Children will think like engineers to design and build something that can help the Three Billy Goats Gruff get across the bridge and escape the mean troll. They will test out their design to see how it works and think about how to make it even better.
- Paper & writing utensils
- Small plastic bin with water
- Plastic figurines or cut-outs of the goats and troll
- Three Billy Goats Gruff book
- Optional, choose 8-12 of the items listed below:
- Empty egg cartons
- Cardboard pieces
- Index cards/cardstock
- Cotton balls
- Fabric squares/samples
- Coffee stirrers
- Pipe cleaners
- Popsicle sticks
- Binder clips
- Plastic cups
- Paper towel rolls
- Sort and arrange the materials you’ve chosen in various bins, baskets, containers, and/or bookshelves, so that children can access them. Fill a plastic bin with water to use as a testing station. If you have plastic figurines or cut-outs of the goats and/or troll from the story, set them near the water.
- Read or tell children the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Ask the children what problem the Billy Goats had. Tell them that they are going to design and make something to help the goats get to the other side of the river safely, and escape the mean troll.
- Explain the importance of planning before making. Show children where the blank paper and pencils are, so they can sketch their ideas. Invite them to think of a creative idea that no one else has thought about. Show the children the materials available to make their idea and the testing station with water, goats, and troll.
- Release children to plan and make their solution to the goat’s problem. Prompt them with questions and ideas if needed, but encourage them to think of their own solution to help the goats, no matter how out of the box. Some creative ideas children have come up with for this problem include: a catapult for the goats, flippers to help them swim, boats of all kinds, slippers to make the goats' footsteps quiet so the troll won’t hear them, and earmuffs for the troll.
- Once children have completed planning and making their idea, let them test it out. Use the water bin to see if their invention will get the goats from one side of the river to the other. Encourage children to try adjusting their solution to see if they can make it work even better.
Try these add-on activities:
- Many fairy tale characters face a problem in their story that could be solved through engineering. Pick one of your favorite examples and go through a similar process! Try designing a more comfortable mattress so the princess can sleep after reading the Princess and the Pea, or a door lock to keep Goldilocks out of the house in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
- Encourage children to add more detail, tweak, or revise their creation so that it works even better, or to help a friend.
- Invite children to draw and write about their solution- perhaps creating a new ending to the classic fairy tale!