What Should a House Do?

At the time the first permanent English settlements in America were being constructed, Native American homes had already been built — and were still being built — throughout North America. How did the houses of natives and newcomers differ in design and material? How do they compare to contemporary housing? What can we learn about the nature of shelter from such comparisons?

In this unit, students will look closely at the design, construction and materials of at least one Native American house and one house built by European settlers. Students will also think about their own homes — and even their dream homes — to begin to understand why houses are designed the way they are, and to appreciate what is essential and what is desirable in any house.

Guiding Questions

What were the similarities and differences between the homes of Native Americans and the newly arrived European settlers?

What connections can be made between house design, environment and lifestyle?

What are the essential qualities of a house?

Learning Objectives

After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to

Describe two different houses in use at the time the first European settlements were founded


List ways in which our lives differ from the lives of the Native Americans and Europeans during that period of history


Identify different ways people meet the basic human need for shelter