Preschool students are constantly in motion. Using their everyday actions about objects they encounter every day is an easy way to begin teaching the concepts of force and motion. As children play, they can explain why and how things move the way they do and begin to compare those movements with other objects and activities.
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Visit a Playground
Take children to a playground and explain to them about force and motion through the swings, slide and teeter-totter. Model the concept of applying force to an object to make it move by pushing children on the swings. Demonstrate for children what happens when you sit on a teeter-totter without someone on the other side. After the visit to the playground, help children list all of the motions they demonstrated while playing that day.
Can You Move the Ball?
To teach children about invisible forces, place a lightweight ball, such as a craft foam ball, and a meter stick on the floor. Explain to the children that they have to move the ball to the end of the meter stick without using any hands or feet and ask if anyone has any ideas on how that can be done. Demonstrate how to blow on the ball to make it move. Have children practice blowing on the ball to make it move.
Present children with pictures of toys, vehicles and animals. On large pieces of chart paper, list motions such as roll, bounce, fly, slither, slide and swing. Help the children classify the pictures by how the object in the picture moves, gluing each picture to the appropriate piece of chart paper.
Moving Toy Cars
Many preschool students love to play with toy cars. Turn this simple activity into a lesson of force and motion by explaining to students how the cars move. Create ramps for the cars out of building blocks and have children explain what happens to the car when it goes down the ramp.
Moving with Magnets
While many preschoolers will have difficulty understanding magnetic force, it is not too early to expose them to the concept. Create a fishing rod by attaching a piece of string to a stick and tying a magnet on the end. Have students fish for nuts and bolts or place magnets on the back of construction-paper fish so students can go "fishing."
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