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Activity Info
Title: Pyramid Design Challenge
Learning Target: I am learning to measure length of an object using appropriate tools. I am learning to compare length of objects using standard and non-standard units. I am learning to use text features to understand unknown words. I am learning to determine the meaning of words in a text.
Grade: 2
Math KCAS: 2.MD.1
Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.

Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.

Title: How Tall, How Short, How Faraway
Author: David A. Adler
ISBN10: 0823416321
ISBN13: 978-082341632
Lexile Reading Level: 850
Activity Descriptors
Formative Assessment Strategy:

Completed measurement log (attached)


Example materials to use for building pyramid:  books, play doh, clay, sugar cubes, shoe boxes, crates, popsicle sticks, bite size candies, marshmallows, matchboxes, tubs, cups, bowls, unifix cubes, leggos, math manipulatives, pattern blocks

Copy of a blue print (you can google a blue print house plan)

Template for Formative Assessment


Measuring tape

Yard stick


Challenge:  “You are being charged with a design challenge.  Your job as architects is to design the biggest pyramid you can make using only materials that are provided.”

The driving question for the week is:  “How can we as architects design a well-constructed pyramid?”

Lead a class discussion called “Need to Know.”  Ask students “what do we need to know to construct a pyramid” and list their discussion on chart paper.  This time may lead to children needing to research about pyramids and how construction happened in ancient times.  There are multiple videos on YouTube and BrainPop Jr. that can be helpful (teacher discretion based on your population)


  1.  Give students 5-15 minutes to brainstorm with groups to come up with a sketch of how they could possibly build their pyramid.
  2. The “materials collector” will go get needed materials from the table and begin constructing their pyramids.
  3. After students have finished construction (construction may take a full class day) allow them to complete a gallery walk throughout the classroom to view pyramids and letting teams present their ideas, sketch, and constructions.  During the gallery walk students cast a vote on who has the “biggest” pyramid. 
  4. Teacher led discussion to compare votes of the “biggest” pyramid and why?
  5. We are going to think like the Egyptians to determine who has the “biggest” pyramid.  Point the vocabulary and text features of the first 8 pages.  Have students determine how “big” their structure is based on cubits, spans, and palms.  Use the pyramid collection log to collect data (formative assessment).
  6. Compare findings of the teams to see if a winner can be determined and is it fair?  Choose one team member to measure the structure and demonstrate their findings in front of the class.
  7. This is the time to discuss discrepancies among measurements and leads into a discussion of standard tools and why they are more accurate uses of measurement.
  8. Students select standard measurement tools from the materials table.  Using standard tools, now let’s find out which pyramid is the “biggest.”
  9. Compare findings of standard measurement using the pyramid data log sheet.  Continue classroom discussion exactly like you did for non-standard measurement.
  10. Discussion needs to lead to what kind of “big” are we discussing?
Variations, Connections, or Follow-up Suggestions

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