Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary
Description: In working with one of my students on the history of early farmers, we came across the image of a shaduf shown below. It was briefly mentioned, then the text moved on to evolution of farming. My student’s mother put together materials for us to build a model of the shaduf with the goal of increasing the student’s understanding of why early farmers would want to make changes to that first farm machine. There are several blogs that describe the steps for creating a model of a shaduf. The materials we used are listed below, but the learner determined the steps for building it and we created instructions for completion together.
Materials: twine, large twigs, small drawstring bag (to place pebbles in,) pebbles (for weight to balance,) wooden cylinder, glue, leather treated with wax (for bucket,) and a bucket or large tub for testing the completed shaduf.
Skills & Modifications: The activity can be modified to meet both the current skill level and safety needs of your learner. For our particular learner, her mother built the base because the learner is unable to safely use hammers and nails.
– Sequencing – The first step my student and I did was to spread out all the materials, look at the image, and discuss the sequence of steps for creating the shaduf. The activity was student-directed, so I asked questions such as “What would be our first step?” and “What materials do you think would be best for this part of the shaduf?”
– Cause and Effect – There were several points in which the student had to test out decisions, then make adjustments based on the effect.
– Critical Thinking – Every aspect of creating this model involved critical thinking: looking at materials to make the best choice for the intended purpose, choosing the steps and clearly communicating them, and making adjustments as needed to make sure the shaduf worked correctly.
– Writing – As we sequenced the steps, the student wrote down each step. I did need to prompt her with some questions to ensure that she clearly outlined all parts of each step. When we began to build the shaduf, we worked from the instructions she had created.
– Expressive Language – Upon completion, my student was required to respond to several open-ended questions about the mechanics of the shaduf as well as changes in farming over time.
Pros: My student was highly motivated to create the shaduf. We created the shaduf about one month ago, and in conversation that followed she has been able to clearly communicate why and how farming machinery evolved as well as limitations to the shaduf. She was unable to do these things prior to making the model. Finally, my student was very excited when we tested out the shaduf and it was able to carry water. All in all, this was one of the most engaging projects we’ve done in the four years I’ve been working with her.
Cons: For classroom teachers, time is a serious consideration. We spread this project out over four days, spending approximately 20 minutes on it each day.
Cost: $10-15 You should invest in this activity if: you are teaching history about early farmers or you are seeking activities to teach learners about early machines and farming technology.
ABLLS: A19, G24, G30, H32, H34