Unit: Balance and Motion

Grade: Bilingual Second Grade

Created by: FOSS

Adaptations made by: Sylvia Rodriguez

Rationale for the Unit.

The reason to teach the second grade science unit on Balance and Motion was based on the Illinois Standard Learning Goals as well as Full Option Science System concepts, and the urge to integrate other content areas (Math, Reading, Social Studies, Language Arts, Music) with Science.

Second grade students are, for the most part, in the process of reading and understanding concepts through print. Now is the time to take advantage and have them experience reading for a purpose and at the same time learn real life situations with science.

A goal for this unit is to make a connection between science and other components of the second grade curriculum. The unit will be developed in the context of meaningful experiences that lead the student to use many skills and strategies such as Scientific Thinking Processes (observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, relating, inferring, applying). I plan to create hands-on activities. I値l have the students work alone as well as in collaborative learning groups. For the last approach I have to consider social skills an important factor in my management strategies.

Objectives for the Unit:

Illinois Standard Goal 11

11.A.1b. Develop questions on scientific topics.

11.A.1f. Compare observations of individual and group results.

11.B.1a. Given a simple design problem, formulate possible solutions.

11.B.1b. Design a device that will be useful in solving the problem.

11.B.1c. Build the device using the materials and tools provided,

measurement, and results of the device.

Illinois State Goal 12

12D.1a. Identify examples of motions (e.g., moving in a straight line, vibrating, rotating).

Illinois State Goal 13

13.A.1a. Use basic safety practice (e.g., not testing materials without permission, "stop/drop/roll").

In the Balance and Motion Unit the second grade student is expected to:

Other Objectives:

Procedure of the Unit:

This lesson will be instructed mainly in Spanish, but there will be some lessons or part of the lesson done in an ESL instruction. Books will be read in English and translated in Spanish for a complete understanding. Science class will be mainly held in the afternoon for approximately 45 minutes three or four times a week depending on the students' daily special activities.

The Unit of Balance and Motion will be developed in three separate topics: balance, spinners, and rollers. In each one of these topics, I will elaborate on each lesson individually.



Vocabulary for Balance Lessons



balance point

counter balance












Before I start with the balance unit, group the students for a read aloud activity. I値l do this activity to hook them into the balance section. The book is about a girl who is walking on a clothesline outside the boarding house where she lives. She wants to be a wire-walker. Mirette On the High Wire by Emily Arnold Mc Cully


Science Objectives

Part 1, pages 3 to 5 of the FOSS unit (Some adjustment will be made).

Students will be able to discover numerous ways to balance a tag board (two-dimensional shapes).

Writing Objectives

Students will be able to answer questions in a narrative way in their journals.

Some students will develop an LEA.


For each student I will need:

1 Tagboard crayfish

2 Clothespins

Helpful Hints.-

Materials will be already prepared (punch out the die-cut shapes) and placed in groups matching the amount of students per group on a table accessible for the students to take.

** I値l prepare jobs for each student in the group (Getter, note taker, reporter, and time keeper)


1.This lesson will be a whole class activity for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

2.As soon as the students are organized into groups of 4 or 5, I値l ask them what a crayfish is. As soon as the students brainstorm, I値l bring out a crayfish and, I値l explain that it will do a trick. I値l balance it flat on my finger and I will proceed to ask the students if they can do the same.The getter will get the material for the group. As soon as they are ready, I値l challenge the students to do my trick (students can explore any other way that they can balance it).

3. I値l introduce clothespins and mention that these will help them balance the crayfish in different positions (the getter will bring it up to the table).

4.While the students are working, I値l rotate around their tables and

give suggestions in case they are having problems.

5. After 15 to 20 minutes of exploration I値l ask if they found any

other interesting ways to balance a crayfish. They will take turns to


6. The getter will return materials to its original place.

Extension and Evaluation.-

The students will answer some questions in their journal

(groups will be able to discuss it before writing it down)

When finished the students will read one of their answers back to the class.


For students that do not know how to write I値l group them away from the students in order to develop a Language Experience Approach Activity. They will tell me what they have experienced and I will write it on chart paper at the same time that I pronounce the words.






Science Objectives.-

Part 2, pages 6 to 8 of the FOSS unit. (Some adjustments will be made)

Students will find the way to balance a tagboard arch and tagboard triangle using clothespins in different places.


For each student

1 tagboard triangle

1 tagboard arch

2 clothespins

1 popsicle stick (no notches)

1 student sheet called Stable Position

Helpful Hints.-

I would have a tagboard crayfish made ahead of time, masking tape, overhead projector and transparencies, and duplications of the materials that students will use in their project.

Prior Knowledge Activity.-

I will balance a tagboard crayfish on its nose on my finger. I値l remind the students that they got their crayfish to do the trick of balancing on its nose. I値l tell them that this is a stable position; when I give a little push, it wobbles back and forth but doesn稚 fall.


1.I値l group the students in four of five students per group rotating different jobs than the day before.

2.I値l introduce the new shapes by holding the triangle and arch. I値l ask

the students to name the shapes. I値l announce to the students that today we will investigate the new shapes to find how many ways they can get them to balance in stable positions.

3.I値l tell the students that they will be balancing the shapes on the end of popstick instead of their fingers. I値l demonstrate how to position it at the edge of the desk and tape it in place with masking tape. About the end of the stick should extend past the edge of the desk.

4.Once the getter distributes the materials already listed, they will start

balancing it. While I visit them in their groups, I値l remind them that a

stable position is one where the system can swing or wobble back and

forth, but does not fall.

5.After they have been working for 15 minutes, I値l ask if they can get

it to balance in another way, and how many ways can they make a stable position using only one clothespin for a counterweight. Find out if they can balance both objects at the same time.

6.At this time I値l call them to a certain area of the classroom so that

they won稚 get distracted. I値l present the Stable Position Sheet. I値l

make sure they see the black rectangle and know that it represents the

popsicle stick on which the shape is balanced. The challenge for the

student is to look at each picture and figure out if it shows a stable

position. (I値l indicate the procedure to fill in the blanks). Students

can always go back and practice the activity with the triangle and arch, compare and write the answer that matches the structure.


1.Speakers from each group will share with the class which stable position was the one they liked the most and was easiest to do.

2.Stable Position Sheet will be part of the evaluation.








Science Objectives.-

Find ways to balance a pencil in stable position. Part 3, pages 9 to 13 of the FOSS unit. (Some adjustments will be made.)


For each student

1 Tagboard hand-and-pencil picture

1 Piece of aluminum wire, 18"

2 Clothespins

1 Popsicle stick (no notches)

1 Pencil

Helpful Hints.-

I値l remind the students that today we will be working with wire and it is very important that they keep it away from their faces. Not following directions will cause them not to be able to participate and further consequences. Materials should be distributed by the getter and put on the students' desks. I will have my demonstration material ready ahead of time.

Pliers are to be used only if it is needed.

Prior knowledge Activity.-

I値l review the investigation with the triangle and arch. I値l ask the students to recall the stable systems and to think about where they put the clothespin to make a stable system. Hopefully they should know by now that putting weight below the balance point adds stability to the system and that the location of the weight is important for the stability.


1.Students will be grouped with different students. (Approximately one

hour session)

2.I値l hold up a copy of a tagboard hand-and-pencil picture. I値l point out the pencil point of the picture. I値l challenge the students to position the picture on the end of a popsicle stick taped to their desk so that the picture balances on the pencil point.

3.As soon as the getter distributes the popsicle stick, a hand-and-pencil

picture, two clothespins, and masking tape to each student, they will

start to work. Meanwhile, I値l visit them and remind them to test the

stability of their system by giving the balance picture a gentle push. I値l also urge them to discuss where they put the clothespin in order to

produce a stable system. I値l ask several questions such as:

How did you counter-weight the picture to get a stable position?

Where did you put the clothespin to get a stable position?
How many different places can you put the clothespin to get a stable


4.As soon as the students get a sharpened pencil which they will have to balance on its point on a popsicle stick, they will get the wire that will be attached to the pencil, (it can稚 be used to tie or bind the pencil to the stick). The pencil and wire system must balance on the stick in a stableposition.

5. Depending on the ability of the students to get the concepts, they will

be helped by getting hints that will help them solve the problem.

a. I値l hold up a copy of the hand-and-pencil picture with a clothespin

at the bottom. I値l balance the system on my finger.

b. If I still see the problem, I will show one or two students how to

solve the problem and they will show the rest.


Fork and potato balance


Two forks

End of potato

Tall glass

Wooden thick toothpicks with some playdough on the end of the stick (make it look like a wooden match)


The head of the stick should be face out.





Science Objectives.-

To explore the concept of balance using their body as a counter point.

Math Objective.-

Students will find out how many apples someone can balance in their head.

Reading Objective.-

Students will be able to comprehend the purpose of the story by doing sequencing of events.



Ten Apples Up On Top!, by Theo. Le Sieg

Chart Paper

Chart sheet for each student.

Helpful Hints.-

Chart paper will be already designed in order for the students to fill in the information.

Objects for the balancing activity have to be specified ahead of time.

Prior Knowledge Activity.-

I値l invite students to brainstorm about the activities already done in the previous sessions. They have to compare among them, and practice vocabulary from the past session.


1.Students will sit on the floor for a read aloud activity. I値l show the cover of the book and I値l ask them if they have an idea what the book is about. Since the book shows a picture of animals trying to balance apples on their heads, some will answer in relation to the science activities in the previous lessons. (This is a good chance to mention that science is very tightly related with math).

2.I値l read the story pausing on the pages that the tiger is adding apples on his head and have the students count with me.

3.After I read the book we will discuss what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the story.

4.Before we break into groups, I値l explain how they will fill in the chart by doing one or two examples until the students understand how it will be developed.

5.Once the students break into their groups, the getter will pass out the papers for the students to fill in the information. I値l walk around the class making sure the students are working efficiently and as a group.


The reporter of the group will dictate his addition answer to the whole class and I will write on the chart paper.

I値l ask any member of the group the process in order to get to that conclusion.


As a fun activity, students will try to balance classroom objects (books, note-pads, shoes, and rulers) on their head, folded knee, back, or stomach.

Students will write in their journal what part of the lesson they liked the most. They will share their journals with the other group members. (It is expected to be very noisy).




Science Objectives.-

Students will explore the concept of balance, counterbalance, and stability by making mobiles and engaging in other balancing projects.

Part 3, pages 13 to 15 of the FOSS unit. (Some adjustments are made)

Art Objectives.-

To create a Halloween mobile for the classroom.

Helpful Hints.-

Index cards must be cut and poked. Straws must be cut before presenting to the students.

Have the Halloween pictures made ahead of time. Strings have to be attached to the picture.


For each student

1Index card, 3"x5"

1Jumbo straw

1Half jumbo straw

7Paper clips

2Rubber bands, #14

For each group


Sheet called Mobile 1 Poster

Sheet called Mobile 2 Poster

Prior knowledge activity.-

I値l call the students to the rug, and as a direct teaching instruction we値l brainstorm about the activity we worked on the day before. That includes process, language we used, and methods.



For a final activity the students will take out their clothes hanger and their Halloween illustrations, (they will be done in different shapes and sizes). Students will be putting them together and will arrange them in a way that looks similar to the ones created with the index cards. Students are free to use string to connect the pictures if needed. Students will have to use clips to attach the pictures to the hanger. That way I値l know if the pictures are balancing or not. This mobile will be hung up in the classroom.



Vocabulary For Spinners Lessons








Part 1, page 4 of the FOSS Unit.

In part 1 students make tops from plastic disks and straws, and spin them. After finding the arrangement of parts that produces the best top, they make tops from other materials.


Students will create an art activity.

Students will cut two pieces of white construction paper in a circular shape. Students will design circles around the poke center in one paper, and long lines on the other paper. Students will put together both papers and staple them together. Students will put a pencil in the center and spin it. The students will observe what shape the drawing makes on one side of the disk and what shape it makes on the other side. Since the design will be drawn with different colors, students will see the blended color. Discuss what color it turned in to when it was spinning.

Helpful Hints.-

Teacher will make it clear not to touch the disks while they are spinning.







Part 2, page 8 of the FOSS Unit.

In part 2, students will use the same disk and a length of string to make zooms.


Prior to this activity the students will be asked to bring the biggest button they can find from home. I will bring a few small buttons. After doing the activity already designed by FOOS we will try to do a zoomer using their big buttons. I値l try to make it spin the little ones and compare with the big ones. We will try to find out which one we will get to spin faster, the big ones or the little ones. We will try to find out if speed has something to do with the efficacy of spinning.

Helpful Hints.-

Students will have to be warned not to get it close to their face or hair.


Write in their journal what they have discovered.


Part 3, page 12 to 15 of the FOOS Unit

In part 3 students make twirlers (flying spinners) that rotate by air resistance. First modifying sod straws with winds, and then making twirly birds from paper and paper clips.


Students will develop a ghost falling chart.

Students will have four ghost cut outs. Each one of them will have their arms in different positions: (a) One arm leaning forward; (b) two arms down; (c) one arm forward and one back with a clip hanging; and (d) both arms up with a clip hanging.

Each student will receive a chart with the four ghosts in it. Students will fly the ghost and observe which one will rotate. They will annotate the results in their charts. Students will compare the results among themselves. Students are free to find other ways to fly the ghosts.


Vocabulary for Rollers Lessons













Part 1, pages 1 to 7 of the FOSS units.

In this section the students set up cardboard ramps down which they roll plastic disks. They put the disk on the slim white straws to make wheel-and-axle systems. They try all kinds of configurations of wheel size, axle length, and axle position to get the rolling systems to perform a variety of tricks.


For this lesson students will be asked ahead of time to bring any items that have wheels, items that are round, or have a circular base of different sizes. I値l mention to bring frozen juice or empty pop cans, if they can). While they are still in their groups they will get ready with their items to roll. This time, they will do a wheel racing. Students will keep their Science journal ready to collect data (which roller was faster and why).

The ramp will be labeled with masking tape signs (start on top and finish or the bottom).
Students can move to other groups and compete with their items with as many students as possible.

Helpful Hints

There will be wheel racing rules:

* Start racing wheels from the same height on the table.

* Don稚 give any can or item a push.

* Make sure that the cans or any items don稚 hit the floor.

* Respect each other痴 items.


Students will read aloud from their notes what they found out in the experiment. They have to give details of why certain items were faster than others.


Part 2, page 8 to 11 of the FOSS unit

In part 2 students roll paper cups down ramps. They observe the way cups roll and use the predictable curved rolling path to meet challenges. They put cups together to make roll straight and then weight them in various ways to see how weight affects rolling.




Part 3, page 12 to 15 of the FOSS unit.

In part 3 students roll marbles in cups and down runaways to observe spheres as rollers. They work with the flexible runaways to make the rolling marbles do tricks. As a culminate experience , students work together as a class to connect the runaway sections to make one long runaway through which a marble can roll nonstop.


Students will be invited to come to the playground by the slide. I will bring a ball for the experiment. While the students are gathered I値l ask them. "Should the ball go straight down the slide or bounce off the sides?" I値l record their predictions.

I値l roll the ball down the center of the slide and then at an angle so that it bounces off one of the sides. Finally I値l ask the students which one made the ball go farthest. Once we are done, we will go back to the classroom and the students will write down what they have experienced.


I値l be using the Assessment Chart of Balance and Motion from the FOSS unit as soon as I finish each section of the unit. The students will be evaluated according to their writings in their journals, their participation in experiment, predictions, and discoveries that they do on their own.

For the final evaluation the students will help me fill the (L What they have learned) in the KWL chart. I値l make sure they use the concepts and vocabulary studied during the unit.



Education Development Center. (1986). Delta Education, Inc. Nashua, NH.

Kessler James H. (1997) and Bennett Andrea. The Best of Wonder Science. Elementary Science Activities. Del Mar Publishers. New York.

Lawrence Hall of Science. (1998) Full Option Science System FOSS. University of California. California.

LeSieg, Theo. Illustrated by Roy Mackie. Ten Apples Up On Top. Random House , New York.

Mc Cully, Emily Arnold.(1996). Mirrete of the Hihg Wire. G.P. Putman Sons. New York.

Teaching Physical Science Through Children痴 Literature. (1996). Learning Triangle Press. Mc Graw Hill.