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See Saw Switcheroo

Children make colorful see-saws and creatures to ride on them in this engaging activity that encourages scientific observation and the drawing of conclusions.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ask students about favorite playground equipment. How can they make a swing go higher? Are some slides faster than others? Why? Ask someone to describe a favorite see-saw. Introduce the word “fulcrum.” Tell them they will be making miniature see-saws and critters to ride them.
    2. Provide each student with enough Crayola Model Magic to create two small critters. Covering small rocks, balls, or marbles with the modeling compound will give the critters some weight. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack will stick to itself. Dried pieces can be glued together. Provide time for critter making. Encourage creativity. Once critters are complete, set each on a small circle of paper to dry.
    3. Provide students with heavy cardboard for their see-saws and recycled objects to serve as fulcrums. How much does color and design add to pleasure on a playground?
    4. Invite the children to cover their see-saws and fulcrums with white paper decorated with Crayola® colored pencils, markers, or crayons. Encourage the use of geometric shapes and patterns.
    5. When everything is complete, have students assemble their see-saws. Remind them not to attach the board to the fulcrum but to simply balance it there. What happens when they move the board slightly to one side or the other?
    6. Have them set one critter on each end of the board and try to balance it. Invite them to discuss their observations. What are two different ways of balancing the board? (One is to move a critter closer or further from the fulcrum; the other is to change the position of the fulcrum.) Once the board is balanced, have students take one critter off. What happens? What safety rule can students come up with based on what they just observed?
    7. Ask students to write a brief description of this activity including observations they made.
  • Standards

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships.

    SCI: Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

    SCI: Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students demonstrate the understanding that art communicates about and helps viewers understand the natural and constructed world.

  • Adaptations

    Experiment with various techniques for decorating paper to cover the see-saws. Try texturing by placing sandpaper, a screen, or other textured object beneath a piece of white paper. Rub the side of a crayon or colored pencil over the paper.

    Invite students to work with one or two other classmates trying various combinations of critters on their see-saws. Ask them to observe what happens and draw conclusions.

    Engage students in a discussion of other playground equipment or amusement park rides that make use of various forces.

    Ask students to consider what role playgrounds serve in our communities. How do they impact social and emotional health as well as physical well being? What safety rules can students think of that might be good to follow when on a playground?


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