Make it Monumental!

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SWBAT use the engineering design process by designing and building a monument to something special to them.

Big Idea

Kids meld science and social studies into a lesson that recycles, reduces and reuses.


10 minutes

I begin this lesson by having the kids come sit on the floor. I call one table at a time to sit like scientists, which means they are sitting quietly ready to listen and learn. 

I show the kids a slide show of U.S. monuments and describe a little about each one. If you don't have a projection board, you can print off the images and hold them up for the kids to see. 

After showing the kids the monuments and explaining a little bit about them, I ask the kids to think silently for a moment about WHY we would want to build monuments. I give them 20 seconds to think to themselves and then I have them turn to their floor partner and share their thoughts. I give each partner 15 seconds to share their thoughts. This allows the kids to learn from each other, express themselves and be heard all while respecting class time. 

After the kids have shared their thoughts, I ask them to again think silently in their minds about who they would want to build a monument for.


10 minutes

The kids remain on the floor and I call on volunteers to share who they would want to build a monument for and why. I list the ideas on chart paper as the kids share.

I tell the kids that they now have to pick one person that they would like to build a monument for.

They are to think about it and tell their floor partner who and why. 

I recorded this student sharing her answer because it is so original and it makes sense! She wants to honor her mom through herself because she knows how much her mom loves her! How precious!!


15 minutes

As the kids remain on the floor, bring out a box recyclable items and show the kids what materials are available to them. 

We go over the engineering design cycle one step at a time:

  • state the problem or question
  • imagination
  • make a plan
  • create/build it
  • improve

Then I have the kids go to their table to draw out their design ideas. We bring our drawings to the floor to share with our floor partners. I roam around looking for some strong examples and invite three or four kids to come up front to share with the whole class.

The kids are then given an opportunity to make any changes they would like to their drawings. We come back to the floor and share with our floor partners one more time. This allows the kids to get a first hand experience at the engineering design process at a basic level. They see the available materials and use it in a drawing of what they'd like to create, revise after they see other's ideas and share again.


10 minutes

I explain to the kids how engineers in real life use the design process and then I read a book to the kids about the basics of engineering:

Rosie Revere, Engineer

This story is colorful, fun and informative. Any kid can relate to Rosie and it gets the kids really excited to start building things from their own imagination.

Before reading, we take a picture walk to though the book to see what types of things Rosie tries to create. Then we go back and read the text on each page. We stop to discuss steps in the engineering process as certain parts grab the kids' attention. That is unique for each group of students, so stop at all the spots in the story where your students get excited. Don't be surprised if your kids want you to read it again and again. It has become a reward for following directions in my classroom.


10 minutes

I extend the lesson into a home-school connection through a mini-reader. We gather on the floor and learn the book together. I incorporate many repeated high frequency words to mimic our core reading program and to support ELA learning. 


  1. The kids track with their finger as the I read the text. They only use their eyes to connect to the text; they do not read yet.
  2. The kids read with me as I read the text and they track the words with their finger.
  3. The kids read out loud as they track the words with their finger.
  4. The kids turn to their floor partner and take turns reading the pages of the mini-book.

By the time the kids have heard and read the mini-book four times, they are prepared to take them home and read them with their families.