Take It Apart

By looking inside simple machines, your child will learn about how parts make a whole.



What you need:

  • discarded machines 
  • pliers 
  • screwdrivers 
  • small bins or containers

What to do:

  1. Old alarm clocks, telephones, calculators, or radios provide the perfect opportunity for some up-close learning for your child. Taking things apart is an activity that most children love. 
  2. Talk about how machines cannot work by themselves — they need people or some kind of power, like electricity, air, wind, gears, or water, to make them work. 
  3. Set the item on a table with pliers and screwdrivers. Encourage your child to take apart the appliance. Before she begins the process, make sure to safety-proof the item and model how to use the tools safely. You may have to help her figure out where to start.
  4. Use the small bins (or an egg carton or muffin tin) to sort the parts he finds inside the machine.
  5. Remember that children at this age are ready to learn scientific vocabulary (energy, cogs, gears) and will retain it when it is related to something in their own lives. The greatest cognitive growth happens through discussions, so be sure to talk about what your child is doing and what parts interest her. 
Problem Solving
Science & Nature Activities
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Science Experiments and Projects
Simple Machines