Building Cardboard Automata

  • The class starts working on their builds.
  • Looking at the example to help them with their own build.
  • Checking over the tools that will be needed.
  • Getting ready to put some tape on their automata.
  • Trying to get the right lengths for the sticks.
  • A partially assembled automata.
  • Partners discuss their construction strategy.
  • An extra set of hands is needed for this part of the assembly.
  • Trying to attach the top of the automata.
  • Two more automata are nearing completion.
  • Comparing their automata to the example automata.
  • A room full of creators having some hard fun.
  • Tinkering at its best.
  • A perfect way to recognize the 100th day of school.
  • A perfect way to recognize the 100th day of school.
  • A perfect way to recognize the 100th day of school.

Project Description

On the second day of their tinkering with cardboard automata, first graders dove into the building aspects of the work… after we took a little time to complete the Purposes column of our visible thinking routine.

Students referred to the example, and each others’ creations, as they needed. Careful measurements were made to try to get just the right lengths for the sticks and tape used. Collaboration took place automatically as classmates recognized when four hands weren’t enough and two more were needed.

Some of the best moments were when students realized first-hand the purposes that the various parts played in creating the automata. For instance, one student lit up with revelation when she saw her wobbly box become strong and sturdy when the triangle supports were added. No longer were the words “stable” and “support” merely text on the post-in notes of the Purposes column – they had real meaning that the student herself recognized!

As some of the automata reached completion, it seemed only fitting that on the 100th day of school the spinning flag atop the automata celebrate this important school day!

Project Details


First Grade

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