Roll or Slide

Child rolling a spice jar down a baking tray.

Send kitchen objects down a baking sheet ramp. How many objects will roll and how many will slide?

10–20 minutes


Get Ready

Materials you will need:

  • Baking sheet, cutting board, or box lid
  • 2 containers, such as berry boxes or plastic food containers
  • Kitchen objects, such as a spoon, a spice jar, an oven mitt, a plastic cup
  • Pile of paper clips or other small objects you can count
  • 2 strips of paper for the container labels
  • Marker
  • Tape
  • Optional: can or another heavy object to keep the ramp from moving around

Things to do before the activity:

  • You can do this activity in two parts if you do not have time to do it all at once.
  • Day 1: Explore rolling and sliding objects on the ramp. (10 minutes)
  • Day 2: Count how many objects roll and how many slide. (10 minutes)
  • Set up a kitchen ramp near your meal prep area. Lean the baking sheet at an angle against the wall to make a steep ramp. Put a can or another heavy object at the bottom of the ramp to keep it from sliding around.
  • Label two containers: Roll and Slide. Place them in the ramp area along with some paper clips.
  • Act out “rolling” and “sliding” motions with your child. Rolling: Make two fists and roll one fist over the other. Sliding: Put your palms together and slide them back and forth.

A character with a speech bubble and crab with a thought bubble.

It's fun to send things down ramps!

I wonder which things will roll or slide?


Step 1.

Find kitchen objects. Together, gather kitchen objects to roll or slide down your ramp. (See suggested materials in the Get Ready section.) Place the objects next to the ramp.

  • Together, count the number of kitchen objects you have.
  • Do you think more of the objects will roll or slide down the ramp? Let’s find out.

Step 2.

Send objects down the ramp. Choose an object. Ask your child if the object will roll or slide. Place the object at the top of the ramp and let it go. Watch it move down the ramp.

  • Why did you predict the (object) would (roll or slide)? Did it roll or did it slide?
  • Notice the shape of each object. Describe the shapes together.

Step 3.

Record objects that roll and slide. Place a paper clip in either the Roll or the Slide container, depending on how the object moves.

  • Point out that the shape of an object will affect how it moves on the ramp.
  • Notice what is similar about objects that roll. How are they different from objects that slide?
  • Continue sending objects down the ramp one by one.

Step 4.

Change the ramp steepness. Adjust your ramp to make a more gentle (less steep) incline. Send the objects down the ramp again. Compare how different objects move down a gentle ramp versus a steep ramp.

  • On which ramp do the objects move faster?
  • Talk about how an object tends to move faster down a steep ramp and slower down a gentle ramp.


Compare objects that roll and slide.

  • Count the number of paper clips in each container. Which container has the most paper clips?
  • How many more objects roll than slide?
  • Describe how the same object moves down a steep ramp and a gentle ramp.