Materials: An assortment of safe, simple machines with movable parts, such as a can opener, eggbeater, pencil sharpener, and a clock with visible works
Objective: Children will use cooperative problemsolving skills to demonstrate a moving machine using their body shapes and movements.
Warm-Up: Together, examine the collection of simple machines. Observe and talk about what each machine does and how the different parts work together. Encourage children to notice how the movement of one part causes another part to move.
1. Divide into small groups of three or four. Challenge each group to choose a machine. Explain that the machine each group chooses can be real, such as an ice cream machine or a computer, or imaginary - a dream machine or cloud catcher, for instance. Then find a way for each child in the group to be a part of that machine. Children can invent and act out the movements of the parts in their machine. Remind them that when one part moves, other parts move too!
2. Encourage children to use their whole bodies when creating a machine movement. Explain that the movement of their machine can also be accompanied by sounds.
3. Help the groups develop their machine ideas and movements. Suggest that after they decide what they want to be and who will be the one to turn their machine on, they can "build" their machine child by child. One child becomes part of the machine and does that part's movement. The second child "connects" to the first and does a movement, and so on, until all the parts of the machine are working together.
4. Challenge the machines to work faster and faster and then to slow down and stop as the machines are turned off.
Remember: Some children will need assistance inventing movements that both relate to the machines and connect to another child's movement. Encourage children to think about the machines they've chosen and the movements the various parts make. Remind children to observe their partner's movement for a moment before adding on their own.
Tip: Starting machine movements slowly makes it easier for other parts to connect!
Spin-Off: Invite children to create two-part musical machines. Partners can invent movements to do together, and you can play different kinds of music for the machines to move to.
Have fun with these books about machines.
Busy Machines Snapshot Books
Click, Rumble, Roar: Poems About Machines Edited by Lee Bennett
Tonka: Building the Skyscraper by Justin Korman