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Take Shelter: Is Yours Strong Enough?

Whose hurricane shelter will be the last one standing?

Play-Doh Hurricane Shelter Lesson

P.S. Keep reading to learn how you can win Play-Doh for your classroom! 

Learning Area: Science, STEAM  
Time: 1.5 hours  
Grades: 3-5 

Whose hurricane shelter will be the strongest, withstanding the high winds and rain? Challenge your students to create their own hurricane shelter using popsicle sticks, construction paper, and Play-Doh modeling compound, and see which shelter weathers the storm (a hairdryer/fan and water storm, that is!) 



  • Play-Doh modeling compound 
  • Paper 
  • Construction paper 
  • Scissors 
  • Popsicle sticks 
  • Hairdryer or fan 
  • Water 
  • Trays 



  1. Ask your students what a hurricane is, and allow students to respond. Ask if they’ve ever heard of one, and invite students to share their responses. Show a few examples from recent years of hurricanes and the damage they caused.
  2. Discuss hurricanes deeper. What is a hurricane exactly? Where do hurricanes form? What is the eye of a hurricane? Why is a hurricane given a category rating, and what does it mean? If someone lives in an area that is often hit with hurricanes, what precautions can they take? (Discuss hurricane shelters as one precaution!)
  3. Invite students to brainstorm and draw a design of a hurricane shelter they could create using popsicle sticks, Play-Doh modeling compound, and construction paper.
  4. After they have had time to think through their design, pass out 20 popsicle sticks, one piece of construction paper, one container of Play-Doh modeling compound, one pair of scissors, and one tray to each student.
  5. Allot the same amount of time for everyone to engineer their designs, setting the timer and displaying it.
  6. When time is up, invite each student with their shelter to the “hurricane zone.” Pour water into their tray to simulate the flooding caused by hurricanes. Then, place their shelter in front of a strong fan or hairdryer to simulate the strong winds.
  7.  Test everyone’s shelters, and see whose endures the hurricane!
  8. After testing the shelters, allow students the opportunity to think about what worked and did not work with their design.
  9. After rethinking their designs, set the timer again, and allow students the opportunity to redesign and rebuild their shelters.
  10. Retest the hurricane shelters, and see whose weathers the hurricane the second time around.
  11. Wrap up the activity by discussing the process (brainstorming, designing, redesigning), hurricanes, and hurricane shelters. With these thoughts, ask students to write down their favorite part of the activity and what they learned. Collect these exit-slips as they leave your classroom (hopefully with smiles from a great activity!) 


Pro Tip: Early finishers can use their extra Play-Doh to calm or create! 


Activity inspired by Lauren B. of PA as part of our Play-Doh Giveaway!  

Planning to “take shelter”—or use Play-Doh modeling compound in other ways? Add Play-Doh to your school supply list and enter to win free Play-Doh and other classroom favorites! Visit our We Love Teachers Sweepstakes page to learn more.

Originally posted 2024

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