Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Machines


Simple machines can sometimes pose a more then simple problem in trying to find the appropriate book for your classroom. The book Machines, by Janet Pallazzo-Craig has solved this problem with a phenomenal book that provides real life examples your students can relate to.

This classroom-friendly chapter book provides a fun way and easy way to learn about the different machines in the world around us. The most impressive part of the book is the way the author simplifies the vocabulary associated with simple machine and compound machines into terms your students will comprehend.  The real photographs accompanied with labeled diagrams will also solidify the students’ understanding of the material. In addition to exploring the six simple machines, the text explains compound machines which most books on this topic fail to do. The number of comparing and contrasting activities are endless!  The interactive questions and bold text also make the book appealing.

An example of a simple question built into the text that can engage the class is:

Did you know that a can opener is a compound machine? It is made of these simple machines working together: Lever (The hinged handle), Wheel and axle (The turning knob), Wedge (The sharp blade that cuts the metal.

Curriculum Connections
Machines, would be the perfect book to introduce students to simples machines and how they function. The book gives examples found in school as well as at home and provides extensive explanations about simple and complex machines where students might have no prior knowledge. If teaching in Virginia this book would directly address SOL 3.2 which investigates the understanding of simple machines and their uses.

Additional Classroom Resources

  • Great link for additional resources as well as additional activities for your classroom. This can help further reinforce concepts from the book or give students additional research opportunities on the topic.
  • Simple Machines offers free powerpoints, templates and clip art to provide visual aids and spice up your lesson plan.
  • This site provides field trip ideas for your class as well as hand-on activities to explore the simple machines around your students.

Book: Machines
Author: Janet Palazzo-Craig
Illustrator & Photographs: Bill Melvin
Publisher: Macmillan/McGraw Hill
Pages: 14 pages
Grade: 3-5
ISBN: 978-0-02-285897-1

NOTE: This book is a Macmillan/McGraw-Hill leveled reader and is only available through the textbook company.

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