Simple Machines 1


Simple Machines 1 introduces students to the six types of machines that make work easier to do. These are the inclined plane, wedge, screw, lever, wheel and axle, and pulley. Students will learn to name and describe these machines and will be able to invent something that uses at least two of them.

The classroom procedure page lists several suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section that you can use. One such suggestion is to distribute a variety of materials and supplies with which students can create simple machines. They can then draw the machines they build and explain how they work to the rest of the class.

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What our Simple Machines 1 lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Simple Machines 1 explores what a simple machine is and how it can make certain tasks easier. Students will discover the six different types and will be able to name them. They will learn about the inclined plane, edge, screw, lever, wheel and axel, and pulley. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade and 4th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires large drawing paper or construction paper, scratch paper, and colored pencils.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section lists several suggestions for additional activities or lesson alterations. One option is to have students vote for their favorite simple machine after they complete the activity. For the activity, you could provide a variety of supplies for students to use to build their machines. Then they could draw them later to show how they work. Another option is to take students outside and search for examples of simple machines. You could also invite a physicist to the class to discuss the topic with students. One last suggestion is to ask students, before giving the lesson, to make a list of things they did at home to help make work easier.

Teacher Notes

On the teacher notes page, you will find additional guidance. A paragraph of extra information explains the lesson further and what to expect. This lesson plan does not go into deep detail about the six simple machines. It simply introduces students to them and explains how they work on a basic level. This paragraph does mention that you can look into other resources to help enhance the lesson for your students depending on their grade level. There are also a number of lines on which you can write extra notes before you present the lesson.


What Simple Machines Are and How They Work

This lesson contains two pages of content. Students will first learn how to define work as it relates to the lesson. In this case, work is the amount of energy it takes to do something. Some things take more energy, which means they require more work. Other things use less energy because they do not require as much work.

The lesson then defines what a simple machine is and what it does. These tools help make work easier or decrease the amount of energy necessary to do the work. A broom, for instance, is a great example of a simple machine because it decreases the amount of energy you need to clean a floor. Students will see through this example how these unique tools save time and energy because they decrease work. They will also learn that these machines cannot work alone. Instead, they simply assist people in such a way to make work easier. Students will start to discover just how many simple machines they use every day.

Types of Simple Machines

Students will then learn about six types of simple machines: inclined plane, wedge, screw, lever, wheel and axle, and pulley. The lesson includes a table that outlines each machine by providing a description and a few examples. Students will likely need to refer to the table often as they complete the worksheets and assignments.

Inclined Plane: Also called ramps, these can have either steep or gentle slopes. A steeper slope equals more work while a gentler slope equals less work. Ramps can help move things between levels, such as people in wheelchairs. It is much easier to push a wheelchair up a ramp than up a flight of stairs. A waterpark slide is another example of an inclined plane.

Wedge: These tools help people cut, split, scrape, hold something back, or hold something together. Examples include door stoppers, axes, screwdrivers, and push pins. In addition, jets have a wedge-shaped nose to help them move faster through the air.

Screw: These are very small machines with ridges (threads) that wind around them. They help hold things together, such as two pieces of wood. Examples include all sizes of screws and drill bits. Many people only think of screws that go into a wall. However, other screw-type simple machines include the lid of a jar, the metal bottom of a light bulb, or the cap on a car’s gas tank.

Lever: This tool can easily move and rotate. Pushing one end down will cause the other end to go in the opposite direction, like a see-saw or teeter totter. Other examples of a lever include a wheelbarrow, nail clippers, bottle openers, brooms, and a person’s arms and legs.

Wheel and Axle: This is possibly the oldest of simple machines. These two parts work together to allow the movement of objects, like cars or wagons. Other examples include ceiling fans, gears, doorknobs, merry-go-rounds, roller blades, and almost anything that has wheels.

Pulley: A pulley works by attaching a rope to a wheel that has a groove in it to hold the rope. You use a pulley to help lift or lower objects, such a flag on a flag pole. Other examples of this simple machine includes water wells, window blinds, elevators, garage doors, and theater curtains.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Work: the amount of energy necessary to do something
  • Simple machine: a tool that does work or helps make work easier; a tool that decreases the amount of energy necessary to do work


The Simple Machines 1 lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each worksheet will help students better grasp the concepts they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to administer each handout.


For the activity, students will work with a partner to create an invention that includes two of the six types of simple machines. (You can have students work alone or in groups for this activity if you prefer.) Students will need to be creative and remember to invent something that makes work easier. They will need to collaborate with each other to come up with their idea. Then they can draw up a rough draft to present to you for your approval. They will complete the final copy on a clean sheet of paper. Finally, they will need to come up with a name for their invention.


There are two sections for the practice worksheet. The first section requires students to circle the correct simple machine from the three choices. There are 20 objects to classify in this section. The second part requires students to answer five questions about simple machines. If you allow it, students can use the content pages to help them answer the questions.


Similar to the practice worksheet, the homework assignment has two parts. For the first part, students must match the simple machine to its correct description. For the second part, they must look for objects around their home or neighborhood that fall into each of the six categories of simple machine. Then they will fill out the chart by describing the objects they found and why or how it represents that specific simple machine. Again, they may need to refer to the content pages to ensure they complete the assignment correctly.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys at the end of the lesson plan for both the practice and homework worksheets. For the practice worksheet, the answer key highlights in red the correct answers on the first and second sections. The first part of the homework answer key shows the correct answers in red. However, students’ answers for the second part will vary. You will need to review their answers carefully to ensure they are correct. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade


Science, Video

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.6, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Canada Canada

Good, but needs to be edited

I liked the handout and activities, and love that there's a video connection, but there are grammatical errors in the handout (at least 3), and that's very problematic. I was considering a paid subscription but will hold off for a while on that for this reason.

Yohana T.
Indonesia Indonesia


It is well-structured and easy to follow. My student loved it! Thank you!

Cynthia G.

Simple Machines

Students enjoyed the reading and able to give the main idea with details They also enjoyed the simple machine experiences

Soumya H.

Excellent resource

Hi,I found it very useful to teach my 1sr grader about simple machines.simple language and easy to understand..found the worksheets very helpful..

Janet M.

Easy peasy.

Very quick and convenient. Great materials.