for Kids

The future of our built environment and our planet depends on an understanding and appreciation of how architecture contributes to a sustainable future and the quality of our lives.

We believe every Michigan child and student should have access to the best architecture and sustainability educational resources available, whether they aspire to be an architect, love buildings, or just want to save the planet.

Architecture: it's Elementary!

What happens when you inspire children to learn about architecture, in a hands-on, fun, and interactive way? They develop better observation, reasoning and critical thinking skills, learn to understand order and think visually, fuel their imaginations – and learn how buildings, cities, and communities are designed and built.

That’s the premise of Michigan Architectural Foundation’s Architecture: it’s Elementary!, a FREE, multi-disciplinary educational curriculum designed to introduce students from kindergarten through grade five to architecture and the built environment. Watch a preview of the program on MAF’s educational YouTube channel, Architecture for Youth.

Developed and supported by AIA (American Institute of Architects) Michigan architects, with input from educators, the online-based curriculum encompasses principles of social studies, art, language arts, history, science, and math, providing students with critical STEAM (science/technology/engineering/arts/math) related learning opportunities.

Lessons feature individual and group activities that engage children’s minds, bodies, and imaginations. Individual or multiple lessons can easily be incorporated into existing educational curriculums by parents (at home) and teachers (remotely or in the classroom); included as part of an after-school or summer program; or utilized by parents who simply want to interact with their children in fun, educational activities – all at NO COST to users. See lessons in action on MAF’s educational YouTube channel, Architecture for Youth, and download the lesson plans below.

Studies show thought processes that nurture creativity and critical thinking begin at a young age. Architecture: it’s Elementary! was designed to help foster those processes in kids while stimulating curiosity about their surroundings, through fun activities that appeal to elementary school-age students.

MAF K-12 Committee members can provide support and answer questions about the program; contact MAF K-12 Committee Chair Jan Culbertson, FAIA, LEED AP, View the full list of MAF K-12 Committee members here.


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MAF, in partnership with Detroit Public Television (DPTV), created Architreks: a program aimed at getting kids excited about architecture, science, and engineering.

Each Architreks segment explains an idea for a fun activity or science experiment that can be accomplished at home, or in the community, with parents or friends. The episodes feature prominent buildings and Architreks through typical neighborhoods to find architectural treasures.

Enjoy all six Architreks segments below! And catch the entire series on the Michigan Learning Channel:

Build Imagination Books and Toys

MAF | Michigan Architectural FoundationMAF | Michigan Architectural Foundation

Engaging, fun, STEAM-based learning activities help inspire children's creativity and imaginations, and spark their curiosity about the world around them and how it works. MAF's Build Imagination Book Collection and Archtiectural Toy Kits are developed with STEAM learning in mind, and of course, to learn about architecture and the built environment.

MAF | Michigan Architectural FoundationMAF | Michigan Architectural Foundation

Rae Dumke, Honorary AIA, was the Executive Director for the American Institute of Architects Michigan and the Michigan Architectural Foundation and on staff for 43 years. In recognition of Rae’s passion, the Michigan Architectural Foundation established and funded the Dumke Fund endowment in her name in 2011.

The first project by Rae and her Committee, in partnership with the Baldwin Library, was The Rae Dumke Collection, 100 Essential Architecture Books.

Later, the Baldwin Public Library unveiled a second collection of 100 architecture books for children, the Build Imagination Collection. This collection features fiction and non-fiction books on topics that help foster children’s imaginations and raise awareness about architecture.

The Build Imagination maker toy kits were also developed by the Dumke Fund in partnership with Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library. Each Build Imagination toy kit (grouped for students in grades 1-3, and grades 4-6) is designed so that children can complete an activity with the toys in the kit in one hour.

The kit components can be used to construct structures, mazes, bridges, towers, ramps, and even create a Rube Goldberg Machine (for chain-reaction-based activities) – or as the foundation for countless other architecture-related activities based on children’s imaginations. The kits are available at libraries throughout Michigan.  Contact your local library for availability.


Additional Resources