photo 1Little Makers: Building

(September 2014)

Topics: Engineering, Architecture

Place: Fayetteville Free Library

Dates:  Saturday, 9/6 from 10:30-11:30am; Tuesday, 9/9 from 5:30-6:30pm

Educational Content: We learned:

  • That an architect is someone who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings
  • To identify three dimensional shapes: sphere, cube, cylinder, triangular prism, cuboid
  • Which shapes make for the strongest building platform

Books & Resources:

  • Story: Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson and Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
  • Common Core: Skyscraper by Lynn Curlee
  • Supplies: Classic wooden blocks, empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls, straws, a hole puncher, tape, construction paper


  • classic wooden blocks
  • empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls,
  • straws
  • hole puncher
  • tape
  • construction paper


  1. I started off by asking the kids if they knew the word “architect” and what it meant. Once we had defined it, I told them we were all going to be architects for the day. Then we ready Iggy Peck, Architect and talked about the inventive boy in the story. We also read Block City, which I used to ask the kids about shapes.
  2. Then, as I passed out the wooden building blocks, we discussed the names for three dimensional shapes. I let the kids free build for a while before asking them which shape they thought would be the strongest: a cylinder, triangular prism, or cuboid. We made 3D shapes out of paper, like in this post, and tested them out! We also found the triangle (triangular prism) to be the strongest shape.
  3. In my first group, this idea really took off and the kids began building structures out of blocks to test. In the second group, they wanted to move right on to the toilet paper rolls and straws.
  4. The original idea was to build structures like the ones here, but most of the kids wound up making other things, including a rocket ship, a sailboat, a castle, and an apple cider distillery.