Ramps and Pathways

  • Time Length
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    1-2 hours

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
    Shape Created with Sketch.



Place your centerpiece (a chair, stool or box) in the middle of the floor. Encourage your child to set up the cardboard, cookie sheets, or slats of wood against the top of the chair or on the foot rung to make ramps. Use additional pieces to create a pathway away from the ramp. Use blocks to make hills, if desired.

Once the ramp is in place, you are ready to begin. Start rolling the balls down your homemade ramps and pathways and observe what happens. Did you just let the ball go or did you push it a little? A Lot?  Talk about what happened.

Question and Wonder:

  • What do you think a ramp is? What are they for? How do ramps help us get places?
  • How many ramps do you want to make? Where do you want to place them?
  • Which direction do you want your ramps to go? Do you want them to go to the left or right? Straight ahead?
  • Which balls do you think will work the best? Smaller or larger? Heavier or lighter? Why do you think that way?

Imagine and Design:

  • If none of the balls stayed on the pathway, why do think that happened? What could you change to make them roll better? Faster?
  • If we put two balls on the same ramp what do you think would happen?
  • How could we add sides to our path? Would that help the balls stay on the path? Why?
  • The balls go down, but you have to make them go up. What does that tell you about gravity?
  • Try seeing what would happen if you tried to make the balls go up the ramp. Try several times then guess why the balls will not roll up the ramp. What do you have to do to make the balls go up the ramp?
  • What is gravity?
  • Have you ever heard the word gravity before?
  • Talk about how gravity keeps things on the ground.

Test and Discuss:

  • Try rolling a ball downstairs? What happened? Why?
  • What happens if you throw it up the stairs? Why?
  • How does that teach you things about gravity?
  • What if there were no gravity? What would happen? What if gravity was stronger?

Did you know?

Young children are natural physical scientists. They are exploring and testing their world everyday. Ramps and pathways is a great way to tap into that natural curiosity while having fun. Read more here:

Explore more about gravity here:

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