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Build me a house

Home » Backyard design » Little tikes playhouse »

Overview This large and small group activity encourages students to use the processes of measurement to build houses for their favorite storybook characters. The students will be given the opportunity to plan, measure, and construct a house or houses to fit the size specifications of each character. Students will be able to display and talk about their newly constructed houses.

outdoor playhouse kit


  • From the Virtual Pre-K: Ready For Math toolkit
  • Related Home Activities
  • Family Feet
  • Fill It Up!
  • 7.AECa: Demonstrate a beginning understanding of measurement using non-standard units and measurement words.

    house for kids


    7.B.EC: Show understanding of and use comparative words.

    7.C.EC Incorporate estimating and measuring activities into play.

  • MATH: Measurement and Comparison
  • LOGIC & REASONING: Reasoning & Problem Solving
  • SCIENCE: Scientific Skills & Method
  • SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL: Social Relationships
  • Lesson Objectives
  • Estimate and compare what size house they will need for each character prop

    Use comparative vocabulary for length, height, and weight while constructing their houses

    Estimate and measure length, height, and weight of boxes and character props using non-standard and standard units of measure

    country cottage playhouse


  • Literature Suggestions
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • by Jan Brett
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • by P.C. Asbjornsen and Marcia Brown
  • The Three Little Kittens
  • by Paul Galdone
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • by James Marshall
  • Materials The book, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”
  • Recycled materials for building, such as boxes, cardboard, poster board, paper towel and tube paints

    little tikes home and garden


    Glue, tape, or other adhesive

    Paper scraps, fabric, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, and other recyclable materials for decorating

    Standard (e.g., inch rulers) and non-standard (e.g., blocks) measurement tools

    Lesson Description

    Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears at least once on a day prior to doing this activity to get the children familiar with the story. After reading the book in a large group, talk with the children about the characters and events in the story.

    Introduce character props in three different heights and sizes (tall, medium, and short) during large group time. Explain to the students that each of the three characters will need a house that fits its size.

    At small group tables, provide up to 4 students with the materials to build a house for one of the characters. Encourage students to work together to choose the materials and build their house. NOTE: You may want to spread this activity over several days.

    Move among the tables, asking students open-ended questions and engaging them in conversations that emphasize comparative words (e.g., longer, longest, shorter, shortest, taller, tallest, wider, widest).

    After the houses are completed, invite students to describe how they built their houses using non-standard and standard units of measure to determine the height of the characters props and the houses. Depending on their comfort level with measuring, you may need to help facilitate this. Record their answers on a poster or white board.

    Completed houses can be displayed in your classroom math center for future activities and used as props to encourage story dictation and dramatization.

    Teacher Tip

    Choose three different character props that are easy for students to compare. You may use a variety of props, such as toys, dolls, and stuffed animals.

    It’s important to allow students to use their own ideas while building their houses. The houses don’t have to be perfect in construction.

    Keep your small groups to no more than four students at a time.

    Extension Ideas

    Document the process with photos and children’s dictations, or record with a video camera or voice recorder to share with parents.

    To simplify the activity, provide each table with small animal figurines of different sizes and play dough or blocks to build houses that will fit the size of the animals they choose.

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