2013
Apr 17

Newton’s Laws of Cake (Law #1)

by Hannah Holt »

23 comments


The other day I was showing my husband our son’s preschool work and he remarked “Why is it always dinosaurs? Why don’t they have a week in preschool on Newton’s Laws of Motion or something?”

“Because,” I said. “Dinosaurs are something concrete. You can’t teach a four-year-old physics.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was wrong. Newton’s Laws of Motion are totally visual. Really there’s no reason why they couldn’t have a week on Newtonian Physics at pre-school.

Of course, I’m going to tell it through my favorite medium: cake! So here it is. Newton’s Three Laws of Motion Cake, for four-year-olds.

I’ll tackle Laws 2 and 3 a little bit later, but first let’s start with the first law:

Law #1: Cake on a plate will not get up and start moving by itself. If the cake is moving, it will keep going until something stops it.

Go ahead and test it. Make a cake. Put it on a plate. Watch it. Will it move if no one touches it?

Let me tell you a story about a cake I made and a rabbit named Newton.

Here is a nice pound cake with whipped frosting. I place it on a stool. I hope it stays there until after dinner. Hmmm… What are some ways you think this cake could move?

1 cake on stool

Oh no! Here comes one. That tricky Newton Bunny is going to steal my cake.

2 bunny and cake

Newton runs too fast. He does not watch where he is going. Look, Newton stops, but he does not hold onto the cake. Does the cake stop moving by itself?

3 Bunny steals cake walla

Nope. It keeps right on moving, until…

4 Bunny falls

Splat! The wall stops the cake.

Oh dear! I will have to make another cake. It’s a good thing I like making cake. Here is the First Law of Motion Cake told another way:

If cake is resting on a stool, the cake will not move, unless something moves it. Once the cake is moving, it will keep going until something stops it.

Here’s an activity page to test your knowledge of Newton’s First Law of Motion Cake:

Law of Motion 1 Activtiy Page

Did you put everything in the right order? (If you aren’t sure, check the order of pictures in the story above.)

That’s it. That’s Law #1.Only two more laws to go before you are a Newtonian Physics master. The first Law of Motion is summarized on other websites like this:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

-The Physics Classroom

 

Every object in a state of uniform motion tend to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

-Astrowiki

 

Basically what Newton’s First Law is saying is that objects behave predictably.

-Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine (You can read more by clicking this link)

Coming up next, Law #2: How to Smash Cake.

And Law #3: When Cake Pushes Back.


  1. Romelle

    This is brilliant, Hannah! I am all for teaching preschoolers Newton’s Laws. You are definitely on to something wonderful here- a nonfiction PB for preschoolers. I would buy it in a heart beat with lovely illustrations like yours. You sure out a lot of effort in this demonstration.

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Romelle. There were a lot of other illustrations I wanted to make for this first law but needed to keep it short and focused for this blog post. Maybe I could think about flushing it out into a book later. :)

  2. Tina Cho

    I just did a unit with my 2nd grader on Newton’s laws! Too bad I didn’t have this. I’ll read it w/him later though. The Newton Bunny is brilliant! Do you homeschool your kids for preschool?

    • Hannah Holt

      How did your 2nd grader like Newton’s laws? Did you do any fun demonstrations? I homeschooled my oldest for preschool and will probably homeschool the twins as well. But my current preschooler is a fairly shy guy, and we wanted him to have more practice interacting with other children. He currently goes to a small preschool in our neighborhood. It’s been a wonderful experience for him.

      • Tina Cho

        Just read the 1st cake law to my 2nd grader. He liked it. For the 1st picture I asked him how the cake could move. He said one of the table legs could be broken. He understood all the rest because we just studied the 3 laws a month or so ago. On to cake bunny #2.

  3. Catherine Johnson

    Wow, Hannah that is really clever and fun for kuds and the illos are beautiful. Non-fic pb indeed!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Catherine. And thanks for the shout out.

  4. Erik - This Kid Reviews Books

    HAHAHA!!! SO cute! I wonder what we have next… 😉

    • Hannah Holt

      Cake smashing, obviously. :)

  5. grandma weight

    Cute!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Grandma Weight.

  6. Kirsten

    Oh, Hannah, this is so cute!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Kirsten.

  7. Joanna

    Brilliant. Newton Bunny is so cool! I might actually have enjoyed physics if you had been my teacher!

    • Hannah Holt

      Well, if nothing else we probably would have eaten a lot of cake in class. Thanks, Joanna.

  8. julie rowan zoch

    You are a genius! Are you teaching in a classroom? You should. Are you preparing and marketing teaching tools? You should. Are you including this in your next PB? You should! Love, love love it!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Julie. I wish I were more organized. I should have a marketing plan and all that good stuff. But mostly I try to feed my children something other than cereal and blog once a week. :)

  9. Virginia

    Brilliant! Hannah, run, don’t walk with this idea to someone who can help you publish a Newtonian primer for preschoolers! I predict it will fly off the shelves.

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks, Virginia.

  10. Tara Oliver

    This bunny is so cute. Definitely publish a book all about physics for kiddos!!

    • Hannah Holt

      I should write a book about how to get Vaseline out of hair because that’s what I’ve been doing all week. The book on physics will have to wait, but I do hope to get another blog post up before the week is out. :)

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