Simple Machines (How to be a Scientist)

Physical Science

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 Teaching preschoolers how to be a scientist.

Core Learning Experience

+ Supplies and Equipment

Possible/Expected Discoveries

Extended Learning and Other Curriculum Areas


  • Set out a collection of tools and simple machines that are relatively unfamiliar to the children. For example, a drain stopper, a music box, a corkscrew, an ink cartridge, a plunger, a potato peeler, a turkey baster.
  • Ask item-specific questions, such as “Which too do you think we might use to put in a sink to stop the water from going down the drain?”
  • This game could also be played by asking the children what each item might be used for.
  • Set out some old machines for the children to explore, to take apart, and possibly put back together, such as a radio, a telephone, parts of a computer, camera, etc. Ask for donations from the families.
  • The more we learn about how things work, and how technology makes things easier for people, the better our brains can think of new inventions. If we learn about things that have already been made, we can use those ideas to lead to new ideas.
  • Scientists and inventors are curious, with a good imagination just like you. You can be a scientist or an inventor just by thinking about how things work, and how they might work better. Then you build your invention, and then try it out. Scientists don’t give up if something doesn’t work the way they want it to. They just think about it some more, and try again.
  • All the tools and machines we have were invented by somebody. There are many ideas and inventions that haven’t been thought of yet. Anybody can be a scientist or an inventor if they want to be.
  • Have you ever thought about something you could try to make or do? Let’s think about it now.
  • Discuss the importance of recording your plan and your results somehow: with a drawing, with words, photos, having an adult or older friend help.
  •  Set up a permanent table and chair or other area for scientific thinking, exploration and discovery. Stock it with paper, writing tools, scissors, tape, string etc. Also lots of bits and pieces made of metal, plastic, cardboard, resin, fabric, wire, wood, etc and age appropriate books. Put up a banner “I can be a scientist”.
  • Celebrate originality, effort, cooperation, and thinking things through.
Packs and Printables :


Everyone is a Scientist by Lisa Trumbauer
Scientists at Work by Susan Ring
Science Play! Beginning Discoveries for 2-To 6-Year-Olds by Jill Hauser





 Theme activities and printables for preschool and kindergarten

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Homeschooler -