Teaching Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

This week we are delving into Newton’s Three Laws of Motion. In an effort to simplify but still maintain the basics I switched a lot of our homeschool over to The Good and the Beautiful (TGTB). We have also been involved with co-ops and enrichment days and classes, oh my! This year we endeavored to begin our own co-op to handle all those things that tend to get sidelined at home and are easy to do with a group – history, science, art, P.E., and languages.

If I have seen further than others,

it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

Isaac Newton

I get the distinct pleasure (but probably still not as much as someone who works at Chick-fil-A) of dusting off my History degree and leading the young minds on a trip of Social Studies wonder. This week we are discussing the Scientific Revolution.

Newton's Three Laws of Motion

TGTB curriculum is stand alone but for our co-op, I do have a full hour to cover history so sometimes I like to supplement. The Scientific Revolution lesson ends with a story of Isaac Newton so to pick a topic to dive a little deeper into we are going to discuss Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and then do an activity. Does it feel a little S.T.E.A.M.y in here?

First we will start with discussing what those laws are with a little example for each. Then we will watch a couple of short videos (because who doesn’t love a ‘What Does the Fox Say?’ science parody?). Finally, we will follow it up with a few activities – a cootie catcher, a coloring page – for our wee ones, and a marble maze.

The bulk can be viewed below but you will need to get the free download here for the printables.

Newton's Three Laws of Motion

Newton’s Three Laws of Motion


LAW #1: Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.

  • Simplified: An object at rest will stay at rest, and a moving object will keep moving in a straight line with constant speed until a force acts on the object.
  • In order for the motion of an object to change, a force must act upon it, a concept generally called inertia.
  • An object that is not moving will not move until a force acts upon it.
  • An object that is in motion will not change velocity (how fast something moves in a particular direction), including stopping, until a force acts upon it.
  • A body that is acted on by no net force moves at a constant velocity (which may be zero) and zero acceleration (change in velocity).
  • SHOW: Spin a yo-yo or other heavy object on a string that you can get twirling.  The yo-yo stays aloft because of the force your hand is putting on the string to cause the tension.  If you let go the yo-yo will go flying in a straight line from where it was released.

LAW #2: The acceleration produced by a particular force acting on a body is directly proportional to the magnitude of the force and inversely proportional to the mass of the body.

  • Simplified: An object accelerates (speeds up) because a force acts upon it.
  • Newton’s Second Law of Motion defines the relationship between acceleration, force, and mass.
  • F =  m *  a
  • SHOW: Set the yo-yo on a flat surface.  It does not move.  Push it with your finger. Then whack it hard enough to slide it down the surface.  The more force the more it moves.

LAW #3: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

  • Simplified: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • Whenever a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back on the original object. If you pull on a rope, therefore, the rope is pulling back on you as well.
  • SHOW: Incline a book or other flat surface that the yo-yo will slide down if untouched. Now push the yo-yo up the inline.  When you push it up you are applying force, but the yo-yo is pushing back. You must push hard enough to overcome gravity and friction. You only feel the force being exerted on you, not the force you exert on an object.  For instance, when you hammer a nail and feel the jolt. You do not feel your force of the hammer. You feel the nail pushing back against the hammer.



Each are included in the Newton’s Three Laws of Motion pdf available for FREE.

  • Make a Cootie Catcher
  • Apply Newton’s Three Laws to a Marble Maze (adapted from NOVA)
  • Coloring Page




Activities and More:

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Newton's Three Laws of Motion

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