Styrofoam Cups and Rubber Bands

15 Feb

Having a party day mid week sure throws off the concentration.  There was a level of energy that  was  hard to contain.   It made for a long week with a lot of interruptions.

This month the  4th grade students  studied  different types of machines.  The final task was making machines that would deliver valentines to  their valentine boxes.  The styrofoam cup activity that is in the pragmatics section is a good example of a tool/machine operation.  I decided to bring it out again to reinforce what was happening in the classroom and add my language component.    I used it previous years  with larger social pragmatic groups so some of you may already have found it and  used it.  I thought it was worth mentioning again.   I would love to hear how it worked for you if you tried it.  Please go  to the pragmatic section to download  more specific directions.

This time I adapted the activity for  my smaller therapy groups of 2 to 3 students.  We used 6 to 8 strings on a rubber band  and each student pulled 2 of them.  I added myself  to the mix.  Basically the tool is a rubber band with 2 feet lengths of yarn tied to it.  Students take a yarn in each hand and pull  to open it  enough to fit around the end of a  styrofoam cup placed  bottoms up on a table.  They were instructed not to use their hands when moving the cups.  When they released the tension the rubber band grabbed  the cup and they  then lifted the cup with the yarn pieces and moved it  into position to form a pyramid.  15 cups make a nice size pyramid.  Students took turns being the leader to give directions. yarn tool

I found adding myself allowed for some sabotage.  I just didn’t move unless specific directions were given.  One person not moving can make a big difference in the operation of the rubber band which is the beauty of this activity.  They learned quickly to use positional words and to work cooperatively.  I pointed out that “Whole Body Listening” is important here.    One person can ruin the whole operation if they are not focused on the group and cups.   That rubber band can assume a rather flat appearance and not be functional if someone isn’t pulling right.  Also they can’t make assumptions that people will know where to move.