A fun way to introduce engineering to preschoolers is with simple machines. If your last physics class was over a decade ago like me, for reference, simple machines include a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plain, wedge and a screw. Gears can be considered a simple machine as a wheel with teeth, or a form of a lever. This week, to help my preschooler better understand how this simple machine worked, I turned the toy gears from one of her Christmas gifts into a simple gears game for preschoolers.
Gears Game for Preschoolers
For Christmas, Big M (age 4) got this awesome Learning Resources Gears Sweet Shop. She’s been playing with it regularly, but would either request that I assemble it as depicted in the directions, or just randomly stick the cupcakes and lollipops in the pegboard holes. I wanted to help her better understand how the gears actually worked, so I created a simple gears game, or puzzle, using the pieces from the set.
Spatial Reasoning and Problem Solving
Puzzles of all sorts are a great learning tool for young children. In addition to challenging motor skills, puzzles also engage multiple mental facets as well. Children must use spatial intelligence to visualize the bigger picture with missing pieces. Puzzles also offer a great opportunity for problem solving, with level of complexity adjustable depending upon the skillset of the child.
Playing Gears Game Puzzles
To play the gears game puzzles, all you need is a set of toy gears. We used the Learning Resources Gears Sweet Shop set, but you could use any number of sets.
To make our gear game puzzles, all you need are the pegboard bases and gears.
Start off simply. Place two gears at opposite ends of your pegboard base, and instruct the child to connect the gears – make the far gear turn by turning the one closest to them. You may need to demonstrate once or twice to help them understand the concept.
Once they get it, you can increase the complexity by 1) limited the number of gears they can use to connect the two, or 2) creating more challenging end-points. For example, take your endpoint up vertically.
For Elementary Engineers
For older children, you can make these gear games even more challenging by incorporating the additional, more complex pieces included in the sets. Have them turn the tabletops. Or, separate the pegboards and ask them to turn a gear on separate boards, requiring them to ‘bridge’ the gap.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Architecture and Engineering Toys for Kids and Architectural Scavenger Hunt. Be sure to check out all the fun Preschool Engineering Activities at Handmade Kids Art too!
Join me every Wednesday for the next activity in our Architecture and Engineering for Preschool series! You can find all the posts to date on my STEM for Preschool home page, as well as on my STEM for Kids – Engineering board on Pinterest.
LOVE it? Pin THIS!