Learning about pitched roofs in preschoolpitched roofs

Our neighbor’s house had a leaky roof and the handy man came for a visit. This peaked my daughter’s interest and she wanted to know why. If you’ve had a small child living in your home, I’m sure you’re familiar with this barrage of non-stop questions that keep coming even if you’ve already answered them…at least three times: Why is the plumber here? Why is the roof leaking? Why does he have a friend with him? Why do they have a ladder? Why aren’t they fixing our roof? Is our roof leaking? 

It turns out that they have a flat roof, and we have a pitched roof. Not that it really matters, of course, as any roof can leak, but we talked about how a flat roof could to be more prone to collecting water than pitched roofs, and there I was explaining this to my 33 month old. My explanation began with the illustration you see above, which I sketched onto our chalkboard.

I drew the houses and rainclouds, and then demonstrated how the rain falls differently on the two roofs. I checked in to see if this made sense to her (it didn’t), so I moved on to building a 3-D model.

pitched roofs

We found some cardboard in our recycling bin and got to work crafting two structures: one with a pitched roof (our house) and one with a flat roof (our neighbor’s house).

pitched roofs

And then we ran a little experiment by placing them in the sink and running “rain water” over them. The water rolled right down the sides of the pitched roof and puddled up on the flat roof. And then, finally, she got it!

A surprise preschool lesson on roofs, science, plumbers, and architecture!

What surprise lessons have you taught lately?


  1. What a great activity! We’ll be exploring water next month and this would be a great activity to include!

    • A whole month of water exploration sounds amazing! What child wouldn’t love that!?

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