This project got the children using tools and learning about safety in the studio. As boring as that sounds the children listened and went on to create the most amazing robots without any tears!
Balsa wood for the head. Cut one 2.5cms x 2.5cms x 4cms
Thick corrugated cardboard for the body. Cut three approximately 10cms x 6.5cms
Garden wire for the arms & legs
Foil for the hands & feet
Small screws/rawl plugs for features
Cut-outs from magazines
Chubby pen for making the coils
Surface to saw on (we had homemade tabletop cutting boards for woodwork)
Newspaper & glue for paper maché
Paint (poster or acrylic)
These springy robots are made from cardboard, balsa wood, foil and wire. To begin this project the children looked at cuboids and designed their robot. Thinking about colour, texture and features.
To make the robot.
Begin by cutting the cardboard body to size. Saw the balsa wood to the correct length for the head. Sandpaper any rough edges.
Make your coils. Using a pen as a width guide, hold the wire to the pen making sure you have 4cms of straight wire over-hanging before you wrap the wire around the pen tightly to form coils. When you have the desired length, add 4cms of straight wire at the end before you cut.
These were our measurements for the coiled wire:-
Arms two x 5cms lengths coiled wire with 4cms either end of uncoiled wire
Legs two x 8cms lengths coiled wire with 4cms either end of uncoiled wire
Neck one x 2.5cms length coiled wire with 4cms either end of uncoiled wire
With a pen mark on one piece ‘cardboard body’ the position where the wire will poke through to fix the coil arms, legs and neck. Don’t mark too close to the edges. Starting with the arms, poke the wire through the cardboard (where your pen mark is). Once it is through to the back, bend it up and around to the front, wrap it around the coil close to the cardboard then secure the end with tape flat to the body. Do this for the legs and neck as well.
Using PVA glue, stick the other two cardboard body pieces to the robot body, one on top of the other. Doing this will form a ‘bottom’ which should allow the robot to sit on the edge of the table. The piece of cardboard with the wire attached to it will be the front, the other two pieces glued to it form the back.
Once the glue is dry, the balsa head can be attached to the coiled neck. Trim the straight piece of wire at the top of the ‘neck coil’ to around 2cms, push it into the centre of the balsa wood head, add a blob of PVA glue around the hole.
Use a piece of foil to sculpt the hands and feet. Cut the foil approximately 15cms x 15cms for each hand/foot. Lightly crinkle the foil and slowly sculpt a mitten glove with a wrist for the hand. For the feet, sculpt an ‘L’ shape.
To attach the hands and feet to the robot, wrap the 4cms of uncoiled wire around the wrist/ankle tightly and then squeeze the wire to make sure it’s secure (flat-nosed pliers are good for this).
The cardboard body of the robot now needs to be covered with paper maché. Mix PVA glue with a little water, tear some small rectangles of newspaper. Cover both sides of the newspaper with the glue & water mixture and smooth it over the robot body, make sure you cover the edges, keeping it all nice and flat.
Once dry, the body and head can be painted. We gave the body an undercoat of white paint to begin with, once dry, the robots were painted bright colours. Finally we added the details, cut-out signs were collaged and glued on, small screws and googly-eyes were added to0. This children loved this part so much, some robots ended up with handbags, umberellas, swords, capes & hair-dos.