Art Bots: Automated Arts Integration

By | 2017-03-27T11:10:47+00:00 March 16th, 2017|

As soon as I read the words “Affordable Art Bots” workshop, I was in! A robot that makes art? And they are affordable? Sign me up! I knew I had to find out more about it and see if it was worth bringing this experience to my elementary students. I look forward to the yearly National Art Educator (NAEA) Conference, it is a great place to meet teachers you “talk” to online face to face (finally!) and, of course to learn something new.

Imagine twenty art teachers playing with pool noodle pieces, battery operated toothbrushes, markers and googly eyes. You can see it, right? Problem solving and fun all wrapped into one! We experimented with inserting the toothbrush into a piece of pool noodle, added marker “legs” and gave it a whirl! We learned that if the toothbrush and markers were adjusted the robot could move more, or move in different directions. Adding eyes, mustaches and other features was the icing on the cake.

Three art bots made by educators at EdCampSWCT

Even though this was fun for art teachers, what’s in it for our students? The National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) are process based. In my choice-based art room, students create their own original art, ask and answer their own questions. Across the all of our new teaching standards: ELA, math, science, art, teachers are encouraged to step back and allow students to identify and solve their own problems.


Last week, I brought my Art Bot to school and had my students experiment with him. They changed him as needed. This photo shows what two third grade students created out of cardboard as a solution to help Art Bot stand up. And it worked!

Last Saturday, I facilitated an art bot session with teachers who attended an EdCamp in Southwest Connecticut. At the end of the day, two teachers were very excited about creating art bots with their students. One, a preschool teacher, couldn’t wait to have her students talk and write (together as a class) about art bots. The other was a high school creative writing teacher who was looking forward to having her students create an art bot and write about it.




This activity covers: visual art, engineering, art creation, problem solving and can fit into STEAM, STEM to STEAM, science, visual art, maker spaces and arts integration programs. All you need are some dollar store items: pool noodles, battery operated toothbrushes, markers, tape, rubber bands, making tape and craft supplies to decorate your robots.


How could creating an Art Bot help your students learn? Let’s discuss it below!

Click here for link to directions/supplies, courtesy of Hey, That’s My Art Teacher


About the Author:

Amy Traggianese is an elementary visual arts educator and has been an art essentialist at a Connecticut Higher Order Thinking (HOT) School since 2001. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has over 25 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the art curriculum. She presents at local and national conferences and at HOT School Summer Institutes. Amy is also an active educator voice on Twitter, helps to facilitate #CTedu on Tuesday nights, and loves to connect with other educators through social media.


  1. Marie March 26, 2017 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Do you have a source to share for the battery operated toothbrushes?

    • Amy Traggianese March 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      I got mine at a Big Lots store, other teachers have found the battery operated toothbrushes at Dollar Tree.

  2. Noelle Griffin March 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Wondering what you have for 4th graders.

  3. Dawn Getzandanner March 27, 2017 at 10:57 am - Reply

    I have also used this activity with grade 3 students. The standard I used from the NGSS was: Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion. The art standard I focused on was: Explore and invent art-making techniques and approaches. The students were challenged to create a robot that could draw and I did not show them images of an art bot ahead of time. There were a variety of materials available, so not everyone had to create with the same items. Cups, pool noodles and boxes were all used by students as their bot bodies. I found the best deal on toothbrushes at DollarTree.

  4. Robin Marcus March 27, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    This looks fabulous! Can you send the info to me as well?

    • Amy Traggianese March 28, 2017 at 3:13 pm - Reply

      Robin: I added a link to the info, above! Look right above where it says, “About the author.” Let me know how the lesson works with your students!

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