Fairy Tales + Kinetic Sculptures + Rube Goldberg = Awesomeness!

Photos and videos by Tavia Clark tavia_clark Twitter

I recently read this article by Lisa Kropp in School Library Journal about a library in Orlando, Florida that breathed new life into fairy tales. By pairing classic stories with building Rube Goldberg machines, students get to design, create and problem solve.

I was instantly in love with this idea! I’m always searching for fun ways to collaborate with classroom teachers and give students authentic and exciting learning opportunities. When I get the chance to pair literacy with Math or Science, that’s an ever bigger plus!

After reading the article, I immediately approached an Art teacher and described my vision for this activity. I chose to reach out to her because she is always looking for ways to merge art with Math, Science and literacy. Plus, she’s visionary, which inspires and excites me. We brainstormed for a while and found that her upcoming unit on kinetic sculptures would marry perfectly with building Rube Goldberg machines. Once I knew she was in, I emailed the other librarians in my district and asked to borrow as many classic and “fractured” fairy tales as I could. I also reserved some awesome fairy tale picture books from my local library – all the ensure that our students have as much choice as possible.

Our project will consist of few parts and will span at least three weeks. In short, students will read fairy tales, identify a problem within their tale and then create a kinetic sculpture/Rube Goldberg machine that solves the problem – all while incorporating the art of the book’s illustrator. We’re hoping to incorporate the engineering design process into the project and have students create video blogs of how their group works through the stages. These blogs can then be editing into a shorter video to reflect on the work they did during the building process. Our ultimate goal will be to share these sculpture/machines with a larger audience by creating a bracket and pitting the final products against one another and allowing the community to vote via social media on their favorite design.

Since she and I don’t get much opportunity to plan together, I created a folder in Google Drive with planning documents, pictures, links, information and she added her unit resources. Having this shared folder allows us to work asynchronously, but in an organized and collaborative way.

We’re super excited to get started with this project and see what our kids come up with! I plan to post along the way to document our story.


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