FARMINGTON — Freshmen in Dan Ryder’s English class at Mt. Blue Campus built tiny houses as part of their reading of John Steinbeck’s novel, “Of Mice and Men.” 

They read the book and  created houses based off the physical and emotional needs of the characters, student Clay McCarthy said.

Houses were either built physically or digitally. One of the requirements of the project was that the houses had to be built to scale and be 500 square feet or less to fit within the tiny house movement, Ryder said.

The social movement is about people choosing to downsize the space they live in. 

There was a lot of empathy engineering that went into it, which means you understand where somebody is coming from, student Conor Damon said.

Students had use problem-solving skills and design creativity.


Every wall in the house and every feature added is created with a purpose, McCarthy said. 

Some houses were intricately detailed. One student carved features out of foam board. Some houses were simple and easy to use, depending on the characters in the book. 

Nate Rackliff and his partners, Xander Platt and Avery Ancker, used a Minecraft program to develop their digital tiny house for book characters Lennie and George. Lennie tends to get into trouble and his friend, George, gets mad at him, Rackliff said.

Their house included a garden and farm stand so Lennie and George would have something to do and not get into trouble and be fired, he said.

Lennie and George dreamed about owning a farm and living off the grid so the partners added solar panels to help them live on their own.

Several of the houses also featured a rabbit hutch because Lennie dreamed of tending to rabbits.


Student Conor Damon used an internet site called RoomSketcher to digitally design a house for the character, Crooks, the only African-American in the book, he said.

The program is a two-dimensional modeling tool that can turn it into a three-dimensional design.

Crooks liked to be on his own and he liked his own personal space, Damon said.

Damon incorporated more-common colors, nothing too bright, into the house, he said.

One student’s project included a house and barn that was built in the 1930s fashion and featured farm animals in pens. 

Student Kayleigh Brisard designed her tiny house for the character Curley, the ranch boss’ son. He likes to try to prove his masculinity to be better than everyone. She made his house smaller to make him feel big, she said.


Allison Hodgdon made her house with an open space plan for Lennie and George. They are kind of best friends so she thought that design would be best for them, she said. She also factored in a rabbit cage.

“I kind of learned a lot about trying to meet people’s needs,” Hodgdon said.

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