To teach children how to make their own blueprints, start by displaying examples, and then describe and show them the tools used to create blueprints. Blueprints serve as design plans used to construct homes, office buildings and other structures or products. These drawings specifically detail the features of the project by providing precise measurements, the locations of specific product elements, walls, columns, doors and windows, as well as including detailed schematics for plumbing and electrical locations, depending on the type of blueprint.
Blueprints as Construction Guides
Blueprints consist of multiple pages of detailed plans and schematics. Go through each page of the blueprints with kids to explain how draftsman, engineers and architects create the drawings that serve as the guide to contractors and manufacturers when they are assembling a product or building a house. Start with the architectural renderings that show exploded views of what the building or device will look like from multiple views, and then go through the individual pages that detail the specifics, such as the measurements, floor layout, electrical and plumbing schematics, the plot overview, which shows the building's relationship to the building site and the pages that have callouts – specific details that shows how strategic elements such as foundation walls, footings or stairways are to be constructed, for example.
Basic Blueprint Layout
Once they have an idea of what blueprints look like, show kids how to create a basic blueprint. Since blueprints are drawn to scale, have them start by figuring the scale of their drawing. By using graph paper, each square on the graph translates to a specific dimension in real life, such as 1/4 inch square equals 1 foot. For a 20-foot long wall, for example, they would draw a line from the beginning of one square to the end of the twentieth square. Have them draw the dimensions of their bedroom, a tree house or playhouse, and show them where to place the legend near the right top, that says 1/4" equals 1 foot – or whatever each square equates to – in their drawing.
Using the Tools
Demonstrate how to use a ruler on the graph paper to create a scale rendering of a floor plan. Let them see what the various to-scale drafting templates look like, green or clear rectangular plastic pieces. For example, a drafting house plan template has shapes for toilets, appliances, fixtures and more. Have them mark the door and window dimensions on the layout. Draw a 3-foot wide door at the center of the front wall with a 1 1/2-foot window on each side of the door so the kids see how to divide a square into a 1/2 foot. Show them how to display the dimensions on the blueprint.
Teach them the list of basic blueprint symbols used by drafts people, architects and engineers, such as a circle marked WH for a water heater, a circle with two parallel lines for an electrical outlet, and a circle with four short rays to represent a ceiling light. For the door, show them how to draw an arc of a circle with a compass that displays how the door opens into the room. Help the kids to measure and draw interior walls, if needed for their designs, and to measure and draw door and window locations.
Tips and Warnings
Create a group of flashcards to help the kids practice making blueprint symbols. Discuss construction projects or buildings that kids are familiar with to help them understand how blueprints are used to design everything from the houses they live in, their schools, public buildings and even airplanes and cars. Supervise kids in the use of the compass and collect all compasses at the end of the activity as the sharp point of the compass anchor can puncture skin.