Push and pull

A force can be described as a push or a pull. Pushes and pulls can be seen to act on objects when they begin to move, speed up, slow down or change direction.

The image gallery on this page shows children at play using push and pull actions to move objects. Children use push and pull all the time while at play. While playing, students learn to manipulate objects and materials and make observations about their actions.

Teachers may use this teaching resource over a number of lessons to explore and develop their students' understanding that a push or a pull affects how an object moves or changes shape.

Learning outcomes

In this activity children will:

  • recall that they push and pull objects to move them
  • recognise that the shape of objects may be changed by pushing and pulling
  • describe the movement of objects and materials as being fast or slow.


  • Describe what is happening in these photographs.
  • In each of these pictures what objects are the children moving?
  • Are the objects moving fast or slow?
  • What are the children using to make the objects move?
  • Can you suggest a different way that the children could make these objects move?


  • Are the students pushing or pulling on the objects, or are they doing both?
  • How do we know if something is being pushed or pulled?
  • If an object is not moving are any pushes or pulls being applied to it?


Teachers should encourage students to use the words push and pull for the different scenarios depicted in these images. Students should be encouraged to describe whether things are moving or not moving. Some students may be able to describe the direction and speed of movement.


  • Choose one picture from the image gallery and write an imaginative story about what happened just before the picture was taken and what happened after the picture was taken. Describe if the object was moving quickly or slowly.
  • Draw a picture of yourself where you are making an object begin to move. Write a paragraph or describe to your class how you got this object to move. Use the words 'push' and 'pull' in your description.

Evaluate students' understanding

  • Explain how we can start an object moving, slow it down or speed it up.

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