Lesson plan

Humpty Dumpty and Design Thinking

Transform the traditional egg drop experiment as you help students to engage in design thinking and develop empathy.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards

Students will learn about the design thinking process through interviews and prototyping enclosures to help Humpty Dumpty to survive his fall.

(5 minutes)
Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme
  • Read the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme to students.
  • As you read the nursery rhyme, act out the rhyme using a hard boiled egg. (This will help students make the concrete association with Humpty Dumpty being an egg in case they are not familiar and when the egg drops at the end of the rhyme it will build excitement)
  • Explain that today they will get to help Humpty Dumpty by designing something to help break his fall.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell your class that the first step as a designer is to develop Empathy. Define developing empathy as being able to understand where another person is coming from. In design thinking, it's important to understand what people want and need, and what they believe could help them.
  • Display chart paper with 3 columns. Label each column with one of the following questions: Humpty Dumpty, why do you think you fell off of the wall? What do you think would help you keep from falling? What do you think could protect you if you did fall?
  • Explain that now your students will have a chance to pretend that they're Humpty Dumpty. After they get their giggles out, remind them that fun projects also require serious work and that you'll be on the lookout for the most believable Humpty Dumpty.
  • Ask your class the question: Humpty Dumpty, why do you think you fell off of the wall?
  • Allow students to answer this question from the perspective of Humpty Dumpty. Record their answers on the enlarged chart paper.
  • Tell students to be creative as they think of reasons for why Humpty Dumpty fell. Encourage them to get into the space of the character.
(10 minutes)
  • Next, ask your students what they think might be helpful in this situation. Have them turn to a partner and discuss the questions: What do you think would help you keep from falling? What do you think could protect you if you did fall?Remind your class that they should be answering these questions from the perspective of Humpty Dumpty.
  • Have students share one idea they (or their partner) had and record the ideas on the enlarged chart paper.
(25 minutes)
  • Tell your students that now they'll have the opportunity to build a prototype of something that would prevent Humpty Dumpty's fall, or protect him after he falls. Define a PrototypeAs the first version of something that is made and that is used to make additional improved versions later.
  • If this is your students first time using recycled objects for prototyping, explain how you have set up the materials area, what is available and how they can use the materials appropriately.


  • If students who need an extra challenge are successful after their first egg drop, allow them to set the parameters of the next experiment. Do they think if they dropped the egg from a higher place it would still survive? Do they want to try immediately or do they think their design might need some reinforcements first?


  • After students have had a chance to choose materials, ask them to share with a partner or small group about what they're planning to build and how they think it will work to help protect Humpty Dumpty.
(25 minutes)
  • Locate a suitable place where the eggs can be dropped from in order to test the student prototypes.
  • Explain to students that a really important part of prototyping is Iteration, or repetitive testing of their product. This will help them think about how their prototype worked and what could be improved to help it work even better next time. (Special Note: It will be ideal if the students are allowed time to revise their prototype and try again. They can do this either during the same period or on the following day.)
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that the design process is full of fun discoveries.
  • Allow your class to share about one way they iterated their original design in order to help it work more effectively.
  • Take special care to reiterate that starting with empathy, iterating and improving designs is super important. It's okay if things don't work on the first or sometimes even the 100th time!

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