Slipping and Sliding

On a rainy day my children can often be found skidding down our hallway. We have wooden floors, so they are slippy enough to be fun, but not so slippy it’s dangerous.

We have found that skidding is a lot more fun when wearing socks, but why is this?


The answer is Friction.

Friction is a force that opposes movement between two materials moving past each other. Frictional Forces act in the opposite direction to the object trying to move and must be overcome for movement to start. Frictional forces are less on smooth surfaces, which is why we slide more easily when wearing socks.

If you think how easy it is to slide two bits of ribbon over each other and then think how hard it would be with two velcro strips, it makes it easier to visualise.

Some ideas for you

Try sliding on different surfaces with bare feet. Is it easier or harder on carpet than wood or tiles?

They same with socks on, does it make a difference? What about wearing socks made of different materials?

You could roll a toy car on carpet and tiles and see on which surface it travels the furthest.

Or how about making a ramp? Your car will have to overcome friction before it can slide down the ramp.


What about when you slide down a slide, is it easier in tracksuit bottoms or jeans?

Can you make a chart to record your results?

*Note. It could also be that our feet are a bit sweaty and sticky, so there are more than just frictional forces at work.

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