Cover for Teach Simple Machines to Your Children showing printable posters.

Teach Simple Machines to Your Children

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!

Simple machines are super fun to learn about.  Check out these resources that make it easy to teach your children about simple machines, including books full of projects and fun videos.

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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!

Six printed color posters showing each type of simple machine.

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.

Explore Simple Machines!: With 25 Great Projects
  • Yasuda, Anita (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 10/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Nomad Press (Publisher)

If you want some fun living books about simple machines, check out these:

Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Humdrum School Day: A Picture Book
  • Hardcover Book
  • George, Jennifer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 08/29/2017 (Publication Date) - Abrams Books for Young Readers (Publisher)
The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines (Arbordale Collection)
  • Lois Spangler (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/08/2013 (Publication Date) - Arbordale Publishing (Publisher)
Simple Story of the 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Fetzner, Mary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 03/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Creative Learning Consultants (Publisher)
Use a Pulley: Simple Machines–Pulleys (Science Storybooks)
  • Lee, Mi-ae (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 08/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Big & Small (Publisher)


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!

All six different simple machine mats are shown with some of the accompanying cards.

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!

Cover for product Simple Machines Sorting Mats with pictures of 3 mats and some accompanying cards.

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!

K'NEX Education - Intro to Simple Machines: Levers and Pulleys Set – 178 Pieces – For Grades 3-5 – Construction Education Toy
  • Build 8 fully-functioning replicas of real-world machines, one at a time
  • Introduce students to scientific concepts related to simple machines through hands-on learning
  • Includes 178 K'NEX parts and pieces packaged in a convenient storage bin
  • Designed for grades 3-5; includes building instructions and comprehensive Teacher's Guide
  • Aligned to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts and national standards
Learning Resources City Engineering and Design Building Set, Ages 5+,100 Pieces, Engineer STEM Toy, Construction Toys, Simple Machines Kids
  • ENCOURAGE an early love of STEM learning with this one-of-a-kind City Building Set
  • DEVELOP: Your little engineers will develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills while creating their own skyscrapers, cranes, bridges and more.
  • CHALLENGE kids by following the design process of Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve!
  • Set Includes: 89 buildable pieces, 10 cards, 1 sticker sheet.
  • Super STEM Skills: From science and technology to engineering and math, STEM learning help kids build critical thinking and other skills they need for success in school and beyond!
Thames & Kosmos Simple Machines Science Experiment & Model Building Kit, Introduction to Mechanical Physics, Build 26 Models to Investigate The 6 Classic Simple Machines
  • Through 26 model-building exercise, gain hands-on experience with gears and all six classic simple machines: wheels and axles, levers, pulleys, inclined Planes, screws, and wedges.
  • Durable, modular construction system is compatible with building pieces in other construction, physics, and engineering kits from Thames & Kosmos.
  • Learn how simple machines are all around us (the flagpole at school, the wheelbarrow in your backyard, The seesaw at the playground!) and how they're used to make complex tasks easier to do.
  • Includes a specially designed spring scale so that you can measure how the machines change the direction and magnitude of forces.
  • A 32-page, full-color illustrated manual guides model building with step-by-step instructions and provides fun, engaging scientific information.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Debbi H

    So many great resources! I shared this on my FB page.

    1. Randi Smith

      Thanks Debbi!

Comments are closed.