*Disclaimer: I probably wouldn’t do this activity with an AP Art History class because it would take up too much time, but if you have a day to kill and want to get your hands dirty (literally), then go for it! If you want other options to teaching Stonehenge check out a dedicated blog post HERE!
*Second Disclaimer: I did not create this activity, my awesome Humanities co-teacher/mentor did, I just tweaked a couple of things.
I am not one of those teachers that does activities “just for fun;” certainly fun is a big part of my Humanities class but my students want (and deserve) a solid reason for why we are doing things the way we do them in class. So my rational for playing with Rice Krispie Treats is more than just fun; it’s actually a fantastic way to review the structure of Stonehenge!
First off, this is a great activity for those kinesthetic learners in your classroom (yes, they exist after elementary school!); these kids learn better when they can do something with their hands. When learning about architecture or monumental sculpture nothing beats recreating it to really understand how all the parts fit together to make a whole. Every time I go around and ask students if this activity actually helped them or was it just fun, and the response always comes back with variations of this: “Yeah! I feel like I actually get how Stonehenge was put together and I finally understand the whole solstice-alignment thing.” (Note, that is an actual quote from one of my students this year lol)
Secondly, it allows students to show me what they know before the assessment. Personally, I don’t want to grade more than I have to and so I am not interested in giving a quiz or some other pre-assessment before the test (especially not in an elective course!). With this activity, the “directions” on the board are pretty sparse (see below). I tell them things that need to be made out of certain materials, and the quantity and that’s about it! I have a strict NO CELLPHONE policy on this day and they can only use each other and their labeled sketches of Stonehenge from a previous lecture. Therefore, if they do not know what a “post” or “lintel” or “henge” is it’s quite obvious and usually the group will teach the straggler these vocab words they should have learned earlier. As the groups finish, I walk around and ask questions of members such as: explain what was found in the Aubry holes, describe the alignment at Stonehenge, where do the Sarsen stones come from, what is unique about the Blue Stones, etc.
Unless you want to spend a ton of money and stress out, this is NOT a lesson you can whip up in a day or two: it requires easy, but longer term planning! I ask the students to pay $4-5 dollars to participate about 2 weeks out from the lesson date so that I can buy materials. If they cannot pay or don’t want to it’s totally fine and I have a Stonehenge review packet to work on (I only have 2-3 per year take this option).
Follow these steps below for a successful Rice Krispie Stonehenge Day:
- Count your students then divide by 5 (~4/5 kids per group is typically best)
- Buy your bulk Rice Krispie sheets HERE a week and a half out from the lesson plan date (I order ½ a 32 oz sheet per group but always buy a few extra in case some groups need overflow)
- Buy cheap latex gloves (2 per student, plus extra because some will break)
- Buy table wipes & hand sanitizer (for sticky tables & sticky hands)
- Buy about 5 cans of play-doh per group (I have a crate full of play-doh in my classroom, but if you don’t want to buy any you can always have them make the henge out of marker)
- Get big sheets of butcher paper (I get this from my media center for free)
- Buy family size Graham Cracker boxes (plus extra: each group will use a packet and a half or so, if they don’t break too many of them!)
- Buy sandwich baggies (this way kids can take home treats when lesson is finish)
- Corral as many giant trash cans from the hallways (I rotate them in and out of my room every class period)
Once you purchase all the materials set up a station for easy grabbing and classroom change over. My students did this activity in a 50-minute class period, but those groups who did not coordinate well or didn’t know their vocab had trouble finishing. However, 50-minutes is enough time for them to get to work, finish & eat while turning over the group for the next class.
P.S. I always have my students do the clean up and change over. I don’t need MORE work on my plate, sheesh!
Read more: #8. Stonehenge
I tell students as they walk in to make groups of 5 and I remind them that today is a NO PHONES day and they can only use their sketch from our lecture on Stonehenge. Once the bell rings, I tell them that everything they need to know about today’s final product is on the board and they are to only use the materials at they desks then they GO GO GO! It’s a ton of fun to step back and what them organize themselves.
The students literally do all the work today and without even realizing it they are reviewing content for our test, learning how to cooperate in groups, and using their hands and skills to build something 3-D. As the teacher, my role today is just help students along with their creations. I only step in if I see a group making their stuff too big, because then they’ll run out of materials, or I’ll ask them clarifying questions about the structure of Stonehenge to lead them in the right direction.
Allow the students to make their mistakes, learn from them, correct each other and grow! That is the beauty of this lesson. 🙂