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Roll or Slide? (Indoors)

Explore the way different objects move when placed on a ramp.


  • long piece of cardboard or foam core for each child 
  • objects to prop up the ramps
  • small objects that will roll or slide (toy car, ball, glue stick, cardboard tubes, markers, blocks, binder clips, index cards, small boxes, lids, bottle tops, etc.)
  • “Slide, Roll, Stay in Place” chart

Key Science Concepts

  • An object placed on a ramp will roll, slide, or stay put.
  • The shape of an object affects whether it will roll or slide or stay put.
  • Objects that slide are more likely to move on steeper inclines, and both rolling and sliding objects move faster down steeper inclines.


Encourage children to use words such as roll, slide, ramp, slope, steep, flat, slanted, and round, as well as science process words such as observe, compare, same, different, change, test, and predict.


This indoor “Roll or Slide” activity reinforces the outdoor “Roll or Slide” activity done at the playground slide earlier in the week. In this indoor version, children have their own ramps and sets of materials, and so have more control and input. It may be helpful to have children work in pairs for this activity.

  1. Gather sets of small objects to test on the cardboard ramps (see Materials). Help children set up their ramps and try the objects out in a variety of ways. Encourage children to first predict and then describe how each object moves: Does it roll? Does it slide? How steep do they need to make the incline before the object begins to roll or slide? Have children share and discuss their discoveries. Children may discover that an object such as a glue stick or pencil will roll if placed sideways, but slide if placed pointing downwards.
  2. Have children sort the objects into three groups (they will probably need to test each object again): objects that roll, objects that slide,  and objects that do not move.

Reflect and Share

  • Pass around the rolling objects so children can examine and describe their shape and texture. Ask, What is the same about all the rolling things? Then pass around the objects that do not roll for children to feel and describe. Again, record the children’s words on a chart. Record the children’s observations in the appropriate columns on the “Slide, Roll, Stay in Place” chart.
  • Hold up a specific object from each category and ask: What do you think makes the things that don’t roll different from the things that do roll?