Art & Maker Wednesdays:
Design Challenge

Materials & Instructions

  • toothpicks
  • marshmallows, gumdrops, or Play-Doh (we used marshmallows!)
  • a hairdryer
  • Optional: a plate or tray

Oh no! The Big Bad Wolf is coming to blow down the Three Little Pigs’ house. Can you build a house that can stand strong against his mighty breath? Use this activity to walk through the Engineering Design Process.

Step 1: Think about the problem and ASK questions to understand it better. What is the Big Bad Wolf trying to do? What might happen if he blew and blew and blew at their house? 

Step 2IMAGINE your solution to the Big Bad Wolf. How can you create a building strong enough to withstand his breath? How tall will it need to be to hold all three of the little pigs? What shapes will you use when you build? 

Step 3PLAN your building and decide how many supplies you need. Take a few minutes to draw a sketch of your house. How many toothpicks will you need? How many marshmallows? 

Step 4BUILD your house. Use your materials and your plan to create an amazing house for the Three Little Pigs.  

Step 5TEST your house. Use a hairdryer to create a strong wind. Did your building stand tall or did it fall to the ground? 

Step 6IMPROVE your house! How can you rebuild it so that it is stronger? Are there any different shapes you can use? What about different materials? When we built our house, we used squares; what would happen if we used triangles instead? 

Repeat these steps as many times as you want. Want to test your building even more and see if it can withstand an earthquake instead of the Big Bad Wolf? Try putting it on a plate or a tray and sliding the tray back and forth.

Vocabulary List

Engineer: An engineer is someone who designs and builds things. Engineers build computers, cars, houses, bridges, and more! Engineers build things that help others, just like you built a strong house to help the three little pigs.  

Architect: An architect is a type of engineer who designs and builds buildings. The building you live in was designed by an architect.  

Engineering Design Process: The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps that engineers follow when they design and build their projects. The first step is to ask questions about the problem to understand it more. The second step is to imagine a solution to the problem. The third step is to plan your design. The fourth step is to build your design and the fifth step is to test it out. But we’re not done yet! Engineers also have a sixth step: improving their designs. If their first design doesn’t work, they try again…and again…and again. They ask other engineers for help and work together until they find a solution. 

Book: The Three Little Pigs


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