Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep in a Jeep on a hill that’s steep! Join us today as we meet some real Shetland Sheep and take on an engineering design challenge that involves simple machines (wheel and axle and inclined plane) and physics! Plus there are lots of barnyard games and crafts to keep you active and having a baaaaallll! Below are activities that all have a Sheep in a Jeep theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else!

Let’s Learn All A-Baaaaat Sheep

Skyler introduces us to the care and feeding of her Shetland Sheep.

Don’t Be Sheepish: Get The Facts About Sheep Here

Take the Sheep in a Jeep Engineering Challenge

Start by reading and enjoying Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple’s Sheep in a Jeep. Note the forces at work here. What pulls are used? What pushes? What forces stop the jeep from moving at all?

Make Your Own Jeep to Race the Sheep:

What You Need:

  • Recycled materials and other random household objects (e.g. boxes, cardboard, skewers, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, canisters, plastic cups, etc.)
  • Art materials (markers, scissors, glue, tape)
  • Test drivers (sheep, other small stuffed animals)
  • An inclined plane (ramp) to test your jeep


This is a fairly open-ended engineering challenge. Your job is to build a jeep for your sheep out of recycled materials and other random household objects.

  • Your jeep needs to be able to actually roll down an inclined plane or ramp.
  • Your “sheep” or other test drivers need to stay safely inside the jeep.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep testing and redesigning. What kind of jeep did you build for your sheep?

To build your jeep for the sheep, you may want to understand how wheels and axles work. The wheel and axle is a simple machine that helps make work easier. The axle goes through the center of the wheel, which allows a heavy load to be pushed, reducing the force of friction. 

Half the fun is the trial and error and making mistakes, testing them, and redesigning. Sometimes a nudge in the right direction can help, so if you need inspiration or guidance for building/engineering a jeep for your sheep, feel free to check these resources out:

Sheep in a Jeep Engineering Challenge Extensions:

Conversation Starters and Research Questions:

Simple Machines at a Shenandoah Valley
Discovery Museum STEAM Night.

An inclined plane is one of the six types of simple machines. It is exactly what it sounds like – it is a plane (a flat surface) that is inclined, or slanted at an acute angle. Inclined planes make work easier. 

You had to make an inclined plane to test your jeep in our Sheep in a Jeep activity. Did it work well if your inclined plane was too steep? What about if it was flat? What helped your jeep to roll most easily? Want to learn more about inclined planes? Check out these fun resources, then try your experiment with the jeep again by changing the variable of the inclined plane.

Dr. Diane ran into a challenge with her build involving friction — the resistance of motion when one object rubs against another. Anytime two objects rub against each other, they cause friction. Friction works against the motion and acts in the opposite direction. When one object is sliding on another it starts to slow down due to friction. Dr. Diane’s jeep encountered increased friction on the apple packing ramp. She had to reduce the friction by creating an inclined plane with a smooth surface. Did you encounter friction during your Sheep in a Jeep challenge? What did you do to help your jeep travel? Check out these fun resources, then try your experiment again by looking at the variable of friction.

Physical Activity

Get some of those wiggles out while playing some barnyard games!

  • Pin the Tail on the Sheep — make a giant sheep poster (you can use the packing paper that comes in shipped boxes or the other side of old posterboard). Draw the outline of the sheep. Make the wool by gluing on torn pieces of white or black paper (or use cotton balls for a three dimensional effect).  Cut out sheep tails from construction paper. Take turns blindfolding each other, spinning in circles, and trying to get the sheep tail in the right location.
  • Farmer, May I: One player is chosen to be the farmer, who stands at one end of the yard or the room and calls out big sheep steps, little lamp leaps, duck waddles or bunny hops. Each player then has to ask “farmer, may I?” in order to move forward. If players forget to ask, they’re sent to the starting line. The first player to reach the farmer becomes the new farmer! 
  • Sheep, Sheep, Lamb! A variation of the classic “Duck, Duck, Goose!” — only with sheep and lambs.. Set the kids in a circle, have one start by placing her hand on top of each player, saying “Sheep, sheep, sheep,” and when she’s ready, say “Lamb!” The person whose head she touched will get up and chase her. If she makes it back to the empty spot, she’s safe. If not, she’s in the barn (center). Continue on.

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity:

There are so many wonderfully sheepish arts and crafts activities that make creative use of recycled materials. Here are a few of our favorites.

Literature and Movie Connections:

Because we know you’re stuck at home with limited access to movies and books, we tried to compile a list that connects to today’s theme that you might already have in your collection or be able to access online. These include:



  • Shaun the Sheep
  • Babe
  • Charlotte’s Web