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Artful Galimotos

Art Integrated Lesson

How does one child's  quest to find scraps to make a toy in a village in Africa  help us see our environment and ability to create art in a new way?

Push Toy

Vintage Push Toy, 1940s



Read Aloud

Karen Lynn Williams and Catherine Stock


Galimotos in Kampala, Uganda

Approximate Time for Unit: 8 Hours

3rd- 8th Grade

Targeted Students



Author Karen Williams



"Reading Rainbow" shares the story "Galimoto"

Lesson Plan Description

 "Artful Galimoto," explores innovation, creativity, recylcling, persistence and multi-clultural life styles. Galimoto means "car" in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi. It is also the name for a type of push toy made by children with recyled wire and materials. Through reading "Galimoto," by Karen Willems, students will view the circumstances of  Kondi, a seven-year-old boy living in Malawi, Africa. Kondi goes on a quest for wire within his village so he can make his galimoto. Students will  reflect  upon their circumstances living in the United States and ponder how does making a toy  compare to buying or being given one? What are the connections between their lives and Kondi's?

Content of lesson Integrates  Visual Art, Social Studies, Science, & English Language Arts 3rd -12th Grades

*Note 5th Grade CA CC & National Standards for VA are shared here

Literacy & Visual Art Standards

Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supportedby key details; summarize the text.


Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text



Visual Arts/Creating

VA:Cr 1.1 Process Component: Investigate,Plan, Make


Anchor Standard: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.


VA:Cn 10.1 Process Component: Interpret

Anchor Standard: Interpret
and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.


VA:Cn 11.1 Process Component: Synthesize

Anchor Standard: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.


VA:Re 7.2 Process Component: Perceive

Anchor Standard:Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Essential Questions

How does engaging in creating art enrich people's lives?

How does making art attune people to their surroundings?

Learning Objectives (SWBAT)

Students will be able to refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what a text says and when drawing inferences from it.

 Students will be able to summarize the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details.

Students will be able to describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

Students will be able to engage in short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.


Students will be able to organize and develop artistic ideas and work.


Students will be able to synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.


Students will be able to relate artistic ideas and works with social, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.


Students will be able to perceive and analyze artistic work as part of self-reflection.


The book, Galimoto, by Karen Lynn Williams

Art Materials: found objects like:

bottle caps, wires, coat hangers,various grades of wire, pipe cleaners, various tin cans, boxes, material scraps, paper scraps, broken toy parts,  beads, sticks.  paired cable salvage ends from phone company 


Tools:  hammer, wood block to hammer upon, awl, thick barbeque sticks, hot glue and glue gun,


Other: sketch paper, graph paper, pencils,colored pencils, notebooks, digital camera for recording process, and at least one computer. 




  • Visual Art:
    • Elements of Art: Line, Shape, Form, Color, Value, Space, Texture
    • Geometric
    • Organic
    • Two-dimensional
    • Three-dimensional
    • Sculpture
    • Found Object
    • Innovation
    • Imagination
  • Literacy:
    • Literary elements, including characters, setting, plot, and theme
    • Instructional Writing
    • Author’s Purpose
    • Sequence
  • Social Studies and Geography:
    • Continent
    • Country
    • Malawi
    • Africa
    • Poverty
    • Survival
    • Economics
  • Environment, Ecology, & Science:
    • Recycle
    • Salvage
    • Reuse
    • Push/Pull Forces
    • Simple Machines

Activity One:  Quick Write

Writing Prompt:

What would you do for a toy if all of yours disappeared and you had no electricity?  Write quickly for 7 minutes explaining what toy you could make and explain  how  you would do it? After students write, have them reread it to themselves out loud softly as a rehearsal before placing them in small groups. Then forming either partners or groups of four, students can then read to each other.  Each  group decides which should be read aloud at  author's chair time.

Activity Two: Predicting & Searching for  Main Idea inText

Introduce the book Galimoto, by Karen Lynn Williams, by showing the cover and reading the title. Ask students to guess what a galimoto might be and what the book will be about. Students should jot  down predictions in their journals. Read first and last paragraph to the students and have them revise their predictions and jot that  down too. Ask them to share with a partner their first and second predictions and explain how it did or did not change. Then Introduce the students to the main character seven year old Kondi, his village, and Kondi's quest.


Read the story aloud to students regardless of age and have them create a story map  with words or images recording  literal facts: who, what, where, when, why and  how. An alternative to reading aloud would be to watch Reading Rainbow's episode on Galimoto and  meet an artist who sculpts  with wire. 


Let the students know that they will get to create their own galimoto.


See Karen Williams' teacher guide for wonderful discussion starters.

Activity Three: Science Behind Simple Machines

How will you make that galemoto move? Push or Pull? Which Force?


Because this unit is being completed close to the holdidays this video is just the best.

Activity Four: Process Component

Investigate,  Plan,  Make

Sort through the bens of found objects, think how you might use them to create a  toy. Sketch four ways to create a toy with the selected objects. Choose the one sketch you would like to take from two dimensional to three. Then decide how you will make it move. What is force- push or pull?  How will you make your toy move?


Now think back to "Galimoto." What was the "emotional force," that made Kondi move forward on his quest. Was it something pushing him or pulling him? What is making you go forward on this creative quest of making a Galimoto?

Informational Writing & Narrative

<< New heading >>


As you create a galimoto document your process in words, drawings, and images, Make sure you  measure materilas.




Use computer time to upload images and provide captions and text for a presentation



Create Report

Exhibit your work, with a hard copy of your presentation at a school art fair. 



Share the Joy

Reflect in your journal  what was the difference between making a toy yoursefl verses buying one. Did this quest to create your galimoto make you feel joyful?

If there is another student needing inspiration to create their toy, could you give them step by step directions to make your toy? As you create outline  the steps you take, complete with meaurements and images. Photograph your experience. Create a power point or a Prezzi presentation explaining your process. Include how you felt about it. Make comparisons between your enviorment and experience with Kondi's. Conclude with a self reflection 

Activity Five: Write An Artist Critique

You are an art critic come to view the "Artful Galimoto." Write an opinion piece that explains what makes this toy made from scrap artistic. Discuss the use of art elements and principles of design. Describe the overall feeling of the work of art.  Does it look fun, cheerful, imaginative, surprising? What is it about the galimoto that you see, that makes you feel that way?


Step 1: Draw a chord across the circle.

Draw a line across the circle near the edge so it cuts the circumference in two places

Step 2: Find the midpoint of the chord.

Draw a line perpendicular to the chord, half way along

its length

Step 3: Repeat step 2 for another chord

Step 4: Use more chords for accuracy

  2. How to find the center of a circle - Instructables

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Artful Teaching

Mrs. Schellenberg & Young Artists

Ralph Waldo Emerson's  Poem:             Success-     to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know  even one life breathed easier because of you.

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Thank you AT&T

We used the wiring for our artful galimotos

Duncan Ceramics, Thank you! With your help and friends of the Fresno Art Museum 's  support, every child created a tie-dyed T Shirt. You made our world brighter!

Fresno County Office of Education, we thank You for the opportunity to create with clay!

Thank you Mr. Bullwinkle and Fresno County Office of Education for awarding us with a grant to purchase a kiln and clay supplies. We are so happy and grateful!

Love Mrs. Schellenberg & Young Imagineers

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