I love pairing a classic fairy tale like Jack and the Beanstalk with a great STEM activity. While stacking is a fairly easy task, this activity provides a fairly unique challenge. It isn’t as easy as stacking blocks!
Jack and the Beanstalk STEM Activity
Who doesn’t love the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk? To be honest, I always felt a little bad for the giant. Poor guy just sitting up in his house when a little human comes and steals his hen and harp.
Anyway, I wanted to do a Jack and the Beanstalk STEM activity and I knew it had to be about the beanstalk. What is more impressive than a beanstalk that can take you to a giants house?
This stacking activity is impressive in height and easily ties back to the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Challenge your kids to see how high they can get their beanstalks.
How to Set Up the Jack and the Beanstalk Challenge
Start by gathering your materials.
- Cardboard tubes (Toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, any cardboard tubes. You can buy some here if you’re worried about the contamination of TP tubes)
- Green paper and white paper
** You can also paint the cardboard tubes green instead of using paper. Totally your preference. I decided to go with paper to save time.
Start by cutting your paper to the right size. I just put my cardboard tube on the paper and cut around it.
Then glue is down. I used hot glue (again, the save time). But elmers glue should work just fine, too. Or you can even tape it down.
Once you have all your cardboard tubes covered, you’re going to cut your paper.
Take two pieces of green paper and cut in quarters.
Lastly, take your white paper and cut out some clouds. I did two big clouds. You could even draw a castle or giant to put up on top. And tape them up on a wall. The higher you place the clouds, the harder the challenge.
How to do the Jack and the Beanstalk Challenge
My favorite way to present challenges like this is to give no instructions. Just tell them they need to create a beanstalk to reach the clouds and let them figure it out.
It’s fun watching their gears turn as they try to work out how to stack the tubes.
Mine had no luck just stacking the tubes on top of each other. The edges were a little banged up so they weren’t smooth. If you bought your tubes, that might be easier for them (or maybe not!).
The beanstalk also gets pretty wobbly when they’re just stacking tubes.
Eventually they’ll add the paper in since you provided the paper with the tubes. That’s usually a good hint!
If they don’t figure it out and they’re getting frustrated – give them some hints.
The key is to place the paper between the tubes and make sure to center the tubes. I also found the paper towel tubes to be less sturdy than the TP tubes. So we used those further up on our beanstalk.
Tell them to keep trying until the beanstalk reaches the clouds!
It took us quite a few tries and a bit of patience. But eventually they worked out better ways of stacking. And they learned that taking their time was essential or the beanstalk would topple.