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Building Things (1)

This version was saved 12 years, 2 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Shannon Wiebe
on May 13, 2012 at 9:51:29 am


this page is still under construction May 10, 2012


Vocabulary to come!   Probably this weekend!


building things word strips (printable)


Here is a collection of terms for items students might bring in for their building projects.  I asked students to bring a variety of items but they had to fit in a large plastic ziploc bag (even the extra large size, I sent a bag home with each student with their name on it just to be sure).  The class gets a little cluttered for these projects but at the end of the year it's not so bad.  This vocabulary is used throughout the Edmonton public resource so if you use their tasks and assessments both the vocabulary and pictures will be familiar to students.


I suggested that students bring both items they wanted specifically for themselves (if they had special ribbon or a certain box they had in mind) but to also bring extras of whatever they had to add to a communal collection of materials.  This ensured every student had a variety of materials.


Part of the unit involves classifying and describing the kinds of construction materials.  Students are encouraged to group materials in several ways; by what they are made of, by function (ie: which are fasteners?), by strength (which is strongest? flexible? bendable?), or by other properties (does it stack?  does it roll?).


This unit followed the Needs of Plants and Animals.  We already had a collection of domestic animals in the class on display.  The first task was to build a home for one of the domestic animals we had in the classroom (plastic to scale).  The home had criteria, it had to have a door that could lock, have an area for food, sleep and exercise.  It also had to be big enough to fit the animal the students chose, they used the plastic models to be sure.


A booklet was made using pages and task sheets from the Edmonton Public science resource "Building things".  In some cases I developed my own criteria.  Following the animal habitat task long tables were brought in and we prepared a city where all of the items we were going to build would be displayed.  This stayed up for the remainder of the unit.  Student names were on tent cards so that I could photograph each of their creations to be added to the booklet and reviewed using the criteria for each task.




This is the cover of the student booklet which lists the learning outcomes.  They should be shown as clear targets in student friendly language with a student self-assessment option and then teacher (as you will see on the criteria sheets).  I didn't quite get to that, it's on my list of things to do.


Following the unit this booklet goes home for parents to sign and return.  I include comments on the cover in relation to the specific learning outcomes, at times noting whether specific outcomes were met or not met.  This makes report cards easy to write.  A digital collection of these artifacts would also be awesome.




This was our first project made of polystyrene.  The item had to be an animal and it had to stand on its own and withstand a small gust of air (we blew on them to see if they would fall over).  I demonstrated how to notch the feet and add supports.  We discussed the best design, a larger base and so on.  Students were asked to label as many parts of their animal as they could.  We also wrote a "Qui suis-je" riddle to go with the animal.  We had seen animal parts in our plants and animals unit so this was a good time to revisit that vocabulary.






Building "puppets" with moving parts.  I have to find and post the criteria.  I didn't help the students or cut for them.  This frustrated some.  A few students had to start over because their bits of paper got too small (see the little brown "item" below).  That was really the biggest part of this unit, changing a design that didn't initially work.  It meant for some frustrating moments.  Identifying the parts of a model and describing steps is part of the outcomes as well so we always spent time writing once the building was complete.  If you enlarge the first photo you can see the student reflection prompts.  I will post those pages shortly.





For students who want to get fancier there are some beautiful examples on this blog:






animal and car criteria (printable)

skeleton images for inspiration (PDF on projector)


Our next project was made with pipe-cleaners and straws and is described in the resource as a "toy".  We looked at photos of skeletons first and compared these creations (I always make a sample first to look at, get ideas from) to other toys we know of with joints, GI Joe type figures, barbies with legs that bend.  Again, we discussed that the parts had to be big enough and long enough to manipulate.  Once complete we recorded the materials, steps and possible improvements.


I will locate and post the project criteria!  I stapled their creature right into the booklet.  Be prepared that some of the creations will be a sad little pile of pie cleaners.  It was tough for some students to abandon an idea even if it wasn't going very well.  The beauty of this unit is that we built so many different things that you could really see a progression in sophistication of what students were able to build by the end of the unit.  The photo journal of their progress was helpful as students determined which project they felt was most successful and why.





We built several houses, one out of only tape and manilla tag, one out of popsicle sticks and an igloo out of marshmallows.  Each had specific criteria.  I have since heard of grade 1 teachers marrying this unit with fairy tales and the 3 Little Pigs and then building the 3 types of houses.  How clever is that!  Next time . . .


We watched a short youtube video of a cabin being built of logs and an igloo.  The log cabin one is a bit long and slow - maybe there's something better out there.  They are both in Emglish:




The vocabulary we focused on was first the words for all of our building supplies and then for the parts of a house, walls, roof, stairs, windows, doors, hinges, and so on.  Will find and post . . . 


As you can see on this sheet this was our first attempt at comparaison, not an easy writing task for my grade 1s.  Students had a photo of their house and of someone else's in the class to compare.


The resource I has suggested using popsicle sticks or stir sticks or pretzels for building our log houses.  I would stick to popsicle sticks, the other 2 were tiny and harder to glue.  These inspiration ideas may help spur students on.  


Little popsicle stick doll house



Popsicle stick creations


Little popsicle stick craft box





pinwheels (printable)


The Edmonton Public resource I used has some very simple building ideas.  They include a pinwheel, pop-up cards, simple boats.  Here are some pinwheels that we thought were a little more fun.  This was an entry task one day for during announcements, nothin' fancy but the students looooooved them.  





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