Introduce Ramps

What’s a ramp and what can it do?

Introduce Ramps  

What’s a ramp and what can it do?


  • a block
  • small ball
  • two pieces of identical cardboard
  • two toilet paper tubes

Key Science Concepts

  • A ramp is a surface with one end higher than the other.
  • An object placed on a ramp will roll, slide, or stay put.


Encourage children to use words such as ramp, slanted, up, down, roll, and slide.


  1. To introduce ramps, place a small block on a piece of cardboard or wood in the center of the circle. Ask, How can we get the block to move? Let children demonstrate their ideas and ask the others to describe what they did: Sam pushed the block. Aisha shoved the block with her foot.

Now ask: Without touching the block, how can we get it to move? If a child doesn’t introduce the idea of slanting the piece of cardboard so the block slides off, demonstrate this idea yourself. Ask children to describe the motion of the block. When does the block start sliding? Does it slide right away? Slant the cardboard slowly to show how far you need to slant it in order to make the block slide.

Repeat the activity using a ball instead of a block. Ask children to suggest and demonstrate some different ways to get the ball to move. When a child uses the cardboard as a ramp, ask the group to describe what happened. Ask, What was different about the way the block and the ball moved? (This is a good time to introduce or review the concepts slide and roll.)

  1. Hold up two identical pieces of cardboard and say, Let’s make these pieces of cardboard into ramps. We’ll need something to hold up one end. What can we use? Let children suggest different things to support the ramps (books, blocks, chairs, etc.).

Use the pieces of cardboard to make two ramps, side by side, each supported by a different object. Ask children to compare the two ramps—how are they different? How are they the same?

Roll toilet paper tubes simultaneously down the two ramps, and talk about what happens. Does one toilet paper tube roll farther than the other? What do you think made it go farther? Try “racing” the tubes again. Does the same thing happen? Does one tube go faster than the other or is the speed about the same?

Explain that over the next few weeks, you’ll be exploring ramps and things that slide and roll down ramps.