If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for fun and engaging ways to make learning a breeze for your little kindergarteners. Well, I’ve got some exciting news for you – we’re about to dive into the world of “Push and Pull” activities for kindergarten! These activities aren’t just a blast for the kids; they’re also an incredible way to introduce fundamental physics concepts while keeping things hands-on and interactive. In this blog post, I’ll share some fantastic “Push and Pull” activities that are perfect for kindergarten-age kids, making learning science fun. So grab your notebook and pencil to prepare for an educational adventure your young learners will love!
What Are Push and Pull Activities?
Push and pull activities are a fantastic way to introduce young students to the concepts of push and pull forces. These activities help kids understand how different forces affect the movement of objects. It’s not just about learning some general science facts; it’s also about having a ton of fun while doing it!
Why Are Push and Pull Activities Important for Kindergarten Students?
Kindergarten is a critical time for kids to grasp basic principles related to science and motion. Push and pull activities provide an easy way to teach these concepts to young students. They’re engaging hands-on and help build a strong foundation in science concepts. Plus, they’re aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core, which means they’re an excellent fit for what kids need to learn.
These inquiry lessons are a great way to engage kindergarten students in push-and-pull activities. It’s all about encouraging them to ask questions, explore, and discover the answers themselves. These lessons can be built around various objects and forces to enhance their understanding of the concepts.
The performance expectation for this unit is as follows:
K-PS2-1 – Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object. [Clarification Statement: Examples of pushes or pulls could include a string attached to an object being pulled, a person pushing an object, a person stopping a rolling ball, and two objects colliding and pushing on each other.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to different relative strengths or different directions, but not both at the same time. Assessment does not include non-contact pushes or pulls like those of magnets.]
The performance expectation is what students should be able to do by the end of the unit. Therefore, students are expected to PLAN and CONDUCT an investigation. So the question becomes: how do we get Kindergarten students to the point where they can plan and conduct an investigation? This can be especially hard when you have a lot of students to wrangle. My hope is these tips will help move students to begin thinking for themselves and learn how to become more independent.
Start with Push and Pull Phenomena
I like to start all of my science units with phenomena. In this particular unit, I want students to participate in an experiment using magnets. Students LOVE magnets, and it is a great way for them to begin drawing (or writing) what they are noticing and begin to ask questions about this phenomenon.
Gather the students in a circle and show them a magnet. Ask them if they know what magnets are and if they have seen one before. Discuss the phenomenon and model for the students how magnets work.
Have students explore magnets, being sure to discuss what they are noticing. Then, have students create a model on chart paper to create a model of their learning. In this example, the students divide the chart in half to show what objects were attracted by magnets and those that were not. As you will notice, even students who cannot write can draw pictures and create a model.
Explore Push and Pull Activities with STEM Challenge Hands-On Learning
The best way to teach kids about push and pull forces is through hands-on experiences. Let’s explore some fantastic push-and-pull activities that are not only educational but also loads of fun. These activities can be done at home or in the classroom and are suitable for small groups or individual work.
Science Station – Push and Pull Clip Cards
Provide students with pictures to show whether you would push or pull the object. This is also fun to demonstrate as a movement activity for physical education. Take students out on the playground and around the school to demonstrate.
Technology Station – Push and Pull Sort
This activity is an interactive Google Slides resource to help students distinguish between different objects and whether they can move independently. You can use everyday items or picture cards. Encourage students to notice that some objects can move by wind, electricity, batteries, or by some other mechanical means without being pushed. If you prefer a tech-savvy approach, you will love these Google Slides on the subject. These digital resources are engaging and can be displayed on interactive whiteboards. They include multimedia elements that enhance the learning experience for young students.
However, if you’d rather do it without technology, Venn diagrams can be a helpful tool in teaching kindergarten students about push and pull forces. A Venn diagram can be used to compare and contrast the two types of forces, helping kids understand their similarities and differences.
Push and Pull Reading
For more structured learning, you can find push-and-pull books and other materials that are designed for young students. These books include materials to help kids grasp the concepts of push and pull forces. There are a variety of sites you can use to find resources, but my favorite is the following collection: Epic Books
Push and Pull Posters for the Engineering Station
Another helpful resource for teaching about push and pull forces is push and pull posters to help with engineering projects. These colorful and engaging visuals are perfect for your classroom. They not only serve as a visual aid but also reinforce the concepts of push and pull. You can download them by filling in the information below:
This engineering station encourages young students to use the design process to design and build a ramp. Then, have kids use toy cars to explore push and pull forces. Give them a few toy cars and different materials to experiment with. For example, you can see how far a toy car goes off the ramp with different inclines.
Push and pull activities can also be tailored to explore how forces act on different surfaces. You can introduce kids to the effects of push and pull forces on surfaces like sand, smooth floors, or even rough terrain. So another option is to see how far the cars travel on a smooth surface with a big push versus a small push. This hands-on approach helps kids understand the concept of force and how it affects the motion of objects.
Blow Art Station
In this visual arts station, students use straws to blow the paint on their paper to create a work of art. This might sound a bit intimidating to do with kindergarten students, but I’ve found for projects such as this, I like to pull small groups to make it a bit more manageable. I rotate the students through the groups while the others work on something that can keep them busy for a bit. I also found these fun pens that I will try next time for this project to eliminate some of the mess. Have you tried them?
In the math station, students use their ramp and car from the engineering station to see how the ramp’s angle affects the distance the car can travel. Test on other surfaces. Write or draw your findings on the exit ticket. This activity helps students understand the effects of different strengths of force. For example, they can see how a small push moves an object only a tiny bit, while a big push makes it move a greater distance. These hands-on experiments help them grasp the relationship between force and motion.
Three-Dimensional Learning Physical Science Lessons
Remember, our performance expectation discussed earlier was for students to be able to conduct an investigation. Be sure to discuss with students throughout the unit how to conduct an investigation. For example, in this fun activity, students investigate the direction of an object on a bowling ball or how the object moves. I used soda bottles and a small ball to do this investigation.
These are the steps to help students conduct an investigation:
- Introduce the Investigation
- Define the Question – Ask
- Brainstorm Variables
- Plan Experiments
- Share Ideas
- Conduct Experiments
- Discuss Results
- Summarize and Conclude
Cross-Cutting Concept – Cause and Effect
The cross-cutting concept involves simple tests that can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas about causes. For example, when you move a toy car, the car moves forward. Another example is when blowing a pinwheel, the pinwheel spins.
For teachers and parents wanting to dive deeper into this science resource on push-and-pull activities, consider trying these unit plans for kindergarten students. This set of resources includes science centers, independent work, worksheets, detailed lesson plans, and more.