How to Teach Force and Motion to Elementary Students

Force and motion is a science concept that is important to a student’s foundational understanding. Having a solid grasp of the ideas that fall under the topic will help them throughout their science education! Today, I am going to talk about some force and motion activities that will make teaching the concept clear and simple.

Books for Introducing Force & Motion

Make your Force and Motion unit even more engaging with these ideas. You'll find anchor chart ideas, book suggestions, project ideas, and other hands-on activities to use with your students during your force and motion unit.

You won’t need to buy an entire library of books for teaching force and motion. However, having a few texts that help students relate to the information and understand the vocabulary will help immensely. These four books have clear explanations and describe force and motion concepts in explicit detail. Plus, they relate the ideas back to students with connections they will understand!

Each of the books listed below is an affiliate link to Amazon!

Reading About Force & Motion Concepts

There are a few important concepts to cover when teaching force and motion. A great way to introduce each topic is with an informational reading passage. Not only will this allow students the time they need with the information, but it will also stretch their reading skills across the two curriculums. Informational reading and writing are extremely beneficial to long-term understanding. So, consider adding comprehensive reading and informational writing to your force and motion unit!

Force & Motion Activities

Subsequently, students will also need hands-on experience with the concepts. So, gather some supplies and set up a few tests and experiments with force and motion!

Human Force

Starting with human force, this hands-on activity involves making airplanes out of paper and straws! Found at Make Film Play, this activity is simple and effective. You can have students each make their own Paper Straw Airplane and begin testing them out. As students are trying out their planes, facilitate a scientific discussion regarding force and motion. Here, you can begin highlighting important vocabulary, phrases and ideas that will be referred to throughout your unit. I recommend keeping an anchor chart up and recording those important terms when they are first used. Then, revisit the list any time someone uses the terms again to explain what is happening throughout your unit.

SOURCE: Make Film Play Paper Straw Airplane

Don’t forget to tie in visual aids! BrainPop has an entire science collection, titled “Motion, Forces, and Time.” There you will find loads of videos and activities that can be pulled into your instruction throughout your forces and motion unit. The Forces video is a great place to start!

You can also add these videos and corresponding quizzes or graphic organizers into your digital instruction. Link a video for students to watch before or after they finish a hands-on test. Or, have a video and activity set up as a center in your science rotations! The possibilities are endless!


Our next hands-on force and motion activity has to do with magnetism. This fun concept test was found at Babble Dabble Do and can be done in groups or with partners! All you’ll need is skewers, magnets, string, and either clay or rubber bands. Students will assemble these skewer pyramids to test the force and motion with magnetism. I recommend setting this test up as a STEM activity, having students go through the stages of the STEM process, and recording notes and observations before going into any explanation. Be sure to refer back to concepts previously discussed and add to your Force and Motion Terms & Ideas anchor chart.

SOURCE: Babble Dabble Do Magnet Experiment


Make your Force and Motion unit even more engaging with these ideas. You'll find anchor chart ideas, book suggestions, project ideas, and other hands-on activities to use with your students during your force and motion unit.

Next, conduct a gravity test. This force and motion hands-on activity can be done as a simple observation experiment. Gather a variety of objects that vary in size and weight (feather, paperclip, piece of paper, pen, etc). Release two objects from the same height at the same time, having students record their observations. Repeat the process with several different items, continuing with recorded observations. Allow students a set time (a few minutes or so) to record their understanding of the concept of gravity. Have students draw a rectangle around their own hypotheses. Then, allow a set amount of time for shared discussion with their table mates or group, recording any new understanding in a second box. Finally, facilitate a discussion with the whole group, supporting correct explanations and redirecting misconceptions with additional demonstrations. Again, don’t forget to refer back to and add to your anchor chart!


Homemade Friction Ramp, made with a large sheet of card, carpet and bubble wrap

Now, you want to talk about friction! Your students will absolutely love this hands-on activity from Science Sparks! Grab some Hot Wheels and materials of various textures (carpet, gaffer tape, bubble wrap, cardboard, wax paper, etc). Be sure to follow the scientific method with these hands-on force and motion activities. Allow for time to observe and hypothesize, as well as to conduct the experiment and draw conclusions.

SOURCE: Science Sparks Friction Ramps

Reviewing Concepts

Make your Force and Motion unit even more engaging with these ideas. You'll find anchor chart ideas, book suggestions, project ideas, and other hands-on activities to use with your students during your force and motion unit.

Lastly, you will want to provide adequate time to review and connect the force and motion concepts. Refer back to your terms and ideas anchor chart and host an explicit discussion of the unit activities. Allow students time to draw connections to their real life and explain concepts in their own words. Then, have students explain their understanding in writing. Use concept pages like the ones above! Students will be able to write to explain and display their understanding.

Force & Motion Resources Your Students Will Love

If you are looking for great additions to your Force & Motion instruction, check out the activities below! Here is a fun reading flip book that works as a craft and reading activity! And, a complete unit, with everything you need from reading passages, science worksheets, mini-books, and more! Or, you can use pre-made lesson slides and scripts!

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