Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: How Do You Lift a Lion?


Robert E. Wells is a fantastic author of children’s literature.  He’s written many educational books such as How Do You Lift a LionCan You Count To a Googol, What’s Faster Than a Speeding Cheetah and What’s Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?. All these books use an abundant amount of vocabulary and have detailed pictures to help students understand what is being read to them.

How Do You Lift a Lion teaches how to use the simple machines; the lever, the wheel and the pulley.  There are wonderful pictures which provide a visual to the sometimes complex vocabulary used in the book. There is also arrows which point out the exact vocabulary used to a picture. For example

The main part of a lever is a bar or rod which balances, or pivots, on a fulcrum. If the force side is longer than the load side, you will have leverage. Leverage adds force to your own strength. With a force side this long,  you could lift a lion.

Although this page uses a lot of vocabulary that students may not understand, there are arrows which point out what the load side is, what the fulcrum is and what a force side is. Allowing students to physically see what each of the vocabulary words look like allows them to visually understand the basic understanding of a lever, wheel, and pulley.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used as an introduction to a lesson on simple machines and or a review on the different types of simple machines and their make up. How Do You Lift a Lion, teaches about the lever, wheel, and pulley and their functions. This covers the Force, Motion, and Energy Virginia SOL 3.2.

Additional Resources

  • Moving Along With Simple Machines is a wonderful sight with great ideas a pictures for a lesson deal with simple machines and their functions.
  • Pieces of Science gives so many great activities along with actual work sheets for fun, interesting and interactive activities dealing with simple machines.
  • This WebQuest is a wonderful idea to have students explore simple machines by using technology. Incorporating technology into your lesson will allow students to get familiar with technology and the benefits that can come from the computer.

Book: How Do You Lift a Lion
Author/Illustrator: Robert E. Wells
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: 2-4
ISBN: 0807534218

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