Gavin McMurray is an architect working to develop an inquiry-based program for classrooms that can be implemented by teachers using his support materials.


Monique Cadieux is an early primary teacher with a strong commitment to inquiry-based methods of instruction.


Grade 1 / 2 Integrated Plan for Science and Technology, Mathematics, Art, Language


Grade 1 Science and Technology

  • Understanding Structures and Mechanisms - Materials,Objects and Everyday Structures  



  • Common objects and structures have distinctive shapes, patterns and purposes.

  • Objects have observable characteristics and are made from materials.

  • Materials have specific properties.

  • An object is held together by its structure.

  • The materials and structure of an object determine its purpose.

  • Humans make choices related to their use of objects and materials that have a direct effect on the environment.



Day One What does an architect do?

(an architect designs structures and civic spaces)


  • In Thought Book students write/draw what they think an architect does

  • Provocation: Slides:


  • Focus on observations and identification of shapes and repeating patterns, as well as connections to natural forms and shape


Shigeru Ban


Lotus Leaves


*More photos and links here: (Gavin)


  • Consolidation activity: record names of shapes observed

  • BIG IDEA:Simple graphic elements function as simple structural elements

                            IN KID WORDS: Shapes create form

    Shapes can be described


Bee hives   natural shapes  Fibonacci


Fibonacci sequence:


Why do bees use hexagons?

**Vocabulary- Which words emerged as important today?

Develop list as you learn

Activity #1  Inquiry Question : How can we change the structure of paper to make it  ..


  • Students experimenting with paper folding


  • Exhibiting and sharing our creations



Day Two :  Design-Thinking is “an ordered process of creating”                         


What are the properties of paper?

  • List student observations of the characteristics ( properties of paper)

  • Can it carry objects? Can it carry water? Can it change shape? Is it affected  by temperature?

Why is paper a good building material? Why is it not?


Inquiry Question: How can we make paper stronger? (How can we change material to make a stronger material? - precursor to learning about composite materials)


BIG IDEAS: Folding reinforces ( strengthens) the material - layers

       Paper can hold weight

       Some shapes can be stronger than other shapes


Activity #2  Why do you notice about how this structure is made?

Observations about the cells in the middle (held up to window) , the tube, the layers on top and bottom


  • Tube

  • Experiment to see how many books the structure can hold.


  • Students construct strong structures with paper - through layer and folding


**Vocabulary- Which words emerged as important today?

Develop list as you learn

Day Three: How can paper become 3-dimensional?


BIG IDEAS: Angles change direction

        Grouped 2D shapes become structural, and 3-dimensional


  • Gavin shows students the folded paper with a line on it. Proceeds to make folds (periods/modules/units)

  • What do you notice about the way that the line changes? What makes you say that?


Activity #3 How can you make your paper move through space?


  • Students practice making angles with the paper in their Thought Books or by gluing in paper that has been folded to produce angles.


  • Gavin introduces the folded paper spiral


Day Four: Composite materials and 3D forms


BIG IDEAS: Repeated (structural) patterns build strength and visual interest.

        Patterns are repeated units. (sequence, predictable)


Inquiry question: How can tubes (cylinders) be used to construct strong     



  • Gavin demonstrates the way that corrugated cardboard is structured

  • Students are invited to recognize shapes within the samples.

  • Students sketch, draw, label the cardboard samples in their Thought Books.

  • How can cardboard be used?

  • Design a structure : possibility of creating a plan for building with the Makedo kit and cardboard


Activity #4 How can we build panels that will be strong enough to hold weight?


  • Gavin works with small groups of students to create panels.

  • Other groups are busy creating tubes and crimps for use in the other panels.


**Vocabulary- Which words emerged as important today?

Develop list as you learn




  • fold

  • crimp

  • paper

  • structure

  • angle

  • unit

  • module

  • cardboard

  • tube

  • layer

  • composite

  • spiral

  • line

  • panel

  • strengthen

  • build

                 * design


Day Five: Constructing panels


BIG IDEAS: More than one material can reinforce a structure

                   Folding reinforces a material.

       Corrugation, because of the folds, reinforces a material


Inquiry questions:  What skills would a person or team need to build a panel like

     this one?

     Do you think you could do this by yourself? Why or why not?

     Why are folds significant (important) when making panels


  • This day/lesson begins with a consolidation of the skills students have developed and a reflection about the value of collaboration and the role of multiple partners in design-thinking.

  • Thought Book: Students write a reflection about their experience or use a digital tool to upload a photo of their design work and record their reflection (Little Bird tales app/ Adobe Spark) Media Tool


Activity #5

Gavin works with small groups to assemble a panel with the crimps and cylinders (tubes)


** This day’s activity does not involve all students actively and will be a good day to have centres to support the other areas of the STEAM program


Day Six: Experiment - testing the strength of the panels                                                


Inquiry questions: How can we test the strength of the two panels?

    What do you think will happen? What makes you say that?


BIG IDEAS: Ideas can be tested through experiments.

       Experiments are a procedure.


  • Students develop a hypothesis about the panels and make a prediction in their Thought Books

  • Gavin presents the completed panels to the class and students apply weight (bins, books). Teachers record the results on a chart.

  • If possible, begin to add STUDENTS, one ata time, to the top of the panel after adding the layer of cardboard.

  • Record predictions of the number of students that the panel can support.


Activity #6 How would we then use these panels to build a structure?



  • Students manipulate panels and discuss the various strategies for using them to build.

  • This provocation should inspire their own ideas for THEIR design


Day Seven: Forms in nature and in architectural design


Inquiry question: How can you design a geometric/ organic structure that uses some of the

   forms we find nature?


BIG IDEAS: Geometric forms have identifiable properties.

       Organic forms often occur  in nature.

                    Form refers to 3-dimensional objects and structures



  • Students generate a list of different kinds of lines

  • Students can do a walkabout in/outside the school to recognize where these lines are in their environment

  • READ-ALOUD : Spirals ( also show pinecone diagrams indicating spirals)

  • Students reproduce lines in their Thought Book ( can be theme-related)

  • Students draw the needles arrangements from a variety of evergreen branches ( pine, cedar, fir) to show how the needle clusters are arranged in patterns and are an example of geometric lines in nature

Geometric/ Organic shapes

  • Using polygons, students identify the properties of a polygon.

  • What is a polygon? (a closed shape with straight sides of equal length and common angles)

  • Regular polygons have names ( rectangle, etc.) irregular polygons have sides of differing lengths and different angles

  • What isn’t a polygon? (organic shapes with curved or rounded surfaces) Some have recognizable names (semi-circle), these are geometric shapes, but not polygons

  • Students use tracers/ trace pattern blocks/attribute blocks to create geometric art.

  • Students create another artwork with organic lines

2- D shapes

  • Distribute Charley Harper cards ( or library books)

  • What shapes do you notice?

  • Students should observe that some of the shapes are polygons and others are geometric.

  • Students should also observe the variety of lines used.  

  • Good time to introduce idea of parallel and perpendicular lines

  • Students should also observe the repeated patterns

  • Students activity is to use tracers/ pattern blocks, attribute blocks to design an animal that uses geometric shapes , including polygons


And Ball of Whacks

  • Ordered from Terry James Resource centre

  • Students explore building 3D structures using squares

Cardboard Construction

  • Students use the Makedo tools to cut cardboard shapes and use the plastic fasteners (screws, etc) to build structures


  • Invite students to identify parts of something ( we did Christmas Tree)

  • Demonstrate how labels work to identify parts of system

  • Students draw object and then label using arrows

  • This sets the groundwork for labeling their upcoming designs

Forms in nature

  • Use this printable to help students work with the concept of form.

  • Outdoor learning experience to identify forms

Designing a structure



assess objects in their environment that are constructed for similar purposes (e.g., chairs

at home and at school; different kinds of shoes; different kinds of floor coverings) in terms of

the type of materials they are made from, the source of these materials, and what happens

to these objects when they are worn out or no longer needed


  • Developing Investigation and

        Communication Skills



follow established safety procedures during science and technology investigations (e.g., wear

safety goggles when using saws and hammers)


investigate characteristics of various objects and structures, using their senses


investigate, through experimentation, the properties of various materials (e.g., the best

materials for absorbing or repelling water, for flexibility, for strength: the flexibility of plastic

makes plastic wrap useful for covering food in order to keep it fresh; the impermeability of

rubber enables rubber boots to keep feet dry)


use technological problem-solving skills, and knowledge acquired from previous investigations, to design, build, and test a structure for a specific purpose

Sample guiding questions:

What is the purpose of your structure?

What materials did you use to build your structure?

Why did you choose those materials instead of _____to build your structure?

What did you use to fasten your structure together?

What might happen to the materials in your structure when it is no longer being used?


use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including experiment, explore, purpose,

rigid, flexible, solid, and smooth, in oral and

written communication


use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic,multimedia) to communicate with different

audiences and for a variety of purposes


  • Understanding Basic Concepts


3.1 describe objects as things that are made of one

or more materials

3.2 describe structures as supporting frameworks

3.3 describe materials as the substances from

which something is made

3.4 describe the function/purpose of the observable

characteristics (e.g., texture, height, shape,

colour) of various objects and structures, using

information gathered through their senses

3.5 identify the materials that make up objects

and structures (e.g., wood, plastic, steel, paper,

polystyrene foam, cloth)

3.6 distinguish between objects (including structures)

and materials found in nature (e.g., tree:

sap) and those made by humans (e.g., toy:


3.7 describe the properties of materials that enable

the objects and structures made from them to

perform their intended function

3.8 list different kinds of fasteners (e.g., tape, glue,

button, zipper), and describe the uses of each

3.9 identify the sources in nature of some common

materials that are used in making structures

(e.g., paper and rubber come from trees;

plastic comes from petroleum; steel comes from

metals and minerals in the ground)



Grade 1 Mathematics



Geometric Properties


– identify and describe common two dimensional shapes (e.g., circles, triangles, rectangles, squares) and sort and classify them by their attributes (e.g., colour; size; texture; number of sides), using concrete materials and pictorial representations (e.g.,“I put all the triangles in one group. Some are long and skinny, and some are short and fat, but they all have three sides.”);


– trace and identify the two-dimensional faces of three-dimensional figures, using concrete models (e.g.,“I can see squares on the cube.”);


– describe similarities and differences between an everyday object and a three dimensional figure

– locate shapes in the environment that have symmetry, and describe the symmetry

Geometric Relationships


– compose patterns, pictures, and designs, using common two-dimensional shapes

– identify and describe shapes within other shapes (e.g., shapes within a geometric design);

– build three-dimensional structures using concrete materials, and describe the two dimensional shapes the structures contain;

– cover outline puzzles with two-dimensional shapes (e.g., pattern blocks, tangrams)


Location and Movement


– describe the relative locations of objects or people using positional language (e.g., over, under, above, below, in front of, behind, inside, outside, beside, between, along);

– describe the relative locations of objects on concrete maps created in the classroom – create symmetrical designs and pictures, using concrete materials (e.g., pattern blocks, connecting cubes, paper for folding), and describe the relative locations of the parts


* For the purposes of student learning in Grade 1, “attributes” refers to the various characteristics of two dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures, including geometric properties. Students learn to distinguish attributes that are geometric properties from attributes that are not geometric properties in Grade 2.


Patterning and Algebra


Patterns and Relationships


 – identify, describe, and extend, through investigation, geometric repeating patterns involving           

    one attribute (e.g., colour, size, shape, thickness, orientation);

– create a repeating pattern involving one attribute

– represent a given repeating pattern in a variety of ways


Grade 2 Mathematics



Geometric Properties


– distinguish between the attributes of an object that are geometric properties (e.g., number of sides, number of faces) and the attributes that are not geometric properties (e.g., colour, size, texture), using a variety of tools (e.g., attribute blocks, geometric solids, connecting cubes);

– identify and describe various polygons (i.e., triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, octagons) and sort and classify them by their geometric properties (i.e., number of sides or number of vertices), using concrete materials and pictorial representations (e.g.,“I put all the figures with five or more vertices in one group, and all the figures with fewer than five vertices in another group.”);


Geometric Relationships


– compose and describe pictures, designs, and patterns by combining two-dimensional shapes ;

– compose and decompose two-dimensional shapes

– cover an outline puzzle with two dimensional shapes in more than one way;

– build a structure using three-dimensional figures, and describe the two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures in the structure

– create models and skeletons of prisms and pyramids, using concrete materials (e.g., cardboard; straws and modelling clay), and describe their geometric properties (i.e., number and shape of faces, number of edges);

– locate the line of symmetry in a two dimensional shape


Patterning and Algebra


Patterns and Relationships


– identify repeating, growing, and shrinking patterns found in real-life contexts

– demonstrate, through investigation, an understanding that a pattern results from repeating an  



Grade 1 Visual Arts


CONCEPTS: * Students in Grade 1 will develop understanding of the following concepts through participation in a variety of hands-on, open-ended visual arts experiences.


ELEMENTS OF DESIGN Students will develop understanding of all elements of design.


• line: jagged, curved, broken, dashed, spiral, straight, wavy, zigzag lines; lines in art and everyday objects (natural and human-made)

• shape and form: geometric and organic shapes and forms of familiar objects (e.g., geometric: circles, blocks; organic: clouds, flowers)

• space: depiction of objects in the distance as smaller and closer to the top of the art paper; shapes and lines closer together or farther apart; horizon line; spaces through, inside, and around shapes or objects


Creating and Presenting


D1.1 create two- and three-dimensional works of art that express feelings and ideas inspired by personal experiences

D1.4 use a variety of materials, tools, and techniques to respond to design challenges


Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts


D3.1 identify and describe visual art forms that they see in their home, at school, in their community, and in visual arts experiences

D3.2 demonstrate an awareness of a variety of works of art from diverse communities, times, and places


Grade 2 Visual Arts


ELEMENTS OF DESIGN Students will develop understanding of all elements of design.


• line: horizontal, vertical, diagonal lines; lines that show motion (e.g., pointy, curvy); lines inside shapes

• shape and form: symmetrical shapes and forms (e.g., shapes and forms in buildings)

• space: overlapping of objects to show depth


PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN Students will develop understanding of all principles of design (that is, contrast, repetition and rhythm, variety, emphasis, proportion, balance, unity and harmony, and movement), but the focus in Grade 2 will be on repetition and rhythm


• repetition and rhythm: repetition of colour and shape in patterns; random, alternating, and regular patterns in everyday objects and in art


Creating and Presenting


D1.1 create two- and three-dimensional works of art that express feelings and ideas inspired by activities in their community or observations of nature


D1.4 use a variety of materials, tools, and techniques to respond to design challenges


Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts


D3.1 identify and describe a variety of visual art forms they see in their home, at school, in their community, and in visual arts experiences