Machine Building: A Cooperative Activity

Students work in small groups to create a group "machine."

Introduce Machine Building

1. Ask the group to brainstorm types of machines that are used in daily life. Write the names of the machines on chart paper or the chalkboard.

2. Explain to the class that they are going to work in small groups to create models of actual machines, using their bodies. They can do a machine from the list on the board or any other machine they can think of. They'll have to decide what machine they'll create and how they act it out. When they perform their machine, the other students will try to guess what machine it is.

3. Ask for a few volunteers to work with you to demonstrate how to make a human machine. You might demonstrate a washing machine by having two people holding hands with outstretched arms and a third person inside moving like the agitator blade. Then ask the class to guess the machine you are demonstrating.

4. Divide the class into groups of 4-6 people. Give them 5-10 minutes to decide on and create a machine.

5. Each group then performs their machine and the class guesses what machine they represent.


  • How did you find this activity?
  • How did your group decide which machine to create and who should play each part?
  • What are some ways a machine can be similar to any group and to this class?
  • Did you run into any problems? Explain.
  • When part of a machine breaks down, what happens?
  • What are some of the factors that may cause the breakdown in humans working together? What can we do about it?

Evaluation/Key points

Ask the class, What is something you learned from today's lesson?

Follow-up Suggestions

  • Have students work in groups to demonstrate a scene, activity, place, or anything else creative.
  • Create one large imaginative machine where each person plays a moving part and makes a distinct sound.