Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Machines Help

Sandi King
Bay District Schools


Do you know what simple machines are at use on the school grounds? After reviewing the six simple machines, students locate simple machines on the school grounds and chart what machines are found and how they are used to make tasks possible.


The student understands how simple machines are used to make tasks possible.


- Beacon Student Web Lesson, Simple Machines Made Simple
- Beacon Student Web Lesson, How Can We Move Our Principal?
- Various reference books from your media center on the subject of simple machines
- Simple Machines at Our School Chart, one per student (from attached file)
- One sheet of chart paper
- Markers to write on the chart paper (two colors)
- Chalk or dry erase board
- Chalk or dray erase markers
- An online computer
- A way for the computer to display for the class (projector, TV, LCD, or etc.)
- Computer lab (or several online computers in the classroom)
- Unit question and scenario from the lesson plan, Responsibility, now on display in the classroom
- Charts created in the lesson, Responsibility, now on display in the classroom
- Pictures, Simple Machines in the Real World, from the attached file
- Journals used during the lesson, Responsibility


1. Have a chalk or dry erase board available for use with the appropriate writing tools.
2. Locate one sheet of chart paper and two colors of markers.
3. Locate an online computer that can be used in the classroom.
4. Checkout various reference books for students to use to learn about simple machines. The books can be whatever is available from your media center. The books will be available for students desiring more in-depth learning, but will not be a requirement of all students. A Beacon unit kit, How Can We Move Our Principal?, containing a variety of appropriate books, is available for check out from the Bay District Media Center.
5. Locate a way for the computer to display for the class (projector, TV, LCD, or etc.). Talk with your media specialist or technology specialist for assistance.
6. Preview Simple Machines Made Simple. This resource should be preloaded as it has movie clips that can take several minutes to download. Once the resource has been previewed on the computer, the long download times are greatly reduced. For further explanation, see procedures # 11. The link for this resource is available in the Weblink section of this lesson plan or from the unit.
7. Preview the Beacon Student Web Lesson, How Can We Move Our Principal? The link for this lesson is available in the Weblink section of this lesson plan or from the unit.
8. Download, print, and duplicate the Simple Machines at Our School Chart from attached file. You will need one chart per student.
9. Schedule the computer lab or locate several online computers for use in the classroom.
10. Download and print a copy of the pictures Simple Machines in the Real World from the attached file.
11. Locate various examples of the six simple machines in and around the school. On the walk, students will need to see examples of as many six simple machines as possible in use, so this preparation is very important. See procedure #14 for more information. Examples of machines that may be in your school are:
* Inclined plane – any ramp including in the bus-loading zone, any place there are stairs, a slide on the playground
* Pulley – flagpole, window blinds, and curtains on the stage, a long ladder (from the custodian)
* Lever – can opener, shovel handle, stapler, and wheelbarrow
* Wheel and axle – any winding crank like a window crank or pencil sharpener crank, any kindergarten toy like a tricycle or play truck, the school bus, a merry-go-round on the playground, door knobs, and cars in the parking lot
* Screw – anything with threads such as a jar lid or water hose, screws that hold the doorknob or anything else on or together, the inside of the pencil sharpener
* Wedge – the point of a pencil or crayon, a door wedge, the tip of a screwdriver, the edge of a shovel, a knife in the kitchen, the blades of scissors


Note: This is lesson three of seven in the Beacon Learning Center unit, A Television in My Room. This lesson covers science content and is to be done on the third day of the unit before the second session of the reading lesson from Skateboard Renegade.

Making everything relevant -

1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the unit question and scenario from the lesson plan, Responsibility, completed on day two of the unit and now on display on the wall of the classroom.

2. Review the charts on display that list ways to be responsible to self and others.

3. Focusing on the chart of how to be responsible to others, discuss the specifics of how to show responsibility to others if, like in the scenario, you have a television in your room. Allow students to turn to a close neighbor and discuss and list ways to show responsibility to others specifically dealing with having a television in your room. Allow about 3 minutes for this Think-Pair-Share activity.

4. Call on one team to share their list orally. As the list is shared, the teacher writes the list on the board and students mark this idea off their lists. Continue calling on teams to share the items on their lists that have not yet been shared until all students have had an opportunity to share their lists.

5. It is key to make sure that these two thoughts are included on the class list. 1) The volume of the television will not bother others. 2) The television must be turned off when the student leaves the room or falls asleep. These are the two key ways to be responsible that we will be using with the science content of this unit, so if students do not list these, guide them to these two thoughts.

6. Now that a class list is written on the board, begin a discussion of various thoughts on the list. The teacher’s job is to steer the students to the two key thoughts listed above as two of the most important ways to show responsibility to others if we had a television in our room.

7. On a piece of chart paper, list these two key ways to show responsibility. The title of the chart is I Can Show Responsibility to Others by . . .

8. If all goes as planned, students now have direction for answering the unit question: How can you show that you are responsible? The rest of the content of the unit will give the students the science, math, and language arts content they need to understand how to achieve the two goals of controlling the sound of the television and making sure it is turned off at appropriate times.


9. Have a discussion of how the television will be turned off. Remind students that it must be turned off when they leave the room or when they fall asleep, even if they forget to turn it off. Meeting these criteria, students should come to the conclusion that the television will have to turn off automatically. Present the question of how the television will know when to turn off. Guide students to the understanding that they will need a machine that makes that task possible.

10. Present standard that states that students understand how simple machines make tasks possible. Although students learned about the six simple machines in third grade, a review of the simple machines is necessary.

11. As a full group activity, view the online resource, Simple Machines Made Simple. This is a lesson in identifying machines and their uses. Since this resource has video clips that take several minutes to download, it is best to preview the entire resource ahead of time. Be sure to view each of the movies (video clips). Once they have been viewed, the downloaded clips will remain in the cache making the next viewing of the pages and movies much faster.

* The online resource can be done as a read aloud with various students reading a page and then doing the interactivity for the page. Keeping the students involved helps keep their attention and helps with classroom behavior.

12. Once the resource has been completed, discuss possible places in and around the school where students may find various simple machines that make tasks possible.

13. Distribute Simple Machines at Our School Charts.

14. Take the students on a walk around the school. As students walk past various simple machines, they complete their charts by writing the common name of the machine, where it was seen, and what task it makes possible. This will be used as a formative assessment, so students should not vocalize their observations, but rather write a quick note as a reminder and keep walking with the group.

* Before this activity, the teacher must locate several examples of each machine in and around the school. Then, as the class takes the walk, the teacher leads the students past the simple machines, and points them out. Students are to recognize the type of machines and the tasks they make possible.

15. After the walk, allow students ample time to complete their charts.

16. Students turn in their completed charts to the teacher. These are to be used to formatively assess the student’s ability to understand that simple machines make tasks possible.

* Because the assessment is formative, feedback is required. Remember that formative feedback affirms correct answers, (Right, the screw holds the hose on the faucet so the water will run through the hose.) or guides students toward correct answers (Think about how the hose stays on the faucet. What machine makes this task possible?).

17. Write the feedback on the charts and mark the Formative Assessment Checklists. Return the charts to the students as soon as possible and discuss each simple machine discovered and the task that machine made possible.

18. Students complete the Student Web Lesson, How Can We Move Our Principal? This can be done before or after the discovery walk. If a computer lab is available, all students can do the lesson at one time, however if no lab is available, students may take a couple of days to complete the lesson using the computers in the classroom. The Student Web Lesson does not have the movies the online resource has and so the preview download is not required.
* When using a Student Web Lesson, pair students to use the computer. Working in pairs encourages discussion and therefore builds understanding.
* How completion of the Student Web Lesson is organized in the classroom will determine the overall time needed for this lesson.

19. To relate simple machines to the real world, show one of the pictures from the attached file. Have students identify the simple machine and what task it makes possible. Even though there are many pictures in the attached file, only a couple should be shown today. The others will be shown and discussed, a few per day, for the remainder of the unit.

19. Close the lesson by reminding students that simple machines make tasks possible. One of the tasks that a simple machine might help with is turning off a television. Ask students to start thinking about how to turn off the television when falling asleep or leaving the room, even when you forget to do it. Leave them thinking (and wanting more information).

20. Students’ journal entry today answers the question, “What simple machine might be helpful in turning off the television?”

21. When reviewing the journal entries, look to see if the students have a basic understanding of the simple machine they chose to write about. Be sure they identify the simple machine. For instance, be sure the lever is identified, not a remote control. (See the extensions area of this lesson plan for a suggestion for managing the journal reviews and feedback.


The formative assessment tool is the Simple Machines Around Our School Chart. Students complete the chart as described in the procedures. Assess the charts as to whether the students could relate how the machine makes a task possible. Formative feedback is written on the chart before returning the chart to the students. Further explanations are given as needed to individual students. The Formative Assessment Checklists is marked according to the key on the checklists.


1. Instead of taking a walk, have the various items available in the classroom to show students. The students would then fill out the chart.

2. ESOL students can be partnered with an English-speaking student for verbal assistance.

3. The URLs of the online resource and Student Web Lesson can be sent home for sharing with the parent.

4. When reading journal entries, the feedback can be given in a color code system. Highlighted yellow means the response is right on target. Pink highlight means bring your journal and let’s talk. Using this method is fast for the teacher, gives student affirmative feedback, and allows for student/teacher conferences on concepts or misconceptions that need further explanations.

5. An additional resource for teaching or reviewing simple machines is the video, Simple Machine. National Geographic, 1993.

6. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any).

7. Depending on the technology available, this lesson may take two days to complete as it has two different Student Web Lessons to use. One is teacher directed and the other is used by pairs of students.

8. Various other resources are available from your school library and may enhance this lesson.

Web Links

1. The online resource, Simple Machines Made Simple, gives students information about the six simple machines including real-world examples.
Simple Machines Made Simple

2. This Student Web Lesson is an interactive lesson for student use and teaches the six simple machines.
How Can We Move Our Principal

Attached Files

Simple Machines Around Our School Chart.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of levers from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of wheel and axles from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of inclined planes from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of screws from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of wedges from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

Pictures of pullies from the real world.     File Extension: pdf

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