Push or Pull


Students will understand that a force (pushing or pulling) can move an object.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will understand that a force (pushing or pulling) can move an object.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Science


  • K
  • 1st

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 20-30 minutes
  • Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of movement.

Terms and Concepts

  • Force
  • Push
  • Pull


  • Nebraska quarters (optional)
  • 1 overhead projector
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Nebraska Quarter Reverse" page
  • "Push or Pull" worksheet
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • Locate a copy of a text that gives basic information about forces, such as:
    • Force Makes Things Move by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    • Forces Around Us by Sally Hewitt
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Classroom objects or toys that can be moved by a force
  • Texts about life as a pioneer to use in a classroom library, such as:
    • Children of the Frontier, I Can Read Book by Sylvia Whitman
    • Dandelions by Eve Bunting
    • Life on a Pioneer Homestead by Sally Senzell Isaacs
    • Pioneers: Life as a Homesteader by Emily Raabe
    • Prairie Friends, I Can Read Book by Nancy Smiler Levinson
    • The Schoolchildren's Blizzard by Marty Rhodes Figley
    • The Snow Walker by Margaret K. Wetterer


  • Gather Nebraska quarters (1 per student) (optional)
  • Make copies of the "Push or Pull" worksheet (1 per student)
  • Make an overhead transparency of the "Nebraska Quarter Reverse" page.
  • Locate a text that gives information about forces (see examples under "Materials").
  • Gather a variety of simple classroom objects or toys that can be moved by a force (push or pull).
  • Gather a collection of texts about life as a pioneer to use in a classroom library (see examples under "Materials").


Worksheets and files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Locate Nebraska on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
  2. Display the "Nebraska Quarter Reverse" overhead transparency or photocopy. Optionally, distribute actual quarters. Have the students identify the images in this coin design, including Chimney Rock, pioneers (people), and a (Conestoga or covered) wagon.
  3. Ask the students why they think that the images might be important to Nebraska, and accept all responses. Collect the quarters, if used, at the end of the discussion.
  4. Ask the students how they get to school. Record the student responses on chart paper. Responses could include by car, walking, by bus, or by bike.
  5. Ask the students to look at the coin image again and tell you how the people (pioneers) are traveling. The students should respond "wagon" (or "covered wagon") and "walking.
  6. Ask the students what is moving the wagon. The students should respond "large animals" or "oxen." Turn off the overhead.
  7. Introduce the students to the selected text about forces. As a group, preview the text and illustrations to generate observations about what is occurring at different points in the text. Read the selected text to the class and attend to any unfamiliar vocabulary.
  8. Write the term "force" on a piece of chart paper. Explain that a force is "a push or pull that makes an object move." Tell the students that an object won't move without a force of some kind being applied to it.
  9. Bring a chair to the front of the room. Push it away. Have the students tell you whether it was a push or pull that moved it. Now pull the chair toward you. Ask the students what force moved the chair.
  10. Place a variety of classroom objects or toys out in the classroom. Ask for volunteers to come up and push or pull them. Have the class tell you how the toys were moved.
  11. Display the "Nebraska Quarter Reverse" page again. Have the students tell you whether the oxen are pushing or pulling the wagon. Students should respond "pulling."
  12. Distribute a "Push or Pull" worksheet to each student. Review the directions. Read the definition at the top of the page and complete it as a class.
  13. Allow time for the students to complete the worksheet. Review the answers as a class.
  14. Collect the students' worksheets.

Differentiated Learning Options

Allow students to work with partners to complete the worksheet.


  • Have students visit the playground and look for opportunities to see how the forces of pushing and pulling move the playground equipment.
  • Have a push/pull center where students can practice moving common objects and say what force is being used.
  • Introduce or review the quarter's value (25 cents) during mathematics-centered activities.
  • Have students bring to class quarters commemorating others states and locate these states on the classroom map.


  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheet for their achievement of the lesson's objectives.

Common Core Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

National Standards

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Problem Solving
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems
  • Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Physical Science
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Properties of objects and materials
  • Position and motion of objects
  • Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism