Top 10 Problem-Solving Lesson Ideas with Fairy Tales & 3D Design (Worksheets)

We all love a great story and a happy ending. Fairy tales have both of these elements, and also make great starting points for engaging students in many different learning activities. They can be used to explore the narrative genre and develop writing skills, provide examples of numeracy concepts, and open opportunities to discuss values, morals, and social skills.

Fairy tales can also provide a great context for students to practice creative, critical, and design thinking, and develop STEM skills by identifying and solving problems.

Fairy tales generally present some kind of problem or conflict that the characters try to solve. The characters often make several attempts to solve the problem before they are successful, making them great examples of iterative design thinking and persistence in developing solutions.

In this article I share ten examples of putting Makers Empire together with a fairy tale to make a great problem-solving lesson that requires very little preparation.

These activities are ideal if you have an hour or one lesson a week to devote to Makers Empire. Fairy tales can be used with any age group. These ideas have been written with students in grades K- 4 in mind.

Each example can be implemented using a simple lesson plan structure that can become a consistent routine for students to follow in your STEM lessons.

  1. Step 1:  Read the fairy tale with your class (10 minutes)
  2. Step 2: Class discussion to identify and define a problem (5 minutes)
  3. Step 3: Brainstorm possible ideas for solving the problem (5 minutes)
  4. Step 4: Design a solution for the problem using Makers Empire (30 minutes)
  5. Step 5: Students share their designed solutions and give each other feedback. (10 minutes)
Use the provided Fairy Tale worksheet and the Design Thinking cycle worksheets provided below. 

Fairy Tale 1: The Three Little Pigs

Problem: The Big Bad Wolf can blow down houses.

Makers Empire Design Challenge: Design a new house for the 3 little pigs to live in. The house needs to be strong so that it can’t be easily blown down.

Fairy Tale 2: Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

Problem: Goldilocks has broken Baby Bear’s chair.

Design Challenge: Design a new chair for baby bear. Think about how you can design a chair that won’t break if Goldilocks sits on it again.

Fairy Tale 3: The 3 Billy Goats Gruff

Problem: The goats cannot cross the bridge because they are scared of the troll who lives underneath it

Design Challenge: Design a new way for the 3 goats to cross the stream to get to the grass on the other side.

Fairy Tale 4: Jack and the Beanstalk

Problem: The only way to reach the castle is by climbing the beanstalk. 

Design Challenge:  Design a new way for Jack to reach the castle in the sky. He needs to be able to get to the castle without disturbing the giant.

Fairy Tale 5: Rapunzel

Problem: Rapunzel is locked in the castle and can’t get out.

Design Challenge: Design a new castle for Rapunzel. She needs to be able to come and go as she pleases without using her hair as a rope.

Fairy Tale 6: Cinderella

Problem: Cinderella has lost her glass slipper.

Design Challenge: Design a new pair of shoes for Cinderella. Make sure to design the shoes so that they can’t easily fall off if Cinderella needs to run somewhere in a hurry.

Fairy Tale 7: The Princess & The Pea

Problem: The princess can’t sleep because there is a pea under the mattresses.

Design Challenge: Design a new bed for the princess. Her bed should be comfortable, even if someone hides a pea under the mattress.

Fairy Tale 8: Little Red Riding Hood

Problem: Little Red Riding Hood is in danger when she tries to deliver food to her sick grandmother.

Design Challenge: Design something Little Red Riding Hood can use to travel easily through the woods carrying her basket.

Fairy Tale 9: The Gingerbread Man

Problem: The gingerbread man cannot cross the river because the water will make him soggy and fall apart.

Design Challenge: Design a boat for the gingerbread man. The gingerbread man needs to stay dry and away from the fox while he is in his boat.

Fairy Tale 10: Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs

Problem: Snow White and seven dwarfs have to share one small house and it is crowded.

Design Challenge:  Design a new table for Snow White and the 7 dwarfs to eat dinner at. There needs to be enough space for each person.

Keen to use these lesson ideas with your students? Why not use our downloadable Fairy Tale Lesson Ideas worksheets and our downloadable Design Thinking Cycle worksheets together?

Picture of Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is the award-winning, highly regarded and passionate Director of Learning at Makers Empire. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education, and having created custom curriculum for Makers Empire schools in the USA, China and the UAE. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

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