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Simple Machines Unit Study

Simple Machines Unit Study

Simple machines unit study with some cheap and fun ideas for making the topic stick! Adventures in Mindful Living

My son learned about simple machines last year but when I was asking him about them it seemed as though none of the information from that topic had really stuck. Looking back I think it was because we used a dry worksheet approach to it. While that can work in some situations it did not for this one!  Instead of getting upset with him for not remembering or myself for not doing a better job of teaching this concept I decided to just re-teach it a better way!

These are some of the fun things we did for our Simple Machine Unit Study.

We started out by watching two movies on Youtube. Jayden is a very visual learner and enjoys watching educational movies so I thought it would be a fun way to start out the study.

As always preview the program before you let your child watch it. Some programs may have material that does not align with your faith or your values. For me personally I don’t have to agree with you completely to use your material to teach my child. I just pick and choose carefully which parts we use and don’t use. I also use opportunities to talk to my children about what we believe and why if something comes up that I find questionable.

First we watched Bill Nye the Science guy’s program on simple machines – find it here on Youtube

Next we watched this hilarious science show called Science Court: Work and Simple Machines. Find it here on Youtube.

*In this show they do say that someone smells bad as part of their scientific argument.  I took the opportunity to talk about how we should handle situations when people don’t smell good. My son tends to speak his mind without a filter sometimes so this was a good lesson to go over with him.

After watching the programs we sat down at the table and I let him work through the Simple machines part of a program I am reviewing called Science4Us. It has several short videos and question and answer sections we talked through.  While I cannot show you all of it they do have some demos you can watch on simple machines.

– This one is song about simple machines. It is very catchy. I have been singing it all day.

–  This one is a game where kids can label the simple machine parts on this funny machine. They need to know the simple machines before you do this game. But it is fun and it helps kids apply what they learned so I am including it.

We talked about more simple machines that we used every day and why we need simple machines (this is when you start singing that song about work smarter, not harder)

I found this great book at the library called Castle Under Siege!: Simple Machines (Raintree Fusion: Physical Science). It is all about castles and the simple machines that were used to build them, to protect them, and to attack them.   I loved this book because we rolled our science lesson on simple machines into a history lesson at the same time.  It is really a great and easy book to read aloud (not too long or complex).You could build a whole unit study just around this book!

We talked about what we learned in the book and then I gave him his final project for the study. I told him to show me an example of each of the simple machine we read about.He could build something, draw something, or show me on one of his toys. I gave him some extra books that I had found at the library so he could look through them and get some more ideas.

These were the extra books I found out our library about simple machines.

simple machines

He was in his room for awhile and came out with the following examples.

He said this was a stonemason using a wedge to cut a stone for the castle walls.(Yes we are Star Wars fans.)
He said this was a stonemason using a wedge to cut a stone for the castle walls.(Yes we are Star Wars fans.)

 

He said he would use this inclined plane to load his rocks easier into the siege tower (we read about those today in the book)
He said he would use this inclined plane to load his rocks easier into the siege tower (we read about those today in the book)
lever
his version of a catapult
He said this would make taking his huge rocks (that of course went in the catapult) much easier
He said this would make taking his huge rocks (that of course went in the catapult) much easier
This he explained is a crossbow. A crossbow uses a screw to pull back the string.
This he explained is a crossbow. A crossbow uses a screw to pull back the string.

He showed me a toy crane for the pulley

I loved that he could go and find examples and could explain why and what parts of the examples were actual simple machines. This project didn’t take any money  to do  but it was extremely effective. Sometimes I feel like I need to do these extravagant projects in order to be effective. This proved that thought process wrong.

This was a really fun simple machines unit study to do with him. I hope you can take some of these ideas and make them work for your family in your studies.If you are wondering how I plan out these unit studies please take a minute and read this post I wrote called “How to Plan a Unit Study”.  While we all like good ideas,but I think what I would love for you to get the most from this post is if your child doesn’t seem to remember something like simple machines do not beat yourself up. Do not get angry or frustrated with your child. Just take a breath and look at with fresh eyes. Hop on internet and find some new, fun, and creative ways to teach it again! I have had to do this several times and it has helped me become a better teacher and a better mom!

Have you ever had to re-teach certain topics in a new and creative way? I would love to hear about it below in the comments!

 

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