First Grade Engineering through Literature

Posted by AMANDA McCLUNG on 11/29/2017

At the beginning of the school year, first grade implemented Project Lead the Way's introduction to engineering unit using familiar texts such as "The Three Little Pigs" and "Jack and the Beanstalk." Since our initial proposal included a co-teaching model, my schedule allowed me to co-teach with first grade teachers to implement this unit. Co-teaching allowed first grade teachers and students to be exposed to PLTW for the first time and allowed me to train the teachers in an authentic experience.

This PLTW unit was an introductory unit on the engineering design process. As the students built beanstalks and a home for the three little pigs, they learned how engineers influence the world around us. They learned how to ask questions like engineers, brainstorm, plan, create and improve models based on difference scenarios. As a part of the introduction to the design process, the students were challenged to build the tallest beanstalk possible using pipe cleaners. Students compared the height of their models and then added weight to test the strength and integrity of those models. Based on collaboration with others, students were able to fail, ask questions, and try again until they accomplished this challenge.

As a part of this unit, I integrated Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset ideas in order to help the students realize how they can learn from their mistakes and failures instead of giving up when they are trying to accomplish a goal. This is a life lesson we hope to integrate throughout Crestline. We hope our students learn to persevere and grow this idea of having a Growth Mindset throughout their education and life.


black's class

Ms. Black's first-grade class begins to design a model of a beanstalk based on the structure and function of a beanstalk.


anderson's class

Ms. Anderson's students working hard to create a house for the three little pigs based on the criteria and constraints of their materials.


growth mindset

We used video lessons from Dojo about the "Big Ideas" of having a Growth Mindset.