Unit F: Things That Move

How can you change the way things move?

1. Get Set to Explore


  • force: An action that can make an object change its speed or direction.
  • pull: A force that moves something closer to you.
  • push: A force that moves something away from you.

Building Background

  • Take children to the playground, or encourage them to recall different playground activities. For each activity, ask children: What moves when you do this activity? How does it move? For example, for the merry-go-round, children should realize that the platform is the moving part and that it spins, or moves in a circle. Guide children to name activities in which things move up, down, toward them, away from them, back and forth, in a circle, and in an arc. Let volunteers demonstrate each of these motions on the playground, if you can.
  • Explain that moving something often involves forces, such as pushes and pulls. Then, review the vocabulary words with the class. Make sure children understand that forces, including pushes and pulls, change the way things move.
  • Pose the Discover! question: How can you change the way things move? Guide children to refer to their experiences on the playground to come up with answers.

2. Guide the Exploration

  • Let children launch the Discover! Simulation, reminding them to listen closely to the question and the directions. Children may enjoy working in pairs when doing this simulation.
  • Children should look at the different pieces of playground equipment and games in the picture. Then they should use the cursor to click each of them. They should focus on watching how the different things move. Encourage children to discuss similarities and differences in the ways different objects move.
  • Before children complete the simulation, make sure that they have watched how all six of the moving objects in the picture move: the ball, merry-go-round, seesaw, slide, swing, and wagon.

3. Review/Assess

  • Go over Step 3's Wrap-up text with the class. Ask children to list different objects that they push (the merry-go-round and swing); have them name things that they pull (the wagon). Explain that they give themselves a push to start themselves going down the slide and going up or down on the seesaw. You may also wish to point out that throwing a ball, making it go up or forward, involves giving the ball a push. If necessary, review the definition of force, push, and pull with the class. Give children the opportunity to make observations and ask questions. Clarify and reinforce important concepts for them.
  • Challenge children with the Extension activity. Guide them to realize that some things, such as the pencil in an electric pencil sharpener, a ball that you roll, and a Frisbee are designed to be pushed; other things, such as the spout of a milk carton, are designed to be pulled. Some things, such as the handle of an old-fashioned pencil sharpener, are designed to be pushed and pulled. Point out that almost anything can be pushed or pulled, even if it was not designed to be moved in that way.

If time permits, present children with the following questions:

  • Inquiry Skill Predict Imagine you sit down in a child-sized rocking chair. Predict how the rocking chair will move. Answer: Rocking chairs move back and forth.
  • Critical Thinking Synthesize Imagine you are sitting and rocking in the rocking chair. What are you doing to make the chair rock? Think of two different ways you could sit and make the chair rock. Answer: You can make a rocking chair rock by pushing down on the floor with your feet or by pushing against the upright part of the chair with your back, shoulders, and/or head. Both of these actions will make the chair rock.

4. Reaching All Learners


Suggest that interested children watch or participate in a soccer game to observe the many different ways that soccer players move the ball. They can work with an adult or an older child to write down all the ways that they noticed. Challenge children to note at least ten different ways that soccer players can change the motion of a soccer ball. All of the ways should list the body part that makes contact with the ball and tell whether the player pushes or pulls the ball.