Topping It Off

Our class has had the opportunity to build playhouses in our MSEL engineering class. The playhouse project is unlike any other project that has been enacted before. The process of making the playhouses is similar to building that of a real house, however there is the lack of having to install plumbing, lighting, installation, etc. The fact that we are building these structures for children also adds a certain level of detail that they need to be looked under. We cannot afford to have children cut themselves on a protruding nail, or have the roof cave in when the kids climb on top. So we have a local contractor come in to assess our playhouses with Ms. O to make sure we are building them correctly and nothing is going wrong.

Marin SEL, Topping It Off Blog
Working in Engineering Class, Terra Linda High School
Playhouse built in engineering class at Terra Linda High School
Terra Linda MSEL Engineering Student

Time seems to move at a blur when working on the playhouses. Days are strewn together because it is easier to think of the process of building as fluid instead of in terms of weeks on end. Each group is in a different stage of their building process. Our group is around 75% done with our playhouse, so we are adding certain finishing touches like trim on the windows and corners, and roofing shingles.

To create the trim on the corners of the playhouse, we would get the spare wood from outside the white container and see if it was long enough to cover the length of our walls. If they were long enough, we could then get the beams ripped to the desired width if they were too wide, and then cut to whatever specific measurement each corner was. We would then use the nail gun to connect the corners together, and nail the corners onto the house. The process doesn’t take that long. I would say the most dangerous part of it has to staple the two parts of the corners together. Ms. O said my fingers were too close when I was working on the window and the nail could have ricocheted into my face.

The roofing shingles looked really good once they were on. The way they were attached was they had to hang around an inch off the roof, and they had blue chalk marks around halfway on each of the shingles. The shingles had some tar-like substance on the ends of them, which I was told melted in the heat of the sun and glued the shingles to the roof. To keep them connected to the roof, before and after they glued, were small roofing nails that were nailed below the blue chalk line mentioned earlier. The chalk line was to indicate where to put the nails because above the chalk line, they would be visible for everyone to see. The only problem was we ran out of roofing shingles before we could finish our roof. We are hoping to get more roofing shingles donated to us so our roof isn’t half built awkwardly.  I look forward to where this project is going to take us, and what new challenges the building process will bring.


  1. It is so weird how fast time can fly. I agree that the days would seem more like week-long chunks of work. It was just weird for me because class, on a daily basis, would mean walking in, going to work, and then cleaning up what seemed like 2 minutes later. Good blog!

  2. I like how you described the roofing process, our group is currently doing that so i’m sure you can help us figure it out! I’m also glad you did not have a nail ricochet into your face

  3. Your playhouse looks amazing, and this article is evidence of the many contributions you have made to the project. Looking forward to seeing the final product, and I hope you are carful so nails don’t ricochet into your face.

  4. I really liked how you tied your blog title, “Topping it off” to the fact that you’re currently putting shingles on the top of your playhouse and how you’re finishing up building in general as well.

  5. Your group is very far ahead and the playhouse is looking good. My group is pretty far as well but we probably wont put shingles on our roof because we want kids climbing on it. Keep up the great work. Cant wait to see what its going to look like finished.

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