Ramps and Pathways
Have you ever looked at blocks and knew they could be so much more? Children have this amazing ability to look at new items introduced in the early childhood classroom with a world of possibilities. Look at the picture above. This is Ramps and Pathways play. Ramps and Pathways have very simple materials such as cove molding, marbles, and blocks. Ramps and Pathways is a perfect addition to the STR2EAM classroom. As a reminder, STR2EAM stands for (Science, Technology, Reading, Religion, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics).
In the block center, children use Ramps and Pathways to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts. When introduced into the early childhood classroom girls and boys alike jump into intentional play experiences full "STEAM" ahead! Their desire to connect the cove molding pieces into long elaborate pathways is really a sight to behold. At first, children are trying to come up with solutions to create the inclined plane. Next, they are trying to connect the cove molding in long pathways. Finally, the children are trying to figure out ways to trap the marbles so that they are not moving all over the play area.
Understanding children's structures can be as simple as asking open-ended questions or using conversation starters. Tell me about your scene. As the boys create this scene, they are developing the story with each other. The foam is adding much-needed support to the inclined plane. When the marble is rolled down the inclined plane it does not have enough speed or energy to roll into the shipping tube. The boys work as a team to successfully complete a connection that rolls through the shipping tube. They work through all obstacles problem-solving along the way. This allows children to integrate play, literacy, and 21st Century Skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.
As children are exposed to Ramps and Pathways STEM-based play approach they are actively engaged in the engineering design process and scientific inquiry. Teachers play an important role in the Ramps and Pathways experiences. Teachers should document children's beginning play experiences and continued play experiences.
Toys for Ramps and Pathways Play Experiences
Lakeshore has an (outdoor ramps exploration set). This set starts at $399.00 and has unique holders to create tall inclined play experiences.
Oriental Trading has a (STEM Motion & Friction Activity). This set is $34.29. It has strips of fabric used to create different types of friction surfaces.
Books for Ramps and Pathway Knowledge
Roll, Slope, and Slide by Michael Dahl and Denise Shea
Simple Machines Ramps by Kay Manolis
All About Ramps by Jill Anderson