Simple machines are ALL around us and it is such an important concept for first grade students to understand.
These are machines and objects that help make work easier.
In today's world, when a student (or adult for that matter) hears the word “machine” we think of of a complicated piece of machinery.
This unit sparks a sense of creativity in students by showing them how them how to solve problems without technology.
Once students understand what simple machines are, and how to use them to make work easier, they can then start using those simple machines in everyday life to problem solve.
You are essentially teaching life skills and science at the same time.
Learning Types of Machines
One of my favorite ways to start this unit is by showing students that simple machines are all around them.
I introduce the types of machines with a clipart version of the machine, then I show them real-life examples of those same simple machines.
I always follow that up with a cut and paste matching activity. It allows students to independently apply what they have learned about all of the different types of machines they use everyday.
Here's the great thing about independent activities like this… you can get students started and then pull a small group of 3-4 students to get in an extra 10 minutes or so of intervention time!
OR if you are running short on time, this serves great as morning work!
Writing Activities for Struggling Students
A huge misconception I hear about writing in first grade is that it can be hard for students to write a full paper on one topic…
but have you thought about simply having students write sentences about what they have learned?
For my students who are struggling, I love to use the “How to Use Simple Machines” activity on the left. By having students write about each machine individually, they are building their writing skills.
And then you can make it more difficult!
Once students are able to write solid sentences one machine at a time, they can then start to complete full writing assignments such as the “Everyday Machines” activity on the left.
In this activity, students take what they have learned about Simple Machines to identify the machines they use in everyday life.
And then it's time for my favorite kind of writing about science… creative writing!
I also have to say this is a student favorite as well, “If I were an Inventor“.
This is usually our final project of our this unit that requires students to take everything they have learned about simple machines to create their own invention.
Students have so much fun with this activity and I love reading their responses.
If you are looking for a more hands on approach to gauge what your students have learned about simple machines, let me introduce you to interactive journals.
These kinds of journals do require a lot more guidance from you when first start using them so that students can learn how to properly cut them and glue them into their journal.
But once students know what to expect, these can become an independent activities.
AND… students love them!