Designing a Bird Machine

B. started to draw this while his friends were working on the mural. He called it a bird machine. 
He designed the whole shape first. He said it wasn't finished, but needed to go eat snack, leaving it in the studio. About a week later I asked him if he wanted to come back and finish it. He brought a group with him, and they talked about the different parts as they colored and added detail.

They talked as they drew, explaining the parts as they made them. I wished I had a recorder, because it was a good example of how children build a common understanding as they play. The bird machine, it turns out, is a machine that makes birds. The birds roll through on a cart, passing through areas where they pick out their own parts. There is also a place for Mother birds to get a bath. The orange lines show heat, which powers the bird machine. Above you can see a 'room' where the birds get their beaks, and the red dots are in a place where they get eyes.

O. had the idea to change the shape a bit to make the whole machine look like a bird. The black shapes in the black area are bird feet, and the colored shapes below are in the 'feather room'. The blue-green lines represent electricity.

Our wonderful Carpenter-about-campus Pippin has offered to cut the machine shape out of wood, and Nancy their teacher gave me this box of machine parts. I hope the boys want to try to build the bird machine for real!


  1. SO COOL! I love how many directions the kids have taken their interest in birds in that classroom.

  2. I can't wait to see what they come up with!


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