Sod houses are an important part of North American history. They were some of the first dwellings built in the Midwestern prairie lands when lumber was unavailable or too expensive. They provided settlers with adequate shelter that was warm in the winter and kept cool in the summer. Given their simple, inexpensive construction materials, building a realistic model sod house is a creative yet simple way to add an impressive visual element to any school project on early settlers and pioneer life.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Popsicle sticks
- Wooden or plastic tray
- Waxed paper
Measure your sod. Sod is generally sold by the square foot (for usually under 50 cents a unit, making the amount needed for a model easily affordable). Before purchasing the sod, plan the size of your house and buy accordingly. Make sure to buy a little extra in case you need more, and don't forget sod to cover the roof.
Cut the sod into "bricks." Sod houses, or "soddies," were built by piling pieces of sod on top of each other like bricks. Make sure your knife is sharp, then cut your sod into pieces measuring 2" by 1."
Build your house. Pile the sod pieces on top of each other on your tray base to construct the walls of your sod house. Use scissors to cut Popsicle sticks to make window and door frames. Cut squares of waxed paper to match your window frames. Glue together the windows and window frames and place in the sides of your sod house as you're building the walls. Pile sod around the frames to hold them in place. Carefully pack the sod together to join edges.
Build the roof. Create a centre beam along the length of your sod house using glued-together Popsicle sticks. Use additional sticks as support pillars to hold up the centre beam (it should be higher than the walls of your house). Lean Popsicle sticks against the beam and walls of the house to create a pointed roof. Glue the sticks in place and allow to dry. Cover the roof with leftover strips of sod.
Place your sod house out in the sun or under a warm light to dry. The sun or heat source should dry the sod into clay and hold it together.
Tips and warnings
- Use any leftover sod to create farmland on the tray around the house.
- Build a fence with leftover Popsicle sticks.
- Always supervise young children using glue and scissors. Don't let young children use the knife to cut the sod themselves.
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