Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | December 11, 2011

Construction Day

Some of the Materials for Construction

“It’s construction day!” buzzed the students to each other as they came into my classroom. This day had been eagerly anticipated as the pile of construction materials in our classroom had grown.

This year I have several new curriculum guides. I have divided the outcomes in my health, science and social studies curricula into topics that will (I hope) allow me to pursue project-based learning in inter-disciplinary units.  Two of the outcomes in my new science curriculum  stood by themselves and didn’t really fit with any others. They were:
  • Investigate observable characteristics and uses of natural and constructed objects and materials and
  • Examine methods of altering and combining materials to create objects

Because Christmas was approaching and I wanted to be sure to finish whatever I started before then, I decided to tackle just those two outcomes in a PBL way.

To start the unit, I showed my students three videos that showed people using things in surprising ways to create something different. I showed them a video of sheep being used to make pictures on a hillside, an artist creating Darth Vader with salt and dominos used to create the Mona Lisa. They “oo”-ed and “ah”-ed and were intrigued by the idea of making unexpected things. They all wondered aloud about creating something and wrote it on a card which was placed on our wonder wall.

"For Breathing Underwater"

The next day, I told them it was their turn to try it. They could use anything they found in our classroom to create something.  It was interesting to watch some of the students dive in and begin creating, while others struggled to find an idea. Several tried to make a Mona Lisa. One child used the snap cubes in our classroom to make a transformer that actually transformed from a robot into a flying airbus.

As a class, we made some picture frames out of tongue depressors and puzzle pieces.

And then we began collecting stuff. As the pile grew, so did the anticipation. Finally the day arrived. We talked briefly about the rubric I would be using to evaluate and then they madly dove into constructing.

Some of my Student's Creations

The pile of materials dwindled as the students explored their own ideas.   It was passion-based learning as I always wanted it to be in my classroom.  The students were all engaged. They were all creating something that interested them.

And I had the evidence that two science outcomes were clearly understood by all of the students.



  1. What a delightful and creative way to approach these outcomes. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a fun way to teach those standards! I am sure that your kids loved it.

  3. Hi, I’m Jessica La Force in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama, and this is my second post to you. I said in my first post that I’d be summarizing my posts on 12/2/12. I commented on the post before this which had to do with PBL, and I really enjoyed it. Likewise, I enjoyed this post. What a creative and fun way to teach. It would have been fun for me to see what each kid came up with, and how their imaginations worked. I have a hard time coming up with fun activities, so I will always look at blogs like yours to help inspire me.

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