Informational Books: Inclined Planes and Wedges

22 Jul


Walker, Sally M., Roseann Feldmann, and Andy King.Inclined planes and wedges . Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Group, 2002.


Plot Summary:

Inclined Planes and Wedges introduces young learners to the concept of simple machines, gravity and force.  Several examples are given of simple vs. complex machines and the author provides activities that children can do with household materials to create their own planes and wedges.  The book is accompanied by photographs of the material as well as photographs of children creating their own simple machines.


Critical Analysis:

Inclined Planes and Wedges is one of many in Sally Walker’s Early Bird Physics series.  The series is designed introduce students in grades 2 to 5 to basic Physics concepts and vocabulary.  The book uses very simple language with photos of children demonstrating what is being described in the text.  The author provides a list of related vocabulary at the beginning of the book and encourages children to be a “word detective,” and look for these words as they are reading.  A Glossary is provided at the end of the book.

Inclined Planes and Wedges is a simple, quick read and students will gain a much better understanding of the concepts through the visuals that are used.  Walker also provides examples of simple machines and experiments that students can perform easily in their own homes.  Walker uses common examples that children will understand and can relate to.  For example, nails are shown as an example of a wedge, doorknobs an example of simple machines and escaladers as examples of complex machines.  Walker also provides suggestions for adults on how to introduce children to books and encourage reading.


  • Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year
  • National Science Teachers Association Recommended Books


“The print is clear, the graphics are excellent, and every page contains an illustration. The Early Bird Physics series is a much-needed and valuable resource for integrating informational reading and providing authentic experiences in physical science for young children.” —Science and Children magazine

Children’s Literature Review: This entry in the “Early Bird Physics” textbook series explains what work is, defines the simple machine under discussion, introduces special terminology such as fulcrum, fixed pulley, third class lever, or friction, and shows variations on that machine that make it more complicated. Simple hands-on activities explore some of the properties of inclined planes and wedges and illustrate ways to increase or decrease the force needed to lift objects by varying aspects of the simple machine. A multiracial cast of children who look to be about nine or ten are photographed in posed situations to illustrate concepts and most look realistic. Diagrams also help children see where force is applied or what can be altered to make work easier. An end note to adults presents helpful discussion questions and ways to explore the vocabulary specific to each machine, while a bibliography of other books about the topic and two generic web sites suggest further exploration. A glossary and index with a note about how to help children use these sources are included. All in all, this book present solid support for adults in introducing simple machines to elementary age children in an appealing package that children can also read for themselves. Reviewed by Susan Hepler.

Other Connections:

Sally Walker has a large collection of non-fiction books which may be found on her website.

Here are a few examples:


The author accepts requests for school visits!

Information on further books and contact information can be found here:


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