Classroom Activity
Lifting and Pulling
Children will "lift" their math and science skills with this introduction to pulleys.

AGES 5–6


  • string
  • 2 small pulleys
  • hammer and nail or hooks
  • duct tape
  • small baskets with handles or berry baskets and small pails
  • clothespins
  • chart paper and marker
  • camera

Objective: Children will develop problem-solving, science, and math skills as they learn about how materials can be used to carry, pull, move, or lift objects.


  1. Present the pulleys to children during meeting time. Ask children if they have ever seen or used pulleys. Attach string to the pulleys and invite children to investigate how they work. Secure the ends of the string with tape, instead of a knot, so the string will move easily around the pulleys.
  2. Ask children to think about ways the suggested materials can be used with the pulleys. Encourage them to think of the different areas in the classroom and how the pulleys and materials could be used in each area. Then ask children to think of additional items that may be needed. Record their ideas on chart paper.
  3. Invite children to choose an area to set up the pulleys. Ask them to investigate the space to determine where the pulleys should be placed and assist them in attaching the pulleys to the selected area. The pulleys can be hung on a nail or hook. If possible, children can investigate with pulleys in more than one area or rotate the pulleys in different areas of the classroom over time.
  4. Invite the children to use a variety of materials to attach to their pulleys. Encourage them to think about and select appropriate materials to use with their pulleys.
  5. Photograph the children's investigation to create a classroom book to document their learning experiences. Include children's writing and drawings. Place the book in the library or science area.

Curriculum Connection

Problem Solving: Obstacle Course. Provide children with a few sheets of cardboard, wooden blocks, paper tubes, and small vehicles, marbles, or balls. Select small groups of children to work together to use the materials to make an obstacle course to move objects. Talk to children about creating inclines. Offer assist if needed. Invite children to share their work with their classmates. Keep materials accessible so children can continue their investigations.

Make it Move*
by Susan Canizares and Betsey Chessen
(Scholastic Inc.; $3.25)

Pulleys and Gears
by David M. Glover
(Heineman Library, 1997; $21.36)

Push or Pull*
by Susan Canizares and Betsey Chessen
(Scholastic Inc.; $3.25)