Animals Up!

By Mary Romoser, August 9, 2008

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Science

Lesson Time

one 30-minute class period


This lesson may be used as a stand alone or after the first lesson (Pencils Up!).  Students will experience building a pedestal or platform for a plastic toy animal that they will be given.  This is larger and heavier than the pencil that was used in the first lesson.

National Standards

Working with Others
Standard 4.  Displays effective interpersonal communication skills
5.  Uses language to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs.

Language Arts
Standard 8.  Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
2.  Uses new vocabulary to describe feelings, thoughts, experiences, and observations

Standard 10.  Understands force and motion
2.  Knows that things near the Earth fall to the ground unless something holds them up





Students will be able to:

  • construct a pedestal or platform strong enough to support the weight of a plastic toy animal, and be high enough to allow the student to slide her/his finger between the platform and the table.
  • use newly introduced and review vocabulary in their discussions about their design project.




  • Google images of horses on pedestals (or other animals)




  • enough plastic animal toys for each student to have one to use
  • index cards (students may use any number of cards to complete this challenge) 




  • motion: movement; a natural event that involves a change in the position or location of something
  • design: plan; make or work out a plan for; devise
  • build: construct; make by combining materials and parts
  • make: cause to be or to become; produce; create or manufacture
  • support: hold; be the physical support of; carry the weight of
  • hold up: see support, above; hold; be the physical support of; carry the weight of
  • between: in the interval; in the space separating
  • under: below; beneath
  • on top: above; resting on a surface
  • gravity: the natural force of attraction exerted by a celestial body, such as Earth, upon objects at or near its surface, tending to draw them toward the center of the body




1.  Prior to the students arriving at the gathering place, have the vocabulary words printed on paper or the board.  Refer to them throughout the lesson.  At some point, the students may read and spell them with you.
2.  Gather students together in meeting area.  Review the "Pencils Up!" activity.  Ask:  "How did you make your pedestal?  What problems did you have?  How did you fix them?  What did you learn by doing that activity?  What words do you remember?  What do they mean?"  
3.  Tell students there will be a new design challenge for them today.  Show students pictures of horses on pedestals.  Discuss some of the challenges the women and men might have had while making such a structure.  (They had to think about the size of the animal, how much it weighed, how high it needed to be, etc.)  Ask:  "What was the force called that pulls things down to earth?"  (Gravity)
4.  Pull out one of the toy animals to show the students.  Also show them the index cards.  Tell them their challenge will be to design (make, build) a platform that will be sturdy or strong enough to fully support (hold up) the animal they are given.  Remind them that their finger must be able to slide between the support and the table.  Their finger must fit under the pedestal, and the animal must be on top.  No glue, tape, or staplers will be supplied, but they may fold, crumple, rip, tear, bend, or otherwise attach their cards to make the pedestal.
5.  Remind students they may talk to each other as they're working, and will need to discuss their design with an adult when they're done.  They should use the vocabulary words that have been highlighted.  
6.  They will draw an animal out of the bag as they leave the meeting area.  Index cards will be on the table for them to use.  Allow ten to fifteen minutes for them to work.


  • Check to see if the student's platform or pedestal fully supports the toy animal, and if their finger will slide between the support and the table.
  • Have a list of vocabulary words on each student's evaluation sheet.  Check off words used, whether they were used correctly.  Might also want to have an area there to note if the student knew the meaning of the words, but did not initiate use; responded to adult questions and interactions instead.
  • An area for note taking/observations should be on the form as well.  



Enrichment Extension Activities

  • Students finishing early could be challenged with a different animal, or be asked to work with a partner to support two, three, four animals.  They could also be asked to change their platform so that two, three, four fingers, a hand or fist would slide underneath.
  • Send home index cards with students with the challenge that they need to design and build a support for something they have at home; this could be a spoon or a book or a toy of some sort.  
  • Have students journal about their process using pictures and words.

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