What makes the best kind of structure? Use your design thinking and science inquiry skills to answer this question.


3 Books:

  • Home by Carson Ellis
  • Look at That Building! A First Book of Structures by Scot Ritchie
  • When I Build With Blocks by Niki Alling

Activity ideas: Tower Time; Build It Up, Knock It Down

Materials: STEM Learning resources: Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set, vocabulary cards

Read Together

Asking your child questions as you read helps them think about the story and encourages them to ask their own questions. Here are some sample questions to ask your child as you read Home by Carson Ellis.

  • There are lots of different types of homes. Describe your home using your senses. Did any of the homes in the book remind you of your own home? What are the similarities? What home in the book is most different from yours, and why?
  • The homes in the book are made from very different materials. Choose a few homes and look closely at the illustrations. Can you identify some of the materials used to construct each home? Think about where the home may be and how things like weather might affect it. Do you think the materials that the homes are made of will help keep the people living in them safe and comfortable?

Play Together

Playing with your child can be fun for them and for you, and asking questions will help your child learn.

  • Create a tower from recycled materials. How tall can you make it before the structure falls?
  • Create an indestructible tower and challenge a friend to knock it down with a small ball.
  • Use old boxes and create a play area, hideout, or other ideas from the book When I Build With Blocks.
  • Build a fort out of blankets. What is needed to support the sides? Is a square-shaped or rectangle-shaped fort better? What makes a good roof? How about good sides?
  • Learn basic coding skills with the Code and Go kit. Use it to create a maze and then give the mouse instructions to follow. Can you get the mouse through the maze? What changes can be made to the maze? How do the steps for the maze compare to the steps in construction of a hideout?

Online Activities

Watch the video The Ruff Ruffman Show: Building is a Breeze, or build a roller coaster in the Marbelous Marvel Coaster interactive game from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That.

Grab a grown-up and some friends! Each team will build a structure and then try to knock down the other team’s structure.


Ruff uses his new service to help kids looking for a way to keep their mini-golf tower from tipping over in the wind.


Help the Cat in the Hat build a Marbleous Marvel Coaster.


Grab a grown-up and some friends for this building game. Can you stack a tall, stable tower?

CPB Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Education Iowa PBS
PBS Kids
The contents of this document were developed under a cooperative agreement #PRU295A150003, from the U.S. Department of Education. However, these contents do to necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.