What our Assembly Line lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Assembly Line introduces students to the history of the assembly line and its use by Henry Ford in the manufacturing of the automobile. Many students are accustomed to using products and taking for granted the manufacturing of those products but do not understand the assembly process. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to define assembly line, discuss its history, and explain the use of it and the influence it had on the manufacturing of products in America. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade and 4th grade.
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 orange 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. For this lesson, the supplies you will need are scissors, tape or glue, and the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can group students in groups of four or more for the activity. You can also gather the needed supplies and copy the handouts.
Options for Lesson
Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. An optional adjustment to the activity is to split the class into two equal groups and have them compete with each other and work to assemble as many paper dolls as they can, within a specific time limit, using an assembly line.
You can also use alternate activities to demonstrate the difference between an assembly line and individual production. You can assign each student an industry to research and see if that industry uses an assembly line. They will then present what they’ve learned to the class. Finally, you can gather old toys or other objects that students can take apart and then put back together using an assembly line to give them some practical experience with this process.
The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It notes that while many goods and products are widely available to students, they likely don’t know the history behind the things they use in their day-to-day lives. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.
ASSEMBLY LINE LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
The Manufacture of Products & What is an Assembly Line?
This lesson includes three pages of content. The lesson begins by explaining that people have been manufacturing products for thousands and thousands of years. People created early wheels and tools using the materials that people could find and craft themselves. In the mid-1700s, skilled laborers and craftsmen began to make specific goods based on their skills. For example, cobblers made shoes, blacksmiths worked with iron, and coopers repaired wooden tubs and kegs. Other people then bought these items or traded for them.
Students will learn that the Industrial Revolution changed this system with the invention of interchangeable parts. These parts are less specialized and areused in many different machines and for many different uses. While labor unions and changes in salaries and workday lengths changed how manufacturing worked, the biggest change came with the invention of the assembly line in 1901.
Next, students will learn what an assembly line actually is! Basically, assembly lines manufacture a product more efficiently. One person (or machine), who only works on one step of the process, completes each step. With this method, one person does not manufacture the product from start to finish, but focuses only on their specific task. This makes the process much faster!
Effects of the Assembly Line
The next section details how the assembly line changed manufacturing as a whole. Companies could make their products much faster, leading to the mass production of products on a scale that had not been possible before. Today, we use mostly automated assembly lines. Robots or machines do the work instead of people! People usually only check that the machines or robots are assembling the products correctly and without problems.
Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:
- Interchangeable parts: Parts used for machinery that could be used in multiple machines
- Assembly line: A manufacturing process developed and patented by Ransom Olds in the early 1900s
- Oldsmobile: A car brand that was able to manufacture a vehicle with a low price, simple assembly, and fashionable features due to the assembly line
- Ford Motor Company: Henry Ford’s car company, which produced the Ford Model T using the assembly line in the early 1900s
- Conveyor system: An innovative production method invented by Henry Ford in which a moving platform is used to help speed up production
- Chassis: The main part of a car
- Ford Model T: The type of car that was more popularly manufactured using the assembly line; one of these cars could be produced every 90 minutes
- Mass production: A type of production where many are made using efficient production methods
- Automated: A system where machines or robots do the work; humans only do quality checks at the end of the process
ASSEMBLY LINE LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Assembly Line lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.
DOLL CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
For the activity worksheet, students will work with a group to complete a paper doll construction activity. First, they will cut out and construct a paper doll on their own, recording how long it took them in minutes and seconds. They will then compare their time to the times of their group members, also working individually. They’ll add all of their individual times together to figure out how many dolls they made in how much total time. Next, they will construct the same number of dolls using an assembly line process to see how much faster they can make paper dolls using that method.
Once they finish, they compare the two times and answer some discussion questions about the assembly line process. They must decide what the advantages and disadvantages were of both working alone and with a group.
For this activity, students can also work either alone or in groups for the activity if you’d prefer.
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER PRACTICE WORKSHEET
Students will complete two exercises for the practice worksheet. For the first exercise, they will place events related to the invention and use of assembly lines in chronological order. Events that they will need to place in order include “Interchangeable parts are beginning to be used in manufacturing,” and “The assembly line becomes automated and robots replace humans as workers.” Students will answer specific questions about assembly lines for the second exercise of this worksheet.
ASSEMBLY LINE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
For the homework assignment, students will first match terms related to assembly lines with their definitions. Next, they will have to do some math! Based on the information provided, they need to figure out how much more efficient assembly lines made production. It states that in 1908, Henry Ford’s company could produce one car every twelve hours. But in 1913, they could produce one car every 90 minutes. Students must figure out how many cars he could produce in various time periods (12 hours, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, and 5 years) if they were producing cars 24 hours a day.
Finally, students will have to read answers and write their own questions.
Worksheet Answer Key
This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. No answer key is provided for the activity worksheet. 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.