Building machines with our bodies is a great way to understand abstract concepts in a concrete physical way!
- Before introducing this activity with an art object, start out with a familiar machine, such as a bus or a blender.
- Have children help generate a list of which objects they need to build the machine. For example, if it is a bus, children might say “a steering wheel”, “windshield wipers”, etc.
- Once you have a list, call on one person at a time to act out on of the objects on the list with a repetitive movement and sound.
- For example, if a child chooses “windshield wipers,” (s)he might move their arms back and forth and say “swish, swish, swish.”
- Keep adding children until the machine is complete. The children in the audience can use close looking to find out if the machine is missing anything.
- Try it again with an art object. It can be abstract or representational.
- For example, with the art object listed here, they might build a party machine. With an abstract art object, make a machine from a theme. Ask students what the artwork reminds them of and make a machine of one of their suggestions.
- Generate a list of concepts or words the children see in the artwork. Then build a machine based on their responses.
- What else do we need for our machine?
- What words would this piece of art say if it could talk?
- How could we make the machine go faster? slower?
*This Creative Classroom Idea was written by Lauren Dennis, a collaborator in Early Childhood learning at the Denver Public Library.
TIP: You can also use this activity with books- make a machine of the main plot and characters. For example, have your students make a Goldilocks and the Three Bears machine.