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Age Range: 5-7
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D & T

Investigating simple linkages

Looking at linkages using card models

A mechanism is a device that changes movement in some way. Linkages are a type of mechanism. There are different types of linkage, each of which change movement in different ways. Can your students make a simple linkage from a piece of card?

This is a fun STEM activity and a great way for KS2 to learn all about simple linkages. This resource could be used as a stand-alone activity or as an introduction to a design and make project, such as a greetings card with moving parts, a moving poster or display or a ‘grabber’ to pick things up.

Activity: Investigating simple linkages

In this activity pupils will make models of three simple linkages from card.

It can be advantageous to use a hole punch to create the holes where needed as this reduces the risk of tearing. Alternatively, the holes could be made by pushing through the card with a sharp pencil, into a piece of modelling clay.

If tearing does occur, this can be addressed by using sticky tape on the rear of the part or background.

For a moving pivot, the fastener goes through the two moving card parts and is opened up; for a fixed pivot, the fastener goes through a moving part and the background is opened up.

Guides can be attached using sticky tape at each end. Whilst glue could be used, in practice this may not provide a sufficiently strong joint.

As an extension activity students could produce a composite linkage that changes a single input motion into different types of output motion. Alternatively, students could create a moving model of an animal.

The presentation can be downloaded below and includes detailed images for the making tasks plus additional support information for the teacher, such as examples of linkages made by pupils.

Tools/resources required

  • Copies of the linkages handout, printed on card, 1 per pupil (plus spares)
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Glue sticks


  • Hole punches (ideally single hole punches)
  • Pre-made models of each linkage, for demonstration

The engineering context

A mechanism is a group of parts that allow or change movement in some way. In practice almost all products that contain moving parts – ranging from scissors to pop-up books to car engines – include some form of mechanism.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to identify the parts of a linkage, they will know how simple linkages change the direction of motion and they will be able to cut and assemble simple linkages using card and scissors.

Download the free Investigating simple linkages activity sheet below!

All activity sheets, worksheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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