Surface Exploration (3 - 4 year olds)

This activity is all about exploring the different speeds that can happen across different surfaces. We hope your child can gain an understanding of how things move, and the forces involved.

Home Learning

You will need

  • Toy cars (or anything with wheels/that rolls).
  • A ramp - usually from a chair to the floor - made up of different textures (smooth, rough/bumpy, carpeted, etc).

What to do

  • Set up the ramp on a chair, and encourage the child to test the speed of the ramp using different toys.
  • Then, vary the activity by replacing the ramp with a different surface, asking the child if there is any difference between the speeds of the toys in the first instance when compared with the second.
  • Continue this activity for as many turns as you are able, experiencing as many different surface textures as possible.


  • To extend this activity, ask the child to find other surfaces around the house, and to test the speed with which their toy can move.
  • Why not use balls?
  • Alternatively, change the toy to other items from the house, encouraging them to see how the different things move.

Surface exploration

Surface exploration

Learning outcomes

  • Sequencing
  • Gaining an understanding of how our actions can influence a material (cause and effect)
  • Practising comparative words.
  • Fine motor, finger manipulation.

Ask your child

  • Which one is faster?
  • What do you think?
  • If you alter the ramp, will the toy be slower or faster?

Key words

  • Comparative vocabulary (bigger/smaller, faster/slower)
  • Predictions (‘If we do this, then what happens?’)
  • Sequencing (first, then, now).