October 2, 2015
by Dwayne Slobodnick

Lesson plan

Structure Building Challenge

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to build structures using common materials and explore ways to solve problems when building structures.

(15 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that today they will learn about structures.
  • Read Look at That Building: A First Look at Structures to the students, and then have the students say the names of some of the structures as you read about.
  • Then ask the students if there are structures in the book that are similar to those in their neighborhood.
  • Explain to the students that a good structure is one with balance, or an even distribution of weight that allows the building to stay upright and steady.
  • Tell the students to stand up and show you what good balance looks like. Then tell them to lift a leg and ask them if they still have good balance.
  • Discuss with the students how good structures need to have a strong base.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that they will be builders today, and tell them that they will work in groups with materials for building.
  • Show the materials of each work station to the students. Area 1 should have popsicle sticks and clothespins, area 2 will have toothpicks and plasticine, and area 3 will have straws and paperclips.
  • Tell the students that when they start they are to explore the building materials and be creative with their structures.
  • Remind them to think about the challenges they have while building and what they did to solve the problems.
(5 minutes)
  • Use your discretion whether or not to model how to build with these materials. This activity is great for exploration and you may not want to over explain things beforehand.
(30 minutes)
  • Divide the class into three groups, and tell them that they will rotate through the three stations every 10 minutes or so.
  • Tell the students to go to their starting station and to begin building their structures.
  • Walk throughout the groups and conference with the students.
  • Ask the students about any challenges they have had while building, and what they did to solve the problems.
  • Before the 10 minute rotation, ask the students to get up and see what the other students have been building.
  • Ask the students to tidy up both before they rotate and at the end of this activity.
  • Enrichment: Encourage students to build more complex structures, or give them a challenge structure, such as asking for a structure more than 3 feet tall.
  • Support: Offer easier to use materials, like connecting cubes or blocks if the ones in this activity are too difficult to use.
(5 minutes)
  • Take notes on how the students build structures and overcome challenges during independent time.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to come together.
  • Ask some students to share any challenges and their solutions they had while building.

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