Explore Together (indoors): Steeper and Steeper

  • blocks (standard size) for propping up ramps
  • box
  • camera or cell phone with camera
  • cardboard tubes (toilet paper or paper towel rolls)
  • marbles (large) or small balls
  • measuring tool (craft sticks, string, or tape)
  • ramps (cardboard, carpet, foam core, or wood—18” to 24”)
  • predict
  • farther
  • ramp
  • roll
  • steep
  • travel

MA Standards:

English Language Arts/Language/L.PK.MA.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, listening to books read aloud, activities, and play.

MA Draft Standards:

Physical Sciences/Motion and Stability; Forces and Interaction/PS2.A: Plan and carry out investigations of the behaviors of moving things.
Physical Sciences/Motion and Stability; Forces and Interaction /PS2.B: Using evidence, discuss ideas about what is making something move the way it does and how some movements can be controlled. [Cause and Effect, Stability and Change]

Head Start Outcomes:

Logic and Reasoning/Reasoning and Problem Solving: Recognizes cause and effect relationships.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Uses senses and tools, including technology, to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Language 2: Participate actively in discussions, listen to the ideas of others, and ask and answer relevant questions.

Explore Together (indoors): Steeper and Steeper

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

STEM Key Concepts: Objects that slide are more likely to move on steeper inclines, and both rolling and sliding objects move faster down steeper inclines

ELA Focus Skills: Listening and Speaking, Vocabulary

Educator Prep: Because you will be measuring the distance the ball or tube rolls, you will want to have enough space in front of the ramp for the rolling object to stop on its own. If you can build your ramps in a hallway or somewhere else with a long roll-out space, balls (which roll far) work well with this exploration. If you have limited space, paper towel tubes may be a better choice because they do not roll as far as balls.

Have children explore how the steepness of a ramp will affect how far a ball travels after leaving the ramp. Have a ramp available to demonstrate rolling an object and then using the string to measure how far it rolls when it leaves the ramp.

Allow children to freely explore the materials.

  • Have pairs build ramps propped up with blocks or books.
  • Encourage them to explore rolling different objects, such as a marble, ball, or tube from the top of the ramp.
  • Help them record their observations as they work.

Have children build a second ramp, making it steeper by using more blocks or books than the first one.

Then have children make predictions before they explore how far the objects will roll after they leave each ramp. As children explore, engage them when you see something spark their interest, for example,

  • Karla, I liked the way you measured how far three different things traveled when you sent them down the same ramp.
  • What do you think would happen if you rolled a rubber ball down each ramp at the same time?

Allow children to build ramps of increasing steepness by using more support blocks. Encourage children to record their predictions and outcomes as they explore. Take photos of the results. As children discuss what happens, encourage them to use key vocabulary words to describe the ramps.

Reflect and Share
Have children share their observations with the group. You may want to have the photos taken during the exploration time on display for children’s reference. Ask questions to reinforce their learning such as,

  • What did you do to make the ball roll farther?
  • Did you notice anything else that made the object roll farther?
  • Why do you think the tube rolled farther than the beach ball?

English Language Learners: Point to various ramp-making supplies and name them or describe their uses. Pantomime how to use things, such as blocks to prop up a ramp. Have children repeat the names or descriptions after you.

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