Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Make Life Simple

Linda Wenzel
Hillsborough County Schools


This activity introduces students to simple machines. Pictures of real world objects help students know the six simple machines.


The student knows the six types of simple machines (screw, inclined plane, wedge, pulley, lever, and wheel and axle).


-Copy of visuals of six simple machines (8 ˝ inch x 11 inch cardstock) associated file
-Copy of definitions for each simple machine (8 ˝ inch x 11 inch cardstock) associated file
-Copy of simple machine terms (8 ˝ inch x 11 inch cardstock) associated file
-Copy Simple Machine PowerPoint (associated file)
-Projection equipment (TV Elite) for the PowerPoint Presentation to appear on you TV screen
-Copy Simple Machines Flashcards (associated file)
-Scissors for students
-Index cards (1 per student)
-Picture Web paper (legal size)
-Colored Pencils
-Copy rubric for Picture Web (associated file)


1. Preview background Weblinks for additional information if needed.
2. Find and set up THE MAGIC SCHOOLBUS Weblink.
3. Prepare 8 ˝ x 11 inch word cards for lesson introduction. (1 set)
4. Prepare 8 ˝ x 11 inch definition cards for lesson introduction. (1 set)
5. Prepare 8 ˝ x 11 inch picture cards for lesson introduction. (1 set)
6. Make copies of the Simple Machine flash cards. – one set for each student
7. (optional) Flash card copies can be copied, laminated, and cut apart if teacher chooses. (one set for each student)
8. Preview and set up PowerPoint presentation.
9. Gather colored pencils and legal size paper for the Picture Web.
10. Copy the rubric.


This lesson is designed for two days.
Prior to lesson: Set up PowerPoint presentation and find [The Magic Schoolbus] Weblink on the computer.

Day 1
1. Direct students to look at the television screen to view the inside of The Magic Schoolbus. Ask them to identify simple machines that are contained inside The Magic Schoolbus.

2. Recognize correct answers. Explain to the students that we use simple machines everyday. They are part of everything we do.

3. Introduce the six simple machines. To introduce the different machines use the 8 1/2” x 11” cards of definitions, words, and pictures. (see associated file) As you introduce the different simple machines match the definition card to the word card and the picture card.

Screw -an inclined plane that wraps around a shaft

Inclined Plane -a plane surface set at an angle, other than a right angle, against a horizontal surface

Lever -about a fixed point called a fulcrum a simple machine made with a bar free to move

Pulley -a simple machine made with a rope, belt or chain wrapped around a grooved wheel

Wedge -is two inclined planes put together

Wheel and Axle -modification of a pulley

4. Explain to the students that simple machines are part of our everyday life.

5. Distribute the pupil response flash cards for the PowerPoint presentation or flash card copy- one for each student. (see associated file)

6. Have students cut flash cards apart if you are passing out a copy of the flash cards to each student.

7. Explain to the students that they are looking at real life examples of simple machines. Once an image appears on the PowerPoint presentation, students choose one of the six flash cards showing the simple machine word that they think is being represented on the PowerPoint slide. Students hold the card privately until the teacher says "Show Me." At that time, they flash the card so the teacher can visually see each student’s response.

8. Encourage students to compare the image on the slide with the different types of simple machines to analyze which one is a match.

9. Continue through the slide show assessing formatively. Elicit student explanations as you proceed. When wrong answers are apparent explain why the object is categorized as that particular simple machine.

10. Review concepts. Ask students if they can think of anymore real world examples of the six simple machines.

Day 2
Prior to lesson post simple machine word terms around the room.
1. To begin this session quickly review by posting the six simple machine word term cards around the room.

2. Instruct the students to think about yesterday’s activity and decide which simple machine that think they know the most about. (definition and real words examples)

3. Allow think time.

4. Pass out one index card to each student.

5. Then instruct students to write the name of their simple machine on the index card.

6. Allow time for students to write their response.

7. After they have all written their response, instruct them to move to the same designated area in the room as they wrote on their index card.

8. After all students have moved to the identified area have them find a partner and share their knowledge about their simple machine.

9. Randomly select students to share their knowledge and others to add additional information. Provide feedback and summarizes learning.

10. Have students return to their seats.

11. Ask the students what comes to mind when you hear the words Picture Web?

12. Explain to the students that they are going to make a Picture Web of the six simple machines.
a. Instruct that in the middle of the web they are to write the words SIMPLE MACHINES.
b. Next, create six spokes coming from the center (SIMPLE MACHINES). On each spoke of the web students draw a picture of one of the simple machines.
c. Students label each drawing. (ex. pulley, screw, lever, wheel and axle, wedge, inclined plane)
d. Next, have students write the definition of each of the simple machines by each picture.
e. Have students recall different real world examples that they remember from the PowerPoint presentation and add them to their Picture Webs using pictures and/or words
f. After stating directions and checking for clarification distribute and explain the assessment criteria for the Picture Web.

13. Hand out materials for Picture Web: legal size paper and colored pencils.

14. Students create Picture Webs while the teacher circulates.

15. Encourage the students to apply the different real life examples from the PowerPoint presentation. The more detailed the picture map, the better tool for future assessment.


Use a Flash Card game to demonstrate:
The student’s ability to know the definitions of the six simple machines.
The student’s ability to categorize real world objects as simple machines
Students create a Picture Web (graphic organizer)
Use the Picture Web to formatively assess the student’s ability to know the six simple machines.
The rubric in the provided attached file includes the criteria for successful performance.


1.See Weblinks for more ideas.
2.Using Leonardo’ Mysterious Machinery Website have students identify the simple machines within his creative inventions.
See Gadget Anatomy and Mysterious Machines at the Website.
3. The Picture Web can be turned into a descriptive paragraph about simple machines.

Web Links

Use this site to gain student attention at the beginning of the lesson.
Magic School Bus

Use for background information.

Use for background and extension activities.
Smart Machines

This site has multiple sites. Use for extension activities.
Leonardo's Mysterious Machinery

Use this site as an extension activity.
Weird Richard

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