4. House of sticks: Making it stick!

Punta Chica, First Grade HOUSE OF STICKS project update:

We have been making progress with our House of Sticks, changing plans as we go… adapting what we thought would work best to what actually works best… solving problems as they come our way.


We framed our project in the context of Problem Based Learning, since it was born from the students´ real concern and we felt it posed an authentic problem to solve.

We followed these Problem Based Learning guidelines


Role of the instructor

  • Facilitator-mentor, guide, coach and not a source of solutions;
  • Resource guide;
  • Subject matter expert;
  • Create strong problems;
  • Learn with students- be open to learning;
  • Encourage student participation;
  • Give students immediate and appropriate feedback

Role of the students

  • Take responsibility for their own learning by identifying their learning issues and needs;
  • Work in teams;
  • Resolve the problem;
  • Schedule their own activities, decide how to allocate the time;
  • Intuitively take up different roles (e.g. project leader, facilitators, note taker, team member).

The main characteristics of the best problems are:

  • Unorganized;
  • Unsynthesized;
  • Open-ended;
  • Interdisciplinary;
  • Task oriented,
  • Focus on current events, student lives, actual occurrences;
  • The content builds on the previous knowledge of the students;



Here is a recap of our learning journey so far, step by step:

  1. Why can’t we build a bigger, real house?”

The idea for our project presented itself suddenly, after we adults thought we had completed an activity we had planned for after reading the story of the Three Little Pigs in our Traditional Tales Unit. Children brought small boxes from home and they all built a house out of waste material.

That was when one of the children wondered why not build a big, real house. And there was our overriding question. Our answer: “Why not?!”

1B: August 12

Class discussion brainstorming

¨How do we make a House of Sticks?¨

First ideas that we heard:

*Collect sticks

*Make a square, then the sticks have to go up

*Make a model, make a small house and then make a big one.

*The only thing we need are sticks

Leon: ¨In the I-pads make a Plano, a page with the drawing of the house, print it and then copy it. My father is an architect.¨

Luchi: ¨Leon´s father can help us. When we finish we can play because there we don’t have one.¨

Juno: ¨We can do it like in kinder with branches.¨

Luchi: ¨Are we going to make it from planks or playing sticks?¨

Juno: ¨We can cut the branches with scissors.¨

Mili: ¨With scissors? like this one?¨ (showing them regular scissors we usually use)

Children: ¨No!!!¨

*Una pinza

* Big scissors

*A serrucho!

Cata: ¨Can we go to kinder to see the house and we can copy it. We need to take a paper.¨

Marco: ¨We can take an Ipad, drawing in the Ipad is easier than in real life.¨

*Are we going to hurt the tree?

Juno: ¨with glue¨

*No con un pegamento especial

*Con la gotita

Cata: ¨Cement to stick the sticks¨

Juno: ¨Omar can help us.¨

Felix: ¨Con cinta.¨

Luchi: ¨Does a martillo with the clavos work?¨


1A: August 12

¨How can we prepare to make a House of Sticks?¨

¨Agarrar muchos palos comenzar con la parte más fácil¨- Mila

¨Use glue for the sticks to stay like this (hand gesture)¨ – Carmela

¨Use some glue when there is a lot of sun so it dries fast and you can start using your house of sticks¨- Simon

¨You need to wait one day for the house to dry, for the glue to dry¨ – Marianne

¨We have to use La Gotita to stick, its a special glue that you can stick very well¨- Helena

¨We have to buy three kilos of glue¨ – Isabel

¨We need a lot of sticks¨ – Juan

¨We need a million sticks!¨ – Ines

¨We can make a house of bricks for protection first and then inside a house of sticks so if there’s wind it won’t fall down. Y muchas velas para luz.¨ Simon

¨First we have to put the glue on the sticks so it will stick and THEN we put them together so it stays.¨ Marianne

So we decided we needed to start with getting our hands on a pile of sticks…

2. Thinking and expressing my opinion


3.WhatsApp message to Miss Moira


4.The goods arrive


Discovering sticks in Moira’s car

¨Entre todos¨

5.Trial and error!

We tried building first with small sticks and then with long sticks to figure out how we might hold them together. By the end of the activity, we made lists that read:

No: Glue, Voligoma, scotch tape, masking tape

Yes: string, nails

Maybe: La Gotita, special white glue, stacking the sticks one on top of the other



6. Invitation to expert parents.

August 17

We held further discussions in the class about how to make a real house… since our trial and error process was not being very efficient.

“I can talk to my mother and talk to her and ask her if she can say to me what to do. I can bring a plano, a paper que dice que esto va acá y esto va ahí.” Felipe

So we sent a message to the parents in our classes : 4 architects, 2 engineers who according to the children work building houses and 2 dads who had prior experience building tree houses with their first graders at home. They accepted…. And they all came; which ended in Building Friday #1.


7. “Intramural Experts”: Felipe and Tadeo from Y12 came to help

When the “big boys” came to share their experience building houses for TECHO, we had Building Friday #2. We made a great deal of progress, specially after the boys suggested we use the 1B house as the roof for the 1A house!

fyt-1 fyt2 fyt3 fyt4


8. BE KIND goes out into the world.

In August we started working on a Social Skills Unit where we invited families to discuss the reach of being kind. We talked about kind acts in class, parents sent in a definition of KINDNESS and the children drew what kindness looked like. Witihin that context we had our House Of Sticks project cross paths with our BE KIND unit and presented tyhis challenge to the class:

If we are trying to *BE KIND* this time with people outside of school…  

and we have a HOUSE OF STICKS we can:

  • Give it like a present
  • A algún colegio que no tenga tantas cosas.
  • A los pobres para que se diviertan mas
  • In a park with a sign that says: “Take care of it” in Spanish para que lo puedan leer todos
  • To an airport
  • To a doctor’s office or hospital
  • To a family so they put in their garden
  • Raffle it
  • Leave it outside of school so people passing by can play with it.
  • Ask Miss Paula who we could help that need a house of sticks.


9.Needs analysis: Our needs vs. other children’s needs.

We talked about the different playgrounds there are in other schools, saw photos of various playgrounds mainly near our school, and we realized that we did not need the house for ourselves, because we already have many things to play with here. In addition, we talked about the huge field  we have, where we can also play football and many other kinds of games. So, we decided that out of the options we had, the best would be to give the House to another school that needs it more than we do

10. “No estoy tan segura de regalar la casita…”

After talking about the idea of giving our House of Sticks as a gift, thinking about the kind of place that would benefit from it and asking Paula for help with locating a REDSA partner organization, 2 students approached us, rather hesitantly and at different moments with this comment. We brought the concern to the class… and the reasons why we should NOT give it away started flooding in! We listed the reasons that were making the children hesitate. Why are we not so sure about giving it away? We discussed in each class how everyone felt. And once that had been argued we decided to come up with a second list, the list headed by our PSE classroom unit on KINDNESS. And the children came up with these ideas:


11. Email to Paula asking for help.


12. This is where we stand today, Tuesday October 12th

Our House had suffered a bit under its own weight while we had it stored in the hall, so the children thought of asking Omar and Max, from Servicios Internos, for some help. They reused some plastic pipes from the Punta Chica shed and made a support structure for the house. That allowed us to stack the roof onto the ground structure,  following Felipe and Tadeo´s idea:


Our next problems to solve:

  • How to make the walls for the house using wire to hold the sticks together.
  • How to work with sticks that are made by nature and are all uneven.

We will keep posting updates, with a bit of an interruption due to Concert week!

Categories: Primary School, Professional Development Contest 2016, Punta Chica

Tags: , , ,

1 reply

  1. The children look really engaged, trying to solve a real problem, coming up with interesting and thoughtful questions!

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