Lesson Plan

Jack and The Beanstalk Tower Challenge

STEM Tower Challenge w/ Seesaw App
Patricia B.
Technology coordinator
Old Bonhomme Elementary School
St. Louis, United States
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My Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Students will be able to... 

Students will understand empathy.

Students will build the highest free standing tower then can with a partner for Jack.

Essential Questions:

-How can we empathize with a user to identify a problem?

-How can we use design thinking to solve everyday challenges?

-How can we utilize user feedback to improve our designs?

-How do we know what to improve on a design?


Grades K – 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook/Attention Getter

Activity: Creating

Give students a sheet of paper with 30 circles, and give them one minute to create recognizable objects with the circles.

Student Instructions

Warm UP: Let’s think creatively:

30 circles activity (5 minutes)- Share the one you are most proud of

You will have one minute to turn as many of the blank circles as you can into recognizable objects


2 Direct Instruction

What is empathy? How can we show empathy for others?

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Gives students a few minutes to brainstorm their ideas for empathy.  Show students images of what empathy might look like. 

Lead the discussion: 
Empathy is the act of identifying with the emotions of someone or something else. It's sort of like a sense that you can truly and deeply understand what another person is going through. For example, you might feel empathy for a friend who's going through a difficult time in her life. Your friend's situation would make you feel bad, because your empathy would enable you to see things from her perspective. 

After watching/reading the story Jack and Beanstalk, complete the empathy map for Jack


Explain the Tower Challenge - Create the highest free standing tower you can with a partner, with the materials you are given.

ASK:  How might we build the tallest tower for Jack?

IDEATE- Brainstorm Ideas- Talk with your team about ideas for your project (10 min)

EXPLORE: Draw a sketch on paper (then take picture), or use the  app  to sketch                         

(20 minutes): MODEL: Build your designs (take a picture)

Pass out bundles of 15 pipe-cleaners to each group.

Instruct students that each engineering team is tasked to build the "tallest freestanding structure" with the materials provided. Teams will have about 10 minutes. Free-standing means the structure can not be held, taped, wedged between desks, etc. Ask for any clarification.

After working for 2-4 minutes: tell students to freeze. "Your team had an unexpected budget cut, and one of your resources has been depleted. Each team member must now put one arm behind his/her back!"

2-4 more minutes: freeze again. "Your engineering company realized that the loss in resources were detrimental to the product. The manager has decided to expand your operations globally to bring in more business. Your team now operates in (insert favorite country here) allowing you to use both arms again. But now you are unable to speak the same language. Continue the task without any speaking!"

1-2 minute: "Business is booming, and your company has hired translators. Complete the task with all your resources! One minute left!"

Countdown from ten and stop the activity.

Walk around the room and note the different shapes and designs of the towers. Determine the tallest tower and allow the team to explain their successful design.

Ask students to evaluate their project: Did your model work based on the criteria?

EXPLAIN: Record a video explaining how you created this tower using Book Creator App, or Seesaw App

write a HOW- TO journal entry  (using SEESAW  APP) to explain each step in the process.

    4) Students share their work with the class


Student Instructions

Students will discuss empathy. 

Students will watch/ read the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.


Complete an empathy map for Jack, using My Maps in Brainpop.  Creating a map showing how Jack feels, sees, does, says, and hears. 


Using Pipecleaner, work with a team to build the tallest tower for Jack.

Document the process using Book Creator App, or Seesaw App


3 Wrap Up

Activity: Assessing

Students will present their final projects to the class.

Teacher will measure each tower to determine the tallest, and can give out prizes.

Student Instructions

Choose a spokesperson for your group to share your final product with the rest of the class.