• chart paper
Place these “six simple machines” in a box: wheel, lever, pulley, inclined plane, screw, and wedge. Explain to your child that he/she is going to learn about simple machines. Make a chart with the six simple machines drawn and labeled to use as a reminder. Let your child know he/she will investigate simple machines and will find them all around the room. Did he/she know that all machines are made from these six simple machines?
Take the machines out one at a time and share what each does. Talk about how machines cannot work by themselves but need people or power (such as wind, air, electricity, heat) to make them work. Discuss how a machine usually makes work easier for us. Give your child a pencil and paper.
Invite your child to walk around the classroom and find as many simple machines as possible. Ask him/her to draw the items that use the simple machines. Examples: If your child has a block area set up he/she will find many inclined planes; trucks/cars have wheels; the pencil sharpener has a crank and a screw. In addition, keep in mind that furniture has many screws and wedges; toys might be simple machines; scissors are levers and wedges; knives and kitchen utensils we use are wedges; a nail is a wedge. Set a time limit on this activity so your child stays focused and knows he/she needs to get the job completed.
Remember: Children of this age are ready to learn scientific vocabulary and will retain it when it relates to something in their own lives. Be sure to model how to safely use tools. Remember that the greatest cognitive growth happens through discussions, so provide plenty of opportunity for your child to talk through his/her explorations.
Taking things apart to see how they work is an activity all children love. Place a few discarded machines (phone, toaster, alarm clock, tape player, old radio) on a table with pliers and screwdrivers. Encourage your child to take apart the appliances. What simple machines do they find? Make sure to safety-proof all machines before putting them out for your child.