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Swing high! Slide fast! Head for the seesaw with a friend. Learn how playground equipment works, then create a colorful model with simple machines.
Simple machines make work easier. Loading heavy boxes is hard work, but an inclined plane or ramp makes the job less difficult. Levers, which are unbendable surfaces, work with a pivot or fulcrum to help lift heavy loads. A pulley also makes loads easier to lift. Wedges ease the job of prying materials apart. Scissors, pins, and nails are examples of wedges. A screw is a wedge and an inclined plane in spiral form. It helps to hold two surfaces together. Wheels and axles aid in moving people, animals, and objects.
Invite students to research more about simple machines, then visit a playground to find examples of how these machines work. Find a lever with a fulcrum that helps balance and lift you and a friend. Do you see an inclined plane? Notice the pulley you use to raise and lower the flag. Is there a wheel and axle somewhere on the playground? Students sketch the playground with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to show the simple machines found.
Students use their imaginations to design playground equipment to reflect their personalities. This can be done individually or in small groups. Encourage students to include at least two simple machines in the design. Here’s one way to make a pinwheel slide (wheel and axle and inclined plane).
Decorate paper. Use Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils to decorate a strip of paper for a slide. Make bright blocks and stripes of color. Erase to create dotted, spiral, zigzag, circle, striped, and plaid patterns.
Fold the slide. Use Crayola Scissors to cut the strip into one short and one longer piece. Fold and bend the long strip into a sliding board. Cut the shorter strip to create ladder steps, a platform, and protective sides. Use Crayola School Glue to attach steps, creating a ladder for the back of the slide. Glue sides to the inclined plane. Air-dry your slide.
Create a playhouse. Glue multicolored strips of more decorated paper, tissue paper, or ribbon along the sides of the inclined plane to form a playhouse area under the slide. Cut, bend, and glue chenille sticks to form railings for the steps and top platform. Air-dry your structure.
Make tiny pinwheels. Cut small squares of paper. Cut a diagonal slit from each corner toward the center of the square. Leave an uncut area in the middle. Carefully bend and glue the tip of each section to the middle of the square. Cut and glue a tiny paper circle to the center of each pinwheel. Glue pinwheels to the top platform railings. Air-dry the glue.
Display imaginative playgrounds. Can classmates identify the simple machines in each other’s constructions?
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