Simple machines are super fun to learn about. In fact, it is the only part of 7th grade science I remember enjoying growing up! Below, I explain each of the six types of simple machines and then share resources that make it easy to teach your children about simple machines. They include a book full of projects, living books, and fun videos. And make sure you grab the FREE Simple Machine Posters to hang up for your children!
The Six Simple Machines
Wedges have one or two sloping sides that end in a sharp point and are used to lift, split, move, or stop an object. Examples include knives, chisels, and nails.
Inclined Planes have a flat surface that connects a lower level with a higher level. They include a roller coaster, skateboard ramp, and slides.
Screws are inclined planes wrapped around a shaft that turns in a circle to pull one thing toward another. Besides actual screws, they include jar lids and light bulbs.
Levers are bars that rest on a support to lift or move things. The one I always think of first is a seesaw, but scissors, wheelbarrows, and shovels are all levers, too. There are three types of levers depending on where the fulcrum is placed along the bar.
Wheels and axles are two objects joined together at the center that rotate together. Obviously, they include car and bike wheels, but they also include door knobs and screwdrivers.
Pulleys are grooved wheels with ropes used to lift and lower heavy objects easily. Everyday examples include window blinds, flag poles, zip lines, and cranes.
Posters about Simple Machines
These six posters describe each of the six simple machines above and are perfect to hang up in your homeschool classroom, playroom, or child’s bedroom. You can download them for FREE here!
Books about Simple Machines
The Explore Simple Machines book will give you several weeks of learning all in one book! Each chapter explains one type of simple machine then gives different variations and several examples. And, it includes several projects you can make with household items. There are 25 projects in total in the book.
Videos about Simple Machines
Bill Nye is definitely old school, but his videos are still fun and informative. (31 min.)
Here is a shorter video from Free School. It is not as fun as Bill Nye, but includes good information. (6 min.)
And here is a fun video that can inspire your children to look for simple machines in the kitchen. (5 minutes)
There are lots more videos about simple machines on YouTube so see what you find!
Rube Goldberg Machines
Rube Goldberg machines are complex machines that perform a simple task. Check out the Rube Goldberg machine below and see how many simple machines you and your children can identify in it. Then, look up other Rube Goldberg Machines or create your own!
Review What You Have Learned
A great way to pull all the knowledge together and assess what your children learned is by using an active recall activity. But, worksheets and tests can be boring! So check out these fun, colorful Simple Machine Sorting Mats!
There is one mat for each type of simple machine. Children will then match the cards containing the definition, types, parts, and examples of that simple machine. Then, they can check their work against the answer key. They will have fun testing themselves to see what they remember!
Simple Machine Toys
If your children have grown to love simple machines during this unit, you may want to invest in some of these fun toys!