Step 1: Gather materials.
- The book, Sheep in a Jeep, by Nancy E. Shaw (author) and Margot Apple (illustrator)
- Boxes and/or laundry baskets
- Objects of various weights to push and pull in boxes and laundry baskets
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.
Step 2: Introduce activity.
- Explain that today we are going to use boxes/laundry baskets and objects to learn about force and motion and cause and effect.
- Introduce the vocabulary words force, motion, cause and effect.
- Read the book, Sheep in a Jeep, by Nancy Shaw.
- Discuss how applying force to something means giving it a push or pull. The harder you push or pull, the more force is acted on it.
- Discuss what happens when we put different objects into the boxes or laundry baskets.
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- Bring in a couple of boxes or laundry baskets.
- Organize the children into groups and instruct them to experiment with pushing or pulling the boxes/laundry baskets when they are filled with objects of various weights (maybe even a child).
- Ask: “Which objects will require more force to push or pull? Why?”
- Encourage the children to make predictions and conduct experiments to test out their theories about which objects will require more force to push or pull.
- After the children have experimented, ask them to discuss cause and effect. Say: “When you put the heavier items in the boxes or laundry baskets, did you have to apply more or less force to move them?”
- Ask the children to draw conclusions based on their investigations.
Step 4: Vocabulary.
- Cause: Something that gives rise to an action or condition
- Effect: The result of a physical action
- Force: The push or pull on an object that causes it to change velocity
- Motion: Movement from one place to another
- Position: The place where you are (if you change your place, you are moving)
- Push: The force to move an object away
- Pull: The force to move an object closer
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- Use a large box and a group of toddler friends to learn the simple vocabulary of push and pull
Child care providers may:
- Play a simple game of push and pull
- Push a toy car, pull a wagon and introduce vocabulary
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- Take this investigation over to the block area and try adding inclines to expand this lesson to include investigations into speed and gravity
Child care providers may:
- Extend this activity by adding weight, friction and other “obstacles” to change speed and direction
- Forces: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn (author) and Hui Li (illustrator)
- Oscar and the Cricket: A Book About Moving and Rolling by Geoff Waring
- Push and Pull by Patricia J. Murphy
Music and Movement
“Forces Can Push or Pull” performed by Jack Hartmann
- Conduct this activity outdoors on slides, ramps and hills to extend the learning and add science vocabulary such as balance, friction and speed to the lesson.