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This lesson plan is an introduction to the Rigamajig materials and how they work. Give children plenty of time to explore the properties of all the Rigamajig pieces and connectors, plus time to put pieces together to build anything they want.

Level: Beginner
Age Group: Grades K to 2

Main Goal:Get familiar with all of the Rigamajig pieces, learn how to attach pieces, and create a first structure!

Guiding and supporting play

  • Observe, observe, observe!
  • Allow children to explore their own Rigamajig play ideas. There is no set formula for “right” or “wrong” outcomes.
  • Children may produce a variety of Rigamajig ideas to meet the basic objectives of the lesson plan. No two creations or play sessions are alike. Be comfortable with letting children’s play evolve.
  • Let them make “mistakes” and problem solve together. (Celebrate mistakes as opportunities to improve their design!)
  • Resist the urge to “fix” things for children and to show or tell children how to do things. Observe, and pay attention to children’s ideas and actions. Support play in ways that focus children on their own ideas. Ask about what students are planning to do, what they are making, and what they can change to make their Rigamajig work better.
  • Discover insights into children’s creative thinking, and foster creativity!

Materials needed

  • Rigamajig Basic Builder Kit

Getting started

Tell the children today they will have the opportunity to play with a new and fun building set, Rigamajig. “Today you can explore how Rigamajig works! (Teacher should take all of the pieces out of the cart and organize them on the floor). I have sorted the Rigamajig pieces for you to get started. What will you name each different piece? Work together to find names that you like for each kind of piece. Then find out ways to put pieces together so that you can build something. I will help you figure out how pieces work, if you need any help. (For some groups, you may need to demonstrate how to fasten pieces together using nuts and bolts, and brackets.) Then you can use your time to build anything you want! Be creative and use your imaginations!”

Optional: For some groups, consider extending this first play session if time allows so students can agree on the names of pieces and have time to tinker with the mechanics of the pieces. You may also take a break after naming the pieces and resume play later for building.

While play is underway

Observe with an interested and supportive attitude and, as needed, encourage problem solving thinking, creativity, collaboration, discussion, and questions.

Possible comments

  • Tell me about what you have in mind.
  • That’s an interesting idea! How can you do that?
  • Ask children to talk about experiences from their own lives as related to their ideas and constructions.
  • Would you like one of your friends to help you do that?
  • I see something that you made that goes up and down! (or around in a circle, or rolls) How does it work?
  • Can you think of a way to fix that problem? Can you think of a solution? Can you try a different way?


Post some of the following words on a White Board, SmartBoard, sheet of chart paper or have the students make their vocabulary lists or posters of the key words. Encourage children’s use of these words as they design and build. Encourage children to label the physical components of their creations.

  • Build
  • Goal
  • Design
  • Solve problems
  • Teamwork
  • Boards, planks, pulleys
  • Nuts, bolts, brackets

What to look for

  • Watch for children’s collaborations in their thinking and construction. Offer encouraging words about working together to build something.
  • Pay particular attention to how children go about their construction process. Do they seem to have a specific goal? Or, do they seem more focused on learning about the properties of the materials and different things they can do with them?
  • Pay attention to the language children use when communicating with you or other children about their construction process. What do their words reveal about their knowledge of objects, physical processes, design, and/or social collaboration?
  • When children indicate they accomplished something, give them a chance to demonstrate their construction and how it works, and share with other children.

What if the children “stall”?

  • Sit with the group and ask them to discuss their ideas for what to build. Can they agree on something?
  • Ask what could be the first step (or the next step) in making what they want, and what each of them can do to contribute.
  • Reinforce that any kind of construction is OK, it’s whatever they want to do!
  • Building something and then ask children to join you in the exploration. Pick up a few pieces and put them together for children to see. Don’t be afraid to model taking a risk, exploring, or changing an initial idea.

Wrapping up & reflecting

  • Take photos of the construction(s), if the children seem interested in recording what they did with a photo. (Make a stop motion video of the children’s construction process.)
  • Children can make a drawing of what they built and how it works.
  • Ask children to draw a series of pictures about how they made their construction (show the process, from beginning to end.) Ask them to write a caption for each picture, describing what was going on.
  • Clean up time: Encourage children to put the Rigamajig pieces away in a neat and orderly way.
  • If children are unable to finish a construction during a play session, offer the opportunity to leave the pieces together and finish building next time.
  • Lead discussions with children, one-on-one, small groups, whole class group, or between classrooms in schools, reflecting about their experiences. Examples:
    • Share something about what you made today with Rigamajig (tell about, show drawings, and/or read that you wrote; project drawings on the smartboard)
    • How did you think about what to make?
    • Did you work with other kids? Who? What did each of you do?
    • I noticed when you were building you changed your plan. What did you change and why did you change it? What did you discover as you were building?
    • I see that you had a problem getting your crane to go up and down. What did you do to solve that problem?
    • Would you like to work on (your construction) some more next time? What else would you like to do with it? What are your ideas for next time? What other problems could you solve using Rigamajig?
  • Arrange for each group to share what they did with the whole class or with another classroom, giving each child an opportunity to demonstrate or talk about their design and building process.

Supporting exploratory Rigamajig play in younger children

  • Use smaller play groups to support teamwork “closeness” among young or shy children.
  • Demonstrate connecting a few Rigamajig pieces using nuts, bolts, and brackets to scaffold the start of play and ensure children know how each type of fastener works. (Connecting pieces at a right angle using a bracket may help children build vertical structures).
  • Encourage children to talk with each other and ask for help as much as they want about any ideas, goals, or problems. It is okay for children to be informal, open, and curious!
  • Suggest ways young children can do more or collaborate. Examples:
    • I see Sally is building something interesting! Can you help her add more to it?
    • Is there another way you can use these pieces to build what you want?
    • Can you connect your two creations to make a larger Rigamajig together?
    • There are lots of sideways pieces here. Can you find a way to make them stand up using the brackets? (show if necessary)
  • Scaffold as you see fit if children need initial help getting started. Younger children may need to observe or join the teacher in connecting a few pieces to start their process of physical engagement with Rigamajig.

Education standards addressed

  • Practice 1: Asking questions and defining problems.
  • Practice 2: Developing and using models.
  • K-2-ETS1-1 Engineering Design: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

  • Identifies Problem/Communicates Goals
  • Design and Construction: collects materials and builds something
  • Evaluates: Observes, tests how structure works
  • Solves Problems: Verbally identifies problems or needed improvements, suggests solutions to problems
  • Uses Technical Vocabulary: uses STEM-related words

  • Creating
  • Collaborating
  • Problem solving
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Flexibility

  • Practice 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. (Gr. K, 1, 2)
  • Measurement and Data: Describe and compare measurable attributes (Gr. K)
  • Measurement and Data: Classify objects and count the number of objects in categories (Gr. K)
  • Geometry: Identify and describe shapes (Gr. K)
  • Geometry: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes (Gr. K)
  • Geometry: Reason with shapes and their attributes (Gr. 1, 2)
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking: Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction (Gr. 1, 2)

  • Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings: Sort words into categories (e.g., colors, clothing) to gain and sense of the concepts the categories represent. Identify real-life connections between words and their use.
  • Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about K-2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small or larger groups.
  • With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
  • Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.
  • Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

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With the help of Zachary S. Gold, Ph.D., James G. Elicker, Ph.D., The CarMax Foundation, and our friends at KaBOOM!, we've put together a few project plans to get you started. If you have any projects you'd like to share with the world, please email us at hi@rigamajig.com

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