How To Teach Forces In Primary School

Written by Dan

Last updated

Teaching children about forces in science can be daunting, but with some preparation, it can be a fun and rewarding experience.

By using everyday objects and experiments, you can help your students to understand this critical concept. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Teach States Of Matter  here.

Compare how things move on different surfaces.

Understanding the different ways things move on other surfaces is one of the fundamentals of teaching children about Forces.

From rolling a toy car on the carpet to analyzing how two objects interact when sliding down a ramp, there are plenty of simple experiments that you can do with your child to encourage learning.

For example, you can demonstrate to your students how forces like friction and gravity come into play depending on the surface type, such as rock, grass, sand, and ice.

Showing students how certain characters affect speed and direction is a great way to teach them about Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

Magnetic Forces

Teaching children about forces can help them understand how the world around them works. For example, when talking about details, it’s essential to explain that some, like gravity, need contact between two objects for effect to occur.

Yet some specific cases, like a magnetic force, allow an entity to act on another without physical contact.

This phenomenon might seem unusual and unlikely to younger students; however, by introducing different experiments and scenarios, they can start to grasp the concept of a ‘push’ or ‘pull’ acting at a distance, with an understanding of how Forces work comes to a better awareness of how things interact in their environment.

Observe How Magnets Attract Or Repel

Working with magnets is an exciting way to teach children about Forces. By allowing kids to observe how magnets attract or repel each other, they will get a firsthand appreciation of magnetism in action.

They’ll find out that some materials are attracted to the appeal while others are repelled by it, which brings them even closer to understanding the true nature of Forces and how they work. After doing this experiment together, you and your kids will be well prepared for further lessons on Forces.

Compare And Group Various Everyday Materials

Teaching kids about the power of magnetism can be one of the most fun science lessons they learn. Introduce the concept by giving them a strong magnet and having them investigate which everyday materials are attracted to it.

Have them categorize the materials, grouping together those that can be picked up with interest and those that are not magnetic. They’ll discover metals like iron and steel are attracted to magnets, but other items like aluminium cans and plastic containers aren’t.

This activity allows young learners to use critical thinking skills while learning about what everyday materials are magnetic.

Describe A Magnet As having Two Poles.

Every magnet has two poles, a north and south pole, that need to work together for the interest to perform its job correctly. If an appeal is cut or dropped, it will create two new magnets with opposing polarity – the north pole next to the south bar.

Understanding this fundamental idea will help children understand why attractions are so helpful in our lives and why they must be taken care of carefully.

Predict Whether Two Magnets Will Attract Or Repel

Show children two identical magnets and have them predict which will attract each other and which will repel when specific poles are presented.

Review that opposite attract, so similar bars (both Norths or Souths) should cause the magnets to repel each other, while if one attraction has a North Pole and the other has a South Pole, they should attract each other.

Let them test their predictions by bringing the magnets together and seeing what happens! Actions speak louder than words; this activity can give children a tangible introduction to forces.


Understanding forces such as gravity can be complicated for children to understand. To make it easier, try comparing the force of gravity between the Earth and an object to a giant invisible magnet that pulls objects downwards towards the Earth’s surface.

You can also explain that gravity is one of the fundamental laws of physics – things naturally move from higher to lower places, like when water flows downhill or marbles roll down ramps. This example should help explain why an unsupported object will fall towards the Earth because of gravity’s pulling force.

Air and Water Resistance

Teaching children about Forces can be an eye-opening experience for educators and students. It’s essential to help students understand the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction that can act between moving surfaces.

These three forces can often be brutal to see, but they play a crucial role in how objects move throughout nature. By identifying these forces, we can better illustrate how different things interact and how each party contributes to much of the everyday movement we observe.

Understanding the wide-reaching influences of air resistance, water resistance, and friction teaches young minds new concepts that are invaluable when thinking about how things work in our world.

Levers, Pulleys and Gears

As we all know, even the strongest among us have their limits, especially for children! Fortunately, with some understanding of Forces, kids can learn to use mechanisms like pulleys, levers and gears to help them apply little forces and still achieve big things.

These simple machines work by changing the direction or magnitude of a party so that they can move items they may otherwise not be able to budge.

When utilised correctly in a reoccurring repetitive pattern, such as pushing down on a seesaw and then lifting or winding a drill handle, kids can get used to applying elemental forces quickly.

If taught correctly, young people will soon understand that while small details may seem insufficient at first glance, they can provide significant energy outputs when combined with other mechanisms like those mentioned above.

Teaching children about the forces is crucial because it sets a foundation for their understanding of the world. By comparing how things move on different surfaces and noticing that some forces need contact between two objects, children will begin to understand the concept of force.

Additionally, children will better understand magnetism by observing how magnets attract or repel each other and identifying some magnetic materials. Finally, children will develop an understanding of gravity by explaining that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object.


What are the key topics to cover when teaching about forces?

A. When teaching about forces in primary school, topics such as kinds of troops (contact or non-contact forces), motion, energy, physics and its principles should all be included. Additionally, concepts like speed and its relation to time, Newton’s laws of motion and gravity can also be discussed to understand the subject matter comprehensively.

How can I make learning about forces engaging for my students?

A. Making learning about forces fun and engaging is critical to ensure that students remain focused on the lesson content. Incorporating interactive activities such as building balloon-powered cars or creating models of equivalent objects with different masses can bring the concepts to life through experimentation and observation. Additionally, visuals such as diagrams or real-life objects can help illustrate complex ideas that may be easier for some students to understand than just lecture-style instruction alone!

Q. What scientific data should I use when teaching about forces?

A. There is a wealth of scientific data available on Forces topics, including live images from experiments and graphical representations of data collected from simulations or research studies, which help support a comprehensive understanding of force fields and properties!

Are there any resources I can use to teach about forces?

A. Yes! Resources for teaching about forces include online websites such as Explorable’s educational portal, which has plenty of information on related topics, along with tools like TinkerCAD, which helps provide engaging activities involving 3D printing and other components needed to construct projects related to force fields! Your local library may also have books on physics-related topics, so it’s always worth getting creative when seeking materials that could be useful in class too!

Q. What Safety precautions should I take when doing experiments related to force?

A. Safety must always come first when conducting experiments around the force. Hence, it’s crucial to ensure that you have taken appropriate steps before carrying out any practical work with your students, such as using protective eyewear where appropriate and providing proper instruction regarding the handling/use of any equipment used will help you stay compliant with relevant safety regulations as well!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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