just send us an email.

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