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After children have had experience putting the Rigamajig pieces together, this lesson plan involves additional exploration of Rigamajig object properties. Children will collaborate to make something that produces noise in a functional way. They will need to use their imagination to explore and discover various ways pieces and objects can make an interesting noise or sound.

Level: Intermediate
Age Group: Grades K to 2

Main Goal: Build something that makes sound or noise.

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
  • Loose parts “noise objects” (e.g., choose two or three; tin can, rubber band, bicycle bell/horn)

Getting started

“Now that you know some of the ways to connect Rigamajig to build things, you are going to make something that makes sound! (Set some “noise objects” next to the Rigamajig cart). Imagine that you need to build something that makes a fun noise or sound using some of the noise-makers! First, make a plan together about which Rigamajig pieces to use to make sound. Then build something you can use to make the sound you planned. Remember to be creative and have fun!”

While play is underway

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


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.

  • Sound
  • Vibrate
  • Information
  • Communicate
  • Direction
  • Distance
  • Pitch

Possible comments

  • What ideas do you have to make a sound?
  • Can you make a contraption that will make noise?
  • Good thinking! Tell me more about your plan!
  • Can you think of something that you use to make sound at home or in school?
  • Hmm, why don’t you test that idea and see what happens?
  • I see something you made may help you. Do you see it?
  • Think hard and talk-out your ideas with each other.

What to look for

  • Watch for children’s collaborations in their thinking and construction. Offer encouraging words about working together to build something.
  • Allow children to create variety in their noise-making contraptions and to use larger spaces if desired.
  • Noise-making is a part of the exploration process! Allow children to discover sounds and use noise objects in different ways during building. If children are focused only on noises and less on building, you may want to provide a gentle reminder about the play goal.
  • Pay particular attention to how children go about their construction process. Do they seem to have a specific goal?
  • 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. If they are not yet writing words, ask them to say a few words about each picture.
  • 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. Prompting 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 with what you built.. 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 2: Developing and using models.
  • Practice 3: Planning and carrying out investigations.
  • Practice 8: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
  • K-2-ETS1-2 Engineering Design: Structure and Function: The shape and stability of structures of natural and designed objects are related to their function(s).
  • 1-PS4-4 Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer: Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

  • 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 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively (Gr. K, 1, 2)
  • Practice 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others (Gr. K, 1, 2)
  • Practice 5: Use appropriate tools strategically (Gr. K, 1, 2)
  • Practice 6: Attend to precision (Gr. K, 1, 2)
  • Measurement and Data: Describe and compare measureable attributes (Gr. K)
  • Measurement and Data: Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units (Gr. 1)
  • Measurement and Data: Represent and interpret data (Gr. 1, 2)
  • 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)

  • 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.
  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
  • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking:
  • Use frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, by, during, toward)
  • Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

Download project plan

Sirens, Bells, and Great Big Yells! PDF

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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