Physical Development

Learning in the Garden: Load, Lift and Push a wheelbarrow

A young child pushing a small wheelbarrow in a garden on a Spring day, with daffodils in the foreground.

When Daisy comes to stay she loves to spend time in our garden and she’s now developed an interest in our garden tools and equipment.  So when we recently spotted a child’s metal wheelbarrow in a charity shop, we knew that it would be perfect for Daisy.

Daisy has a toy buggy at home and loves to push her dolls and cuddly toys around in it.  Like the buggy, the wheelbarrow needs to be pushed, but with only one wheel at the front, it requires some balancing and more skillful manoeuvring, especially around our garden!

Daisy was delighted with her little wheelbarrow and immediately wanted to use it.  Once she had mastered manoeuvring the little it around the lawn, Daisy decided one of us to should join in the fun with our the adult-sized wheelbarrow.

A child in pink overalls and blue wellington boots prepares to push a small wheelbarrow down a hill on a wet day

There’s a slight slope into part of our garden and while walking around with her wheelbarrow, Daisy discovered the slope. First she spent time repeatedly pushing her wheelbarrow up the slope and then down again.  At one point when we were at the top of the slope, Daisy told me we were going to wait to catch a train.  Reflecting on this I realised that this bit of imaginary play came from her personal experience; sat in her buggy, going up the slope at their local railway station to the platform, to catch a train!

I had expected that the first outing for Daisy with her wheelbarrow would be a short one but she wanted to stay outside and play more.  We had recently had some branches cut off a tree and the branches had been sawn up into logs which were stacked on the lawn.  Daisy selected these logs to be the first items that we would transport in our two wheelbarrows.

In a garden, an adult wheelbarrow is pictured next to a smaller child's wheelbarrow for comparison, both are filled with logs and there is a stack of cut logs nearby

Loading the logs into the two wheelbarrows gave us an impromptu opportunity to talk about the logs’ size and weight.  Daisy has now mastered the language of size and weight (bigger, smaller, heavy) so she selected a few small logs for her wheelbarrow while I had to pick up the bigger logs.  Of course I made sure that her load wasn’t too heavy for her to lift and push.

A child's wheelbarrow, half full of logs, is pictured in a garden next to a pile of smaller logs

And so off we went around the garden transporting logs, stopping occasionally to unload a log, move on, to then repeatedly return to collect the logs.

Within one playing session, Daisy discovered how to use her wheelbarrow and was also discovered that wheelbarrows are great for transporting all sorts of items.  On her next visit we plan to will give Daisy a chance to transport some different types of loads; sand or compost, some flower pots or small garden tools.  We will show her how we use our wheelbarrow as she begins to discover more about the garden.

Daisy slept really well that night.  Lifting and pushing a wheelbarrow is a strenuous activity.

Granny Smith says:

Children’s wheelbarrows are available in all sizes and different shapes.  Keep an eye out for second-hand ones on auction sites and at local charity shops.

One thought on “Learning in the Garden: Load, Lift and Push a wheelbarrow

  1. Seems like a great exercise for kids. Gets them outside more and pull them away from their phones and tablets. Now I’m thinking of getting one for my niece’s birthday. Cheers!


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