Treehouses: Engineers at Work!

Tree House

A tree house, a free house,

A secret you and me house,

A high up in the leafy branches

Cozy as can be house.

A street house, a neat house,

Be sure and wipe your feet house

Is not my kind of house at all–

Let’s go live in a tree house.

-Shel Silverstein

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This week we are going to delve deeper into looking at tree houses around the world so our students can start to generate ideas additional ideas for their tree houses. We will be reading the book What Happens To An Idea and students will start putting their ideas onto paper in the form of a blueprint.

Following the engineering design process, students have been Imagining what they will use for their tree houses and how they will build them. Next we have been (and will continue to) Exploring tree houses by practicing building houses that the big bad pig, wolf and boar can’t blow down. We read The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Boar  and the Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. 

Guided reading groups and reading response sheets

Guided reading groups and reading response sheets with the book Piggy, Piggy

Sequencing the story of the Three Little Pigs

Sequencing the story of the Three Little Pigs

Practicing addition by rolling the dice and adding the two numbers together

Practicing addition by rolling the dice and adding the two numbers together


Practicing counting and number identification with pigs and images from the story of the Three Little Pigs


Reading vocabulary words from the Three Little Pigs, following simple directions to draw a pig, and making our own picture story books


Illustrating the setting from the Three Ninja Pigs and sounding out words to write the title with Principal Osie-Bobie


After reading this story, we located Japan on our classroom map and globe. We looked at a picture from Japan, learned other Japanese words like dojo, sensei, gi, sayonara and then built a community and a dojo from the book where the Three Ninja Pigs lived (pictured here).


This is the courtyard of the Dojo from the Ninja Pigs where they practice their martial arts skills. This is modeled after the illustrations in the book, which you can see on the floor. This has been their favorite story!

Now students are ready to start designing their treehouses. They will get graphing paper and pens to draw out their treehouse designs. We are going to continue to brainstorm ideas for our class model of an outdoor classroom of tree houses at the Savin Hill Cove. Dan Cheek from the North Bennett School will be coming to talk to our class about designing and building tree houses and other projects using wood. He has some pictures of children engaged in woodworking from a hundred years ago. We are going to be looking at pictures built in countries around the world, including ones in Kenya, Germany and Spain. We will select one to build in the block area.

As they design their treehouses, they will be making a plan for how they are going to build their treehouses. They are going to be thinking about what materials they are going to use and what steps they need to take to build.

We are going to continue integrating the Three Little Pigs across the curriculum. Enjoy!

Fairy Tales 

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales. -Albert Einstein

This week we started talking about fairy tales. We talked about what the students know and want to learn and when we are done with this unit, we will talk about what they have learned. We read The 3 Little Pigs, Billy Goats Gruff,  and the Little Red Hen and with each story, we talked about the title, characters, setting, plot and solution.

Now we are going to focus on the three little pigs story. Next week we will read different versions of the story. The kids are really excited about the different versions we will be reading, particularly The Three Ninja Pigs, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot, The Three Little fish and the Big, Bad Shark, The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig, The Three Little Gators and Big Bad Boar, The Three Little Javelinas, and The Three Little Cajun Pigs. They are just thrilled we will get to read all these different versions. 

We are going to connect geography to the stories by looking at where the stories originate. We will be using a map to show the students where those places are. 

Going along with the mapping, we want to put our construction unit in a global context for kids by having them build structures from around the world.  There are many paths for teaching the Focus on K2 curriculum, and we are developing our own independent path, the Focus on Kindersteam (Steam stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.)

With this in mind, each day we will put up a picture of a different structure in the block area so students can build their version of it.

Students requested that we read The Three Ninja Pigs first.  That story takes place in Japan, so we will be finding Japan on a map, talking about how to find Japan on a map, learning some Japanese words, and then building one of the Japanese buildings that are in the illustrations of this book. We are going to blow up one of the illustrations and have them use the illustrations to guide their building in the block area. As we read all these versions of the Three Little Pigs, we will continue talking about elements of story, focusing on beginning, middle, and end. 

Additionally, students are going to design a set from the book so they can act out the story in the dramatic play area, which we are converting in our “Black Box Theater.” 

Reading and writing will also be integrated into the curriculum. We will be continuing with the guided reading books and writing responses to what we are reading as well as writing about the beginning, middle and end of the story. In math, we are starting a measurement unit. We will be measuring different objects around the classroom (how many cubes long is my shoe?). We will also be continuing with addition and subtraction. 

For engineering, we will be building structures from around the world, working on designing and building tree houses and thinking about how the materials we use impact the strength of the structure.