What Can You Balance?

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SWBAT describe balance using descriptions from media and their own experiences.

Big Idea

Students try to balance different objects and look for examples of balance in books and videos.

Teacher Preparation

In this lesson, students predict what will happen when balanced forces become unbalanced in familiar picture books when characters try to use balance to build or solve problems. This lesson is important because it extends student learning from actively engaging in balancing objects by building towers and testing balance in investigations to identifying and discussing abstract examples in media. This ultimately leads to the bigger idea, which is 'How can balance help people or characters to solve problems?' This question will guide this lesson. 

So far in this unit, my students have developed quite a bit of background knowledge and hands-on experience about balance and understand the term and how it works, so they are ready to identify abstract examples. This lesson supports Essential Standard 1.P.1.3, 'Predict the effect of a given force on the motion of an object, including balanced forces'. 


*The texts The Three Little Pigs & The Napping House (or alternate picture books where characters are balancing objects)

*Student's books that they read at school

Warm Up

10 minutes

For a quick start to the lesson, I say,

"We are going to watch part of a video today to identify some examples of balance! As you see people balancing different objects, write down some notes in your journal so we can talk about the examples!"

Then, I show the this video (start at 6:27 for the section about balanced forces!) ', which shows lots of real-world examples of balanced and unbalanced forces. Using media to learn about scientific information supports Science and Engineering Practice 4, and recording ideas and information about it supports Practice 8. 

After a few minutes of the video, I stop it and I ask my students to share the examples they saw. Communicating their ideas and information also supports Practice 8. Then, I say, 

"Now we are going to look at some other stories to see how balance is important and to see if we can predict what will happen!"


20 minutes

Then, I read the book The Three Little Pigs to the class, stopping at key moments when the characters are using balance in the story, like when they are carrying their materials home. I purposefully chose a short version of the story. Otherwise, I would just do a picture walk and tell the story using the pictures to point out the examples of balance with the students. I also ask for predictions to see if the characters will be able to balance the objects. When I get to more examples of balance, I start asking the students "What examples of balance do you see?" When students communicate ideas it supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.

After we finish that book, I say,

"Now, we are going to read another good one - this one is called The Napping House. Has anyone read this before? When you see an example of balance, I want you to raise your hand!"

In the story, the animals and people in the house all take a nap--together! They end up all sleeping in a huge pile balancing on top of one another! Lots of hands go up! On each page, I ask for someone to explain the balancing that is occurring. Then I ask for predictions about what will happen next- will they be able to continue to balance or will they fall?

After that story, I say,

"Today we have looked at different examples of balance. I wonder if you can think  of other stories, either in books or movies, where you remember seeing someone use balance. Think for a minute..."

After a few children share, it's time for the wrap up!

Wrap Up

5 minutes

For the wrap up, I say,

"For the next few days, when you are reading in your book tubs during literacy or watching a movie at home, I want you to remember when you see an example of balance. Show me or tell me, and we can add it to our chart about balance! For now, think to yourself of books you know you have seen examples of balance in".

After a minute or two, I invite students to share and I encourage them to keep adding to their lists as they read during literacy and see other examples of balance. This supports Science and Engineering Practice 4 because students will continue to observe and share observations from media about balance in the natural world.