Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about pushes and pulls. It is designed to complement the Pushes and Pulls topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Studying forces and motion helps children understand the world around them and explore how things interact with each other. This movie explores forces, or pushes and pulls, which can change the way something moves. It also introduces position and how motion is a change of position. Children will learn that friction is a force that acts in the opposite direction of motion to slow things down, and also learn that speed tells us how fast something is moving. We recommend doing plenty of hands-on experiments and activities with children to help reinforce concepts. What are some objects that we push or pull to move? Would it be easier to push a heavy box across ice or across a rocky surface?

Explain that a position is the location of an object. Have children describe the location of different objects around them. Challenge them to describe the location of one object in as many ways as they can. For example, a book might be on top of the table, but the book might also be under the pencil sharpener and next to the door. Describe the locations of different objects together, using words such as right, left, above, below, under, over, etc.

Remind children that motion is a change of position. When a person throws a ball, he or she puts it in motion and the position of the ball changes. When a baseball player runs around the bases, his or her position changes. Teach children the terms that describe the motions different objects make. For example, a top spins around and around, a swing moves back and forth, and a clock pendulum moves from side to side. When you do jumping jacks, you move up and down. Encourage children to think of things that can twist and turn, curve, or even go in spirals or loops. What things move under their own force, and what things need to be pushed or pulled?

Explain that a force is a push or pull that can change an object’s position, and put it in motion. Brainstorm different ways children push and pull things to move them. They might push a door to open it, or pull a door to close it. They might push a shopping cart, pull a wagon behind them, push someone on the swings, pull flowers to pick them, or push a button to turn something on.

Give children pennies, marbles, or other small objects to push on the floor or on a flat surface. What happens to the motion of the object when they push harder? Explain that when they use more force, the object might move faster or move farther. Speed describes how fast something moves. Fast-moving objects go farther distances in a small amount of time. Slow-moving objects take much longer to go the same distance. Have children think about heavy and light objects. Which is harder to put into motion: a bowling ball or a beach ball? Children should know that you need more force to put heavier objects in motion.

Friction is a force that slows down moving things. When someone rides a skateboard, he or she drags a foot on the ground to slow down. When a baseball player slides into a base, the ground pushes against the player to slow him or her down. These are both examples of friction. Friction is a force that acts in the opposite direction of motion. Encourage children to think of other examples of friction. How do their bicycle brakes work? Why might an icy road be slippery? Why is it harder to skate on grass than on concrete?

Studying pushes and pulls will help children explore the world around them. Encourage them to ask questions and create experiments to find the answers. Hands-on activities can help foster learning and inspire children to explore further.