Activity Plan: Ramps
Jump start children's thinking with experiments that explore speed!
- Grades: PreK–K
- variety of solid wood and hollow wood blocks including triangular, wedge, and ramp blocks of different sizes
- two boards of equal length
- pan scale
- items that will roll down a ramp including plastic cars, large and small wooden cylinders, markers, pencils, and small balls
- items that will not roll down a ramp including small square or rectangular blocks, paper, shells, paper clips, and a small doll
- chart paper and marker
Objective: Children will develop science and math skills as they use a variety of materials to build ramps and learn how angles affect the speed of different objects.
1. Set up a ramp in the meeting area using a large wedge-shaped hollow block or place a board on a stack of blocks. During meeting time, engage children in a discussion about the ramp. Ask if they have ever made ramps during block play and encourage them to describe what they did with the ramps.
2. Place the suggested items that will and will not roll in the center of the meeting area. Invite children to work together to sort the materials into two piles-those that will roll and those that won't. Encourage them to discuss why they are making their choices. Record their predictions and observations to document their learning.
3. Invite children to test the objects. Place all objects that rolled down the ramp in one pile and ask the class to describe the objects' similarities. Ask them to do the same for the objects that did not roll.
4. Provide materials to build a second ramp with the same proportions. Invite children to set up races to find the objects that roll the fastest down the ramps. "Which items roll the farthest away when they reach the bottom?"
5. Encourage children to notice the weight, size, and material of the objects they are testing. Ask the following questions: "Do plastic materials move faster and farther than wooden or metal objects? How does the weight of the object affect the speed? What will happen if they change the angle of one of the ramps, making it higher or lower? How does that affect the speed of the objects?"
Curriculum Connection: ART
Highway Mural. Divide the class into several small groups and provide brown butcher paper, tempera paint, brushes, water, and smocks. Invite them to work collaboratively to design a road or highway for the block area. Ask them to recall different types of roads they have traveled with their families. "Will they make a straight or winding road? Will it be a highway surrounded by towns, farms, cities, or mountains? Will it have two lanes or many lanes?" Cover the murals with clear contact paper and place them in the block area for all children to use.
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy
Toad on the Road by Susan Schade
What is a Plane? by Lloyd G. Douglas