Why don't trees blow down in the wind?
Scroll for prep
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

Why do you think trees don’t get blown down by the wind, but umbrellas do?

To help us figure it out, let’s pretend to be trees blowing in the wind. Maybe that will give us some ideas! Go to the next slide to begin.

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

What ideas do trees give you, for making an umbrella that won’t blow down in the wind?

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity and exploration you just completed.

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Read-Aloud

  • This video read-aloud of The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is the story of a girl struggling to create a truly “magnificent thing.”

  • Students will enjoy the surprise at the end of the book and will learn about the process of engineering design along the way.

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Reading & Activities

  • This set of wind activities make a great literature connection to Curious George Flies a Kite by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey.
  • A read-aloud of the book is available in two parts from YouTube: Part 1, Part 2.
Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen

Activities

  • Paper Bag Kite: In this activity, students create simple paper bag kites, then experiment to find out how different features affect how the kites fly.

  • Fly a Leaf: In this activity, students experiment to find out which leaf shapes catch the most wind. Great for a windy day!

Full Screen
Controls Icon Exit Full Screen
Lesson narration:
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this lesson, students examine structures like roots, branches, and leaves that keep trees from blowing down. In the activity, Wind-Proof Umbrella, they use their observations to create their own tree-inspired umbrellas that stay up in the wind.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Teacher demo recommended

Students at home
Set up a few model umbrellas and show them over video conference so students can make observations. Then have each student imagine and draw their own umbrella design (instead of building one). If you have time, you can choose a few of the students' design and build them while students observe on video conference.
Students at school
Set up a few model umbrellas and have your students observe them. Then have each student imagine and draw their own umbrella design (instead of building one). If you have time, you can build a few of the students’ designs and test them out in the classroom.
Number of students:
Umbrella Top printout 2 per student
Umbrella Top Inspiration worksheet 1 per group
Scissors
1 pair per student
Dixie Cups (3 oz)
1 cup per student
Dot Stickers
We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom. Tape also works.
Details
6 stickers per student
Pipe Cleaners
2 pipe cleaners per student
Plastic Straws (Bendable)
2 straws per student
Playdough
2 ounces per student
Poster Board (28" x 22")
1 sheet per class
Prep Instructions

Each student will create their own wind-proof umbrella, but will need a partner to help with a few steps.

Decide if You Will Buy Playdough or Make Your Own

To make your own playdough, slowly add 2½ cups water to a mixture of 5 cups of flour and 1¼ cups of salt. Stir, then knead the dough. If it’s too sticky, add more flour.

Prepare Wind Test Station

  • Make a giant fan by folding a 22” x 28” sheet of poster board accordion style. If you have a two smaller sheets of poster board, tape them together, then fold.
  • Make one reusable umbrella stand for each student by pressing clay or playdough into the bottom of a Dixie cup. The cup should be a little more than halfway full.
  • Clear a big, flat area, such as a tabletop, to serve as a test station. It should be at least 36 inches across—big enough to hold four umbrellas without touching.

We've provided Umbrella Top Inspiration sheets to help students who get frustrated when they try to improve their umbrellas. We suggest you let students try on their own, providing Inspiration Sheets only to those who need help.

Extensions
Download this Lesson to your device so you can play it offline: