The Three Little Pigs is fairy tale about three pigs who built three houses of different materials. A big bad wolf blows down the first two pigs‘ houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house, which was made of bricks.

Fellows 2nd grade teachers Holly Shirbroun and Shena Crawford, and their classes, recently explored this story and added a STEM component to the unit. Students were asked to collaborate with each other and implement engineering strategies to create a house to surround a paper pig using only gumdrops and toothpicks. In teams of two, students collaborated with each other, and practiced engineering strategies that asked them to design a plan, implement that plan, and afterwards make decisions on how they could improve their structure. The project was also used as a way to introduce new math terms that students will be utilizing as the school year progresses.

The engagement of the students was high as they communicated with each other on how to build their structures. Students were given opportunities to share their “best practices” that they discovered with the rest of the class (hint: cut the gumdrops in half!). The highlight of the activity came when students were asked to test their building structure. Mrs. Shirbroun kept this component a secret from the students until it was time to unveil a hair dryer dressed as a big, bad wolf. Students were delighted by the wolf and held their toothpick structures up against the blowing wind. They were especially satisfied when their structure stood tall.

Although not all structures stood as a whole, the enthusiasm surrounding the project encouraged students to revisit their structure, design new, and build again so they can have a chance to test again the wolf.