Are you looking for low-cost, low-prep force and motion activities to accompany your content?
Do you need a hands-on option to really solidify the information?
Do you have a handful of reluctant readers in your class who need a little extra support?
Look no further! Cool School Comics to the rescue!
Comics have the power to rope in readers of all ability levels. They make the information more approachable and fun making it easy to engage a wider range of learners in your classroom.
All content and activities are presented in a cartoon format. Even instructions are delivered in this style. Every activity is designed to be LOW-PREP and WALLET-FRIENDLY.
Balanced and Unbalanced Forces Relays
When I designed these low-cost force and motion activities, I kept in mind the standards for each grade level. The Balanced and Unbalanced Forces Relays, part of the Complete Lesson Plan, are designed to align with the NGSS Standards for Grade 3 Physical Science (3-PS2-1).
For this force and motion activity, select a range of items students can hold in the air using forces. First, divide students into teams of at least two (they will need a partner to complete the challenge). Gripping techniques are not permitted. Instead, they must use balanced pushing forces.
All of the teams will stand at one end of the classroom waiting for you to begin the game. Once you say “GO,” each team will race across the room using balanced forces to hold one of the objects you have selected. When they reach the other end of the classroom, they place the object in a designated location and race back to either tag their teammates or grab a different object.
The first team or pair to transfer every item across the room wins the challenge!
When I play the game in my classroom, I try to rank the objects I select by varying difficulty levels. The lightweight textbook is relatively easy compared to the thick dictionary. The books are easier altogether compared to the calculator. Sometimes I allow my students to select which items they want to start with, and sometimes I select the order.
Low-Cost Force and Motion Activities for Middle School
When it came to designing a force and motion activity for my middle school students, I knew I had to up the difficulty level a bit and put a lot more control in their hands. As I pondered options, that old show Minute to Win It came to mind. A number of the games performed on this TV show are not only super low-cost and low-prep, but they also incorporate forces and motion in a rather easy-to-identify manner.
Students researched and recreated Minute to Win It games with the constraint that the games clearly exhibited forces and motion. Teams gathered the necessary supplies and create a poster accompanying their game.
The poster explains the rules of the game and details how forces are involved. Students address as many forces as possible on their posters using words and illustrations.
To help make this as low-prep as possible, when I created the lesson plan package, I included a rubric to make it easy for other teachers to refer to the poster requirements and grade student work.
Force and Motion Game Day
Set aside an entire class period to hold the Force Games. Your students will be extremely excited and eager to participate. Teams take turns explaining the rules of their games and the forces involved. Next, they can request volunteers to attempt their force and motion game. This is a memorable and hilarious example of how forces are involved in all of the movements around us. The Force Games are a favorite of most of my classes. Not only are these low-cost force and motion activities, but they will result in a learning environment charged with fun and excitement.
More Low-Cost Force and Motion Activities
Here are some fun and engaging force and motion activities for elementary students:
- Balloon Rockets: Blow up a balloon and attach a string to it. Tie the string between two chairs or poles. Let go of the balloon and watch it zoom across the string. This activity demonstrates Newton’s Third Law of Motion.
- Marble Run: Create a ramp or tube out of cardboard or paper towel rolls and have students place marbles at the top. They can experiment with different angles and heights to see how gravity affects the speed and motion of the marbles.
- Balancing Act: Set up a balance beam or see-saw and have students experiment with different weights and positions to achieve balance. This activity teaches students about the relationship between force and motion.
- Ramp It Up: Provide students with a variety of objects (e.g. balls, cars, blocks) and different ramp surfaces (e.g. sandpaper, cardboard, foam) and have them experiment with how the different surfaces affect the speed and motion of the objects.
- Friction Experiment: Have students rub their hands together vigorously and then try to hold a ball or other object without dropping it. This activity demonstrates how friction affects the motion of objects.