Engineering with ramp making materials in preschool

A great way to encourage using design thinking and engineering principles in preschool!

I have shared a few photos off and on of our ramp making materials but I haven’t actually sat down and written about them…

Engineering with Ramps

The ramp building process was an amazing process to observe. My students invested a great deal of time and thought and decision-making for every ramp they engineered

We used several different types of materials throughout the school year for building ramps and one of the most popular was the noodle ramps…

To make our noodle ramps, I used a sharp kitchen knife to slice a long noodle down the center.  The inside holes of the noodles I used were not that large so we had to use our smaller marbles to play with the ramps.  The smaller marbles worked very, very well in the end…

We also used clear packing tape to attach the long pieces of noodle ramps together.  We put the tape across the bottom of the noodles so they would stay in place.  My students stretched the ramps from one side of the classroom to another…

Using Design Thinking

The children spent quite some time trying to make the ramps work and the thinking process was amazing to observe but it was soooo hard for me to not want to help. So at one point, I started to “fix” a bucket the children had placed at the end of the ramp only to be told by one of my students that he wanted it just like he had it in the first place!  LOL!  Goodness, when will I learn that part of the process is me letting them learn by trial and error!

Exploring a Variety of Building Materials

A second ramp material the children really enjoyed exploring were the gutters I purchased at Home Depot.  I actually purchased the gutters to use as book shelves on my wall but they sat for a few weeks in the classroom before I finally attached them to the wall.  So while they were available, the children used the gutters as ramps too…

The gutter ramps were wider than the noodle ramps, so the children chose to use the race cars with the gutter ramps…

Using Trial and Error

Again, the engineering process was outstanding to observe – trial and error, cause and effect, construction, design, cooperation, collaboration, and decision-making all transpired throughout the ramp making experience…

And in just about every ramp making experience, the entire classroom was used from shelves and chairs – to blocks and toys…


Links to Grow On

Play with Rain Gutters and Drain Pipes from Frugal Fun 4 Boys

PVC Pipe Play from Cute and Peculiar

Cars Down Ramps in Paint from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Ramps and Chutes from the Imagination Tree

Picture of Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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