Forces and Motion for Kids


This article will provide a basic introduction to forces and motion for kids so that they can better understand the topic and its importance.

Forces and motion can sometimes be an intimidating topic for young children. However, understanding forces and motion can help kids gain an appreciation for the complexities of the world around them.

Definition of Force

Force is a push or pull that acts upon an object and is described with respect to its direction and magnitude. It causes objects to move, accelerate, decelerate, start spinning, change direction or stop. Forces are measured in Newtons (N).

You will often see arrows used when force is illustrated to represent both the direction and strength of a force. The longer the arrow the greater magnitude of force it symbolizes. When two arrows overlap, it means there are no net forces present resulting in an equilibrium condition where the forces acting on a body are in balance.

Certain scientific laws describe different types of forces including gravity, electromagnetic and nuclear forces which act between two or more objects. For instance, when you push a swing you actually producing two types of forces: normal contact forces (the pushing) and gravity (the weight of the person on the swing).

Definition of Motion

Motion is the process of an object or substance changing its place or position. Motion can be described in terms of speed, direction and acceleration. When an object is moving, it has a velocity, which is the rate at which it changes its position relative to another object.

Motion can be divided into two categories: linear and angular. Linear motion is when an object moves in a straight line such as a baseball flying through the air or a car driving down the road. Angular motion is when an object spins around itself like a spinning top or when planets orbit around their stars.

Forces are responsible for causing motion in objects and are classified into two types: contact forces and non-contact forces. Contact forces act on objects that directly touch each other such as weights being lifted on Earth due to gravitational pull. Non-contact forces act on objects that do not physically touch each other such as magnets being attracted to one another or objects being pushed away by electrical repulsion.

Types of Forces

The physical world is composed of forces. Forces are actions that can push or pull on an object, and as a result, cause it to move, change direction, or accelerates.

Learning about the various types of forces is an important part of understanding how the physical world works. Let’s dive into the different types of forces and how they influence motion.


Gravity is a force of nature that pulls objects toward one another. It is the most important force for objects in the universe because it influences how heavenly bodies move around each other. In everyday life, anyone who jumps off the ground will be pulled back to the ground as soon as they let go. This happens because of gravity – an invisible force that affects us every day.

Gravity can be used to explain how planets and stars move around each other, and why there is a balance between different forces in a system such as our solar system. On Earth, gravity is responsible for several phenomena: it keeps us on the ground, creates ocean tides, and gives weight to objects when we measure them on scales – or even when measuring ingredients for baking! To understand more about how gravity works, we have to look at different examples of its effects on objects in our everyday life as well as outer space.

For example, gravity makes objects fall towards the Earth when released from rest because they are unable to resist its pull. Similarly, planets orbit stars via centrifugal acceleration created by gravitational forces between them; the planet moves outwards until an acceleration opposite to its velocity increases enough to be felt by gravity.

Additionally, during orbiting movement of massive bodies (such as planets), tidal forces appear due to waves generated by tidal bulges; these generate a force pointing outwards from Sun or Moon which is balanced by centripetal force due to their gravitational interaction with respect each other.

Gravity also plays a role in defining orbits of satellites around planets and energy flow within star-forming regions in space – determining factors such as level of star formation rate within those regions and duration of physical processes involved in star formation inside clouds of interstellar dust and gas. Finally, bending of light rays due to space-time curvature (Einstein’s General Relativity) created by supermassive bodies like galaxies or black holes can also be explained with application of law of universal gravitation.

Gravity’s effects on motions deep within galaxies or Solar systems provide important insights into many astrophysical processes occurring throughout universe and define long-term fate or destiny for these systems themselves making this fundamental force one essential component in quest for understanding big picture concerning origin and evolution of universe itself.


Friction is the force that resists motion when two objects rub together. It can occur between two solid objects, between liquids, and even between gas particles! Friction plays an important role in everyday life. Consider the role of friction when you brake while driving a car or even when walking.

Friction has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, it In order to start moving an object, there must be enough force to overcome any amount of static friction that opposes motion. On the other hand, static friction helps us keep our balance and provides grip for walking or driving on icy roads.

The quality of the surface affects coefficient of friction. For example, a smooth surface such as ice has very low coefficient of friction while rough surfaces have high coefficient of friction due to increased area contact points made by roughness/unevenness of surfaces in contact with each other. Coefficients range from less than 0.1 (for weakest forces) to greater than 1 (for strong forces).

For walking materials like carpet and pavement, coefficients range from roughly 0.6-0.8 over dry surfaces at room temperature; but these ranges can vary depending on various factors including temperature and amount/type of moisture in atmosphere or on ground surface.

Air Resistance

Air resistance is a type of force that acts on any moving object when it enters the atmosphere. It is sometimes referred to as drag, but this term can be misleading as there are many kinds of air resistance. Air resistance, or drag forces, act in any direction opposite the motion of an object, which means that it can slow down a moving object and make it come to a stop.

Most objects will experience some degree of air resistance when traveling through the air. This can range from minimal for small objects such as feathers to much greater for larger, heavier objects such as airplanes or rockets. Airplanes and rockets must use propulsion systems to move forward against the force of air resistance so they can continue their journey safely and effectively.

In most cases, air resistance depends on the rate at which an object moves through the air and its shape; both speed and shape affect the amount of drag experienced by an object. The more speed an object has, the greater its density per unit area so more air must be displaced; this creates a greater amount of air resistance acting against it. Objects with rounder surfaces will tend to have less drag than those with smoother surfaces that create powerful pockets of stillness in the airflow around them.


Magnetic force is a type of force that occurs between magnetic objects. This force is created when the molecules align within an object and creates a large electric current, which in turn creates the magnetism. When two or more magnets are brought close together, the invisible force that draws them towards one another is called attraction. Similarly, when two like poles are placed near each other, they repel each other as if they were being pushed away by an invisible hand. This repulsion is known as repelling force.

The strength of magnetic field can be measured in gauss (G). A typical magnet has a field strength between 0 and 1 G, while a powerful magnet can have a field strength up to 4 G. The strength of magnetic forces decreases with distance meaning that two objects closer together will feel greater pull or push than those further away from each other.

Researchers have identified five types of magnetism: Diamagnetism, Paramagnetism, Ferromagnetism, Anti-ferromagnetism and Ferrimagnetism. Diamagnets are materials that exhibit a weak repulsion to magnetic fields while paramagnetic materials exhibit weak attraction to magnets only when in close proximity to them.

Ferromagnets typically contain iron and exhibit strong attraction to magnets; they remain permanently magnetized even in the absence of an external field due to their ability to ‘remember’ their magnetization behavior after removal from an external source. Anti-ferromagnets lack any permanent alignment with an external field but demonstrate strong permanence towards certain temperatures and fields; these materials become weakly ferromagnetic at low temperatures or strong antiferromagnetic at higher temperatures depending on the material’s properties alone without external assistance.

Finally Ferrimagnets refer specifically to ceramic magnets which contain iron oxide such as ceramic magnets used in several household items like soft disk drives and sensors.

Types of Motion

Motion is the process of an object changing its position over time. There are three types of motion – linear, circular and oscillatory.

Linear motion occurs when an object moves in a straight line, whereas circular motion occurs when an object moves in a circle. Oscillatory motion is a type of motion where an object moves back and forth.

In this section, we will discuss each type of motion in detail.

Linear Motion

Linear motion is the type of motion that moves in a straight line. It covers a lot of ground including speed, acceleration, momentum and even force. Linear motion concepts are important to understand and often come up naturally in everyday life.

Speed is defined as the distance traveled divided by the time it takes to travel that distance. It’s measured in units like meters per second (m/s) or kilometers per hour (km/h). For example, if you travel 1 kilometer in 1 hour your average speed would be 1 km/h.

Acceleration is when an object changes its speed or direction, meaning it either speeds up or slows down, or both at the same time. Acceleration can also mean a change of direction such as turning around or following a curved path. Acceleration is usually measured in meters per second squared (m/s²).

Momentum is defined as an object’s mass multiplied by its velocity (the rate at which it moves forward). Momentum is also what keeps an object moving after being acted upon by a force, like gravity for example. Momentum is measured in kilogram meters per second (kgm/s).

Force is another important part of linear motion since forces cause an object to accelerate due to applied pressure from something else on that object. Forces can be gravitational, frictional, electromagnetic or kinetic energy related and are usually measured in Newton’s (N).

It’s good practice for children and adults alike to further educate themselves about linear motion so they can better understand their everyday environment around them and apply these concepts where needed for work-related activities or when pursuing hobbies & interests!

Rotational Motion

Rotational motion occurs when an object rotates around a point, either on the spot or speeding up or slowing down over a period of time. It is a type of motion that describes how something moves along an arc. Rotational motion also affects objects around it.

Rotational motion has two components: linear and angular. Linear motion involves the movement of objects in a straight line, such as walking forward in one direction. Angular motion involves any kind of circular motion, like drawing a circle with your finger in the air or spinning around on one foot.

Rotational motion is measured by revolutions per minute (RPM). An object’s RPM depends on how fast its angular velocity is changing over time. The angular velocity is measured in radians per second and expresses how quickly the object is rotating on its axis. Another way to measure rotational movement is torque, which measures the amount of force being applied to turn something round.

In everyday life, we experience rotational physics all around us — from stirring drinks with spoons to spinning tops in our hands or watching propellers spin on airplanes! Without understanding it, we use rotational physics every day to power many appliances and mechanisms we use at home and in industry. Understanding rotational motion helps us develop better energy-efficient methods for using motions that require rotation and making robotic devices even smarter!

Oscillatory Motion

Oscillatory motion is a type of periodic motion in which an object moves both back and forth along the same path. Examples of this type of movement include swinging a pendulum or waving a flag in the wind. Oscillatory motion can be described as either simple or complex; when an object performs a single periodic motion along one line or plane, it’s known as simple harmonic motion (SHM). When objects move with more than one component, their movements become more complicated and are referred to as complex harmonic motion (CHM).

Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM) is when an object oscillates around its equilibrium point, such as in a clock pendulum or the compression and rarefaction of sound waves in air. A force is needed to push the object away from its equilibrium point because all objects try to move toward their most stable position when they are displaced from it. In SHM, this force is provided by gravity, which pulls the pendulum back down after it has been released. An important feature of SHM is that the further away an object travels from its equilibrium, the stronger the force pushing it back towards equality becomes — meaning that oscillations gradually reduce in magnitude until they come to rest where they began.

Complex Harmonic Motion (CHM) occurs when there are multiple components of forces acting upon an oscillating body simultaneously. An example would be if two hard masses were attached to each other by a spring which was pushed down onto one mass creating tension between them — this push-pull relationship creates oscillatory motion for both masses together around their respective equilibriums due to tension between them creating opposite forces at any moment in time. CHM contains all three types of basic motions: translation, rotation and vibrations due to its complex nature so analyzing this type of movement can become quite difficult if not done properly.

Examples of Force and Motion

Force and motion are a part of our everyday lives and are explored in science classes. Understanding these concepts will help our kids understand why things move and how to apply these laws.

From pushing a swing to lifting a heavy object, there are many examples of force and motion that our kids can witness and explore. Let’s look at some of the most common examples of force and motion.

Flying a Kite

Flying a kite is an example of forces and motion. In order for the kite to stay airborne, two forces must be in balance. The upward force of lift, which is generated by the interaction between the air and the curved surfaces of the kite’s wings, must be greater than the downward gravitational force that pulls down on it due to its mass.

As wind hits the kite’s wings, air pressure changes, creating lift that allows it to fly. In order for this process to work properly, the angle at which air hits each side of the wing must be different or unequal. The forward motion of wind provides extra lift due to Bernoulli’s Principle, where faster moving air has lower pressure than slower moving air — thus pushing upwards on one side and creating extra lift that helps keeps your kite in flight!

Throwing a Ball

Throwing a ball is an example of how force and motion work together. When a person throws a ball, they move their arm quickly, creating momentum or movement by applying force to the ball. As the person pushes the ball away from them, the object moves faster due to acceleration. Acceleration occurs when something speeds up or slows down, or changes its direction of travel.

The ball reaches its peak when it slows down from the speed at which it was thrown, and then falls back to Earth due to gravity. Gravity is a force that attracts objects towards each other – like Earth pulling objects down towards its surface. Without gravity, anything that is thrown will just keep traveling upwards and never come back down!

Also contributing to the motion of the ball is friction, which acts against any object moving over a surface. Friction will reduce the speed of a moving object such as a thrown ball and eventually bring it to a stop once it has run out of energy.

Riding a Bicycle

Riding a bicycle is a great example of force and motion. When you pedal your bike, the energy from your muscles makes the wheels turn. This energy is known as kinetic energy. The motion of the wheels causes friction, which creates resistance to keep it moving forward. The pedals and chain work together to create a force that is strong enough to propel the bicycle forward.

In order for the bicycle to turn, torque must be generated by balancing your weight on one side or leaning in one direction; this causes the front wheel to gradually veer in that direction.

The bicycle’s velocity (speed) can be increased by applying more force to the pedals for longer periods of time; this also increases its momentum, which is its ability to stay in motion even after no additional force has been applied. If too much stopping force is applied at once, it can cause a skid or even a crash! Therefore, when riding a bicycle you must be mindful of controlling both speed and direction in order to remain safe on the road or trail!

Swinging a Pendulum

One of the most easily visible examples of force and motion can be seen when a pendulum, such as a grandfather clock pendulum, swings back and forth in a regular pattern. The force is the constant push or pull of gravity that pulls the pendulum back down to its starting point. The motion is the transferring of energy which brings it swinging up again. This motion is known as harmonic motion and it occurs because of Isaac Newton’s second law, Force = Mass x Acceleration.

When a pendulum swings, gravity, or an acceleration due to gravity day by day, causes acceleration which sets up inertial forces that eventually bring it to rest unless something else acts upon it. The energy given off from this process continues in the same direction until all energy is used up and the swinging stops. This is why your grandfather clock can run with great precision for many years without winding it – all thanks to this law of harmonic motion!


We have just completed a journey of learning about forces and motion. We now understand that forces can cause objects to accelerate, stop or even change direction. We also understand that both mass and net force are needed to calculate an object’s acceleration.

Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the key takeaways from this lesson.

Summary of Forces and Motion

Forces and motion are two essential concepts of physics that together form the foundation of how objects move. When an object experiences a force, it can cause it to accelerate, slow down, change direction, or even cause the object to stay at a certain speed. In addition to forces, objects may also experience motion which includes displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration.

These concepts are important because they help people understand how the world works around them and make predictions. Forces are used in everyday life through recreational activities such as sports or even to make machines do work like cars and bridges. In addition to everyday uses of these concepts, understanding forces and motion is key for scientists who study the universe and observe things like planets or galaxies moving through space.

Overall, understanding many of the laws that govern forces and motion can help children further their comprehension of physical events in their lives as well as further explore their interest in physical sciences such as chemistry or astrophysics.

Importance of Understanding Forces and Motion

It is important for children to understand the concepts of forces and motion so that they can learn to apply them in their own lives. After all, understanding the forces that cause things to move, or why things have the shape and mass they do, will help them to develop physical skills such as throwing a ball accurately or driving a bike safely. Additionally, deeper knowledge of these concepts can help kids become critical thinkers, allowing them to make decisions with more confidence.

Forces and motion are part of everyday existence. For instance, when hanging up a painting we use the force of gravity by hammering a nail into the wall; when jogging on a track we use Newton’s law of inertia; and when riding an escalator we experience friction. This understanding can also provide children with useful strategies which can be applied whenever they find themselves in difficult situations:

For example, with increased knowledge about friction and collisions they could maneuver their bike around obstacles more carefully or use levers to easily lift objects which would otherwise be too heavy.

Therefore, comprehending how forces and motion affect different objects gives us all an advantage at problem-solving; whether it’s something as simple as throwing a ball straight or as complex as launching a spacecraft into outer space. Understanding this fundamental concept helps children reach higher levels of cognitive functions which prepare them for adulthood, so having an accurate idea about these topics should always be encouraged in kids from a young age.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a force?

A: A force is a push or a pull that can make an object move or change its speed or direction.

Q: What is an example of a force?

A: An example of a force is gravity – it pulls objects towards the Earth.

Q: How do forces affect motion?

A: Forces can cause an object to move, speed up, slow down, or change direction.

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