Our Favorite Simple Machines Activities– Pulleys (and Wheel and Axle)
The last day of our Simple Machines unit was probably our favorite. We spent hours and hours making and toying with different ways of making pulleys and wheel-n-axles!
We started (as always) by reading a couple of books. We did an activity to show investigate which way of looping the rope made it easier/harder to pull the broom-handles together:
The kids really enjoyed Pull, Lift, and Lower: A Book About Pulleys (Amazing Science: Simple Machines). (affiliate link)
ED and I went off to the kitchen to do one of the activities suggested in the book. We created a clothes-line type pulley:
Meanwhile, DD and LD got no help at all from me. I just dumped a whole lot of materials on the carpet in front of them and told them they had 30 minutes to bring me a pulley that really worked. They were SO excited and set to work immediately!
LD came running into the kitchen to show me what he had come up with:
Meanwhile, DD had taken her pulley contraption outside and was attaching it to the banister:
Meanwhile, ED wanted to create another pulley system so she (and I) put together movable cups:
Meanwhile, LD was so inspired by DD’s idea to go outside that he modified his pulley system and attached it to the bridge banister so he could load supplies to bring up to his room:
The other two quickly joined in — and duct-tape quickly ruled the day as they attempted to attach their pulleys to the banister:
The kids also made a couple of wheel-and-axle contraptions…
But over all it was the pulleys that totally engaged them for the afternoon. They spent over two hours working on and tinkering with their pulleys! It was SUCH a satisfying day for them!
Anyway, that just about brings our unit to a close. Don’t forget that you can download the Simple Machine Packet that I made for my kids. Just follow the link below:
Don’t miss the 30+-page Simple Machines Packet I made or the other hands-on activities we did in connection with this unit:
Simple Machines Packet Quick Preview (You can purchase it in our store).
Simple Machines Booklet: This is a booklet all about the six types of simple machines: lever, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, pulley and screw. It also covers the three classes of levers.
Kids can trace the key words and color in the pictures. The booklet is 14 half-pages. (Directions on how to put the booklet together are provided.)
The Simple Machines Unit is now over 50+ pages. It includes notebook pages & worksheets, the interactive notebook activity, simple machines booklet and hands-on activity ideas (with photos).
Other Hands-On Activities from Our Simple Machines Unit:
- Rocks and Minerals Packet
- Human Body Systems — This post also has links to a number of different worksheet sets I made on the digestive system, etc.
- Montessori Science — A post that links to some of the free Montessori 3-part cards I have made for the kids
- Biomes, Food Webs, Biological Interactions and More!!– (Deserts, Grasslands, Savannah, Deciduous Forests, Coniferous Forests, Tundra, etc.)
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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
where do you get the materials to make pulleys, wheels and axles? i have a physics project due next week and i have to create a contraption with those elements. Do you think you could please recommend a place where i can buy them or the material to make them? thank you!
You should be able to find wooden pieces like the ones we used at Michaels or another craft store. You could also use empty thread spools if your parents or grandparents are into sewing. Hope that helps ~Liesl
thanks for your time and input! i will check out what craft stores to go to! i really enjoyed looking at this website! ^-^
I am teaching our Boy Scout den today about pulleys and I really enjoyed your post. It was helpful and brought a new layer of creativity to what I am planning 🙂
Glad you found this helpful. My kids had a lot of fun with this unit, especially lifting Mom off the ground with a giant lever!! 🙂 ~Liesl