Ramps Inquiry

Inquiry Play

Learning Goals: STEM, Inquiry, Design, Mutually-Directed Play

What did this class do?

  • The students were frequently involved in free play with blocks and toy cars.

  • The educator extended this free play by introducing the concept of ramps.

  • Next, the educator providing blocks, 3D shapes, and toys cars for students to create and test their ramps.

  • The educator provided opportunities for students to incorporate academic expectations into their play by facilitation a knowledge building circle and by modeling the scientific method:

  1. Knowledge Building Circle: The educator invited the students to contribute their theory and hypothesis to the inquiry question: “Which 3D shapes would roll down the ramp the fastest?” during a class discussion.

  2. Scientific Method: The educator introduced the students to the scientific method by suggesting they test different 3D shapes to see which rolls down the ramp fastest. Students shared their observations.

Suggested Resources:

  • Blocks

  • 3D shapes

  • Toy cars

  • Books on ramps and shapes

Why is it Inquiry Play?

  • The educator observed the children’s free constructive play then joined the play to guide it towards a specific goal (i.e. to build a ramp). Through the use of open-ended questioning, the educator facilitated the creation of various sized ramps and tested the effects of the ramps on different objects.

  • The educator did not take over the play, but rather followed the children’s lead to help guide the play towards a specific goal.

We are the Play Learning Lab, run by Dr. Angela Pyle at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.



Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

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Toronto, ON M5R 2X2

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