Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 2

Building a Home in Cleveland in 1796


To introduce students to the type of homes the first settlers of Cleveland built.
Students will understand the simplicity of the dwellings as well as the building techniques and how they differ from methods used today.



chinked, puncheon, hewn, auger, adz


  1. How were the early log cabins constructed?
  2. How were the early log cabins designed for family living? What were the areas used for?
  3. How were the early log cabins the same or different from homes today?


  1. Ask students what they know about the homes of early pioneers. Of what were they made? How were they built?
  2. Read to the class the primary source of William C. Howell's recollection of building a log cabin. Through discussion, have students identify the steps required for building a log cabin.
  3. Continue the discussion by asking students:
    a. What tools were needed to build a log house? (axe, broad axe, froe, draw knife,auger, hammer, saw)
    b. Which of these tools are still used for building houses today? What new tools are used today?
    c. The settler used the wood around his lot to build his house. Where would we get our wood today? (lumber yard, Builder's Square, )
    d. What does the building you live in today have that the settlers' log cabin did not have? (Answers may vary, but may include: more rooms, bathroom, etc.)
  4. Distribute Handout #1 Construction of a Log Cabin. Direct students to Howells's recollection. They are to reorganize the steps for building a log cabin into the correct order.
  5. The short story "Early Homes in Cleveland" may be duplicated and used as a reading assignment for students, or the teacher may choose to read the story to the class. Discuss with the class decisions settlers had to make about their cabins, the various steps in building a log cabin, and the materials used.
  6. Distribute Handout #2 - Log Cabin Floor Plan. Discuss the floorplan of a log cabin. Have students organize the living space of the log cabin (students may complete this activity in cooperative groups). On the reverse side of the paper, students will then draw their own home's floor plan and use of living space. Students may share their comparisons with the class or within small groups. The teacher may assign a writing assignment in which students write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the living space of early settlers with the living space of homes today.
  7. Distribute Handout #3 - Log Cabin Model. Tell students to color the handout as they wish. Then have them cut out the log cabin on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines. Glue flaps to panels.
  8. Distribute Handout #4 - Village of Cleveland Map.Following map directions, have students locate designated items and locations.

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