Robots, Hole Punchers and Plans

A group of three year olds came to the Studio to work on Robots. They had been constructing with nuts, bolts and metal pieces in their classroom. I asked them what makes a robot and they described someone with a head, eyes, body, arms and legs. That sounded like a person to me, so I asked them what the difference between what they described and a regular person. Luke said "Robots are like persons, but say funny talk, like 'R-O-B-O-T'" (in a machine voice). Lukas and McGuire agreed.
They used cardboard and brads to assemble their robots,a happy robot for Lukas, and Cat and Car robots for Luke. The hole punchers were too challenging for them to use. I wish I could find a very easy to squeeze, durable hole punch. The brads were very satisfying since they made robots with movable parts.

We usually have the children make drawn or verbal plans before starting work. This helps them think through their idea along with the process and materials they will need to bring it to fruition. Slowing them down in this way promotes deeper thinking and more mindfulness about resources and problem solving.

McGuire initially didn't understand what I meant by 'make a plan'. He just wanted to do what was necessary to be able to use the scissors and hole puncher. Eventually with coaching, he drew the plan at left-   "A crab robot".
He began to cut this paper up, still not understanding that the plan is the reference for the rest of the work. I asked him to find a piece of cardboard that looked like the round shape (the crabs head), which I put my finger on. He selected one and lay it directly on the circle in the plan. Eureka! Now I knew how to help. I asked him to choose a long piece to correspond with one of the dark shapes on the plan.

One by one, he chose pieces for each element in his plan, and then assembled his crab robot. After that, he repeated the steps and made another, this time with tape instead of brads.
I wonder if McGuire will know what a plan is next time a teacher asks him for one? Does he understand the one-to-one correspondence between the plan and the project now, or will it take more practice?


  1. We love making robots with brads! Reminds me of the ones the kids and I made last summer:


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