
Garden Shed Project
by Larry Penner
Overview and Rationale:
The math kit I produced is unique in that it is a continuous project, that once complete will benefit the students as well as the school. My kit involves constructing a garden shed that will eventually be raffled off as a fundraiser for the school. The activities in the kit are original and sequential as they start with the basics of construction (the foundation) and continue until a finished project is complete with shingles and paint. I like to think of this kit as a practical use for mathematical skills.
The kit is geared to students in grades 89. The reason is that these students are more mature and are ready to acquire skills that they can relate to previous learned ones. Every student takes math in school but not everyone grasps the importance of the subject. Many students go through the routine of learning mathematical rules, solving the equations and problem solving without ever thinking about what they have learned or the importance of these skills. Hopefully this kit will bring to light some ideas and thoughts that the students may use in the future.
The activities, as I have stated, start with the foundation. The students need to realize that as in education a solid foundation is needed for the shed. The first couple of activities will center around the students designing a concrete pad for the shed to sit on. They will take into consideration the size of the shed, price of lumber, and lengths of materials in order to minimize waste. As the students come up with various designs and shapes the teacher will remind the students of costs and practicality of each. The activities will be setup so that there is always a reference to material taught in class such as area and perimeter.
The rest of the activities will teach the students about reading blueprints and looking at scale and the actual construction of the shed. Once they understand the scale principles then they will be able to design the shed and draft a model of their design. Once they have a draft, they will be able to calculate materials needed as well as the costs.
The activities will look at calculating the number of studs needed, the area that is covered with plywood, the amount of paint and shingles needed to finish the shed and to note labor and miscellaneous costs. As the students will have varied designs the teacher will have to do some cost comparisons and point out where there could be cutbacks or where it is simply impractical to build an extremely expensive shed.
The expense of the shed becomes a clear issue at the end of the unit when you want to sell tickets as a fundraiser. For instance, if the money is going to be spent on the class outing ( camp out, field trip) the students will be a lot more interested in making money rather than building an elaborate expensive shed. Again realism and practicality come into play along with the learning of math skills.
Some of the skills that I have incorporated into the kit deal with various strands. I use geometry when designing a rectangular pad. Area, perimeter and volume are topics that relate to the foundation as well as the structure. Measuring is constantly used and because of the building materials, fractions have a major role. Remember that a 2x4 is 1 1/2 x 3 1/2. Scale is used in the drafting and blueprint reading activities. Problem solving is an important strand as the students use it to determine cost effectiveness and also to calculate materials needed.
My philosophy behind the idea of putting a practical project like this together derives from the question " When am I ever going to need this in my life? " So many students ask this when you teach them something that they may struggle with at first or that requires a little effort. The premise of this kit is to provide a realistic and hands on project that brings together many different strands of math. Math is usually taught as different entities like fractions for one month and then geometry for another. This kit brings all the entities together where the students will find that they do not even notice they are using the skills until the teacher points them out with a review after each activity. I also believe that students need to learn with "hands on" or experiential learning. The learning process comes alive with an active approach rather than a passive one from a textbook. A sense of accomplishment is evident when you see the students' faces light up with excitement w!
hen they see what they have constructed.
My philosophy is also built on experience. While I was employed as a teacher's assistant I had many encounters with children who had behavioral problems. I found that whenever I tried to teach them a new concept that old question arose " When will I ever use this stuff? ". No matter how I explained to them that they need math in their lives they could not see it or believe it. So when the principal and I discussed some of these barriers, we decided to create a practical project. I would take a group of boys, with behavioral problems, and we would construct a garbage can stand. Now this is not nearly as complicated as the shed project but it was effective. When the boys struggled with measuring and adding lengths etc., they realized how important math was and I found a real sense of effort later in the classroom. Now I'm not expecting to turn the world into carpenters but rather I want to emphasis the practical uses of math. Even though some students turn out to become profe!
ssionals there is nothing wrong with a doctor that can be a handyman around the house as well.
NOTE: As a teacher using this project outline, you may feel the need to adapt it to a plan that works better for you. Also note that the "Strand/Objectives" and "CEL's" are specifics which come from the Saskatchewan Curriculum.
Activity 1  

Name:  Foundation 
Topic:  Area 
Strand/Objectives:  Geometry/Measurement (G/M 62, G/M 63 G/M 74a) 
CEL's:  C.C.T, I.L. 
Learning Objectives:   design a rectangle given a perimeter
 calculate volume
 compare volumes of shapes 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  3040 min. 
# of Students:  Individually design pad 
Materials:  Pencils, rulers, protractor, hammers, nails/screws, squares, stakes, sledgehammer, string lines, shovels etc. 
Procedure:  After having a lesson or review on area, perimeter, and volume, have the students design a rectangular pad that will hold a 10x10 foot shed. Make sure they leave a 2foot landing in the front. Ask them to calculate the area, perimeter, and volume of the pad. Then have them order the lumber needed to form the pad and the amount of concrete to fill the form. Do not forget the stakes to hold the form in place. As a class, go to the work site where you have the materials ready and begin to form the pad. This could be a couple hours of work even as a class. The role of the teacher is to review and then become an architect/foreman. The expectation of the students is that they will be able to use their knowledge of area, perimeter, and volume in a hands on activity. 
Adaptations:  Make sure everyone understands the task. Pair up students having difficulty. 
Resources:  Instruction book and kit, a carpenter 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Take in the designs and mark them against the criteria that was given. 
Activity 2  

Name:  Spend Money 
Topic:  N/A 
Strand/Objectives:  Algebra (A5) 
CEL's:  C.C.T, I.L., P.S.S.V. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate cost of lumber using flyers
 calculate cost of concrete/sq. yd
 pour the concrete into the form and finish it 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  120 min. 
# of Students:  Pairs (2) 
Materials:  Pencils, calculators, flyers from lumber yard, rubber boots, cement tools. 
Procedure:  Have the students look at the chosen design and jot down the dimensions. Then have them look at the flyers and calculate the cost of the lumber and concrete. Make sure to mention to them that there will be a penalty for waste lumber. They can order the lumber in any lengths providing it is a standard one (8ft, 10ft, 12ft etc..). Have the pairs submit their costs and go over the projected costs that the teacher had. Do not forget about the misc. costs such as nails or screws. Now go out to the site and when the concrete comes pour it into the form and finish it. Take the bill and use it with the bids to see who was the closest. Make sure you have someone who is qualified in concrete finishing to ensure you have a quality pad. Remember: a level pad is a poor pad. Water always needs a place to go. 
Adaptations:  Have various companies flyers on hand to ensure the lowest price. Do the same for the concrete. Shop around. Make sure everyone in the class has a chance to get dirty. The role of the teacher is to make sure the job is completed and the students are expected to be engaged. 
Resources:  Various stores and flyers 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Take in the bids and see who was the lowest bidder and award them the job. Check the work of the finishers. 
Activity 3  
 Name:  Get Out The Blues 
Topic:  Scale 
Strand/Objectives:  Ratio and Proportion (R9) 
CEL's:  I.L. 
Learning Objectives:   read a blue print
 understand the scale of the print
 read a drafting ruler
 answer questions pertaining to the blueprint
 remove forms and clean them 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  60 min. 
# of Students:  3 or 4 
Materials:  Blueprint, drafting ruler, pencils 
Procedure:  In the groups, have the students do some oral questions about the blueprints. Ask them some easy questions like "what is the scale?" and ask for some obvious dimensions. This will get them thinking on the right track. Then handout a sheet of questions in a scavenger hunt form. Have them complete the hunt and go over the questions. Then as a group go out to the site, strip the forms and clean them by taking out the nails/screws and scraping off the cement. Remember you need to use the lumber again. The role of the teacher is to oversee the work and delegate authority. The expectation of the students is to participate with enthusiasm. 
Adaptations:  Delegate jobs to groups to provide realism on the job site. 
Resources:  Experts in the field. 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Check the answers to the questions and see how clean the forms and site are. 
Activity 4  
 Name:  Draft a Shed 
Topic:  N/A 
Strand/Objectives:  Ratio and Proportion (R 10) 
CEL's:  C.C.T., I.L. 
Learning Objectives:   design the shed on a scale drawing
 use the tools necessary to draft
 use various scales 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  60 min. 
# of Students:  2 or 3 
Materials:  Drafting rulers, pencils, graph paper, dimensions or drawing of actual shed. 
Procedure:  Have the students draw a shed, using the predetermined dimensions, to scale on graph paper. Making sure they draw detailed parts such as the studs, doorway, window and trusses. The role of the teacher is to facilitate the workers. The expectation of the students is to make a very neat design that they would like blueprinted. Assessment is the final drawing and the mark. 
Adaptations:  N/A 
Resources:  Books on drafting, plans of other sheds, previous knowledge 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Mark the drawings using a rubric. 
Activity 5  
 Name:  Get The Lumber Out 
Topic:  Area 
Strand/Objectives:  Geometry/Measurement (G/M 58) 
CEL's:  C.C.T., I.L. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate the area of the walls
 calculate the materials to build the walls
 decide the lengths of the lumber to order so that none will be wasted
 layout materials to start construction
 start nailing materials together 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  3040 min. for calculations. Unknown for building time (could be many hours). 
# of Students:  calculations 3 or 4 Building groups, divide the class into 1/4's. 
Materials:  Pencils, paper, hammer, saws, nails, levels, squares, nailpullers, string lines, measuring tapes, etc. 
Procedure:  Have the students calculate the amount of material that it will take to build the shed. Once they have an estimate, in 4 groups, go to site and have them collect enough material to build one wall. Note: That the wall with the door isn't as large as the others and one wall will have a window. Within the groups lay out the walls and begin to assemble. The teacher must make sure that the students keep the walls square. Some suggestions: Measure the diagonals, use the squares on the corners and make sure the sheeting is flush so you can use the plywood to keep it square (stagger the plywood). Tell the students to measure the studs so that they are 16 " on center. These should be marked on the top/bottom plates. Do not forget to put headers over the window and doorway. Nail the sheets on solid after they have been checked. Consult plans and resident expert when in doubt. Continue to build until walls are together but do not put th!
em up. Role of the teacher is to be a helper and advisor. The students are expected to think on their own a little and work out as many calculations as they can. Remember that is why we are doing this, to help them learn what math is all about. Remember that the plates are the perimeter of the shed. 
Adaptations:  Assist the students that have problems with standard measurement. 
Resources:  "How To" books, expert on site. 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Ask the students to check their calculations against the actual materials used. 
Activity 6  
 Name:  Stand and Cover 
Topic:  Area, Angles, Lines, and Line Segments 
Strand/Objectives:  Geometry/Measurement (G/M 58, G/M 10) 
CEL's:  C.C.T. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate the angle or slope of the roof
 design the rafters
 calculate the area of the roof for the sheeting 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  60 min. for calculations. Unknown for the time to stand the walls and put the rafters up and sheet the roof. 
# of Students:  Groups of 3 for calculations Entire class to erect the walls and put roof on. 
Materials:  Protractors, pencils, paper, and building tools 
Procedure:  On a predrawn handout in the classroom, have the students compute the angle or slope of the drawings. Instruct them in the concept of rise over run. This will help them understand how the pitch of the roof is developed. Once they have mastered this concept take them to the job site and cut out the rafters. After a short demo where the students have seen how the rafters are designed, delegate jobs so that the walls are stood up and the rafters are put in place. Then sheet the roof. The teacher's job is to keep everyone on task and to maintain order. The students are expected to complete their assigned tasks. For assessment purposes have the students write a "how to" description of how to cut the rafters out. Note: Don't forget to stagger the sheeting and nail the roof down solid. 
Adaptations:  Assist those who do not understand rise/run theory. 
Resources:  Building guide, expert. 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Read the assignments and note the learning going on. Remember the multiple intelligences and that some may never understand. BE PATIENT! 
Activity 7  
 Name:  Plug The Leaks 
Topic:  Area, Fractions 
Strand/Objectives:  Geometry/Measurement, Numbers and Operations (G/M 58, N 50) 
CEL's:  C.C.T. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate the area of the roof in order to shingle (also order the shingles)
 learn about fractions from overlapping shingles 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  2030 min. for calculations. Unknown for singling roof. 
# of Students:  Pairs for calculations Groups of 4 for shingling. 
Materials:  Pencils, paper, and building tools. Do not forget the chalk line. 
Procedure:  After the students have done some calculating on the amount of shingles needed  take them to the job. Now show them how to chalk a straight line on the roof so that the shingles lineup straight. Reverse the first row and begin to put lines of shingles on. Note the fraction of how much the shingles over lap. Continue until roof is covered. Have the students work in groups of 4 because of the space available on the roof and the weight factor. Change in short shifts so that everyone is involved. The teacher's role is to keep order and the expectation of the students is to be patient. 
Adaptations:  Using other manipulatives you could show others the overlapping idea while some groups are shingling. 
Resources:  Community shingler 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Check the estimates of how many shingles to buy with actual usage. Observe participation levels. 
Activity 8  
 Name:  Slap On A Coat 
Topic:  Planning/Executing 
Strand/Objectives:  Problem Solving (P4c) 
CEL's:  I.L. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate area in order to buy paint
 paint walls without waste
 Be cost effective 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  20 min. for calculations. Unknown for painting. 
# of Students:  Painting, 8 per wall. 
Materials:  Old clothes, painting tools 
Procedure:  Have the students do a quick exercise in finding out the area of the shed that requires painting. Then have them estimate the amount of paint needed to cover this area. Take them out to the site and paint the shed in groups of 8/wall. The teacher should be a supervisor, watch for paint waste and organize a clean up crew. You may want to ask the students to volunteer old brushes from home in order to cut costs. The students are responsible for making sure the area is as clean as it was when they started. Remember it is the school property and requires respect. CLEAN UP IS IMPORTANT!

Adaptations:  Delegate the jobs so that everyone is involved. 
Resources:  A paint guide may help to choose a quality paint. 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Check the estimates of the students and observe to see if they can use realistic situations when problem solving. How close were they in their estimates of volumes of paint. 
Activity 9  
 Name:  Sell Those Tickets 
Topic:  Planning/Executing 
Strand/Objectives:  Problem Solving (P3, P4) 
CEL's:  C.C.T. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate the cost of the shed
 estimate the number of tickets that need to be sold
 Calculate the number of tickets needed for a profit 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  30 min. 
# of Students:  Pairs 
Materials:  Pencils, paper 
Procedure:  Since the students have already done some price estimating in earlier activities they will have a good idea of the costs involved with the project. From this information, in pairs, have them estimate the total cost of the project and come up with a number of tickets that need to be sold in order to break even. Have the students sell the tickets for $1.00. Then give them the actual costs of the project and compare their estimates. To continue the activity ask the students to price the tickets so that there is a 75% profit. The role of the teacher is to provide an atmosphere of a contracting business and to illustrate how profits are predetermined and how tenders are bid on. The expectation of the students is to keep the problem in perspective and not have outlandish estimates or ticket prices. Keep in mind that they want to sell tickets and not scare off the buyers. 
Adaptations:  Play around with some figures as examples. Use various ticket prices. 
Resources:  Go to a contractor and have a sample bid made up. 
Assessment/Evaluation:  Observe the range of answers from the estimates to the actual ones. 
Activity 10  
 Name:  Was It Worth It? 
Topic:  Reflecting 
Strand/Objectives:  Problem Solving (P9, P10) 
CEL's:  C.C.T. 
Learning Objectives:   calculate amount of profit or loss
 make informed decisions
 reflect on the project and using all information decide whether to repeat. 
Grade level:  8 & 9 
Activity Time:  30 min. 
# of Students:  Groups of 45 
Materials:  Pencils, paper, calculators 
Procedure:  Within groups have the students analyze the data they have on the profit made from the project. Make up some criteria for the students to follow regarding the consideration of whether the project was a success or not. Remind the students to consider all the factors surrounding the project. Factors like the cost of materials and the amount of labor. Even though the labor was free there should be a price calculated for it in the final analysis. Then have the students reflect on their experience and use this as well as any recommendations as an assessment tool for the entire project. The teacher should provide guidance and support but try not to influence any of the decisions of the students. The students are expected to produce fair and unbiased recommendations. 
Adaptations:  Have each student write their own reflection in case there are some that do not really agree with their group. This way they will still have a voice. 
Resources:  The students 
Assessment/Evaluation:  The reflections will assess the success of the project and the students feelings about it. 
Things to Note:
1.  Foundations may vary according to the floor surface, i.e. concrete, or wood. 
2.  Forms for the pad should be screwed rather than nailed to allow for easy disassembling. 
3.  Plates should be laid out prior to wall assembly, studs should have crown facing the same direction and instructions for nailing procedures i.e. 2 nails/stud. 
4.  Remember the saw blade takes off 1/8 of an inch when cutting. 
5.  Keep studs 16 inches on center. Note: Use sheeting to hold studs. 
6.  Use a standard nail spacing on sheeting i.e. 68 inches. 
7.  Allow for shrinkage by spacing the sheeting, i.e. 1/8 inch in between. 
8.  Remember to pull out bent nails. 
9.  Instruct students on how to build headers, i.e. door, window. 
10.  Use finishing techniques as extra incentives, i.e. fascia boards, moldings. 
 