What About the Wheel and Axle?

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11837

Can you imagine your car or bike without wheels? Would you try to push it around or drag it? What would be the point? Wheels and axles make life SO much easier, so learn to make a wheel and axle now!


Physical Science

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Watch this funny animal video and see if you can spot the simple machine.

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  • What were all those animals using?

Yes! They were running in wheels!

  • Can you think of a time when you used this simple machine?
  • Did you know the wheel and axle were used over 5,000 years ago?

The wheel is the round part of the machine, and the axle is the post that the wheel is attached to create a tool.

Simple machines, like the wheel and axle, are basic tools that make tasks easier by changing the way force is applied.

They're important because they help us do work with less effort, making everyday tasks like lifting, moving, and building things much simpler.

wheel and axle

To help you learn and remember the different uses for the wheel and axle, print Facts About Wheels and Axles, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar, and complete the handout as you learn.

The wheel and axle were first used for moving water from deep into the ground and from a river or lake. Early humans used wagons with wheels and axles to move heavy water.

Another early use of the wheel was as a potter wheel, so people could easily make bowls, plates, and other pottery. The keyword to that fact is easily.

potter's wheel

Wheels are used in tools like wheelbarrows and carts.

wheelbarrow and shopping cart

Think about how hard it would be to go grocery shopping without the wheel and axle on a shopping cart.

Wheels are an important simple machine that every person has used at some time.

Every moving vehicle uses wheels and axles. Use the slider beneath the images below to see examples.

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Look around the room you are sitting in right now.

  • Do you see any wheels?
  • Are there any door knobs?


  • Do you have a rolling pin for flattening dough?

rolling pin

  • What about a ceiling fan?

ceiling fan

Another example is a record player!

  • Have you ever seen one of these before?

record player

  • Have you ever seen a manual, old-fashioned pencil sharpener?

That is another example of a wheel and axle.

pencil sharpener

  • Have you ever worn roller blades or roller skates?

If so, you have used wheels and axles as your source of transportation!

roller blade and roller skate

As you can see, the wheel and axle is an essential simple machine for us. It is used daily for so many reasons and makes our lives much easier, and more fun!

In the Got It? section, you will put this new knowledge to use.

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