Cross-curricular ideas on the theme – How Things Work
- Create acrostic poems based on the words ‘inventions’, ‘machines’ and ‘communities’.
- Write a story about a new invention.
- Write a story from the point of view of a household appliance or machine.
- Write an explanation of how something works; e.g. bicycle.
- Write a simple report on who, what, when, why and how an inventor discovered something.
Speaking and listening
- Students select a simple kitchen utensil and demonstrate and explain how it is used to the class; e.g. a vegetable peeler, a can opener or a teapot.
- One student is the ‘inventor’—for example, of a balloon—and the other is an interviewer, asking questions about how it was made.
- Pick a card out of a box with the name of an object on it. Explain how it works to a small group. (Alternatively, have actual objects available.)
- Listen to factual accounts of how inventors created particular things such as the telephone, television etc.
- Have a ‘how things work’ theme for news telling. The students can ask adults or use nonfiction books to find out the information they need.
Reading and viewing
- Look at the ‘insides’ of old phones, televisions etc.
- Read and discuss explanations and talk about how appropriate diagrams make them easier to understand.
- Identify the location of and read the instructions on how to open or use an item in the pantry.
- List words to describe the work done by people in different occupations.
- Brainstorm to list words that describe how things work or the noises they make; e.g. twist, open, spin, squeak, whistle.
- Learn words associated with human and animal movements and body parts that make that movement; e.g. antennae–sway, quiver; foot–tiptoe.
- List mechanical words such as ‘clonk’, ‘click’, ‘brrr’ etc.
- Find and list small words inside large words such as ‘inventions’, ‘machines’, ‘television’, ‘computer’ etc.
- List the specific names of workers in an ant or insect community.
- Create a simple cartoon that shows a worker doing his/her job in the community.
- Use media such as televisions, computers, DVDs and CDs to find information about inventions and machines.
- Work with a partner to conduct a media interview with a ‘television personality’ about the work he or she does.
- Show some of the ways that tangrams can work.
- Use boxes or recycled materials to create an ‘invention’; e.g. robot, moving vehicle.
- Explain various mapping skills and provide activities to practise these skills.; eg students can use coordinate points on a grid map of an adventure park or create a ‘mud map’ showing how to get from home to school.
Working mathematically/Appreciating mathematics
- Investigate how specific maths equipment works and how it can be used; e.g. calculator, ruler, compass, Unifix® cubes.
- List dates of important inventions.
- Write the numbers of specific body parts; e.g. 2 eyes, 5 fingers.
- List speeds which cars, bikes and trucks can reach.
- Consider different animal homes and how they work; e.g. a beehive, a beaver lodge.
Chance and data
- Within the class, record the most popular everyday inventions and the students’ reasons for their choices.
- Count and record on a graph the number of televisions/computers etc. in each student’s home.
- Count and record on a simple graph the hours spent using ‘technology’ (computers, television, telephone etc.) in one day.
- Collect data on students’ choices of future occupation (where will they work), using tally marks, and record in tabular form.
- Research games of chance such as ‘Bingo’ or ‘Snakes and ladders’ and how they work.
- Investigate how a clock, watch, sundial, calendar or other device for measuring time works.
- Compare the speed and other statistics of the first car invented to those of a modern car (also planes etc.).
- Follow recipes that involve measuring different ingredients.
- Investigate how to solve simple +, –, x and ÷ number problems.
- Make a collection of toys and categorise them by how they move. Count the number that wind up, roll, are battery operated, spin etc.
- Complete addition and subtraction calculations using pictures of machines and inventions. (How many televisions? How many telephones?)
- Look at diagrams showing the parts that make up simple appliances. Count the number of parts in each and compare.
Music and movement
- In small groups, students mime simple machines, with each student moving as a different part.
- Learn and sing songs about machines, such as ‘My grandfather’s clock’, or ‘The wheels on the bus’; or songs about bodies, such as ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’.
- Create musical pieces using noises made by simple machines such as a stapler, a ‘click top’ on a pen, scissors etc.
- Sing the song ‘This is the way I …’ with appropriate actions for different occupations; e.g. This is the way I build a house, fix a tap, make a cake. Students then name each occupation.
- Investigate how different musical instruments work; e.g. violin strings are usually bowed.
- Move like a clockwork toy—winding up mechanically, slowing down and eventually stopping.
Art and craft
- Discover how different colours are made by mixing different shades; e.g. red and white makes pink.
- Investigate how various art and craft techniques work and create artworks using these; e.g. collage, weaving, crayon resist or concertina folding.
- Make finger and hand puppets, following instructions.
- Use fingerpaints to discover how different colours are made.
- Make a frieze of animals, grouping them by the way they move.
Dance and drama
- Learn some traditional dances from different cultures, breaking down the steps to find out how each dance ‘works’.
- Dramatise movements and sounds of cars, trucks, bikes, planes and household appliances.
- How would you manage? Role-play a family reaction to a household appliance no longer working; e.g. the TV, oven, washing machine.
- Dramatise how to make an appliance work; e.g. toaster, dishwasher, electric toothbrush. Other students guess the appliance.
- ‘Dance’ with a wind-up ballerina or clockwork tin soldier.
Health and physical education
- Learn how the human eye/ear (or other body parts) works and attach appropriate labels to a diagram.
- Investigate how different sporting equipment works; e.g. kicking a soccer ball, throwing a netball, skipping with a rope. Practise using them in phys ed lessons.
- Display a model skeleton so students can observe how we move and learn the names of some major bones and joints.
Society and environment
- Draw flow charts to show how some food products get to us; e.g. milk—from a cow to a cereal bowl.
- Find the location of countries where specified inventions/discoveries were made.
- Find out how machines (such as the car) have affected the environment.
- How does a posted letter reach its destination? List the steps on its journey from the postbox to a home letterbox.
- Research how people have made light and record it chronologically; e.g. fire, candles, kerosene lamps, electric light.
- Research how people have communicated over time; e.g. word of mouth, letter, postcards, telegram, telephone, mobile phone, email.
- Investigate how communities work: humans, ants, bees etc.
Technology and enterprise
- How do telephones work? Make a simple telephone using two tins joined with a length of string. Test it.
- Design a board game, complete with instructions on how to use it.
- Using a variety of construction materials, students build a bridge capable of supporting two toy cars.
- Use Internet resources to find websites about machines and inventions.
- Students draw diagrams to show how simple machines, bodies, insect communities or life cycles work.
- In pairs, hold interviews in which one student plays a mini-beast. The student playing the interviewer can ask questions about how the mini-beast ‘works’; e.g. hides from its enemies, finds food.
- Collect pictures of foods high in protein and display as ‘Foods which help our muscles grow’. Do the same for foods high in: calcium—foods for bones; fibre—foods for digestion etc.
- After vigorous exercise, students talk about how their bodies feel: hot, red-faced, sweaty, sore etc. Explain simply how the body works to bring itself back to rest. Display a picture of a body, pointing to areas affected by exercise.
- Use simple experiments to show how things work; e.g. condensation, evaporation, life cycles, plant growth, whirley-gig.
- Learn how to make a kite, glider or simple parachute. Decorate, cut out, fold and then fly a paper glider. Explain how it works.
- Why do heavy boats float? Test different plasticine shapes to determine factors affecting buoyancy.
- Investigate how different toys move; e.g. battery power, wind-up or moving air.
- Follow a science procedure for how to make something work; e.g. how to blow bubbles.