Lesson Plan

The Laws of Motion Are Elementary!

Flexible Introduction to Basic Principles of Energy and Motion
Jennifer V.
Classroom teacher
Gallego Basic Elementary School
Tucson, United States
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My Grades 3
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, English Language Learning

Students will be able to...

  • define the first law of motion (third grade) in their own words
  • define Newton's Laws of Motion (fourth-sixth grade) in their own words
  • provide real-world examples of the Laws of Motion
  • explain which laws of motion are at work, and how, in a given Launchball demonstration or create their own demonstration
  • present their demonstration to peers
  • justify their reasoning to peers
  • identify unanswered questions and areas for further exploration
English Language Arts
Grades 3 – 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Show students the BrainPop video on Newton’s Laws of Motion in its entirety (3 minutes). Note: This video is available for free.  Then show the video a second time and pause several times to guide them through taking notes on what each of the laws are. The degree of support is dependent on the grade level and as a third grade teachers I stop it during each law and support them in finding key words and writing down a definition that makes sense, a diagram, or both.  As a third grade teacher, I focus on Newton’s First Law but when I work with other grades the scope of focus increases in alignment with grade-level Next Generation Science Standards.

If students aren’t making diagrams, they can take notes in Google Drive. Alternately, if there is a camera, smartphone, or iPad in the classroom, quick snapshots of student diagrams can be sent to the Gmail accounts for insertion into Google Docs or Google Slides.

Student Instructions

Watch the BrainPop video on Newton’s Laws of Motion. When have you witnessed these laws in action? Take notes on key words and ideas and be prepared to share questions, examples, and connections. If you make a diagram or descriptive illustrative, be sure to label it!

2 Vocabulary Development (Optional)

Activity: Conversing

Assign partners or small groups one of the following vocabulary words and it's printed definition. You can also have students locate it in the BrainPop video. Their task is to come up with a way to draw a demonstrative picture or act out their vocabulary word for either another small group or for the class as a whole.


  • motion
  • rest (stationary)
  • force
  • balanced
  • unbalanced
  • friction
  • resistance
  • contact
  • accelerate
  • gravity
  • mass
  • angle
  • net force

Student Instructions

Discuss the vocabulary word with your partner or small group and come up with a way to talk through an explanatory diagram or act it out. You will present your dramatic or visual definition to others.

3 Direct Instruction

Demonstrate how to find the component labels and identify forces that will affect the motion of the  ball. Ask the following questions as you guide students through Test Levels 1 and 2:

  • What is the name of this component?
  • What will its effect be on the motion of the ball?
  • How will different placements of the components affect the motion of the ball?
  • Where will the ball encounter friction?
  • Where will the ball’s motion continue unimpeded?
  • Where will we observe the effects of gravity?
  • Is there a place where you think the ball will speed up/gain momentum?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Is there anything that surprised you? Why did it surprise you?

4 Guided Practice

Possible Questions:

  • What was needed to operate the wind turbine?
  • How did you use the wind turbine to affect the motion of the ball?
  • Which of these components work independently?
  • Which components need to be combined with others in order to work?
  • Are there combinations that you can think of that weren’t used in this example?
  • In which scenarios did the ball encounter obstacles that stopped its motion?
  • In which scenarios did the ball experience friction?
  • In which scenarios did slopes and gravity propel the ball in a certain direction?
  • Ice was used as an obstacle. Can you think of a way to use ice to generate energy?

Technology Assists:

  • Be prepared to model and coach students on how to share Google Documents or Google Slides.
  • During the working phase, restrict font choices, color and size. 
  • Stick to a simple background in Google Slides.
  • Encourage the use of a template slide.
  • Encourage careful use of Select All, Copy and Paste.
  • Demonstrate the magical power of Ctrl-Z (PC) to restore prior work that may be lost in a third graders overzealous cutting and pasting .

5 Independent Practice/Exploration

Monitor and confer with students as they either work through some of the levels of the Launchball program (past the test phases) or create their own examples.

Ensure that they are staying focused by continuing to ask guiding questions and encourage them to ask questions of each other. They should be able to explain what is and isn't working in their trial or creation. 

Students should also be accountable to recording and presenting a determined  number of vocabulary terms and explanations of their models. The emphasis can be on the vocabulary, the elements of motion, energy creation and transfer, or other student generated avenues of exploration.

6 Wrap-up

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Students can present to each other in small groups or to the entire class. An optional extension could be to have students evaluate one another's class presentations using a Kahoot Survey with the following questions:

Was the speaker clear?

Did the speaker use scientific vocabulary correctly?

Did the speaker's diagram or presentation add to your understanding of their topic?

Was the speaker able to explain their thinking?

Was the speaker able to explain how their understand grew and developed from errors they made in their models?

Did the speaker identify sources of energy?

Did the speaker explain the motion of the ball in relation to the First Law of Motion (Laws of Motion)?

Did the speaker give any examples of gravity or friction?

Did teh speaker give any examples o f an unequal force?