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New Member
I'm student teaching and I REALLY need ideas for teaching pendulums to a 4-5th grade class! I need 2 hands on science lessons, 1 math-link lesson, 1 reading-link lesson, 1 special needs link lesson, 1 technology-link lesson, 1 student assessment/ evealuation task! I can't find any resources to help me and I'm starting to freak! Does anyone have ANY of these to offer me?!?! PLEASE?



Junior Member
Some pendulum ideas

1. Make pendulums out of film canisters and string. You can adjust the weight of the pendulum by putting pennies into the film canister.

2. Experiment with the relationship between the period of the pendulum and the length of the string. Time a certain number of periods (e.g. 20) and divide by that number to find the time for a single period. Shorten the pendulum and do it again. Make a graph.

3. Experiment with the relationship between the weight of the pendulum and its period.

4. Experiment with the energy of the pendulum by using it to hit and move a target. Measure the movement of the target as a measurement the energy. Experiment by changing the initial height of the pendulum or the weight of the pendulum.

Hope this is something you are looking for. Have fun!



New Member


New Member
thanks! I found the first link myself as well, but it is a bit too old for them. I'm not really sure if I could take it down a few notches either. Does anyone have any good ideas to link it to math or english?? English is a tough one! I already have a lesson that demonstrates that only the length of string (not weight or angle of release) affect the speed of the swing, so we got that done already. Anyone have any other ideas??


Senior Member
English idea

You could have the kids write a comparison and contrast paragraph about the different lengths of string.

Marie from PA

Homeschl Mom


Well, my favorite pendulum is the playground swing. Go out on a sunny day and measure the chain and then time the period (how many times does the swinging student come to the front in a minute?). Then, try shortening the chain if you can (throw it over the bar if you've got a ladder or someone tall enough to unwrap it when you are done). Does the period change (yes, it's faster). Put a heavy student (well, don't hurt anyone's feelings) and put a light student in the swing. Does that change the period? No. Have one student swing really high and one sort of low (barely swinging). Again, the period doesn't change. Have two swingers next to each swing at the same time. Does one student "get ahead" in swinging compared to the other? It's because the "faster" swing has a shorter chain, maybe even just a bit shorter.

Do a little research on why pumping legs work. It has something to do with the change in the center of gravity of the swinger and, by pushing the seat forward (ie. the chain takes a bend at the swinger's hands), it increases the period of the swing. That might be more than you are looking for.

While you are on the playground, swing student-made pendulums both vertically and horizontally. Play with different string lengths.

Oh, and this is always cool (or "cold"). Get a bucket of water (not too heavy as you don't want to hurt the kids) and tie a rope to it and demonstrate swinging it around. The water stays inside. Not really a pendulum, but it's similar.

For English, find poems or songs about swinging (the only one that comes to mind is Swing Low Sweet Chariot, but that's not what we're looking for!!). Write a poem about swinging or about why Sally's swing goes "faster" than Bobby's. Write about the feeling of flying that you feel at the top of the swing (right when you go from going up to going back down).

Also, have the kids brainstorm on fun pendulums (think about state fair and Six Flags style rides) that they like. I can think of the Pirate Ship ride (you'd never catch me on one) but perhaps they have some other ideas. Or, the students can write swinging chants (sort of like jump rope rhymes) to say to the rhythm of the swings.


If you go with the "swing" idea, you could always use Robert Lewis Stevenson's poem "The Swing."

Could your math lesson be something about measuring the angle the pendulum/swing is pulled back from vertical to start (geometry)?

Also, what about using grandfather clocks?
(Reminds me of the children's song, "My Grandfather's Clock" - 90 years without slumbering, tick, tock, tick, tock ...) You could use it as a verse/poem.

You might also try www.teach-nology.com . They have 4 or 5 physics lesson plans on pendulums.

Hope this helps :-)