The Three Little Pigs-Materials and their uses
The topic of the Three Little Pigs who each choose a different material (straw, sticks and bricks) with which to build their house makes a great starting point for work on materials. Also including the story of The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivisas would give even more examples of different materials and how they are made. The three little wolves use bricks, concrete, reinforced steel and, finally in desperation, flowers, to make their home.
These activities would support children to think about identifying different materials and considering what properties they have and how this suits them for different purposes.
Links and Resources
This short powerpoint has some interesting pictures of some materials being put to unusual uses. This could spark some interesting conversation with your class about why different materials are used for particular purposes.
Again this would link to the materials that the pigs used to build their houses. In what way are they good choices? In what way are they bad choices? Children many like to research traditional building materials in the past or in other countries (mud, wattle and daub, straw (thatched) roof, wood, packed snow etc.) and consider why they are suitable.
This powerpoint could also be the starting point for a whole school challenge. Which family could suggest the most unsuitable material for a particular purpose?
A class visit to a builders merchants would fit very well with the story of the Three Little Pigs. As well as being unexpectedly interesting for all children in might be particularly engaging for some children who are more challenging to enthuse.
This 15 minute clip shows a class teacher planning a visit to a water mill with a science advisor and considering how maximum science learning could be achieved. Looking at this before planning a visit to a builders merchant (or any other venue) might help to focus on what the potential science learning could be.
Alongside practical activities and first hand experiences it is valuable to give children activities which reinforce the vocabulary. This set of cards produced by the Royal society of Chemistry would be ideal for that. There are two sets of cards, one that is more challenging than the other. There are also accompanying teachers' notes which give ideas for the ways that the cards can be used.
The activity (on page 45 of this resource) is about experimenting to find the best ratio for sand and water to make a sandcastle that is dry enough to tip out of the bucket yet wet enough to hold together.
This might be a good preliminary activity to making the concrete (first activity in this list). Or it could work as a stand alone activity. It would support children to work scientifically as they would have to make careful measurements and record their results if they were to find a repeatable 'recipe' that they could use again.
It could also be linked to work on the maths curriculum measuring capacity and also thinking about ways to record their results.
These leaflets are about some of the materials that are used in house building. They are not aimed at young children but do have pictures. The first (which is an introduction) could well be of interest to children. Especially if you are linking your work on materials to a topic in DT about building.
Here are some instructions to make a structure out of bamboo canes which could be used to make a den big enough for several children to climb inside or small enough for a teddy.
Children could work scientifically and experiment with different materials to find which would be the most effective to cover the den. What properties would the material need to have? You could experiment by making some small dens and testing the different materials to see which was strong, flexible, light and waterproof. They could then acquire enough of the best material to cover a larger den. (Warning, you will need a large amount of the chosen material to cover a den made from canes that are a meter long).
Materials to test could include polythene, fur fabric, canvas, black cloth, plastic sheet or sheet metal (or something else that is perfect in any way except for not being flexible).
Most of the activities in this link would need a lot of adult support for this age group. However, they are introduced with a short video clip which explains why certain materials are chosen to build houses in flood prone areas. This would link very well to both the story of the Three Little Pigs and the topic of Materials and their properties.
It could be linked to the bamboo cane den activity which is described above.
This resource provides activity ideas, key vocabulary, background knowledge and science poems about materials and their properties. It also aims to develop key skills including: observing and describing materials using the senses, grouping according to given criteria, carrying out simple tests and recording in different ways.
Activity ideas look at:
*Using the senses to describe materials
*Recognising, naming and sorting materials
*Exploring the variety of uses of materials
*Testing the properties of materials
This resource provides activity ideas, key vocabulary and background knowledge for teachers at primary level. Investigations include comparative tests on materials looking at strength, flexibility, hardness, absorbency and magnetism. It also aims to develop key skills including: recognising and carrying out a fair test, repeating a procedure, measuring length with a degree of accuracy, constructing a bar graph, observing and recording and representing data.
Science poems and a concept cartoon are provided to promote discussion and develop understanding.
The supplementary material looks at packaging and how much of it is necessary to keeping a product at its best.
It contains activity and investigation ideas including:
* Why we have packaging
* Finding the 'best odour barrier' for chocolate
* Keeping crisps crispy