The First Little Pig's Straw House
Build a new straw house for the first little pig to protect from the Wolf.
Duration: 2 x 45-minute Periods
Class Size: 30 Students
Group Size: Individual
Revisit the classic story of "The Three Little Pigs" with an interactive, hands-on activity of rebuilding the first little pig's house. Read the story together as a class, make drawing of how they would remake the house before building it. Huff and puff to test if it's a stronger straw house from the story!
- Immerse in a created environment as an engineer to engage in trial-and-error for developing critical thinking skills.
- Understanding a story with a beginning, middle, and end with a problem and/or conflict with a solution.
- Fine-tune motor skills with tools and assembling materials together.
- Building the spatial reasoning capacity to visualize objects in three dimensions and beginning to draw conclusions about those objects from limited information.
- 400 - Construction pipes (24 cm)
- 200 - 2-Legged Strawbee
- 200 - 3-Legged Strawbee
- 200 - 5-Legged Strawbee
- 30 - Sheets of Cardboard
- 50 - Tissue Paper
- 30 - Scissors
- Obtain copy of the book, "The Three Little Pigs" to read to your students as part of this lesson.
- Have additional small caddies or bowls around the room on desks or the floor to collect cut or broken construction pipes pieces to save for future projects and help with cleanup.
- Place containers of materials to the side of the room until students are ready to build.
- Create a couple examples of houses made out of Strawbees and construction pipes as inspiration for students. For the traditional house you can combine a Strawbees Pyramid and a Cube. Feel free to make simple examples to show a base for holding up a roof and beams to make walls. For the house of bricks you can use building blocks or LEGOs and make a popsicle sticks house with no glue.
Ask the class if they are familiar with the story of "The Three Little Pigs." For the students who have heard of it, have them share parts of the story and look for them to idenfity the problem. You are looking for the students to mention that there are 3 different houses built out of 3 different materials. Ask the your students, "What are these three materials?" Construction pipes, like the hay animals consume, wooden sticks, and bricks. Ask your students what material is the strongest and why they think it works better than the other 2 materials.
Once they have an understanding of the difference the materials presented in the story the most important part is share is that even the weakest materials can still be built in a way that can make it stronger. Let them know you will be reading the story and they will take on the challenge of redesigning the first house made out of construction pipes so the first little pig has their home back! Also acknowledge that the house of construction pipes in the story is made actually from hay and they will be using construction pipes and Strawbees.
2. Story Time: The Three Little Pigs
Gather your class and have them take a seat on the floor as a large group or have them sit at their desks to listen to the story of "The Three Little Pigs." Before you start to read tell them to think about how they would build the houses.
3. House Blueprints
When the story is finished, pass out sheets of paper and pencils for everyone to sketch a new house of straw for the first pig. Provide creative prompts such as what are the elements that make a house strong, what the roof would look like, and what type of place the house would be built on (water, grass, gravel, dirt). Continue to ask questions about what are the parts of a house to help the structure stand tall and be able to withstand a thunderstorm. Once finished, have your students share their drawings with a classmate!
4. House of Straw Building
Have students set aside their drawings and start to pass out Strawbees, construction pipes, scissors, and if needed, the Strawbees cardboard bases for students to build with as a platform. Students do not have to use the cardboard bases if they would rather begin making shapes on their own. The cardboard bases help with building up tall structures as support. This is also easier for holding up a roof and a set of walls. Encourage students to bend the Strawbees and construction pipes if it helps connect parts of the house together. They can conduct mini tests by lightly wiggling the base to see if anything falls down. Challenge your students to design a house of construction pipes to not have any part of it fall or detach from the base.
Ask supporting questions such what would happen if they add a lot of construction pipes to support a single construction pipe standing up by connecting with Strawbees? What would happen if you have a roof help up by a line of construction pipes?
5. Designing the House
When your students are close to finishing their structure and it passes a wiggling test, pull out materials such as tissue paper, construction paper, and other materials for students to add additional support and structure to their designs. Ask your students why walls are needed for houses and what they can do to make the house stronger.
If you students finish early, you can introduce additional materials such as building blocks to make a brick house and stack popsicle sticks.
6. Big, Bad Wolf Test
Once your students complete their straw houses, help your students bring their houses to a large table or the center of the room. If their houses are still drying from glue or are too fragile to transport you can have them keep their straw houses stationary. Remind your students that if their house isn't perfect and does not withstand the wind, they will have a chance to patch it up after the first test and try again. The first little pig's house of straw was not perfect and didn't withstand the Big, Bad Wolf the first time.
For the test, one method you can take is to be the Big, Bad Wolf and will carefully huff and puff. Lightly blow or wiggle one house at a time. The most important thing you are looking for are houses that do not tumble completely over. Some parts, like loose paper fluttering is acceptable.
Another way to test is to have all students prepare their houses to stand as upright as possible. With their hands behind their back and on the count of 3, instruct them to carefully blow on the houses to test their strength.
7. Finishing the Story
After the test, have students take a seat to reflect on their versions of the straw houses. The houses made from construction pipes work as an example, but not as a house that we normally live in.
Hold a single straw up and bend it to show that it cannot handle a lot of bending. Then grab a bundle of at least 30-50 construction pipes together and try to bend them in half. They will bend a little, but the main idea is to show that is's harder as a group. The construction pipes are stronger together as a bundle, but there are better materials such as wood and metal that can withstand the heat, cold, rain, and heavier weight.