Baby Science: Investigating Ramps



T is investigating things ALL THE TIME.  This is wonderful, because it shows curiosity, and curiosity is, after all, the beginning of scientific inquiry.  So I know I should be happy that my little darling is demonstrating a healthy interest in exploration and discovery.  Unfortunately, T’s scientific curiosity isn’t always safe, healthy, tidy or convenient.  The latest questions he has been considering, are, among others:

What will happen if I drop this bowl of yoghurt over the edge of my highchair?

What does this boiling hot radiator feel like?

How can I get this oven to open…and I wonder what’s inside it?

I wonder what this cup of coffee tastes like?

How do I fit this plug into this socket?

What will happen if I put my books into the bath while mummy is running it?

How many of my teeny tiny toys can I fit through the railings of the stair gate and how far can I get them to fall?

What is this slimy blob moving very slowly along the ground?  I’ll just pick it up and maybe give it a taste.

Whilst I am thrilled he wants to explore and discover (!) I feel that there are some slightly less horrifyingly dangerous and/or filthy things he could be investigating!

Recently, I came up with a little ramp investigation in our living room.  I come up with lots of things, but many of them don’t work, or T just isn’t into them because the timing isn’t right.  But this one was great fun and he loved it.  So I thought I’d share it, for the benefit of all your budding mini scientists out there.  It’s a great way of keeping an active little baby occupied!

Suitable for:  9 months + (or from whenever they are able to pull themselves up.  This game can be adapted in so many ways to make it more challenging for older children up to 3 or 4 years old.

What is my baby learning? She is noticing the different ways that objects go down the ramp – whether they go down more easily by rolling or sliding, bumping or bouncing (and which form of movement is more effective or faster), how heavy things take longer to slide than light things, and how some wheels roll better than others

Extensions for toddlers: try doing this outside with some plastic roof guttering.  Vary the height of the ramp and have races – can your toddler work out why one car is going faster than the other and adapt his ramp?  You could also make cars together with axles and wheels (straws and bottle tops, cardboard discs etc.) then get him to predict which will roll better and test out your cars!  Can’t wait to try all this stuff when T is older.

What you will need:

  • A ramp – I just took the lid from our book box in the corner and set it up against the sofa.  But you could use other things from around the house such as: a side of a cardboard box, some firm sofa cushions, an upturned moses basket, the back of a tray…I am sure there are many more options for all you creative readers out there.
  • Some toy cars or other vehicles
  • Some balls
  • Some small building blocks

How to play:

  1. Set up the ramp
  2. Demonstrate how to put objects at the top of the ramp, let go and watch them fall.  Cheer when they get to the end!
  3. Let your baby explore, staying alongside them to keep the pace if they get distracted.

Here’s T playing this game for the first time, with some cars.  He was pretty much just chucking them down at first, and then climbing up and down the ramp, but after a while he really got the hang of taking them to the top of the ramp and then letting go.  He found it hilarious to watch the very big car tumbling down and “crashing” at the bottomramp03ramp04


This morning I thought we’d give it a go with the squidgy blocks, because he is really into them at the moment.  As soon as I set up the ramp he crawled over to the box of cars and brought his digger to try on the ramp.

After he’d had a little play, I tried a block and he watched with interest.  Then I just handed him the bucket of blocks and he had lots of fun exploring the ramp and the different-sizes of block.  I didn’t catch it on camera (was making a much-needed coffee!), but he was giggling with excitement when he tried out the big soft blocks, then clambering up and down and throwing himself off the ramp!


What a lovely way to start the day! 

It’s a been a hard old week, after I suffered another bout of food-related illness, and I’ve struggled to be as upbeat as usual.  (Although, luckily for me, T doesn’t seem to have noticed my mood at all and is still as cheery as ever).  So this little game has really brightened things up.

I hope that you and your babies are all happy, well and enjoy trying out this little investigation :).  I’ll be back soon, with (hopefully) a flurry of posts on advent calendars, presents and all things Christmassy…

2 thoughts on “Baby Science: Investigating Ramps

  1. Pingback: Cardboard Tube Ramps | Play It Again Mummy

  2. Pingback: Cardboard Tube Ramps

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