Get teaching with these force and motion experiments, activities and videos to use in the elementary classroom. This collection of force and motion activities and resources should help you cover the topics like texture, gravity, incline and simple machines.
If you’re looking for helpful ideas and lesson plans – then this is the place to start!
Do you need a refresher as the teacher before planning your simple machines unit? This simple machines facts page is an excellent (and easy) way to jog your memory.
Force and Motion Experiments
Let’s plan some force and motion experiments for all elementary grades. Some of these can be adapted for different grade levels.
Set up ramps with different textures and send toy cars down. Use lots of questions to guide young students to extend their exploration.
Create catapults to explore how to make simple machines. With plastic utensils and marshmallows you’re set to build.
Take what you learned about building catapults in the above experiment to build a STEM engineering challenge. Students have to build a basketball hoop with classroom objects and recycled materials.
Skip the cars on an incline and go for liquids! Create a viscosity race with stuff from your fridge. Talk about how resistance to flowing is called viscosity and have fun.
Explore Newton’s first law together – the law of inertia – by seeing it in action. Create towers with note cards, string and a tower to feel the law as you take out each card separately, quickly or try to pull them all out at once!
Explore how to move the fulcrum on a lever to experiment how it impacts ease of use. All you need are some simple tools like rulers, a semi-heavy object and something to be the fulcrum.
A video explaining how a lever works is included.
Conduct trials with toy cars to see how you can make them go faster. Record the distance, time and speed with a free recording sheet.
Save a few water bottles and fill them with dry rice. Your students will love exploring friction in this floating rice experiment.
Aren’t those fun and clever force and motion experiments? Let’s move onto activities to help reinforce what you’ve taught.
Force and Motion Activities
After learning about how friction and force moves a roller coaster, set up your classroom to bring the concept to life.
Don’t be afraid to get messy! Combine art with science in this force and motion marble painting activity.
Work on note taking. Use free simple machine notebooking pages and have students describe the lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw and wheel and axle. This would be a good resource for upper elementary.
Build a winch with paper towel tubes, spool and a straw. Students could make this recycled materials winch in pairs or small groups.
Attempt to lift heavier objects (by adding pennies to the object being lifted) feeling the change in force it takes to pull it up.
Make a foldable to summarize Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion. Write each law and illustrate on the flap.
Force and Motion Free Games Online
Experiment online (for kindergarten and first grade) with this push and pull online activity. [no longer available]
Try this forces and movement interactive game for first and second grade. [no longer available]
Experiment with forces in action with this online activity for 10-11 year olds. [no longer available]
While it’s tricky to build flying contraptions in the classroom – use this how do things fly online simulator to design your own airplanes can make it happen – virtually.
Learn about drag, lift, thrust and weight in this interactive activity.
Your students will totally get into this online simple machines game. This game can be challenging – but your students will learn! Reading skills are needed.
Explore forces, loads, materials and shapes with this interactive force and motion building big activity. This is neat for upper elementary students to see simulated (but interactive) examples of what they are learning about – with more options than you can explore in the classroom.
Force and Motion Videos for Elementary
Here is a list of more force and motion videos for 4th and 5th grade.
Ready for more force and motion activities for the classroom? Check out these 19 Fun Ideas & Resources for Force and Motion.
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