Ramp Investigations – More Than Just a Book

Kasey Kile, Director of Professional Development

Are you interested in the book but not sure what it’s about? Do you have an investigation book from Kodo but not really sure how to get started?  

Let’s dive into our Ramp Investigation Book!

The Investigation Books were developed in-house by our Education Team exclusively for our Kodo Original Materials. They are a collection of inquiry-based activity books that describe everything you need to set the stage for investigation play in your program. Each book has an introduction to get an educator started to setting up an investigation based on the specific material(s): Discovery Ramps, Rubber Ramps, magnet wall, wind tunnel, and outdoor ramps! Additionally, there is a list of materials to assist in extending the exploration and investigation of the materials. Some of these materials are specific to Kodo, while others are ones that you might have in your existing play space. Keep in mind, you don’t need all of the materials listed, but rather, it is just a suggestion! 

Each book has several hands-on learning and discovery activities to launch into an investigation. These activities are set up for beginners to masters (ages 3-12) and arranged from easiest (Level 1) to more complex (Level 3). One thing to remember, though, if you are introducing ramps for the first time to any age group, Kodo recommends starting them at Level 1. 


Example of one Activity from the Discovery Ramp Investigation Book

When taking a closer look at one activity, there is a section for the materials that you will need to have available and the vocabulary to consider using with the children. On one page you will find the following:

  • Adults’ Focus
  • Children’s Focus
  • Description 

On the other page, some additional resources to extend the learning. These include:

  • Children’s Books to support the investigation
  • Teaching Tips
  • Open-Ended Questions
  • Extension to expand the learning 
  • Look and Listen for Learning

Kodo Partner, ieDiscoveries in Manhattan, Ks, utilized the resources in the Investigation Book to assist their curriculum for a unique camp experience. Their camps are one day offerings for children ages 4-12. So, they don’t have the ability to extend an investigation over weeks or months, but they were successful in creating a one-day experience! 

To start the camp day, children were provided the opportunity to explore the space with the various materials available. ieDiscoveries views play and the opportunity to explore the materials as an important part of the day, just as Kodo does! 

For the first activity of the day, the educators set up “We’re Going on a Ramp Hunt”. They started with one of the suggested books and then had a discussion with the children using a dry erase board to document their responses. 

What ways are ramps used for play? For work? For transportation? 

What do you know about ramps? Where are ramps used? 

What do you want to know about ramps? What kind of ramps do you think we will find on our walk? 

With a beautiful sunny day, the children gathered paper, pencils, and clipboards to go on a walk around the block to view various ramps. Once a ramp was noticed by a child, the educator facilitated a discussion about the ramp use utilizing inquiry questions. 

After the discussion, the children then were instructed to draw the ramp that they observed. Some of the ramps discussed and investigated on the walk were:

  • The stairs and slide on a play structure
  • Handicap ramp 
  • Drain gutter

When they arrived back at ieDiscoveries, the children were to choose one of the ramps they observed on the walk to use any materials to build and design.


Two pictures indicate the various designs to create the stairs and slide.

This is this child’s depiction of the handicap ramp to the building.

Since the children had just met each other and it was the first time for them to explore ramps, the children designed and built their own structure to depict what they saw on the walk. The educators spent time with each child discussing and documenting with pictures what and how they created the ramp. As seen in the photos, some children used various materials and did not just use the Discovery Ramps. One child used recyclable materials to create the stairs and slide, which he took home at the end of the day. 

To ensure plenty of free play, time for meals, a short rest, and the interest of the children, the educators set up the following activities for the camp day from the Ramp Investigation Book: “Go and Stop Challenge”, “Newton’s First Law”, and “The Longest Ramp Road Ever”

With the extensive materials available from Kodo at ieDiscoveries, the children incorporated many other items in their play as seen in the pictures below:

Go and Stop Challenge — 

The children were encouraged to work in partners for this challenge. Some children due to their age and developmental abilities started with a small group but gravitated to working individually. 

Exploring Newton’s First Law —

This child was very intrigued by this concept and spent a lot of time pushing the ball down the ramps toward another ball. 

The Longest Road Ever — 

Since this was their first-day using ramps, many children kept the ramps flat on the floor and did not use any elevation elements to build their road. These children, ages 6 and 7, worked diligently and had many conversations about how hard they needed to push the ball to travel to the end of the ‘road’. 

Although the intent or hope of the Investigation Books is to offer ideas to jump-start a long term investigation, ieDiscoveries used them in a different way. We loved getting to hear first-hand experience of our Investigation Book. Kodo’s mission is to act as a resource and support the work that educators are doing in the field. With that, developing the Investigation Books is just one way that we thought we could help. 

Thank you ieDiscoveries for sharing your success with investigating ramps. If you have our Investigation Books and have used them to jump-start an investigation or used them for activity ideas, we would love to hear from you! 

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