Exploring robots inside and out

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on November 14, 2012

in Children's Books, Engineering, Inside and Outside of a Robot, Playing with Gears, The Robot Book

To explore the inside and outside of a robot, we recently read “The Robot Book” by Heather Brown with all of its moving parts and then we created our own robots with movable parts too…

“The Robot Book” does have a few words to go with each page of the book. The words highlight the part of robot which is illustrated on each page…

As we read the book, the children took a few minutes to twist, turn, pull, or move each movable part of the robot inside the book…

Then the children were off to explore a couple of different centers related to our robot book including a center of Gears and a Robot making center…

We had two types of Gears set out on the table which might have proved to be a bit too many. The children enjoyed both types but I think it might have been best to separate the different types of gears and set each type of gear out on a different table…

But even though the table was filled with many different gears, my students still found the gear center interesting and spent lots of time learning how to put the gears together and operate them effectively…

At the robot making center, the children found foam shapes of different sizes and colors, Styrofoam, and short pieces of pipe cleaners and toothpicks…

The children selected and set out their foam shapes on the Styrofoam canvas to design the shape of their robot…

Some of the children even used a permanent marker to add their name and other features to their robots…

As the children added each piece of foam to their robot, they used the pipe cleaner (approximately one inch pieces) or toothpicks (half of a toothpick) to “pin” or hold the foam pieces in place…

While the children worked, we talked about how adding more than one “robot nail” into the leg or arm would cause the arm or leg not to move. The children explored how to make their robots so that the arms and legs would still move just like they do in the book…

Robot Nails

As you can see in the photos above, there is a difference between pipe cleaner “nails” and toothpick “nails” in this process…

Toothpicks are easier for the children to press down into the foam and Styrofoam but they stick up which some of my students didn’t care about and others did…

Pipe cleaners are more challenging to use because they might bend in the process but many of my students preferred using the pipe cleaners because they could bend down the top afterwards which left the top of the pipe cleaner soft to the touch rather than poking out like the toothpicks. Oh and we found that the quality of pipe cleaner makes a difference too. The better the quality, the less it bends…

Both types of robot nails did the trick so you will have to decide based on what your kids are ready for as to which will work best….

Here are a few more of our completed robots…

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1 Mrs. P November 15, 2012 at 7:30 am

What a great lesson! I have the gears already, but my kids would be all interested in them again if I read this book and brought out this project! Thank you so much for sharing this. Mrs. P @ http://www.createartwithme.blogspot.com

2 Pennie November 15, 2012 at 7:39 am

Love the idea of the kids using the styrofoam as a backing because it allows the ability to get more fine motor practice (‘nailing’) and now they can put their robots in different positions. It just made that activity more interactive.

3 Susan Case November 15, 2012 at 9:28 am

So cute. I always enjoyed when the children created their own robot or art out of shapes. Glad to know about that book.

4 Mrs. P April 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

I did this project (pretty much as described) with a group of Kinders and they had a blast! Me too! Here’s the link to my post: http://createartwithme.blogspot.com/2013/04/kindergarten-2d-shape-robots.html

Thank you so much for this lesson–it is a winner! Mrs. P

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