To do: Learn about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: Images of the Gateway Arch, facts below
Today, along with your child, discover more about the Gateway Arch located in St. Louis, Missouri. Take a look at these images for reference.
Your child will love learning about this simple and beautiful monument. Of course, children have all of their own questions and plenty of them, but we’d like to provide you with some information to start your exploration of the Gateway Arch, as well as an arch building activity. So let’s go!
Why was it built?
The Gateway Arch was part of a project to bring more people to the riverfront in St. Louis, specifically to the banks of the mighty Mississippi river. City leaders invited artists and architects to submit ideas for a monument to get tourists to visit St. Louis, and decided on a stainless steel arch designed by Eero Saarinen. It took a little over 2 years to build the arch.
What is the meaning behind it?
This arch represents a time in the history of the United States when more and more people were moving west. Pioneers were looking for land and opportunity, so they packed all of their possessions and joined the “westward expansion.” St. Louis is often called the Gateway to the West because a lot of explorers passed through the city into the unknown territory west of the Mississippi river.
What can you do if you go visit the Arch?
There is actually a whole park around the arch with plenty of things to do. The park is called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. There, you can ride a tram to the top of the arch if you’re brave enough! There’s also a museum about westwards expansion, river boat tours on the Mississippi.
Activity – Roman Arch Building: The Roman Arch is an actual material for students to construct in some Montessori classrooms. Students carefully recreate the arch and test how much weight it can hold! You can do this at home. After discussing the Gateway Arch, try making your own arch using any type of blocks or building units you have. You may need a special “keystone” trapezoid shaped block for the middle of the arch.
Take a look at an example of an arch online or on your set of Three Part Cards. Brainstorm how you could build an arch with your blocks, using a rounded support at first or having a helper hold it up. If your older child feels comfortable, let them have a go at it by themselves at first! Let them know they can ask you for assistance if they get stuck.
For your younger child: Your younger child will be happy to explore the arch, but you can take a more physical approach to learning. Along with a helper, try forming an arch with your arms. Tell your child, this is called an Arch, and reinforce this word with the photo of the Gateway Arch. Ask your child if they would like to walk under the arch, or if they would like to form an arch with you or a sibling. Sing a sing while walking under the arch and have fun!
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