The Topic: 

Easier - A shelter is a place that covers, protects, and provides safety. People need shelters to shield them from extremes of cold and heat, as well as from rain, snow, and wind.
Harder - A human shelter is a structure or a natural feature that provides protection against bad weather, danger, or insect pests. The first shelters made by human beings were made of animal hides, stones, straw, vines, or wood. Today, we construct our shelters from a wide variety of materials such as wood and brick, steel and concrete, aluminum, glass, and plastic. The types of shelters people erect depend mainly on the climate, the materials that are available, and their intended use.
Houses are the most common shelter for people, but there are many other different kinds. Others include bus shelters, bomb shelters, band shells, and treehouses. Portable shelters include tents, trailers, houseboats, motor yachts, and even motorhomes. Other shelters like barns and sheds are built to cover and protect things besides people.
This site briefly describes native American dwellings: the longhouse; log, pole and bark houses; teepees and wigwams. Another site with information on a different longhouse can be found at Eastern Oregon Winter Dwellings.
Houses for the Next Millennium,13053,284680_367268-1,00.html
Explore how we might live in the next one hundred years. House Beautiful invited ten architectural firms to design a house for the future.There are several pages (sites).
Shelter On the Western Frontier
Learn about sod houses and barns, dugouts, and log and timber-framed buildings.
Stone Age Habitats
Learn more about man's history of seeking protection from the elements and predators. Site describes the transition of early humans from using shelter to creating shelter. 
After visiting some of the 'shelters' sites below, complete one of these projects:
Make a Shelter Model. Pick a historical era and location. Research the shelters that were used in that time period. Make a model of a typical shelter used in that time. Display it at your school.
Plan for an Emergency Shelter. Pretend that you are 'caught' afoot, out in the wilderness, and it begins to get dark. The temperature is dropping, bad weather is threatening, and there is no cabin around. What would you do to survive the night? List your plan for seeking shelter. Then compare your recommendations to those found for shelter at A Kid's Wilderness Survival Primer.
Design A Shelter for the Future. After studying the history of shelters at Stone Age Habitats, Dwellings, Shelter On the Western Frontier, and other sites, design a shelter for the next millennium. Make a drawing, floor plan, and/or a model of your design. Compare it with some of the designs at Houses for the Next Millennium.
Build a Fantasy Dwelling. Look at some alternate housing ideas such as those at Geodesic Domes: Structures and Homes, Shelter Systems, Earthwood Building School, Cordwood Building, and Treehouse Workshop. Then using ideas from these websites or creating something entirely original, design your own nontraditional dwelling. Make a drawing or model of your planned dwelling.
Complete Some Materials Calculations. Builders, contractors, engineers, architects, and designers deal with computing how much material is needed for various projects and constructions. Try your hand at completing the calculations at Materials for Building (PBS Mathline).
Website For Kids By Kids 
The Energy Efficient Home (ThinkQuest)
On this page you'll learn the different types of materials that go into building a house, and how they compare on energy efficiency. Design your own house and compute the dollars saved per year!
Indian Ruins of the Southwest
This site contains information about ancient Indian ruins in the southwest states (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico). Included are the Anasazia, the Mogollon, Hohokam, Sinagua, and Salado who occupied nearby regions during much of the same time. And after they all disappeared, the early Pueblo peoples (thought to be descendants of the Anasazi and Hohokam) also built pueblos and cliff dwellings.
Shelter Systems
Look at designs for portable dome shelters, greenhouses, yurts, energy shelters, tarps and tents.
Geodesic Domes: Structures and Homes
This site provides information and links about the construction of geodesic dome houses.
Traditional Aboriginal Dwellings
This site provides information and a picture about the Australian aboriginal 'humpy' shelter.
Treehouse Workshop
Learn about a company that specializes in treehouse design and construction.
Related Website:
2) Treehouses by Patrick Fulton
Earthwood Building School
Here you can find information about cordwood masonry and earth-sheltered housing - alternative building techniques.
Homes of the Future
Automated homes of the future.
Earth Sheltered Homes
Why should I build an Earth-sheltered home?
Teacher Sites
Spaces and Places (ArtsEdNet)
Website has a lesson (4th grade) planned to help students understand that a dwelling reflects the physical and psychological needs of its inhabitants. Further, they will become aware that geography and environmental location influence architectural design.
Building a House (Lesson Plan at School to Work)
This lesson covers the sequence of constructing a building, standard construction names for materials in the home, and different materials that are used in building.

mobile home
cliff dwelling
log house

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99 & Updated, 4/00. Updated by Nancy Smith 3/02