Ben Franklin's Inventions
I wrote this lesson to support my second-graders' social studies unit about Colonial America. It uses the figure of Ben Franklin, but any famous inventor would do--pick one who is appropriate to your geographical area or the cultural background of your students, or who fits in with what they are studying.
Benjamin Franklin is famous for his inventions. What is an invention? Why do people invent things? (To make life easier or safer.) What are some of the things Ben Franklin invented? (Bifocals, Fire Department, Franklin Stove, etc.)
What if you were an inventor? What might you invent?
Playing the Game
The class sits in a circle. One student volunteers to "invent something." The student may use as many other students as necessary to construct her/his invention. This will be a human sculpture--remember the "machines" we all made in improv class? It may or may not move, depending on the sophistication of the students and individual taste.
(Optional) The rest of the class tries to guess what the invention is for, or what it does.
Obviously this is nothing more than a context for a basic machine exercise. However, my younger students don't understand the machine game in the abstract. This lesson particularizes the concept and ties it to other learning.