We started our exploration of ramps and pathways in Pre-K today by reading Roll, Slope and Slide: A Book About Ramps by Michael Dahl. The book (click here to see it on Amazon) is a great introduction in simple terms to ramps and planes. The book generated a lot of discussion about where we see ramps around us. The class was excited to learn that slides are ramps and we have two on our playground, as well as many children having one at home. Bathtubs have inclined planes so the water will drain...and we all have tubbies, baths or showers to check out at home.
Most important we discussed that each of these ramps has one high point and a low point so things can travel up or down more easily. Then we checked out a model ramp that was built in our classroom. We tested it out by seeing if a green rod, marble or wooden ball would roll down our ramp. We discovered that the green rod would go down the ramp, but not very fast (and it got stuck in our tunnel). The marble and wooden ball both flew down the ramp and crashed into the stopper at the end. It was so much fun to watch it go!
Here's our model ramp:
Now it was onto the block area to explore ramps first hand!!
We worked in small groups to ensure we all had ample opportunity to build and explore. Here's what we built.
Some of us built long tracks. To get the balls and marbles to move, we had to push them along the track. While this wasn't the most effective way to move the balls and marbles, these children spent a lot of time working on the tracks and enjoyed watching all of the balls and marbles roll along the track.
And some of us created working ramps.
The child above spent time adjusting the height of his ramps with blocks at the top. He wanted his ball to go really fast and wanted to make sure it stopped at the end. After experimenting with the angle, he also pushed smaller, square blocks down the ramp by placing the wooden ball behind the block.
Each of these ramps is very different. And each worked!! I loved watching the process each child went through to create their ramps. The material selection was very important for all of them and they each had a goal in mind for their design. Most of these ramps have some similar design elements to the model ramp. Our next building exploration will be without a model. It will be interesting to see where they go after this initial exploration.
We also had a chance to document the ramps we built. Clipboards and crayons were placed in the block area and the builders could stop and record whenever they wanted too.
Here are some of the completed drawings that illustrate the ramps that were built today.