My 3rd graders recently studied simple machines. As a review, the day before their simple machine unit test, we used laptops and visited the site http://edheads.org to further explore simple machines. This activity allowed them to go into certain rooms, including the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, or garage to search for simple machines. They would click on the simple machine, be asked a question about the general use of the item, then asked to identify what type of simple machine it was. The students had a ball doing this activity, as they are always extremely excited when presented with the opportunity of using the laptops. They were really engaged and enjoyed bragging about their scores to their classmates. They also enjoyed the animation and music on the site.
After finding the simple machines in each room, they were instructed to make chart and brainstorm, giving examples of several simple machines. They were allowed to work with a partner and given 10 minutes in order to come up with as many examples as possible. Aterwards, I used the Elmo (an upgraded version of a transparency that has a video camera allowing students to see everything the teacher writes on a given sheet of paper) and compiled a list of examples for each type of simple machine. As the students gave me their ideas, they described why their said example was a simple machine and how it made it easier to do work. I made compies of the list we compiled together and gave each of them one to take home and study. I hinted that there may be a section on the test that asked them to give 2 or 3 examples of each simple machine. All of the students did very well on that section of the test and I believe it was due to this activity. It was a very fun activity for them and allowed them a way to construct their own study guide for the test.