SKILLS: Children will use observation and problem-solving skills as they experiment with simple machines.
- cardboard or lightweight wooden box to fill with blocks
- small sled or large plastic tray
- small wagon or dolly
- large stick to use as a lever and a block
1 Gather a small group of children and ask for their help with a job. Explain that you want to move a box of blocks from the block area to the opposite end of the room. Ask them to first fill the box with blocks.
2 Now, let children try moving the box of blocks. They'll likely be surprised at how heavy it has ecome. Ask, "How can we move this heavy box?" Be patient as children try their ideas, such as pushing it. Talk about whether pushing the box seems to be the best way to move it.
3Show children a rope and ask how they might use it to move the box. Again, give children ample time to come up with ideas. Try their ideas, such as attaching the rope to the box and pulling it. Ask, "Is this way any easier?" Encourage children to think of ways to move the box so they won't have to work so hard.
4 Bring out a small, flat plastic sled or a large plastic tray. Let children examine the item, then invite them to suggest a way to use it to move the box. Try their ideas, such as putting the box on it. Decide together if moving the box is getting easier. Can they think of something that would make the job even easier?
Bring out the wagon or dolly. Talk about why the wheels will make the box easier to move. Then present children with another problem: How will they get the heavy box on the wagon? Let them try different ways to pick up the box, being careful that they don't hurt themselves.
6Show children the stick and a block. Explain that the stick is a simple tool called a levee, and that the lever and block can help them pick up the box. Encourage children to experiment with the lever to see if they can figure out how to use it. Then, if necessary, show them how to slide it under one end of the box while putting a block under the stick. When they press down on the stick, the box will rise up.
7 Time to put the heavy box on the wagon. Talk about their success. Give children plenty of time to "ride" the box around in the wagon. They've worked hard to get to this end.
Play selections of music of varying tempos. Invite children to move the box across the room to the music. Encourage children to discuss how their movements slow or quicken as they try to keep pace with the music. Ask, "Which kind of music makes the work seem easier? Which makes it harder? Why?"
Moving Heavy Things by Jan Adkins
My First Jumbo Book of Things That Go by Melanie Gerth
My Little Wagon by Alma Powell