Grade 4

Lesson Plan


The student will identify and explain the environmental features and economic factors that led to the development of grist mills in eastern Pennsylvania.

(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.6.4A, 3.6.4C, 3.8.4B; PA Environment & Ecology Standards: 4.8.4B, 4.8.10C)

The student will describe the basic mechanical systems of a grist mill and its source of power.

(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.1.4A, 3.6.4C, 3.8.4B; PA Environment & Ecology Standards: 4.4.4D)

The student will correctly identify and label the simple machines that are incorporated into a diagram of a grist mill.

(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.1.4B, 3.7.4A, 3.8.4B)

Process Skills:

Inferring, Communicating, Interpreting Data, Defining Operationally, Using Models, Solving Problems


Reference materials on grist mills and simple machines

Internet access

Reference Sheet: "Stover Grist Mill: 1832 - 1932"

Diagram: "Grist Mill Machinery"

Time Requirement:

2-3 days (40 minutes each day)


1. Organize students into task groups of 4-6 students. Assign each group a particular focus topic to research related to grist mills. Some suggested focus topics include the history of grist mills, various types of grist mills, how a grist mill works, environmental features that support their development, economic factors that support their development, and specific grist mill sites in eastern Pennsylvania (with a focus on Bucks County).

2. Provide students with a framework or graphic organizer for notetaking such as a chart, table, concept map, etc. Model the notetaking process using the reference sheet, "Stover Grist Mill: 1832-1932" (see below). Direct all students to read the selection and record (or highlight) key information related to the specific topic they have been assigned in the format provided. Ask the pre-structured groups of student to share and compile their notes. Then model the notetaking process by eliciting information from the various groups and entering it into a class concept map or table.

3. Then ask the groups of students to research their assigned topics using the web sites listed below. Alert students that not all web sites contain information related to each topic, so they will need to select only the information that is relevant to the topic they have been assigned. Students should record the appropriate information in the format modeled for the entire class. (Teacher Note: These sites vary considerably in their complexity and the reading level of the text. Some are designed by and/or for children; others are meant for the general public. Previewing the sites will enable the teacher to identify those best matched to student interest and ability.)

4. Ask each group of students to summarize their most important research findings on their assigned topic and make a brief presentation to the class.

5. Provide each student with a copy of the activity sheet diagram, "Grist Mill Machinery." Review the assignment with the class. If students need to review background information on simple machines, have them consult the following web sites:

6. Working individually or in pairs, students should complete the identification and labeling activity. Students who focused on the research topic, "how a mill works," may serve as "help desk" information resources to their classmates since their knowledge of mill machinery and the milling process should be more extensive.


Research topic concept maps or tables

Accuracy of information

Quantity of detailed information

Relevance of information to assigned topic

"Grist Mill Machinery" Diagram

Number of simple machines identified

Accuracy of identification

Appropriateness of label


link to STOVER GRIST MILL Reference / Activity Sheet


link to GRIST MILL MACHINERY Activity Sheet


Branching Out

Student Resources:

Teacher Resources: (Enter keyword "mill" and select "Royalty Free" from dropdown menu; search results for photos of old water powered mills for classroom visuals)

Related Web Sites: Simple Machines