Appliance – Bay Area Discovery Museum


Work as a team to build a larger-than-life version of a common household appliance through acting and improv. In this group activity, each person becomes a different part that makes up the appliance to create a realistic, moving model of the appliance. This activity encourages children to take risks and act out imaginary scenarios, a trait commonly found in creative people.

Materials Required

  • No materials needed, just a group of people


  1. Brainstorm a list of common household appliances. Take an imaginary walk through a typical house. What appliances are in each room? The coffee maker may be in the kitchen, and a pencil sharpener may be in the corner of the office.
  2. As a group, choose an appliance to represent. Brainstorm a list of the individual parts that make up the appliance. Imagine taking the appliance apart. The pencil sharpener may be plastic, but what is on the inside? Unscrew the plastic cover to reveal moving blades, and other important pieces.
  3. Assign a role for each person, and work together to determine how everyone in the group can “become” a piece of the appliance. Perhaps the blade of the pencil sharpener comes to life as one person continually swings her hands in a small circle. Or maybe others can lie down on the ground and use their feet as the blades. The opportunities are endless!
  4. Determine how each part fits together to create the appliance. Which parts need to be next to each other? Which parts need to move, and which ones remain stationary? Practice working together as a team to create a working model of the appliance.
  5. Time to share your creation! Challenge friends and family to guess which appliance your team is representing.

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Invent a new appliance that would improve daily life. Work as a group to “become” this appliance and explain why the appliance should be invented.
  • Eliminate one group member from the appliance and brainstorm how the remaining parts can work together to ensure the appliance still works. The group member that stepped out can act as a new part that can help fix the appliance in a creative manner.
  • Find an old household appliance (i.e. a broken toaster or old coffee pot) and use simple tools to take it apart. Investigate each intricate piece and try to determine its function. Then, construct an intricate, human version of the appliance. Chances are, there are several “hidden parts” that are actually quite important!

Links to Creativity

Through sociodramatic play—when we act out an imaginary scenario in order to understand it better—participants will use their bodies to imitate non-living objects. In other words, when we take risks through imitation, we are encouraged to be open to new experiences, a trait commonly found in more creative individuals. Another important aspect of play is how it is predictive of divergent thinking, such that we are more flexible and loose with our thinking when we step outside of normal behavior.

Supporting research includes:

Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin139(1), 1-34.

McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology52(6), 1258-1265.

Russ, S. W., Robins, A. L., & Christiano, B. A. (1999). Pretend play: Longitudinal prediction of creativity and affect in fantasy in children. Creativity Research Journal12(2), 129-139.

Yawkey, T. D. (1986). Creative Dialogue Through Sociodramatic Play and Its Uses. The Journal of Creative Behavior20(1), 52-60.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum. It was inspired by an activity by Sue Walden of ImprovWorks. For more information and resources see and


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