Simple Machines: Hunting for facts

by becky on January 7, 2012

Well, I have to confess, I am actually pretty grateful that this past school week was only 3 days long. I’m not sure I could have handled a whole week. I am looking forward to a normal week next week though… I prefer routines. So, during these past three school days, my class and I began our quick unit on Simple Machines. To introduce the unit, I created a simple machines scavenger hunt. To accomplish this, I took 30 facts from the Simple Machines board game that I found online, retyped them into fact cards, created an answer sheet, printed on colored cardstock paper for durability,  and distributed them around the room. Here are just a couple pics of what my class came back to after our Specials. 🙂

They are very observant and immediately noticed the cards. Of course, they got excited and wanted to get started right away. I set the expectations:

  • You are going to be working with a partner. I EXPECT you to help each other.
  • Try not to be at the same question card as everyone else. There are plenty of questions… spread out.
  • Use your level 1 (whisper) voice because you don’t want others to hear your answer.
  • You can answer the questions in any order so don’t feel like you HAVE to start with number 1.
  • If you finish before the time is up, then I EXPECT you and your partner to return to your seats, study your Science vocabulary, and wait for others to finish so we can go over the answers.

Once that was done, I explained that they will only have 10 minutes to answer 30 questions, so they need to work quickly but cooperatively. They were bursting with excitement. I decided  to drag it out a little more and have them practice saying the 6 types of Simple Machines. When I thought they couldn’t stand it anymore, I assigned partners by picking Popsicle sticks, and let them loose.


When my students are working in pairs or groups, I try to circulate around the room to make sure we are all staying on task, focusing, and participating. Well, when I tried to do that with this activity, I felt like I was in their way and bothering them. Lol. So, I took my cue, stood to the side, and cut some things out while keeping an eye on them. I have to say that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT was excellent. They really worked hard, whispered, and helped each other. And, I’m happy to say, that the groups that did finish early followed directions, went back to their seats, and started studying their vocabulary words. At one point I thought, “Are these really my kids?” 😉

To help clean up the cards, I asked each girl to find one fact card and go to their seat. Then, I asked the boys to do the same. I still had five cards left over, so I had the girls try to find another card (they tend to be more gentle with my things–go  figure). Once everyone had at least 1 fact card, we began to go over the answers with each student reading his/her card in number order. When we were done I asked them to give me a thumbs up if they would want to do an activity like this in the future. In some cases, I received two thumbs up. Winner.

If you are planning on teaching a unit on Simple Machines and would like a free copy of my 30 fact cards, and student answer sheet, click on the picture below and download a copy for your files.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll leave you with some photos of my student’s finished haiku poems and snowflakes. (Note to self-having a Microsoft Word lesson about changing fonts/sizes AND attempting to have them follow folding directions for their snowflakes in the same day MAY be too much. Next year, I’ll break it up.: ) I think they all turned out really cute and each student was very proud of their work– it was a great way to end the week!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura January 8, 2012 at 2:36 am

I love your snowflakes! Just found your blog and am awarding you a Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out at 🙂


Jeannie Partin January 8, 2012 at 6:12 am

great site with great idea. I teach kinder but can use lots of these ideas and adjust. Thank you. Come see me as well! I am your newest follower!
­ Kindergarten Lifestyle


Kate January 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thank you SO much for sharing this! I started simple machines with my 6th graders before Christmas Break and we have been interrupted for the last few weeks for Science Fair prep. Now I need to start back up with simple machines and this is the BEST activity to do it with! Thanks so much for sharing! This is seriously perfect!
To The Square Inch


becky January 9, 2012 at 1:30 am

I’m so happy you can use it~ Let me know how it goes!!! 🙂


Kate January 11, 2012 at 1:09 am

I just wanted to drop by and let you know that I did this Simple Machines activity today with my 6th graders. They absolutely LOVED it!! I want to do a post about it at some point on my blog, giving you all the credit of course. Would that be ok?!


becky January 12, 2012 at 3:20 am

That would be awesome! I’m glad it went well! 🙂


Kate January 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I finally posted about this 🙂 I linked you up! Best activity ever!


Bev January 27, 2012 at 3:00 am

I LOVED the simple machine activity!! I have been looking for something to do with my 4th graders, and this is great! Thanks for sharing it!


Barbara February 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hi Becky,

Looking for a simple machine review before ISAT I came across your blog for the first time. You have some awesome work, thank you for sharing! Question, what did your answer key the students carried around look like?



becky February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Hi Barbara! If you click on the google docs link, you should get a copy of the fact cards and the answer sheet for the kids to fill in. If you don’t, let me know and I’ll email you the form. Thanks for stopping by! -Becky 🙂


Lauren April 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your great resource! I’m having trouble getting the google docs link to download and/or print. Would you mind sending your simple machine activity to my email? I got so excited when I ran across it, and I can’t wait to try it out with my kiddos. Thanks again for sharing.


Andi April 21, 2012 at 1:51 am

Okay, so I am doing this with my first graders right now. Maybe my expectations are too high?!?!
I love your scavenger hunt cards. Very cute! My kids love to hunt for things. I’m definitely going to use them next weeks. Thanks for sharing!


Amanda August 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Hello, I love your blog. I love the simple machines scavenger hunt! Do you have the students fill in the answers before going on the scavenger hunt?


Daneesha September 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I just stumbled across this thanks to Pinterest. We are starting our simple machines unit next week. Can’t wait to use this new resource!


Lisa Boudreaux October 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I begging sle machines in two weeks can’t wait to try what everyone’s talking about.
Your cards are adorable cant wAit to share with my students. Thanks


Alexis January 17, 2015 at 1:25 am


I love these task cards! I’m just confused what their task was whe they we’re circulating the room? I see the cards have simple machine tasks on them, but what do they actually do with them?



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