Traditional Desert Homes

Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion


The purpose of this activity is to study the cultures of people native to New Mexico. It covers how homes can be a window into the past, with a special focus on how the environment shaped the types of homes people lived in. This lesson involves planning a trip to a traditional home in your own community, then designing and building a scale model.

Student Outcomes

  • Students will be able to work in groups to investigate home construction.
  • Students will be able to plan, organize and implement a field trip to a community home.
  • Students will understand how to record their findings.
  • Students will discuss their findings in a large group.
  • Students will develop a 3 dimensional display using the information gathered from their field trip and group work.


1. Divide into small groups and introduce them to the project.

2. Discuss and brainstorm the various group jobs and responsibilities:

  • Art Historians
  • Language Specialists-Vocabulary
  • Interior Designers-Building materials\Furniture
  • Architects-House Layout
  • Ethnographers-Gather Interesting Stories
  • Activity Directors-Organize field trip

3. Choose roles and begin planning your specific tasks.

4. Conduct research and develop presentation. [ Presentation Methods and Ideas ]

5. Present your pre-field trip findings for critique.

6. Go on field trip.

7. Each group will gather data during the field trip.

9. After trip, analyse data and formulate plan for 3-D construction.

10. Build model.


  • Video (Traditional Spanish Home and Traditional Spanish Community), books, (My Grandmother's Adobe Dollhouse), Community Home
  • paper, pencil, graph paper, rulers, drawing paper;
  • TV and VCR
  • Computer
  • Magazines
  • Poster paper
  • Books

For information on the cultural aspects relating to this topic:


Group evaluation, observation, peer evaluation using a class evaluation rubric, student presentations, student journals, class discussion. Presentations from each group. Create class display. [Sample Rubric]


Completion of this lesson will provide you with hands-on experience and first-hand knowledge of diverse home styles. You will recognize various types of home structures and building materials. You will understand the reasons for using specific materials when building a home in the desert.

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