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Steamroller Math


Just like Bob's team, children can create roads of varying lengths by using kids’ modeling clay and a rolling pin! They can join the roads together so their favorite vehicles can take a trip. 

Learning Goals

Kids’ non-toxic modeling clay 
Rolling pin
Toy cars or vehicles
Mat or similar surface for clay to roll out on


Form the modeling clay into different sized spheres (e.g., big, medium, small). Ask children to make a prediction: Which sphere will make the longest road? Then have them roll the spheres into long snakes with their hands. Ask them if they’d like to make any changes to their prediction. Next, comes the steamroller; have the kids use a rolling pin to roll out the clay to make a road. Which road is the longest? Was their prediction correct? Have the kids investigate how they could make a road longer? Connect the roads to make a play area for toy cars.




Talk About It
This activity lets children explore nonstandard units of measurement and general measurement concepts (long vs short). Encourage your children to experiment by making both long and short roads. Ask them to think about the roads in their neighborhood—which ones are long and which are short? 

Take It Further
It takes lots of practice and experience for children to grasp the concept of distance. What parent hasn’t heard, “Are we there yet?” from the back seat while they’re driving? You can help your child think about distance by talking to them about it. Ask your children to think about two locations and which one is closer. “Is Grandma’s house or the grocery store closer to our house?” Then draw a map or look at an online map with your children to see if they were right.

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