Rapunzel’s Parachute

Standard Met: NGSS K-PS2-2

Objective: Collaborate to design and build something based on a story

What You Need: Copy of Rapunzel, materials for parachute (tissue paper, newsprint, fabric, coffee filters, kite string, yarn), hole punch, tape, scissors, small toys or figurines, Rapunzel’s Parachute recording sheet

What to Do: Read Rapunzel aloud to students, and ask them to think about other ways Rapunzel could have escaped the tower. “Did she have the means to escape on her own? What materials could she have used?”

Explain they will be developing a new way for Rapunzel to leave the tower—a parachute! Ask whether they think a parachute could be a safe way to come down from a tower. Children should conclude that a parachute helps a person float slowly downward rather than fall quickly.

Give students a chance to brainstorm an idea for a parachute with a partner. Have them look at the available materials and show them images of parachutes. Ask them to think about which materials might work best. Then, have partners fill in the top portion of their recording sheet (with help, if needed) to create a plan for their parachutes. Provide limited support as they work.

Once students complete their parachutes, they can begin testing them. Model how to test one by attaching a doll or figurine to the parachute using string or yarn, then dropping it from a standing position. You may choose to let students stand on a stool, with supervision, to gain some height. If the figurine falls gently and slowly, the parachute is successful.

Have students reflect on their results by filling out the bottom section of the recording sheet. They should consider how they might improve on their design and the ways in which their current design was successful.


The Just-Right Chair

Standard Met: NGSS K-2-ETS1-2

Objective: Collaborate to design and build something based on a story

What You Need: Copy of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, dolls/stuffed animals, rulers, items to measure (yarn, craft sticks, etc.), items for chair (boxes, bottle caps, bubble wrap, felt, etc.), tape, Just-Right Chair recording sheet

What to Do: Begin by reading the story of Goldilocks aloud. Discuss what makes a chair “just right.” Record students’ thoughts on chart paper, while guiding them to be specific—chairs should be soft enough but sturdy, not too big or small, etc. Then, explain that they will be using these guidelines to create a chair for Goldilocks.

Display the materials students will use to create their chairs; have them turn and talk with a partner about how they might use the materials to build a chair. You may choose to record some of these thoughts on chart paper.

The children will work in pairs to create their chairs. Distribute the recording sheets and help them complete the top section, which asks them to draw their plan and list the materials they will use. Explain that they are the engineers of their projects, and that you will not be telling them how they should make their chairs.

After they’ve finished the top portion of their recording sheets, students will choose items with which to build the chairs, along with a doll or stuffed animal that will be their Goldilocks. Then, observe as they build the chairs.

Once students have completed construction, have them test their chairs by setting the dolls or stuffed animals in them. They will use the second half of the recording sheet to write down results, or you may choose to have a class discussion. Ask students to consider whether their chairs worked and how they could be improved.


Apple Juice Press

Standard Met: NGSS 2-PS1-3

Objective: Conduct an experiment to understand how something is made

What You Need: Copy of Johnny Appleseed, quart-size plastic bags, peeled apples cut into chunks, rolling pins (or cylinders), clear plastic cups and spoons, cup strainer, measuring cups, apple juice (optional), Apple Juice Press recording sheet 

What to Do: Read Johnny Appleseed to students, and ask them what they learned about apples. Specifically, ask them to consider what can be made out of apples. Chart responses and explain that today’s lesson will involve making apple juice!

Ask students how they think it is made, and chart the steps they envision. Have them turn and talk with a partner to share how they would make juice from apples. Then, ask students how much juice they think they could make out of one apple. You might show them a measuring cup to help them make a guess.

Divide students into small groups; if possible, have a few adults assist. Hand out copies of the recording sheet, and explain that they will be recording what happens during the juice making, with help, as needed. Then, start the activity by having groups put chunks of apple in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. Students should then use a rolling pin or a wooden cylinder to flatten the chunks as much as possible. Next, have students empty their bags into the strainer over an empty cup. They can use plastic spoons to mash the apples more to get the juice out. Help them record their observations. Finally, have students pour the juice into measuring cups. (For safety reasons, do not allow kids to eat or drink the apples or the juice.)

As a class, reflect on the results. Ask kids whether the results matched their hypotheses, and why. If desired, end by sharing store-bought apple juice with the class.


The Covered Bridge

Standard Met: NGSS K-PS2-2

Objective: Collaborate to design and build something based on a story

What You Need: Copy of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, materials for bridge base (building blocks, stacks of books, sturdy cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes, plastic food trays, large plastic cups, tall chip canisters, etc.), materials for bridge covering (construction paper, sheets of foil, etc.), crayons, scissors, tape, cubes of various sizes or colors (try math manipulatives), Covered Bridge recording sheet

What to Do: Read The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Explain that the troll was able to block the goats because he jumped from below onto the bridge. Ask students how the bridge could have been built to better protect the goats. Guide them to consider a covered bridge that would prevent the troll from jumping up from below.

Show students the materials and have them brainstorm with a partner. They should fill out the top of their recording sheets with their plans and the materials they’ll use, with help, as needed. Then, they will collect supplies and build their bridges. For example, they may choose to use a small stack of books to form the beams of the bridge, a food tray for the base of the bridge, and a folded piece of construction paper taped to the base as the cover.

Once a bridge is completed, give the pair cubes of various sizes or colors to represent the goats. You may also have them draw stick-figure goats of different sizes (small, medium, and large) and tape these onto cubes.

Students will test their bridges by “walking” each goat across. They can move the cubes separately or attach them together on a long strip of paper and slide them through the bridge. If a bridge does not hold the weight of the goats, ask students to consider how they could improve their bridge. Fill in the bottom half of their recording sheets to discuss or show what worked.


Photo: Adam Chinitz

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