STREAM Activity: Post-and-Lintel Construction

Be an architect and create a post-and-lintel structure!

Activity best for children age 2 and up

Thousands of years ago, ancient Greeks used a special method to build temples and other beautiful buildings. This method of architecture, or the design and construction of buildings, is called post-and-lintel. Making a post-and-lintel structure is simple, but also strong and sturdy. The posts (vertical columns) hold up the lintels (horizontal beams), which together create buildings with ceilings and doors. Even though the lintels are sometimes very heavy, the building can remain standing because of the architectural design of the columns. The columns work together to hold up the heavy lintels! The Parthenon is a very famous example. Even though it is almost 2,500 years old, it is still standing today! Do you think you can make a strong post-and-lintel structure like the ancient Greeks?

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Materials you’ll need:

Paper cups that are all the same size (about 20)

Cookie sheets or something flat (like a plastic cutting board) (at least 1! Up to 3)

Something heavy or use your own body

Guiding Questions:

How does architectural design help a building stand up? Can we see how this design can support a heavy weight even with light columns?

Make a prediction about how many posts (cups) will hold up the lintel (cookie sheets). What is the least number of posts you need to hold up the lintel?

Do you think your structure can hold multiple stories (2 or 3 layers of cups and baking sheets)?



Ask your grownup to help you find paper cups and cookie sheets.

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On the floor, place cups face down in a rectangle pattern. You will want to make sure each corner has a cup and then add as many cups as you want for your supportive columns.

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Place the cookie sheet on top of the cups.

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Test how strong your building is or ask your grownup to help you balance by standing on top of your building!

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Experiment! How many stories can you make? Can you stand on top of two stories? Can you put something heavy on top without it falling?

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Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections: 

Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty

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Real-World Connections:

Architects need to understand what works and doesn’t work before construction. This activity leaves room for several trial-and-error opportunities – an important aspect to understanding the world around them. And balancing on your own creation is fun!

Math Connections:

For younger children, building-play increases understanding of sizes, shapes, and patterns. Older children have an opportunity to think about mathematical properties like symmetry and geometry. They can use a scale to weigh themselves or objects.