Gr. 1s Engineer New Solutions to Our Favorite Fairytales

This winter, Grade 1 students were engaged in an integrated Literacy and STEAM unit on fairytales. Students were challenged to use their design and engineering skills to solve problems for characters in their favourite fairytales such as the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Goldilocks.

We watched a clip from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and asked the students why in traditional fairytales, princesses are always saved by a prince. Then we had a discussion about what makes a princess today and the girls came up with their own criteria including strong, smart, creative, and kind. Then we asked: What would a princess do today if she were locked in a tower? Wait around for a prince to save her or use her engineering and design skills to save herself?

As our final challenge, students were asked to find another way for Rapunzel to get out of the tower without waiting around for a prince to rescue her!   

Students brainstormed different ways that Rapunzel could get out of the tower and came up with a long list, including parachutes, airplanes, chairlifts, elevators, water slides, and more! Then students worked with their group to determine one design to create together! Using their new iterative design skills, students tested and modified their designs as they went. They thought about how to keep Rapunzel safe and how to incorporate some of the engineering knowledge we had learned from the previous challenges including simple machines and cardboard engineering!

Jennifer Sharpe
STEAM Coordinator, Junior School