I was searching for an idea for a makerspace activity when I thought of Karen Lynn Williams’ book, Galimoto. I also have a galimoto I purchased years ago and figured the children could create one using pipe cleaners (I know, they’re called chenille stems…but I can’t break the habit of 50 years of saying “pipe cleaners”).
I decided that third grade would probably be able to think three dimensionally and have the motor skill development to do this. And, they did (although some really struggled).
Read the Book
After reading the book to the class, I showed them my galimoto. They were amazed and intrigued by this simple toy.
Design the Galimoto
I had the teacher group the students into pairs and each pair was given a sheet of paper and a pencil and instructed to decide what wheeled creation they were going to create. They drew their design and that is all we accomplished in the first session. Some used non-fiction books if they were stumped as to what their vehicle really looked like. They had to work well as a team to decide on what they were going to do and then how to draw it out.
At the beginning of our second session, I handed each student a copy of the IB Transdisciplinary Skills-Social Skills. They took turns reading aloud so that everyone was familiar with what good team work looks like. Each group was given ten pipe cleaners and some scissors along with their drawing. I did make a couple of suggestions, for instance, to create shapes with the pipe cleaner and then cut off excess. I reminded them that they only had ten pipe cleaners so to plan wisely.
Motor Skills and Hands-on Experience
Some students do not have highly developed fine motor skills (their thumbs are probably very developed!) and had a difficult time figuring out how to twist the pipe cleaners together or around. Lack of experience mostly. They were getting the hang of it by the end. Many of our students don’t seem to have a wide range of experience of making things with their hands and also seem awkward using scissors. All the more reason to provide more opportunities for makerspace type activities.
Many students created an outline of their design, ie. a two dimensional obect, and thought they were done! With further support they figured out it had to be three dimensional, just like the galimoto I had.
The Final Product
Pretty much each group completed their galimoto after about thirty minutes. Success. They were very proud of their accomplishment.