Building with the Three Little Pigs

How do you bring together the engineering design process and the story elements in the many versions of a popular fairy tale? With a Broadway musical, of course! During this interdisciplinary expedition, first graders become civil engineers as they work in crews to help the three little pigs solve design problems to build new and better homes. Students apply their knowledge of the properties of materials as they go through the stages of the engineering design process to build structures with Legos, wood, straw, and concrete. At the same time, the classroom becomes a stage for students to retell, recite, and act out stories as they learn about story structure and compare and contrast story elements in the many versions of The Three Little Pigs. Students synthesize their learning in a musical theater production, Building With the Three Little Pigs: the Musical, integrating their knowledge of Broadway musicals, building materials, and the engineering design process to give this timeless fairy tale a new twist with an important message about community and cooperation. A playbill written and illustrated by students showcases the inter-related components of the expedition, as well as students’ learning process.

Grade Level: 1
Subjects: Physical Science, Engineering, ELA, Dramatic Arts, Music

How do we choose what material to build with?
How can we use the engineering design process to build a strong structure?
What are the elements of a quality theater performance?


Parent Doug Bellows shows students how to mix and pour concrete


Students on a neighborhood walk to identify the different materials used in buildings


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