Pushing and Pulling On The Playground

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SWBAT apply their knowledge of motion and force by using "pushes" and "pulls" to cause motion to an object on the playground.

Big Idea

Today your students will take science to the playground. They will be asked to engage in several playground activities and decide what force is needed to participate in each of them.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

The class starts the lesson by reviewing vocabulary words from the previous lesson. They then head to the playground to explore 6 different playground activities and identify the force needed to create motion.  The students will record each activity on a recording sheet.  The lesson will end with a science circle discussion back in the classroom.  

This lesson dives into the 3rd Science and Engineering Practice because students are carrying out an investigation while working collaboratively.  The students are also producing data and using this data to answer a question.  The students also hit upon the 8th Science and Engineering practice by orally communicating their results and discussing the results of their predictions.  

Materials Needed:

*science notebooks, *playground equipment, *pencils, *activity sheet (found in explore section of lesson).

NOTE:  Our district in transitioning to the NGSS.  Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been affected by the shifts in grade levels.  I continue to teach this unit because it focuses on the National Science Standard (K-4) B.  "As students describe and manipulate objects by pushing or pulling, throwing, dropping, and rolling, they also begin to focus on the the position and movement of objects."  

It is also important that students learn that pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions, and can change the speed or direction of its motion to start or stop it.  It is important that students understand that "the position and motion of an object can be changed by pushing or pulling.  The size of the change is related to the strength of the push or pull." Establishing this knowledge base will prepare them for 3rd grade when the NGSS requires them to apply concepts of force and motion into their learning (3-PS2).


10 minutes

I start today's lesson by gathering the kids in the carpet and reading the book Push and Pull by Charlotte Guillain.  I review the definitions of push, pull, motion, and force, that were defined in the previous lesson.  

"I want to start today's lesson by reading a book to you.  It is called Push and Pull.  as I am reading, I want you to think about what we have discussed about pushing and pulling objects (so far in this unit).  When I am done, I am going to ask you to tell me if you learned anything new and/or if the book reinforced something you already knew."

I am choosing to read this book to reinforce the concepts of push and pull.  The book helps reiterate ideas that we had already discussed and preps them for today's activity.  This books prepares them for the task because it reinforces the concept of applying a force or creating a movement with a push or a pull.  I find using a book to provide context allows those visual learners to have to concept reinforced before asking them to apply it to the day's activity.  


30 minutes

"We are going to head outside today.  Your job will be to explore some of the playground choices and record what type of force is needed to use the piece of equipment or to play with the item.  In other words, what force is needed to cause motion to the object.  Instead of recording your results in your science notebook, I will ask that you use this Playground Recording Sheet.  I will attach it to a page in your notebook after we are done.  

I have included the items that you need to explore.  You can choose to explore on your own or with a partner, but your job is to get to each one today."

I review the list with students before we head out to eliminate confusion once we are out there. Attention spans can be challenged once you get outside, so I find it best to make sure everyone is clear on the task before we get outside.  

"Let's head on out and explore!"

I take the class outside and let them explore.  I will circulate amongst the class and make sure that students are identifying the force being used. I want to make sure that students just don't "use" the items but think about how they are used. I  have included an example of students explaining who they are using one of the pieces of equipment.    


10 minutes

I bring the class back into the classroom and ask them to make a circle on the carpet with their pencils and recording sheets (ones used outside).  I pass out their science notebooks and ask them to fill out today's date and focus.

"Please open your science notebooks and write the date and the focus.  Today's focus is Motion and Force on the Playground.  I want you to then look at your recording sheet and think of one of the objects that you explored and the force needed to create a motion.  I then want you to turn and talk to someone sitting next to you and share what you discovered.  I want one person to go first and then the other.  Make sure that you are listening to your partner's share because I will ask you to share what you learned from your partner."

I choose to have students report out on their partner's share to promote and encourage the importance of hearing what other's have to say.  I also asks the students to tell me why they agree or disagree with what their partner said.  

"Who would like to share what they learned form their partner?  Do you agree or disagree?  How did your observations help you decide to agree or disagree?"

As students are sharing, I moderate the conversation to encourage similar connections from each share.  For example, if a student identifies that you can push a friend on the swing, I ask if anyone could add to what was just said.  I want students to connect their learning to the learning of others.

I have included an example of two students sharing their observations with each other.  They would then follow the procedure listed above as they share out with the group.  


5 minutes

"To finish off today's lesson, I want you to use your science notebooks to work on the following scenario:  I want you to add one new activity and/or piece of equipment to the playground.  You will need to draw a picture of it and then explain how you would create motion with the playground addition."  

If a student can't come up with one of their own, I will give them a suggestion of a teeter totter.  This way they can focus on the force used and not so much the creation of a new item.  By completing this last prompt, the students are applying the concepts of creating a motion through the use of a force and applying it to another playground choice.


1 minutes

I look through both the students recording sheets (from the playground) and their science notebook entries to see that students are understanding the terms push and pull and can appropriately identify them through their investigation. 

If a student is not demonstrating a sound understanding of the terms and able to identify them, I pull them aside at another time (during the day) and reteach the concept of the lesson.  It is important that students understand the push and pull concept as we move forward in the unit.