Amy Wung Tsao
Forces and Motion
Updated: Feb 13
"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why." - Bernard Baruch
The physics of forces is such an accessible way for kids to explore science through play! Every time they throw a ball or go down a slide, their brains are already learning about physics and forces, even if they don’t know those words yet.
Here are some easy ideas to introduce preschoolers & elementary age kids to the forces they’ve been playing with their whole lives.
Science Max, S1E1 "Rocket Car"
This TVOntario series “maxes out” experiments at comically large scale. The target age is upper elementary, but my 5 year old has laughed through every episode multiple times.
In this episode, Host Phil McCordic builds a toy-sized balloon powered rocket car, then makes one big enough for him to ride!
Instructions to build your own toy rocket car are on the Science Max website under “Table Top Experiments.”
The Magic School Bus Plays Ball by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Art Ruiz and Bruce Degen
Learn about forces through a story about Ralphie trying to hit a home run. The same story is also in Episode 10 of the original “Magic School Bus” animated series, streaming on Netflix.
Cece Loves Science: Push and Pull
by Kimberly Derting & Shelli R. Johannes
This early reader picture book tells the story of Cece and her classmates building a doggie treat dispenser from simple materials. The book ends with play-based activities (blowing, tug of war) to keep kids engaged after the story ends.
The Gravity Tree: The True Story of a Tree That Inspired the World
by Anna Crowley Redding
For a historical approach, read this beautiful picture book about the infamous tree that inspired not only Isaac Newton, but scientists after him as well.
Move it! Motion, Forces and You by Adrienne Mason, illustrated by Claudia Davila
This nonfiction picture book is full of super easy activities and kid-friendly explanations. In one activity, kids push bowls filled with objects of different weights. In another activity, kids blow through a straw to push something light across the table.
Finally, I will always advocate for learning through independent play.
Talk about how gravity works when your kids are building a marble run, or when they’re on the playground! Just introducing some language - push, pull, gravity, force - can encourage them to see that objects do not just randomly fall down.
A couple more independent play ideas:
Make a Simple Ball Ramp from Busy Toddler
Find a cardboard box or a big book and build some ramps for your kids to experiment with!
Do you have blocks or dominos that aren’t being played with? Show your kids some Hevesh5 videos and they’ll be jumping off the couch to try these domino tricks on their own.
So, have you picked out one thing to try?
Go forth and light some sparks of curiosity!
Use the contact form to let me know how it goes!
Until next month, Amy Wung Tsao