This is the first in a series of Houston Field Trips. I’m exploring and enjoying my city, but also imagining how these unique spots might make great field trips and teaching moments for children. Have a place you think I should visit? Email me!
I don’t think we are ever good enough tourists in our own cities. When I first moved to Houston, I was a great tourist. I had one day off a week and would spend it exploring the city. Then I got comfortable and forgot that there were wonders I hadn’t seen. I got stuck in my ten-mile radius.
Let’s all start being better tourists in our own cities, shall we? If you don’t like the word tourist, think of yourself as being an expert. Not just of your own little niche, but of your city itself. Know her. Love her. And then share her.
Last week my friend Karen visited from North Carolina and this reignited my desire to be a better know-er of Houston. We went a few places that were really neat and that I will visit again. First up: The Beer Can House.
I had always heard of and meant to hit this landmark, but this was my first visit. How classy, I had thought. A house covered with beer cans. I imagined a Homer Simpson type, sitting in the yard in a plastic lawn chair, drinking beers and gluing the finished cans to the side of his house.
Instead? It was something quite beautiful. I love the kind of art that comes from the ordinary, perhaps even the ugly. Redemptive art, I think of it. I mean, yes. It is a house, covered in beer cans in their various forms: cans, flip tops, tops, sides, and even a few bottles. They cover the walls, hang from the peak of the roof, are cemented into the walls and gates, and form sculptural elements around the property. I love it.
While out, I began thinking of my kids and how something like this would make a great field trip and teaching tool. So if you are in Houston and aren’t opposed to exposing your child to a whole lot of beer can parts, here are some ideas of how to incorporate this field trip into some teaching moments.
Idea for Field Trip with Kids
-Discuss: What makes art ART? Is this art or decoration? Craft? Why? (Art)
-What is something common or everyday that you could use to make something spectacular? Create a project from everyday items at home. (Art)
-Make an estimation as to how many beer cans (or tops or parts) make up a specific part of the property. Race to see who can count the actual number. (Math)
-How would you describe the house to someone who has not seen it? Write about the beer can house using as many senses as you can. (English)
-What is the history of the house and its owner? How have people in the neighborhood felt about it? (History, sociology)
-Does the city have any ordinances against something like this? Why might a city regulate things like this? (Government)