Look Out Below: Parachutes!

Look Out Below: Parachutes!

Make and test a flying parachute for characters to fly safely home.



Duration: 60 minutes

Class Size: 30 Students

Group Size: Individuals or 2 Students

The characters Mio and Ley have finished a long hike up the mountain and are very tired. To get down the mountain faster they have decided to fly down on parachutes and need help from the class! Follow along the story, design a parachute and test them before sending Mio and Ley on a flight down.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn differing abilities in parachute designs and the ability to change flight patterns.
  • Fine-tune motor skills with tools and assembling materials together.
  • Creates connection with others by sharing feelings and projects for a collaborative storytelling.
  • Begin to make sense of the world by building vocabulary and a mental library of knowledge.
  • Identifying elements of the story which stood out to the individual to process their experimental learning.
  • Understanding a story with a beginning, middle, and end with a problem and/or conflict with a solution.
  • Build listening skills and understand this as an active engagement to search for meaning, obtain knowledge, and following steps.


  • 300 - Construction pipes (24 cm)
  • 100 - 1-Legged Strawbee
  • 200 - 2-Legged Strawbee
  • 200 - 3-Legged Strawbee
  • 200 - 5-Legged Strawbee
  • 50 - Tissue Paper


  1. Precut the sheets of tissue paper into squares to at least 7x7 inches. Make a friction lock with only two, 3-legged Strawbees on at least two opposing corners of the square. You can place one on each corner if the tissue paper square is at least 10x10 inches.
  2. Prepare a few parachute examples ahead of time. Experiment with parachute designs using only a square shape inside and a parachute with two legs sticking out to show different versions of building.
  3. For extra secure corners you can place a piece of tape down on the Strawbee to prevent it from tearing the corners.

Lesson Steps

1. Welcome

15 minutes

Welcome your students to a fun challenge of helping two characters, Mio and Ley, to get down from a mountain back home. Before starting the story and mentioning parachutes as the challenge, ask your students if they can name examples of things that glide in the air, meaning are light up to fly in the air, but just heavy enough to continue going up. Examples to look for are feathers, leaves, kites, and dandelion seeds!

If a student mentions bubbles or balloons (with helium) let them know those objects float in the air because they are even lighter than air itself! If you let a balloon go from your hand, do you think it for float really high in the sky?

You can show images of things of the examples list above to inspire your students for their parachute designs and leave them on the wall. Let your students know you are going to read them a story to introduce the challenge and what they are going to build as an element of surprise.

2. Story Time: Time to Jump

15 minutes


Start the story by having students sit down for story time or you can read to your students as they sit from their desks. Reading this will introduce the challenge to the students.

Mio and Ley were out on a hike on a beautiful, sunny day. They decided to go on a long day hike up a small mountain when they can see a view of their entire city while enjoying a picnic. As they sat down during their picnic, they realized how tired they really were. Ley looked around, then looking at Mio, had an idea.

“It would be faster if we had parachutes, look I can see my house! There is the river and the bridge close to my house!” Said Ley. Mio nodded, “I agree it would be faster. Let’s see if we can find something around here.”

Mio and Ley looked around the forest on the top of the mountain they were. Surrounding them were rocks bigger than their heads, large branches, and small leaves. There wasn’t many materials they could use to build parachutes.

Pondering Ley said, “What do we need to build a parachute?” “We need a large sheet for each of us and to make something like a shape to build for inside the inside. We need to tie each corner of the sheet so it’s easier for us to float down.” Answered Mio. “Do you have the picnic blankets with you?” Asked Ley. Mio chimed, “Yes! And I also have Strawbees and construction pipes from building earlier.” “Always useful!” Ley exclaimed.

Mio opened a bag and pulled out the picnic blankets, a bag of Strawbees, and construction pipes. Immediately they began building a small structure to place within the parachute.

Once you finish the story, show your students a sample parachute and let it float down to the ground. Let them know they need to make a parachute that floats down to the ground safely.

Alternative: If you find that you would give more time for your students to build and test and not read the story, you can introduce the challenge that Mio and Ley have climbed to the top of the mountain and are too tired to hike back down. They want to build parachutes to fly down. How can you design a parachute that will work for them?

3. Making Parachutes

50 minutes


Pass out the parachutes made of tissue paper and Strawbees attached in the corners. Start with one per student and have extra sheets of tissue paper with and without Strawbees attached. Give your students plenty of time to experiment connecting Strawbees and construction pipes and conducting tests on there parachutes. Look for parachute designs that flip upside down often and help students build a structure for the inside to weight it down so the tissue paper is up and full of air. If the tissue paper begins to crumple instruct students to correct their tissue paper by trying to make a scoop with air and uncrumple it.

Parachutes that have a lot of Strawbees and construction pipes on one side will likely flip rather than glide down. This is a good way to introduce balance and to try to make each side equal in the number of construction pipes. Students will leave that less will be more!

4. Story time: Launching Parachutes!

10 minutes


Once students have finished building their parachutes, have them clear their space of tissue paper, construction pipes, and Strawbees. Set aside the parachutes to the side of the room and have them take a seat to listen to the next part of the story. This part of the story is much shorter than the first so you can have your students take a seat at their desk after clearing materials.

After a lot of testing, from a small boulder nearby, have Mio and Ley finish building their parachutes.

They stood over the edge and took a deep breath. To help them overcome their fear, they counted down ... 3, 2, 1 .. FLY! Whoosh!

Mio and Ley opened their parachutes as wide as possible to catch the breeze and jumped forward, letting the wind catch them!

"So far so good!" Mio exclaimed.

Their parachutes glided downward falling in a spiral.

"This view is even better! I hope we land safely." Ley said. Mio said, "Don't worry, we came up with a good plan if it doesn't work out."

Now it's time to test your parachutes!

5. Finishing the Story with the Last Launch

15 minutes

Gather your students once more to perform a group drop one more time! If you have access to a high point such as the railing on a stairwell take your students there for extra fun! Otherwise you can have your students stand on their chairs for an extra flight test. If there is no high point for your students to drop the parachutes, have them hop up and down to land with their parachutes after the countdown.

Tell your students it's okay if their parachute tumbled a little bit, because Mio and Ley's plan was to design inflatable shoes just in case their fall was harsher than they planned!