Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 22

The "Modern" Home of 1946


Students will identify some of the innovations in the homes of 1946. Students will compare and contrast the "model" Cleveland home of 1946 with the "model" Cleveland home of today.



  1. What were homes like in 1946?
  2. What were some of the more "innovative" ideas for the kitchen and the home of 1946? Are these items still considered innovative today, or are they accepted as common or basic items?


  1. Ask students what appliances they think every kitchen should have. Answers will vary, however, microwave ovens, coffee makers, dishwashers will be some of the "newer" basic items children will probably mention.
  2. Ask students what appliances they think the kitchen of 1946 - 50 years ago, used.
  3. Distribute readings on "ELECTRICAL LIVING" and "What's New for Your Home" to students. Have them read through the articles and identify innovative appliances and equipment. List them on the board. How many of these items are used today? How many of these items are considered "basic" necessities in the home (items found in most homes today) and how many are still considered "luxury" items (items not found in the majority of homes today)
    Innovative appliances and equipment: automatic laundries, all-electric kitchens, air-conditioning, dishwashers, garbage disposal, freezers, refrigerators with freezer units, electric ranges with automatic timers, electric clothes dryer, automatic clothes washers, automatic stokers for furnaces, filter units that purify the air, electric blankets, plastics -- for windows, structural material, screening, woven fabrics, waterproof covering for food and other perishables (ask students what we call this today? -- plastic wrap such as Saran Wrap) wall coverings, furniture coverings, etc.
  4. Display copies of 1946 floor plans of new homes. Have students compare these plans with floor plans for new homes today. (Bring in some plans of homes from current magazines such as Better Homes and Garden or the Sunday Newspaper for reference) How have the plans of "new" homes changed? (number of rooms, types of rooms, environmental concerns, use of space, etc.) Do a cost comparison of the 1946 home and the 1996 home.
  5. Ask students to think of an appliance that they think would be "innovative" today or an "innovative" home floor plan. Encourage students to be creative and to consider current issues today such as environmental, resources, recycling, lifestyles, etc. They could be designed to solve a particular problem they have identified. They are to draw their "innovative" appliance and include a written description of the item, why they designed it, and explain its use. They are to draw their floor plan and include a written description and rationale of their "innovative" plan. Students may then present their creations to the class.

This activity could also be designed for cooperative groups as a problem solving activity. The teacher could pose a "problem" or the class could identify a "problem" that would require the development of an appliance or equipment for the home or require a new home floor plan. Each group would design their own, and develop a presentation that would then be judged in a competition.

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