This is a brilliant little activity for learning about stability of structures and properties of materials. It’s great for Early Years age, but can also be extended for older children too.
We made six different types of Three Little Pig houses loosely based on the story.
Straws – plastic and paper
Squeezy bottle or small fan to use as wind
In the classroom I set up 5 different areas with different materials for the house building and let the children explore each area.
We talked about the properties of the stick which made it suitable for house building. The best sticks were quite smooth, without too many bumps and all a similar size.
I bundled the straws up, to make them easier to build with and let the children work out the best way to put them together.
Sugar Cube House
This one was the most popular and kept the children occupied for a long time. You could extend this task by spraying the house with water once finished or sticking the cubes together with different materials, for example, icing sugar, marshmallow fluff or even just dampening the cubes to see if they stick that way.
I built a frame using LEGO and then cut paper and cardboard walls to test as well as a wall that could be built from straws. The children then used a squeezy bottle to blow “wind” onto the walls and observed what happened.
I built this LEGO house and left one side of the roof empty so the children could test sticks, ripped cardboard and the LEGO tiles to see which protected against the squeezy bottle wind the most. I placed some tissue paper squares inside the house so the effect of the wind was visible to the children.
Marshmallow and Straws
The children loved this one, but it did get a bit sticky and the houses are not very stable. Smaller, harder sweets and cocktail sticks might work better.
Try spraying each with water and observing what happens. Can you make predictions first?
Can you test how stable the houses are by giving them a shake?
What other materials could you build a house from?
Suitable for Early Learning Goal 16
Exploring and using media and materials
They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
Key Stage 1
Uses of Everyday Materials