Driving Question: 

What materials are best to use when building animal products? How do engineers use the design process to create products? How and why do businesses decide what to sell?

Science, Social Studies
Grade 2

With a focus on empathy, students used the design process to create products and toys to meet the needs of shelter animals and pets. They reflected on their process and learning throughout the project in a portfolio. Students visited local pet stores and had pets visit their classroom to learn more about them and their needs. They read books related to engineering and pets in class and learned from pet owners. Students designed and tested toys to make sure they were safe, fun and durable for pets. Students also investigated concepts related to goods and services. Finally, students shared the final designs and donated them and the proceeds from sales to local animal shelters.

Student Reflection

“I thought about what puppies like to do. They like to sleep so I made a place for him to sleep. If my puppy gets tired he can sleep in the house.” - Brooklyn

“I choose to design a toy that would entertain a fish so it had to be active. I had a fish and my fish like to through tunnels. I made my design out of bottle, hot glue, sharpie and yarn. Plastic is good underwater, and sharpie won’t go off the plastic.” - Cate

Student Products
  • Design a safe, fun, and durable toy for an animal or pet.
  • Created, sold and/ or donated toys and treats in order to support a local animal shelter. 
Teacher Reflection

“Critter Creations was a unique unit. Students worked within this integrated unit in both science and social studies standards. They learned about the Properties of Matter and Goods & Services. Students learned about the design process and how to create a unique product that either comforts or entertains a pet. They worked through the design process from a lens of empathy to design and create a toy for a local shelter animal. The materials that their products were made out of had to fit the need, so students learned about the different properties of materials and about their product's different parts. The initial products the students created were sold at a student run booth and the proceeds earned were then donated to local shelter animals. Students used communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and compassion throughout this unit.” - Logan Zeman, Susan Negley, Laura Nossal, Jill Alexander, and Richard Ziegler


Logan Zeman

Susan Negley

Laura Nossal

Jill Alexander

Richard Ziegler